New broom CEO for South Somerset District Council

In July 2015, South Somerset District Council suddenly terminated an arrangement whereby they and East Devon District Council shared a CEO Mark Williams. This severance cost SSDC upwards of £100,000. No reason was given at the time but SSDC decided temporarily to have a management team without an overall CEO. Mark Williams, whose salary and hours had been shared 50/50 with SSDC returned to EDDC full-time (though we seem to have been managing quite well with his half-time the job split).

At the time the two councils seemed keen on sharing even more posts but the CEO post was the only one that ever emerged.

Fast forward a year and South Somerset now has a new CEO – Alex Parmley:

Alex is currently a Corporate Director at Eastleigh Borough Council where he leads a major business transformation programme, as well as the building of the new Fleming Park regional leisure centre, regeneration and regional schemes to support business growth and jobs through innovation and the green economy. Prior to working at Eastleigh, Alex was a Director and General Manager at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and also worked at Parramatta City Council, Australia, leading the implementation of their City Strategy.”

For background on the old and new appointments see:

Click to access 8%20Recruitment%20of%20New%20CEO%20Report.pdf

Some things about this train of events will forever remain a mystery it seems.

Two Somerset district councils merge

Isn’t it interesting that our projected merger of many services with South Somerset failed at the first hurdle when South Somerset declined to share our CEO Mark Williams and, after a couple of years decided to ” buy him out” and manage without both him and merged services.

Let’s hope these two councils have better luck and get a CEO that suits them both.

… Last week also saw councillors at Taunton Deane back plans for a tie-up with West Somerset. Two other options had been considered: one team supporting two councils; and the two councils progressing their own transformation agendas.

Taunton Deane said a merged council “would generate significant savings, estimated at a conservative £3.1m a year”. It acknowledged that there would be costs involved to implement the merger but added that the payback was estimated at just over two years.

Taunton Deane and West Somerset have been working in partnership with a single officer team for the past three years.

Cllr John Williams, Leader of Taunton Deane, said: “The proposal for transformation is radical and will bring change on a scale not seen before for our communities, our customers, our staff and ourselves as members.
“The decision is important, and will ensure we can continue to invest in our growth ambitions, deliver services to our public, and importantly, help us take a huge step towards having a financially sustainable future.”

He warned that if West Somerset decided against supporting the merger, it would “inevitably trigger the third option with the councils taking separate routes to pursue their own agendas”.

Cllr Williams said the business case for a merger had been reviewed by Local Partnerships, the company jointly owned by HM Treasury and the Local Government Association, which “had found it realistic, deliverable and credible”.

If West Somerset approves the merger proposals next month, the councils will seek meetings with Government representatives in order to kick-start the process and the creation of a new authority.

The new council is likely to come into existence in 2019 when the next local government elections are due.

Devon Health Service Commissioner reduces number of senior posts

From eight very highly paid senior managers to five – well, it’s a start.

Whereas, in East Devon, after managing perfectly well on half a CEO when we shared him with South Somerset, we had to take him back full-time when they decided they could do without him.

It’s official: Devon and Somerset councils plan to merge: whither EDDC’s new HQ?

“Councillors from across Devon and Somerset have agreed on a joint devolution bid to secure greater control over skills, growth and employment in the region.

The decision follows a summit of county, unitary and district council chiefs in Exeter today, which brought local authorities one step closer to a devolution deal for the region.

Current plans propose an organisation based on the boundaries of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), with a focus on economic development and job creation.

Commenting on the progress, Devon County Council leader John Hart said the level of agreement had been “very encouraging”.

“It’s important that we present a united front to the Government,” he said.

“I have always said that we can do things more effectively and more efficiently locally than being told what to do by London.

“The big themes we hope to focus on are on skills, economic growth and improving productivity, as well as infrastructure so we can ensure our road and rail network is more resilient than it has been in the past.

“Doing the very best for our older residents by coordinating health and social care and affordable homes for our young people are also key themes.”

The announcement follows the confirmation of a devolution offer for Cornwall last month – the first non-urban deal of its kind.

LEP chief executive Chris Garcia was at the meeting, along with leaders from Devon’s eight district councils and Torbay mayor Gordon Oliver.

Councillors have previously indicated a bid could involve a “double devolution” model, under which the counties and unitary authorities would receive powers from central government and pass them down – where appropriate – to districts.

There has also been discussion of “soft” boundaries which would enable different parts of the region to reach individual devolution deals while still collaborating with neighbouring authorities.

The next round of devolution applications are due for submission in September.”

Mark Williams to leave South Somerset by the end of this month?

Oddly, discussions on alternative arrangement have taken place only with Conservative and Independent councillors and this is on the council’s agenda for this Thursday:

” …the Leader and Deputy Leader together with the Conservative Group and Independent Group Leaders met with the Leader of EDDC to discuss the current situation and the resolution of Council. As a result of those discussions it has been agreed with EDDC, subject to approval by Council, that the existing agreement be terminated by mutual consent and that to reflect the fact that EDDC could have insisted upon being served 12 months’ notice by this Council from 1st October 2015 that the Council pay 6 months’ worth of the fees due to EDDC. This equates to a one-off payment of £42,124.87. In addition it has been jointly agreed that if approved by Council, termination should take effect from 31st July 2015.”

Click to access 8%20Council%20Report%20July%202015%20FINAL.pdf

Fairies ignore planning rules in South Somerset …

perhaps shared CEO Mark Williams can get it sorted before the elections, unless, of course, it’s politically sensitive!

South Somerset now has a Local Plan in place

Thanks to the correspondent who sent in two related pieces of news: firstly, that South Somerset’s Local Plan has just been declared sound:  and secondly, that the Conservative parliamentary candidate has adopted a stance that would get him elected here!

‘SOMERSET: District reaches ‘major milestone’ in Local Plan process

SOUTH Somerset District Council’s Local Plan, which will act as a guideline for development up until 2028, has been deemed “sound” by a government inspector, subject to a series of modifications.

The council’s received the inspector David Hogger’s report on the Local Plan (2006-2028) on January 8th, marking a “significant point” in the process of formally adopting the plan.

The necessary modifications listed in the report are the same as those consulted upon by the council in March and November 2014, and the document can be read in full online at

The report ratifies the council’s objectives to deliver 15,950 homes and 11,250 jobs by 2028, and confirms the council’s ambition for how towns, villages and rural areas will grow and change. It also endorses the policies against which the council will judge planning applications for homes, businesses, community facilities and infrastructure provision across the district.

The next step is for the council to make the proposed changes and present the final Local Plan to a meeting of full council on March 5th. Councillors will be asked to approve and adopt the plan and allow the policies to come into full effect.

Councillor Tim Carroll, deputy leader and portfolio holder for Finance and Spatial Planning, whose responsibilities include the Local Plan, emphasised the importance of the conclusions in the Inspector’s Report.

He commented: “This is a major milestone for the council. The overall conclusion of the inspector is that the SSDC Local Plan and the 12 modifications that were incorporated during the process are sound and therefore the plan itself is capable of adoption without any further change.

“It has been a lengthy process and I would pay tribute to everyone’s hard work over the last few years. We have reacted positively to the inspector’s requests to make changes and it is pleasing that these have now been confirmed. These changes have been fully debated and subject to extensive consultation.

“The plan focuses on bringing much needed homes and jobs to the district in the right number and place and having the formal sign-off by the Inspector puts the council in a stronger position to make better decisions about the future of South Somerset and to resist inappropriate or speculative applications. We will now move quickly to formally adopt the plan and that date has now been set for March 5th for a meeting of all councillors”.

Despite the inspector finding the Local Plan “sound”, Conservative parliamentary candidate for the Yeovil constituency, Marcus Fysh, has questioned the process the council has followed over the past eight years to reach this point.

He said he has “mixed feelings” about the report, as many good things are at risk from the bad, and claimed the proposed housing figure was too high, which he fears will “do a huge disservice to our district”.

‘Not as simple as it seems’

Mr Fysh commented: “It’s now about eight years and over £2.8million of public money which have been spent by South Somerset District Council attempting to make and adopt a Local Plan, a document with power in law to direct how much housing should be built and where it will go in our area.

“Having found the initial plan submitted in 2013 unsound, the planning inspector sent to our area by the Planning Inspectorate to assess the proposals has now issued his decision on a plan revised and resubmitted by South Somerset District Council last year.

“In that decision he has found the amended plan sound, although the decision has some peculiar reasoning and assertions that suggest he may not have properly applied his mind, which may tempt opponents of the plan to challenge it, and it is not as simple a matter as it seems.

“A lot appears to have been left to the concept of ‘early review’, in which the housing figures will be looked at bi-annually.

“And that gets to the nub of the problem with this plan and the process the council has followed to get to this stage: sadly, it may not be the last we hear about controversial planning decisions in our area.

“It is true that an adopted plan should give certainty to residents and developers alike, and on the face of it we should welcome that the inspector has not sent the district council right back to the drawing board.

“But the housing figure is a key problem. The council has been obsessed with keeping the overall housing requirement high, despite good evidence that it is too high, to the extent that many aspects of the plan have changed over the years, but the one thing that strangely has not, has been the 15,950 house building figure they have ‘aspired’ to over 20 years. Some say it is because they get extra revenue as a ‘New Homes Bonus’, which allows them to avoid cutting their spending cloth to suit in other areas (this amounted to £3million last year).

“Somehow they seem to have persuaded the inspector, against the evidence and legal precedent, to keep this number, which I fear will do a huge disservice to our district in the medium term.

“The problem is that the housing figure means that over 1,000 new houses per annum will need to be built in the district in each of the next five years if the district is not to be adjudged at planning appeals as not having met its target. Were the target not met, in planning law the Local Plan would be regarded as not up to date and would not apply at appeal hearings, therefore it would be ‘open season’ for developers again.

“There is only one year in the last 20 in which more than 1,000 houses were built, when the district grabbed money on offer from Gordon Brown and fast tracked developments with a mixed record at at Wyndham Park and Wincanton. The rest of the time the district has built around 500 houses per year, which gives an idea just how far short we could fall behind.

“So, it is with mixed feelings that I look at the inspector’s report. A lot of the good things in the plan are sadly at risk from the bad things. I am not against all development, but it has to be in the right place and have the right infrastructure and facilities.

“In Chard, for example, we want to get the regeneration scheme in place and not overload the roads through the town, and the plan looks to do that, but this will not apply if the district’s housing target is missed.

“In Ilminster we want development to complement the existing town, not turn the town into an over-built dormitory. Over-development is a risk if the housing target is missed, a recipe for even more unhappiness on all sides of the town’s development issues.

“Crewkerne and Wincanton have been told they may get more housing, depending on early review by the council, and would lose control if the housing target is missed.

“And Yeovil, which needs to get more people living downtown to regenerate and support its businesses, shops and restaurants, but doesn’t on the real numbers require yet more big urban extensions, faces yet more bolt-on green field developments that do little to upgrade the town’s infrastructure. That process would just accelerate and be even less controlled if the house build target is not met, with consequent problems for school places, traffic and health care availability.

“South Petherton faces similar pressures that could get even worse.

“One thing is clear to me; the old thinking about development in our area is stale. A huge opportunity has been missed locally to plan for development in many areas that will solve problems rather than create them.

“I do hope later this year local Conservative councillors may be in a position to review these matters and put proper solutions in place, in control of the district council. To do that we need to vote for them though. I will certainly give them my full support.” ‘

South Somerset District Councillor lives in America, claims allowances

And there is nothing anyone can do about it as the rules say a councillor only has to attend one full council meeting every six months. And even if you never attend a meeting, as long as the Chairman accepts apologies they don’t actually need to do anything at all.

Some councils publish statistics about how many meetings their councillors attend – but not South Somerset or East Devon.

An everyday story of countryfolk …

Young woman: Dad, what would you think of Pete Exeter as a husband for me?

Father: Now, hold on young lady, we know nothing about him. What are his job prospects? Can he offer you a good lifestyle? Is he trustworthy? And what do we know about those relatives that he’s so cosy with – the Teignbridges? I need to know a whole lot more about him and them before I can answer that question. We East-Devons don’t just jump into things without thinking about them first, you know.

Young woman: Too late, Dad. We got married yesterday. Now, about you – you’ve been alone too long, so I’ve set up a blind date for you with a woman I met on the bus – seems nice – Southie Somerset is her name. Oh, and the banns are being read on Sunday and I’ve booked the honeymoon …

Affordable homes? In your dreams!

But we have known this for a long time in East Devon where even enormous schemes are allowed to build without any affordable homes at all:

though coincidentally it appears to be the case in South Somerset too:

Areas without a landscape designation can escape development on landscape grounds

Interesting ruling in a planning case in Crewkerne just announced which could have implications for sites in East Devon. South Somerset (as one might expect) did not have a local plan or a 5 year land supply. The council dragged its heels about a decision so the planning application went straight to a Planning Inspector for decision. Had the council pulled its fingers out, one of the objections to the site would have been the impact on the landscape character and accessibility of the site. The planning application was for a site that had been considered for inclusion in the (draft) local plan but which had been rejected.

The site does not have a specific landscape designation but the Inspector states:

The appeal site and the surrounding countryside have no established landscape designation. Nevertheless, that does not mean that the area is not a valued landscape which the Framework advocates should be protected and enhanced. It is a highly attractive undulating landscape in which the relatively small fields, said by the Council to be pre-17th century ancient enclosures, are largely defined by well established hedgerows a and intermittent mature trees. The site acts as an intimate scale buffer between the town’s built edge and the larger agricultural rolling fields of the surrounding landscape. The area has intrinsic character and beauty, which the Framework, in one of its core planning principles, advocates should be recognised. … there are some parts of the appeal site which have more moderate landscape sensitivity. …

…In conclusion, I am not persuaded by the appellant’s contention that the design of the proposed residential scheme fully respects the form, character and setting of the locality. The development would have a significant and adverse impact on the character and quality of the local landscape particularly when viewed from nearby publicly accessible vantage points, …

The Inspector goes on to say that lack of suitable public transport to the site is an issue and that he finds the associated travel plan weak. He also mentions that the developer says that the Local Plan underestimates how many new houses will be needed. However, the Inspector is not persuaded by this argument as the developer cannot say exactly how many houses ARE needed. He is also similarly not persuaded by the developers when they cite their “experience” and “opinion”.
He goes on to say:

“Boosting significantly the supply of housing will inevitably require housing to be built on some greenfield sites which will result in changes to local environments. Nevertheless, the substantial and specific harm to the natural environment that would arise from this development, and the shortcomings of the location in terms of its accessibility and sustainability would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the a acknowledged benefits of the proposal. Therefore, I conclude that the appeal must fail.

The full decision notice is here

Harry Potter, Darth Vader and elephants: last night’s “full” council meeting



Elephants and Dark Forces rampaged around the room at EDDC’s first full council since July last night and  the public address system squealed and howled as if possessed by Harry Potter’s Dementors (or perhaps by the elephants).

The man with the screwdriver on the night was the Chief Executive himself, but his best fiddlings with an array of knobs could not prevent speeches from the dais sound like Darth Vader (mixed movie metaphors here surely?) summoning those from the Dark Side of the Sid Valley and beyond. Or was it a protest on the part of the elephants because they were missing the dulcet tones of unusually absent Leader Paul Diviani? Maybe see if one of those miraculously recruited 25 new canvassers knows a good sparks before the next meeting, Mark.

Longest-serving councillor Douglas Hull did his best to deliver the devastating news he had just received in the previous hour that Axminster Hospital is to lose all its overnight beds, but for some reason fellow Axminsterite and Chairman of the Council Graham Godbeer did everything he could to fluster him, made all the more menacing by the Darth Vader microphone set-up.

It was not dirty laundry Mr Godbeer or Leader-for-the-Night Andrew Moulding (also Axminster) wanted washing in public. Not when there were so many best kept village and long service awards to be dished out.  Whilst nobody would be grumpy enough to deny these good people due recognition, it does make it more soul destroying for this to be followed by bland supplementary answers to incisive written questions (and bland written answers) from Independent councillors sent in prior to the meeting.

The Independents shrewdly chose to reserve comment on many matters until the Leader’s chair can be filled again by Mr Diviani in person. Other Tory councillors must have known it was understudy night because we lost count of the apologies for absence. Unusual this for October – it is usually August when councillors are away from their posts. Perhaps Harry Potter or Darth Vader strike again and those unavailable were preparing themselves for Halloween by sharpening their fangs or preparing for an assault by the Dark Forces at a later date – like election day, perhaps.

Claire Wright did her best, yet again, to induce Deputy Exec Richard Cohen to give the people of East Devon the merest hint of a suspicion of a whiff of what his action resisting the Information Commissioner was currently costing us, but he seemed neither to have an estimate of what has been spent so far, nor any idea of what final cost would ultimately be. Not sure how this sits with public sector procurement policy?

Two questions from the public. Paul Arnott asked Mark Williams why he had not told Tim Wood, Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committe, that he had been summoned before an all-party Select Committee at Westminster on electoral matters to explain why he had done no legally-obligatory door-to-door canvassing of the electorate in recent years. Mr Williams replied that he had taken “soundings”, and that’s why he hadn’t told Cllr Wood. “Soundings” lovely word that – should be the opposite of transparent.

Paul Freeman gave a forensic analysis, following up his lauded previous work, on why Mr Williams stated strategy at Westminster of relying on land-line phone canvassing might not be working in the era of the mobile phone, and mentioned again Cllr Eileen Wragg’s experience of finding house-after-house in one Exmouth street with unregistered voters (a fact brought to the attention of Mr Williams at the time).

The Tories did their best to fluster the redoubtable Mr Freeman with their usual background rumblings, and Chairman Godbeer tried to cut him off before his three minutes was up (is this a portent of things to come: cutting down the number of people who can speak and then gradually cutting down the time to nothing!) but they would do well to listen again to what he was saying. Not least, why South Somerset, where Mr Williams is also CEO, has discovered more than tens thousand extra voters in recent years by knocking on doors, while East Devon (CEO Mark Williams) has discovered none by not knocking on any doors.

Mark Williams thanked Mr Freeman him for being the cause of his being summoned to Westminster, where he said he was able to boast to the nation of a consistently more than 90% registration of the electorate. The elephant in the room here was, more than 90% of what, precisely? More than 90% of 100% of the electorate minus the ?% of missing voters. Difficult equation to process that one.

The other standout event was the presentation of a 900 strong petition to the council from the people of Seaton asking Helen Parr’s Development Management Committee not to approve any planning application for a site next to Tesco other than for the much promised and much needed hotel. The site is now being hunted down by McCarthy Stone as yet another retirement complex. An excellent speech from Seaton councillor Steve Williams, followed by the delivery of the petition, which will now be put before the DMC as a consideration before any application is debated, was probably the only moment when the electorate were actually heard in the entire pantomime.


Does our East Devon District Council Chief Executive have a split personality when it comes to voter registration and engagement?

Our CEO, Mark Williams (shared with South Somerset) appears to have a split personality when it comes to voter registration.

In the large rural area of South Somerset, where door to door canvassing has always been done he sides with the Parliamentary Committee on Voter Registration which says that this is a mandatory step and it is breaking the law not to do it. A Committee member noted that the canvassing produced some 11,000- 12,000 extra names on the register in South Somerset.

In the large rural area of East Devon, where door to door canvassing has not been done since at least 2011, he sides with – er, well, himself and the ERO of Mid Devon – who say they are NOT breaking the law when they fail to do the canvassing. He says that this does not result in losing any voters as they are picked up “by other means” and that the other means are “more amiable” than going out to individuals on cold dark nights and trying to bribe them to register by saying that if you don’t you might not get a credit card. He did not address the concerns of EDA which says at least 6,000 voters were missing from the register at the last Euro election.

Here is a press release from the Electoral Commission, that says you MUST conduct house to house canvassing:

Here is the relevant part of the legislation. In South Somerset, Mr Williams follows it to the letter, in East Devon he chooses to believe that it gives him the right to be “flexible”.

“Duties of the Electoral Registration Officer

Steps to be taken by the Electoral Registration Officer

1.1 Under Section 9 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 (RPA 1983) an Electoral Registration Officer has a duty to maintain registers of UK Parliamentary and local government electors containing the name, qualifying address and electoral number of those persons appearing to them to be entitled to be registered in it.

1.2 This duty on the Electoral Registration Officer to maintain the register includes, but is not limited to, the requirement to conduct an annual canvass in accordance with Section 10 of the RPA 1983 for the purpose of ascertaining any persons who are entitled to be registered. This annual canvass is conducted with reference to the relevant date of 15 October, the relevant date being the date on which a person must be resident at the address they are applying to be registered at.”


section 10 of the RotPA says:

“the registration officer shall—

(a) have a house to house or other sufficient inquiry made as to the persons entitled to be registered (excluding persons entitled to be registered in pursuance of a service declaration);”

In East Devon, Mr Williams relies on the last sentence to justify NOT canvassing, in South Somerset he relies on the information preceding it above to justify canvassing.

So, it seems Mr Williams has one rule for the Liberal Democrat controlled South Somerset District Council and one rule for the Conservative controlled East Devon District Council.

Will he explain the reasons for this difference at tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting?

The peasants of Devon are revolting!

What a GREAT time to be an Independent candidate!

Grassroots rebellion over arrogant leadership in Devon and Cornwall
By Western Morning News | Posted: October 05, 2014
By Phil Goodwin

Westcountry councils face a growing rebellion from a grassroots movement weary at being ruled by an out-of-touch and “arrogant” leadership, the Western Morning News on Sunday reports today.

Campaigns have sprung up across the region in opposition to a perceived centralisation of power which has left many voters feeling removed from the democratic process.

A revolt in Cornwall has seen parish councils form an alliance against the “emerging dictatorship” of the unitary “super council” and threaten to picket County Hall in protest.

In Mid-Devon, a petition has been launched against the cabinet-style of government, where decision-making power is confined to a handful of senior Conservative figures.

In East Devon a quasi-political pressure group has been formed to unify opposition after a series of controversial planning issues. Paul Arnott, chairman of the East Devon Alliance, said chief executives and unelected officers wield excessive influence and are answerable only to a powerful political elite.

“What we see now is a kind of corporate CEO mentality which is just not appropriate at a district council,” he added. “This not Wall Street – it is East Devon, and we are supposed to be following a localism agenda.

“The effect is setting a tone of unelected arrogance – we would like to see a return to the wise and kindly town clerk approach of days gone by.”

Labour’s Local Government Act of 2000 introduced modifications to the old committee system, including the cabinet and leader model, which is common throughout Devon and Cornwall. This allows the ruling party to populate the cabinet with its own members, regardless of the make-up of the council.

In Mid-Devon, where the Conservatives hold a 57per cent majority of the 42 seats, the Liberal Democrats and Independents have no representation and all of the senior power is concentrated in nine Tory councillors.

The same set-up can be seen at Devon County Council, where Tories hold 61per cent of the seats but all the cabinet posts, and at East Devon District Council, where a 71per cent majority holds 100per cent of the cabinet posts.

The Campaign for Democracy in Mid-Devon hopes to collect the 3,000 signatures required to force a referendum on the style of governance.

Nick Way, a Lib Dem member at the authority, supports a return to the committee system. “I think it is more democratic, particularly for a small authority like us,” he said.

“The current system is almost like a dictatorship of the majority – at the end of the day they have a majority but a change would make it easier for their back-benchers to have more of a say and influence policy.”

Harvey Siggs, a Somerset county councillor and vice chairman of South West Councils, says he understands the frustration given the cuts but disagrees with claims of a democratic deficit.

“In Somerset we spend a lot of time trying not to be remote,” he added.

“A good cabinet does its absolute best to be as transparent as possible and we still have to be accountable to the full council.

“With the pace of life and all the things that need to be dealt with, I don’t think the committee system is fit for purpose.

“All too often the disaffected people are around planning. There are winners and losers but mostly, the losers don’t complain.”

In Cornwall, representatives of 15 parish councils packed a hall in Chacewater last week in a bid to rally all 213 town and parish councils to join a revolt against Cornwall Council.

The gathering came in response to the infamous “Chacewater Letter” which branded the unitary authority an “emerging dictatorship”.

The letter, in July, criticised Cornwall Council’s lack of communication, its savings plans, planning policy, arms lengths organisations and highly paid officers.

At the highly charged meeting on Tuesday, fellow parish councillors agreed and declared change at Cornwall Council must happen.

More militant members called to draft in the local government ombudsman, for the formation of an alliance of parish councils and even for protests at the doors of County Hall.

Truro City councillor Armorel Carlyon, who chaired the meeting despite her own council not endorsing the criticism, told those gathered she could see the “democratically elected members being airbrushed out of the picture” by non-elected council officers.


By far our most popular recent post

The more we read the job specification at our sister council in South Somerset the more it sounds utterly perfect for our departing Economic Development Manager and ex-Hon Sec of the East Devon Business Forum, Nigel Harrison.

But perhaps the large number of hits was other EDDC officers seeing an escape from the problems of our Local Plan? Oh no, that can’t be right: they haven’t got one either!

Gizza job EDDC – or maybe relocate me to South Somerset .

On offer: 2 Planning Officer posts, 1 Enforcement Officer post, 1 Regeneration Officer, 1 Estates and Management Technical Officer.

Could this have anything to do with masses of development, little or no enforcement and new and novel ways of selling off the family silver to pay for Skypark?

Oh, and do we see the PERFECT new job for departing Economic Development Officer Nigel Harrison (ex Hon Sec of the controversial East Devon Business Forum)at our sister council – South Somerset DC, which shares our CEO Mark Williams:

Out with the old, in with the new …. well, sort of

Last night apparently marked the last full Council meeting to be attended by Deputy Director and Monitoring Officer, Ms Denise Lyon (who was seen to smile, chat and yawn a lot according to members of the public).

CEO Mark Williams seemed to suggest that the role of Monitoring Officer might pass to her opposite number in South Somerset, Ian Clarke, apparently as part of the sharing agreement the two councils have (where currently the only sharing is of the Chief Executive, 50/50).

Surely this is an important role that should be advertised?

The “duty to co-operate” – how abour some co-operation to take OUR overspill now?

The National Planning Policy Statement requires councils to alert other councils around them when it seems that they cannot build enough houses in their own district and to ask those councils to take some or all of their overspill.

Exeter, of course, now has not only Cranbrook to take its overspill in East Devon but also the thousands of extra houses agreed by EDDC’s Development
Management Committee in the EDDC area adjoining Pinhoe.

Now we have an application for (initially?) 300 houses at Uplyme to accommodate the “needs” of Lyme Regis (perhaps for more second homes?) on the A3052 at Uplyme in East Devon.

It might seem now, that having accommodated Lyme and Exeter we have run out of space for our own houses.

So, what about South Somerset which conveniently shares a Chief Executive with us and is also coincidentally in similar trouble with its Local Plan.

There are plenty of green fields between Axminster and Chard (particularly around Yarcombe in the Blackdown Hills near the border) and so convenient for commuting to Exeter, Taunton and beyond, especially if the A303 is widened.

Why hasn’t the Chief Executive been talking to himself?