“Nearly 40 million people live in UK areas with illegal air pollution”

Owl says: you don’t hear (current) DCC councillor and its roads supremo Stuart Hughes (Conservative, ex- Monster Raving Loony Party) mentioning this in his election speeches … though you DO hear contender Councillor Marianne Rixson (Independent East Devon Alliance)doing so and drawing attention to its implications for the health of local communities.

“…The extent of the air pollution crisis nationally is exposed in the data which shows 59% of the population are living in towns and cities where nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution breaches the lawful level of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre of air. …”


Sidford hustings: strong performance from Councillor Rixson (Independent EDA)

Best candidate for County Council? It’s your choice. Voting’s on 4th May!

The Devon County Council hustings at Sidford on Wednesday evening (19 April),brought together five of the six candidates vying for the Sidmouth division, which now covers the whole of the Sid Valley.

They are Jeannie Alderdice (Green), Ray Davison (Labour), Stuart Hughes (Conservative), Marianne Rixson (Independent East Devon Alliance) and Richard Wright (UKIP). Only Lewis Ragbourn (Lib Dem) was unable to attend the event, which was Chaired by Cathy Debenham of the Sidford-Sidbury Residents’ Group.

A common thread for most candidates was “transparency, accountability and listening to residents”; concerns about cuts to NHS, social care, and education; and inappropriate development. Despite passionate speeches from Jeannie Allerdice (“EU environmental rules should apply post-Brexit”); Ray Davison (“Conservative austerity policy is past its sell-by date”);and Richard Wright (“countryside not concrete”), just two serious candidates emerged based on their respective records as serving councillors: Marianne Rixson, and Stuart Hughes.

Cllr Rixson has a solid reputation for thoroughness and efficiency, much appreciated by local people in the successful fight against the planned Sidford business park. Long-serving Cllr Hughes offered promises such as “the long-awaited Sidmouth traffic management plan”, and “funding for Alma Bridge” this year.

On the basis of this hustings, Caroline Lucas’ suggestion this week of an informal coalition of e.g. Greens, Labour and Lib Dems, against the Conservative Party machine, sounds a sensible idea.

A second hustings, arranged by the Vision Group for Sidmouth, is scheduled for 28th April , 7pm, in the cellar bar at Kennaway House. For details, see futuresforumvgs.blogspot.com Voting for this DCC election is 4th May, 7am-10pm.

Hugo Swire – another job – Twitterer par excellence!

The proof? This wonderful picture of him, Stuart Hughes and A.N. Other – under another wonderful picture of an egg laid by one of the hens at his MID-DEVON home recently posted to his Twitter account:

Perhaps the photographer thought calves, ankles and feet were their best features to woo voters with.

Mrs Swire, who is employed at around £35,000/year in his office, is said to “help” with his publicity – perhaps she was the person taking the photo or putting it on to Twitter? Though never having seen her in the flesh locally (has anyone not in the higher echelons of the local Tory party EVER seen her?) Owl wouldn’t be able to identify her.

Perhaps she’s home in MID-DEVON looking after the hens. Important job if you want fresh breakfast eggs.

Just another reminder about Mr Swire’s view of his “non-job” in EAST Devon:

Devon Tories are running scared

How does Owl know?

Sajid Javid was in Devon today drumming up support for their DCC manifesto.

Once upon a time, Devon was such a safe county that there would have been no need whatsoever for the big guns from national government. Bringing them in now shows just how frightened they are this time around.

Wonder what Leader John Hart thought about the bloke who has helped strip his council to the bone pretending all is well?

And that photo of ex-Monster Raving Loony Hughes, austerity-cutter Javid, worried-looking Hart and super-cool (not!) Swire:


Really, if you are looking for a reason NOT to vote Tory (sensible people vote true Independent or, if no Independent is standing the person who would have expected to come second to a Tory, whatever party) this is the photo you should carry around in your wallet!


Is there a DCC election coming up? You bet!

How does Owl know? DCC Highways councillor Stuart Hughes takes a sudden interest in the A3052! Which apparently leads to Sidmouth and on to Seaton … funny, Owl thought it led direct to Lyme Regis … with Sidmouth and Seaton offshoots … B3176 leads to Sidmouth, B3052 to Seaton… or at least they did until today …

Expect more and more of this sort of stuff between now and purdah …

which must start on 27 March 2017:


which states:

Publicity [during purdah] is defined as “any communication, in whatever form, addressed to the public at large or to a section of the public.”

The first question to ask is ‘could a reasonable person conclude that you were spending public money to influence the outcome of the election?’ In other words it must pass the ‘is it reasonable’ test. When making your decision, you should consider the following:

You should not:

• produce publicity on matters which are politically controversial
• make references to individual politicians or groups in press releases
• arrange proactive media or events involving candidates
• issue photographs which include candidates
• supply council photographs or other materials to councillors or political group staff unless you have verified that they will not be used for campaigning purposes
• continue hosting third-party blogs or e-communications
• help with national political visits (as this would involve using public money to support a particular candidate or party). These should be organised by political parties with no cost or resource implications for the council.

You should also think carefully before you:

• Continue to run campaign material to support your own local campaigns. If the campaign is already running and is non-controversial (for example, on issues like recycling or foster care) and would be a waste of public money to cancel or postpone them, then continue. However, you should always think carefully if a campaign could be deemed likely to influence the outcome of the election and you should not use councillors in press releases and events in pre-election periods. In such cases you should stop or defer them. An example might be a campaign on an issue which has been subject of local political debate and/or disagreement.

• Launch any new consultations. Unless it is a statutory duty, don’t start any new consultations or publish report findings from consultation exercises, which could be politically sensitive.”


Just so everyone is clear!

Mark Williams refuses to answer questions – because (he says) they were not questions

As if you needed evidence of stonewalling and lack of transparency, here is an extract from minutes of Full Council meeting last week.

Although the Chairman (Stuart Hughes) could see that the speakers were questioning officers and councillors – indeed he asked the CEO to respond to questions, CEO Mark Williams neatly sidestepped the request by calling what people had said as “statements.


And would developers who give statements at Development Management Committee meetings be told they would not get answers as they had not asked a specific question in their submission?

“*46 Public speaking
The Chairman welcomed those present and invited members of the public to speak to the Council.

Sally Galsworthy spoke on the Queen’s Drive development making reference to the one remaining developer involved in the project and commenting on the risks should that developer pull out. She spoke of the anger of the residents in Exmouth towards the project expressed at meetings, the town poll and on a recent march, which had been attended by some 400 people.

Laura Freeman made reference to the outcome of the recent town poll seeking additional independent consultation on the redevelopment of Queen’s Drive. She considered that despite the restricted opening times of the poll, there had been a good turnout and that the outcome should be honoured and not ignored. She requested that the whole project be reviewed with a new outline application reflecting what the people of Exmouth wished to see for the area.

Jane Ashton spoke on the costs relating to both the Queen’s Drive development and relocation and also made reference to the collection of Section 106 and CIL contributions. She considered that the failure to foresee the additional costs involved in both projects was the result of the incompetence of those involved and that they should be removed from their positions. In respect of Queen’s Drive she commented that it would cost the Council less if it was to start the whole project from scratch.

Alec Huett advised that he had attended many meetings in the past regarding the regeneration of Exmouth and that Queen’s Drive had never been seen as a priority. He queried why the masterplan had changed so much from what had first been envisaged and commented that the plans would split the town into two leisure and retail zones. He advised that he was against any large development on the sea front when it should be the town centre that was the priority for regeneration works.

Richard Thurlow spoke on the increased costs relating to the refurbishment of Exmouth Town Hall – which would now cost more that refurbishing the Knowle. He advised that there was no detail or adequate rationale to explain the reasons for the increased costs and therefore did not consider that Members could make their decision based on fact.

Tony Green spoke on the Development Management Committee meeting held on 6 December and congratulated the Committee on their decision regarding the Knowle site. He stated that the Committee had to make their decision on material planning considerations only and therefore any comments relating to the relocation project or the adequacy of the existing building for its purpose should have been disregarded to avoid the appearance of bias. He asked for confirmation that this was the case and if so, asked that members of the committee be reminded of this.

The Chairman invited the Chief Executive to respond to QUESTIONS [Owl’s capitals] raised by the speakers. In response to the first five speakers, the Chief Executive advised that no questions had been asked and therefore they would be noted as statements, however he advised that some of the issues raised were covered in the Cabinet minutes.

In response to the last speaker, the Chief Executive advised that information was often submitted by the applicant giving reasons for a proposal – the key issue was that when the Committee came to vote they only did so on relevant material planning considerations and not immaterial planning considerations.”