What it’s like to be a REAL independent councillor

Newton (Abbot) Says No won council seats in Teignbridge with its concerns about over-development of the town. This is what it has been like for them since May:

“Ever since NSN started we’ve been lied about, misinformed against and threatened with the Police. When we started the website emails started arriving from those we’d featured on the ’rogues gallery’ page threatening police action. The Police didn’t take any. When that didn’t work, Christophers and co went to the Mid Devon Advertiser and got a front-page story about how awful we are. It won us the election.

In the run-up to that election, the then College Ward Councillor Ann Jones posted comments on the NSN Facebook page saying what she thought of us. I replied that she could say what she liked but she’d soon be out of office. She wrote “Is that a threat?” I wasn’t sure what sort of threat she thought it was. The threat of democracy? Anyway she called the police. The Police ignored her.

Throughout our election campaign we had the Police attaché to the election calling us up, sounding increasingly weary, because he had to. We couldn’t put up a single poster without someone claiming that it broke the rules of the electoral commission. Was any action against us ever taken? Of course not.

So here we are again. A shadowy cabal of Liberal Democrat councillors are putting together a committee to investigate Newton Says No and its ‘online activities’ (apparently). And they’re involving (scary organ music) … the Police! Yes! More of your taxpayer-funded police man hours will be drawn away from preventing burglary, stabbings and suicide and devoted to staring uncomprehendingly at our Facebook page, sipping tea and shrugging.

So what are these threatening missives, that curdle the blood and damn us as the gang of terrorists we are? They are two comments on my Facebook page, made by people I’ve never met. The first was in response to a satirical piece I wrote about a meeting on how to develop Wolborough Hill, at which I commented that there, awful as it was, there was a lot of nice cake. I took a picture of the cake. someone called Edith said that she hoped they choke on their cake.

The second, which I REALLY had to search for, was made by someone called Emily and says “Whoever came up with this effing plan should be shot”.

Notice how Emily even took care to write the word ‘effing’, so concerned was she about causing any offence to anyone who might read it. She then goes on to say that she would rather we do a march than withhold council tax because, not unreasonably, she doesn’t want to get into too much trouble.
That’s the class of thuggishness and villainy we’re dealing with here.These are two of the people we’re apparently working up into a pitchfork mob.

Captain Hook says it’s nothing to do with him. We believe him because, as much as he may dislike us, Gordon is a man of some principle and would not have the discourtesy to go to the press without telling us. According to Ross at the MDA it is ‘a group of Lib Dems, possibly on behalf of council officers’.

Now I know what a threatening comment is, and if I saw one it wouldn’t last two seconds on my page. But these are just people calmly expressing anger and frustration. Frustration with the people who sit in offices planning the ruination of their environment and of this corner of a despoiled, burning planet. Why shouldn’t they? The inability of these people to deal maturely with the fact that somebody, somewhere, doesn’t like them is I suppose part of this age of professional victimhood. But there’s a darker side to all this.

They want the police to make us take down any criticism, no matter how minor. Not just our own words but comments by anyone who contributes to our pages. They will want us to delete anything that expresses anger at the council and its officers, for fear of getting in trouble. They want us cut off from the caucus of people who voted for us and for whom we promised to work.

They want to make it impossible for us to criticise this council, because that will be SO much easier than actually listening to people. So much easier than steering the bulldozers away from a site of special scientific interest with an ancient water course and critically endangered species. And as ever, nobody wants to feel threatened by consensus. So they pretend it’s a different kind of threat; a threat that will win some sympathy. They pretend its a threat against the person, which they implicate us in. It’s diabolical.

We imagine that this complaint will be fobbed off like all the other attempts to use the police to intimidate us. It would be nice if someone could be arrested for wasting police time. But maybe – depending on who is ‘friendly’ with who, and who might be in the Masons – we will get the machinery of the State cracking down on us like a sledgehammer on a piece of very nice, clingfilmed cake.

Whatever happens, we’ll carry on. And we’ll tell you exactly what we’re doing, and what we’ve said, as we always have – rather than sneak around in the shadows feeding nothing-stories to the press. You know, like people with something to hide might do.”

Source: Say No to Newton Facebook page

What’s the future for the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan? Highly debatable … unless …

Exeter – minor changes on 2 May (new Green Councillor, first Independendent councillor) but Labour still in control

Mid Devon – now no overall control (Lib Dems, Indies and Greens outnumber Tories)

Teignbridge – Lib Dems won control

East Devon – now no overall control (Indies, Lib Dems and Greens outnumber Tories)

Oh dear, looks like GESP may have to go back to the drawing board …

UNLESS the previous (unelected) councillors controlling it (Diviani for East Devon) and their bossy officers stitched it up before the falls from grace …

Heavily pro-developer Leader at Teignbridge District Council ousted by Independent!

CONSERVATIVE leader Jeremy Christophers made a quick exit from the count hall after discovering he’d lost his top job.

Independent member Adrian Patch scooped 376 votes with second place going to Rob Steemson on 321 votes and Mr Christophers coming third with 222.

Mr Patch said: ‘It’s a bit strange but I’m very happy. It’s been a strange campaign and I raised my eyebrows when so many Independents added their names to the campaign. …

Mr Christophers [ousted Tory Leader] didn’t answer his phone when called by the Mid-Devon Advertiser after his swift departure.”

http://www.middevonadvertiser.co.uk/article.cfm?id=118188&fbclid=IwAR3_3RJhVABC5ez5fuCVYOUdLks0hTSeFB0IWpraD_0KURA_l8ptaA2ta7w

Another developer pleads poverty – can’t afford to build affordable housing (lol)!

Councillors said they were horrified they were being asked to ‘give away poor people’s right to a house’.

Last month, Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee approved a scheme that will see 10 new two and three-bed apartments built on the site of the Neilston Retirement Hotel in Woodway Road, but only if an affordable housing contribution of £86,431 was provided.

But an independent viability appraisal confirmed that a contribution that large would mean that the development would not be viable and that they would not be able to proceed.

The application went back before planners on Tuesday morning and they voted to accept the recommendation of the planning officer that an affordable housing contribution of £37,500 was requested.

Had the application been totally policy compliant in terms of a 25 per cent affordable homes or off-site contributions for Teignmouth, then developers would have been asked for a total liability of £172,863.

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst said: “I am horrified that we could just give away poor people’s right to a house and I couldn’t possibly support it. I don’t think what is there now is special but what they are proposing looks like Colditz to me.”

Cllr Jackie Hook added: “Last time we were content with the application and were happy to see these new apartments built and we compromised in favour of a contribution of one affordable unit.

“The applicant’s appraisal identifies a developer’s profit of £228,280, so we should ask for £50,000, not the £37,500, and they will hardly notice the difference.”

Cllr Dave Rollason added: “A £228,000 profit is a lot of money. The need for affordable housing is massive and it is unfair that we are taking money from the pockets who need it most and giving it to developers.”

She added: “You either have to accept the independent advice over viability, or refuse the application.”

Cllr Phil Bullivant said it would be very difficult to go against the professional advice given and he could not see the evidence to go against it.

Cllr Dennis Smith, chairman of the committee, added: “We asked for this report and now seem to want to just be ignoring what it says. The viability statement says that £37,500 is fair, so I don’t see how we can argue about it.”

The proposal of Cllr Hook to increase the contribution required to £50,000 was lost, and then councillors voted by 14 votes to three to approve the application with an affordable housing contribution of £37,500.

The scheme would see the demolition of the existing building and the construction of a three storey apartment building containing 10 new two and three-bed apartments, plus 18 car parking spaces and two double garages.

Councillors had previously been on a site visit and raised no objections to the principle of the application, with Cllr Charlie Dennis said that the building has deteriorated, is past its best and at present it is a ‘sad thing to see’.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/theres-busy-homeless-camp-exeter-2565711

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan – Exeter leaks its “vision”*

“But not yet in East Devon until July 2019 (see below). It seems East Devon is the only council keeping ALL its plans secret until after the 2 May 2019 district council elections.

Fishy? You bet!

Anyway, here’s what we currently know:

Interesting proposals for changes to Sidmouth Road and Junction 30 of the M5. The Motorway Services and Sowton Park and Ride being developed as a “Mixed Neighbourhood” (see image above).

The Governments require the Greater Exeter Housing target to be 53,200 new homes over the next 20 years. That is for the combined area governed by East Devon, Teignbridge, Mid Devon and Exeter.

Exeter’s housing ambitions

Karime Hassan, chief executive and growth director of Exeter City Council revealed this week a proposal for 12,000 new homes in the City of Exeter over the next 20 years. His vision of “Liveable Exeter”, for delivering a transformational housing programme for Exeter from 2020 to 2040. involves the creation of 8 new neighbourhoods.

Exeter’s published Vision

Red Cow Village (St David’s) – 664 homes in new neighbourhood, including new work space, on both sides of the railway around St David’s Station.

Water Lane (close to Exe Valley Park) – 1,567 homes. A space for expanding leisure attractions near the quay, with low traffic or car-free development with attractive cycle and walking connections.

Marsh Barton – 5,544 homes in a new neighbourhood. It will remain an important employment and retail area, but with the integration of living and working, to make better use of riverside location. Development linked to the new proposed train station. Creation of new types of work space, including light industrial, workshops, office and shared work space.

East Gate (Heavitree Road) – 962 new homes, an enhanced approach to the city centre from the east, reduced traffic on Heavitree Road and a greater provision for public transport, walking and cycling. New places to live close to the city centre will exist alongside existing neighbourhoods.

West Gate (Western Way) – 617 new homes, opening up access to the river and canal from the city centre, a new cultural destination, an expanded and connected park at the heart of the city, a “Green Bridge” promoting active travel across the river.

South Gate (Holloway Street/South Street linked via Topsham Road) – 300 new homes, establishing an improved link between the city centre and the historic quayside, with a greater emphasis on the wall, city gates and Southernhay.

North Gate (North Street) – 308 new homes, a new approach to the city from St David’s, uncovering the medieval city wall.
Sandy Gate (land off Sandygate roundabout) – 1,050 new homes in a new sustainable and well-connected mixed-use neighbourhood, bridging the city and the new and existing neighbourhoods to the east, providing recreational, cultural and entertainment space where Exeter meets the proposed Clyst Valley Park.

Mid Devon’s published ambitions.

Mid Devon’s Local Plan is almost complete with a Planning Inspectors hearing due in the next few weeks to consult on their final draft.

Culm Valley on the South side of the M5 opposite Cullumpton create a new community of up to 5,000, with a new Motorway junction and railway Station.

Junction 27. A landmark project for a leisure and tourism development involving Tim Smit from the Edan Project
Tiverton Eastern Urban Extension will cover 153ha, to the east of Tiverton.

Teignbridge future ambitions.

Teignbridge has just started a review of their Local Plan and therefore their plans are in the infancy.

Brownfield Their preferred option to develop brownfield land for development however, the required number of homes the government require Teignbridge to build, is not possible to meet the housing needs from brownfield land only. Therefore, open countryside will need to be considered for development to meet the housing needs.

Garden village is being considered with the new settlement proposal to be between 1500-10,000 homes.

So – What are East Devon’s Ambitions?

Hard to say.

Although the other 3 Authorities are keeping their residents well informed on their sections of the GESP proposals, East Devon has been an almost total blackout! There has been a Local Plan in place since 2016 with most of new development being built in an area known as the West End. That is an area close to Exeter’s border plus the new Town of Cranbrook.

At East Devon District Council Strategic Planning Committee on Tuesday 29th January it was hoped that Agenda item 12 would be able to explain more on the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan strategy and provide councillors some clarity on the East Devon Local Plan, plus the East Devon Villages Plan only agreed last year which most councillors only learned the previous week, would be jettisoned and replaced with a brand new East Devon Local Plan by 2023.

Local Plan to be replaced

At the meeting last week, the Head of Planning Ed Freeman explained that the present Local Plan was in 2 parts, with the section on Policies would require total re-writing because the Policies would be “substantially superseded” by the emerging GESP Policies. He also explained that the Villages Plan policies, will be merged into the new Local Plan.

Tory Councillor Philip Skinner who along with Tory Councillor Paul Diviani who are the only 2 East Devon`s elected representatives on the GESP “steering group committee” along with 2 elected members from the 3 other Authorities gave only a few hints on some of the latest thoughts for the GESP Strategy for East Devon.

Higher Density Housing for Exeter proposed for GESP

Regarding a question on Housing, he explained that it had been decided by the steering group, that each authority had a certain quota of dwellings proposed and it was not correct that if one Authority was unable to provide the housing numbers, other Authorities were required to build extra dwellings to offset the shortfall. He also explained that Exeter City Council had to return to the drawing board to enable extra dwelling numbers through “much higher density” within the confines of the City.

East Devon will take on most of the Industrial and commercial development for the GESP

Councillor Skinner also told the meeting regarding business development that he aimed to “Get the best for East Devon” and explained that to “Our strength and Exeter’s demise, they do not have the capacity, but we do!” and claimed most of the commercial and industrial development “will be in our patch”

After 2 years of joint secret meetings.

Exeter’s residents know what to expect with “Liveable Exeter”, Teignbridge residents are being told that their local plan is being re-assessed and are having public consultations, and Mid Devon residents have been through their public consultations and an agreed local plan about to be approved.

However, the residents of East Devon only know that their local plan is now being superseded by a new plan with substantial more housing and more industrial, commercial and business development.

All will be revealed in July 2019 after the District Council Elections. Who will you trust to steer East Devon through the next few years of obtaining the most appropriate and suitable Planning Policies. Leave it to the Tory Councillors who have kept everyone in the dark?

Or choose an Independent who are the major opposition for East Devon?

Teignbridge District Council Tory majority down to 1 – implications for Greater Exeter

Owl says: The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan must be approved by all linked authorities. EDDC has already refused to sign up to the latest draft and now Teignbridge can no longer rely on whipped Tories. 1 vacancy, 23 Tories, 6 Independents and 16 Lib Dems – so Independents now VERY powerful ….

“The ruling Conservative party have seen their majority on Teignbridge District Council slashed to a wafer-thin one after the resignation of a councillor.

Cllr Amanda Ford, the previous ward member for the Teign Valley, quit the council earlier this month.

No reason for her departure has officially been stated, but just weeks before she left, she had threatened to quit as a result of ‘allegations of bullying by senior council officers’, an accusation the council has strongly refuted. …”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/tory-majority-slashed-one-after-2238257