Beware council promises – an example from Teignbridge

“Plans for a new country park serving the 2,500 homes to be built on the edge of Exeter are being cut back, it has been claimed.

The 70-hectare park (173 acres) in the area of the new homes around the Devon Hotel is being dropped by Teignbridge District Council in favour of one that is much smaller, says local county councillor Alan Connett.

Cllr Connett says he has uncovered the council’s plan for a park less than two-thirds the size of the original plan, at 39 hectares (96 acres).

He said: “Teignbridge’s own Local Plan, which sets out how the district will develop over the next 20 years, promises a ‘ridge top park of approximately 70 hectares’. “However, we see yet again how the council promises the earth and then quietly changes the plan.”

In a confidential report going to Teignbridge Council’s Executive committee on Tuesday, October 2, Mr Connett said it was understood the ruling Conservative councillors would be asked to back a new, smaller countryside park for the South West of Exeter development.

Cllr Connett, a Liberal Democrat, said: “Teignbridge now wants to concentrate on a country park that is over a third smaller than it promised residents. “Much of the development at South West Exeter is, in fact, in the parish of Exminster, which will see an extra 2,000 houses within the community, and just 500 ‘over the border’ in Exeter.

“The ridge top park is seen as an essential part of the development not only to provide open space for the residents who will live in the new homes but also to take pressure off the Exe Estuary and reduce the number of visitors.

“This is another example of the planning system promising one thing but delivering less than that promise.

It was the council that put forward a country park of approximately 70 hectares but now, in a secret meeting not open to the Press or the public, and without any consultation, it plans to renege on that promise.

“This is why local people lose faith in the planning system and don’t believe councils when they say good quality community benefits will be gained from large scale housing developments.

“Of course, a park of 96 acres will still be a big space to walk dogs, enjoy picnics and family time together, but that is not the point. “The park will be part of the community for ever more, we hope, and it’s already being downsized.

“As Exeter and Teignbridge continue to grow in the years to come, future generations will come to regret that the Park was not the promised 70 hectares.

“Also, as a local councillor I am now gagged and prevented from saying more about what I have uncovered because the council has ensured all this is being discussed in private, in secret session.”

“Teignbridge says it is an ‘open and transparent’ council, but yet again we see it is anything but that. “It prefers to do its business and cut back on its promises in a private meeting which the public are not allowed to attend.”

A spokesman for Teignbridge Council said Teignbridge adopted its Local Plan in 2014 and at the time the Plan’s independent Inspector noted that the Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace allocation at South West Exeter was sufficient to address the impacts planned development, as well as possible needs in the future.

He said: “The same year, a masterplan for South West Exeter was publicly consulted on and adopted by the Council.

“It explained that 36 hectares of the 70 hectare allocation were needed to accommodate planned development and that the allocation of the larger area therefore provided longer term flexibility.

“The additional provision to the total of 70 hectares indicated was put in there to provide greater flexibility for the countryside park to expand in the future.

“In all cases the land areas being talked about are significantly larger than Dawlish countryside park.”

Cllr Humphrey Clemens, Teignbridge’s Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Housing and Planning, said: “In line with council procedure, Cllr Connett has had the opportunity to raise any questions in advance of the Executive and I welcome the opportunity to have an open discussion with him during the meeting.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/devon-country-park-shrinks-2062679

Teignbridge Council CEO given £264,000 to push off – now working for West Sussex on £138,000 plus perks

“A council chief executive was given a golden handshake of more than £250,000 in a deal that bosses tried to keep secret to avoid causing her “unnecessary or unjustified distress”.

Nicola Bulbeck, 60, left Teignbridge district council in Devon last summer after 11 years’ service. The council had repeatedly refused to reveal how much she received but its draft annual accounts disclosed yesterday that the former barrister left with a £264,000 “exit package”.

It was also revealed that she was allowed to stay on until the day after the general election last year so that she could earn a further £30,000 for being the returning officer.

After leaving the local authority she was appointed an executive director at West Sussex county council last January on an annual salary of £138,000.
There has been concern about a “revolving door” of senior local authority staff receiving significant payoffs before moving to similar jobs.
Several Teignbridge district councillors have alleged that Ms Bulbeck kept her company car as part of the leaving package. The council has declined to comment on the claim.

Phil Shears, who replaced Ms Bulbeck, had defended the decision not to release details of her payout when she departed. He claimed that the disclosure would “cause unnecessary or unjustified distress or damage” to his predecessor. Mr Shears was appointed the council’s managing director on a salary of £94,656, considerably less than Ms Bulbeck earned. Ms Bulbeck had been criticised for accepting a 12 per cent pay rise that took her annual pay packet from £126,000 to almost £142,000.

The district council and the Information Commissioner’s Office rejected several attempts by the Mid-Devon Advertiser to unearth Ms Bulbeck’s settlement. The accounts show that she received £173,091 “compensation for loss of employment” as part of her exit package”.

Jeremy Christophers, the council’s Conservative leader, said: “We have followed strict council policy and abided by the legal advice given.”

Gordon Hook, a Liberal Democrat councillor, said: “The leaving packages for some senior officers at local authorities are nothing short of obscene in the eyes of many. My view is that the general public have every right to know how their council tax is spent.”

Ms Bulbeck was not available for comment yesterday.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

STRATA (EDDC, Exeter, Teignbridge shared computer service) down

Owl says: that’s the drawback of shared IT services – one out all out! Have they tried turning it off and on again!

One for EDDC councillor and computer whizz Phil Twiss in charge of getting broadband to not-spots in East Devon. Now, it’s all not-spots.

now that’s going to cause a few problems…

East Devon one of three councils hit by major IT fault

East Devon District Council’s phone lines and website have gone offline after a major IT fault.

Engineers have been tasked to fix the problem.

Services offered by Teignbridge District Council and Exeter City Council have also been affected.

A spokesman for Teignbridge District Council said it was working to fix this the fault as soon as possible.

Exeter City Council said people may not be able to make online payments as a result of the network issues.

It is asking people who want to get in touch to do so through social media.”

http://www.exmouthjournal.co.uk/news/east-devon-one-of-three-councils-hit-by-major-it-fault-1-5192799

Expensive Teignbridge Council CEO not being replaced

Owl says: Remember when our current CEO went 50/50 to South Somerset Council and no-one noticed – and his work was shared out to other officers? Somerset terminated that contract early and he returned to us full time.

Why?

“A council chief who is paid almost as much as the Prime Minister is leaving her post next month. Nicola Bulbeck, Teignbridge Council’s CEO, told a meeting of the full council on Monday that she would be departing from her role on June 9 once she has fulfilled her duties as the Acting Returning Officer for the General Election.

Ms Bulbeck faced criticism last year after it was revealed that she had been awarded an inflation-busting 12 per cent pay rise. Her total remuneration package, including pension contributions and benefits in kind, jumped from £126,097 in 2014/15 to £141,972 in the 2015/16 financial year. Theresa May currently receives £143,462 for leading the country, the Conservative Party and overseeing the hugely complicated Brexit process. …

… Ms Bulbeck will not be directly replaced, but instead, her duties will be distributed between the existing officers and the Deputy Chief Executive, Phil Shears who will become the Head of Paid Service.”

http://www.devonlive.com/council-boss-who-earns-as-much-as-prime-minister-to-leave-the-council/story-30335435-detail/story.html

Oh, oh, trouble: a mini Local Enterprise Partnership or a maxi East Devon Business Forum on its way?

Another unelected, unaccountable, non-transparent secret society on its way?

Another shady group of “private sector representatives and business community” Tories wetting their pants with the excitement of yet another trough for their snouts?

Cabinet Agenda for 14 December, 2015
Item 19
Page 147

The “Exeter Travel to Work Area (TTWA) area recommendations:

http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/1947753/141216combinedcabagendafinals.pdf

“It is presently proposed that the desired formal body for the Exeter TTWA will be a ‘Greater Exeter Growth and Development Board’ (GEGDB) including the local authorities covering the Greater Exeter functional economic area.

The Board would be a Joint Committee under s101 (5), 102 Local Government Act 1972 and s9EB Local Government Act 2000 and pursuant to the Local Authorities (Arrangement for the Discharge of Functions) (England) Regulations 2012.

It will comprise the 5 local authorities [Exeter, East Devon, Mid Devon, Teignbridge and DCC] as voting members

and a number of non-voting co-opted private sector /other representatives drawn from the wider business community.

This approach was agreed by Exeter City Council in principle on 8 November and is now being considered by the other potential partners.”

“Greater Exeter” – the fun starts here

Other Chief Executives and Senior Officers of “Greater Exeter” will no doubt demand parity – or better …

“Councillors ‘unaware’ of Teignbridge chief’s 12% pay rise”

The ruling Conservative group said Nicola Bulbeck’s rise reflected her additional responsibilities.

Councillors said they were unaware of a proposal to increase a chief executive’s pay by 12% – taking it to £141,000 – before it was passed.
Nicola Bulbeck’s £15,000 pay rise has been called “excessive” by opposition Liberal Democrat politicians on Teignbridge District Council.

But the ruling Conservative group said information about the rise was given to all councillors in June.

Lib Dems said they had not “knowingly” approved the rise last month.

More on the council row, plus more Devon and Cornwall news
The Conservatives said the rise reflected additional responsibilities for Ms Bulbeck.

It followed a cut to the number of posts in the council’s senior management team from 18 to six.

Liberal Democrat leader Gordon Hook said: “A meeting a couple of weeks ago had a report to members and there was a web link to the statement of accounts.

“On page 84 there is one line about the chief executive’s salary increase.

“There was no indication it was in the booklet or that the information was going to be brought as an item to members, which it should be.

“We accepted the report, but we were given no lead that that was part of the package.”

Councillor Jeremy Christophers, leader of Teignbridge District Council, said that the rise, which includes pension contributions of £22,000, had “always been available and updated on the website”.

“Figures have been publicly available in the annual accounts since June and were presented at audit scrutiny committee on 21 July and 14 September and full council on 26 September.
“Teignbridge proactively and routinely publishes all possible data to enhance our transparency and accountability and help residents understand how we work and the services we provide,” he said.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-37642347