Great – he wanted transparency so he will be reporting back to us on those secret meetings won’t he?
“… Despite remaining the largest single group on EDDC the Conservatives respect that electors wanted change based on a manifesto of Openness and Transparency repeatedly promised by the new administration comprised of some of those elected as Independent Councillors, but that promised change has stalled already.
He added “Little has changed since the election in May where the new administration says that their first priority has been to provide continuity, which begs the question as to what the previous Conservative administration was doing badly that needed change”.
In the case of Exmouth, Openness and Transparency has been ditched pretty quickly where the new administration did not bother consulting with Exmouth ward members or key stakeholders about their half-baked decision to close down the Exmouth Regeneration Board, replacing it with the Queens Drive Delivery Group.
Plans to hold the meetings of the new group in private have been heavily criticised by other councillors for the lack of Openness and Transparency, as well as the narrow remit of the proposed Group. …”
Owl says: Oh, those promises of transparency … so transparently broken!
“… The Group will meet a minimum of four times in a year, in private, to ensure that confidential or commercially sensitive matters can be discussed, but meeting notes will be published through the council’s Cabinet papers. … ”
Owl says: Current EDDC Leader Ben Ingham promised to return EDDC to the fairer committee system when he was Leader of East Devon Alliance (that was after he had been a Tory and an Independent and prior to working with Tories rather than East Devon Alliance after the May 2019 elections).
Then, all went quiet. He has entrusted a review to one of his councillors with no mention of what, if anything, he intends to do when it is completed.
“Activists in Sheffield have used provisions of the Localism Act 2011 to require the city council to hold a referendum on ending the cabinet system and reverting to committees.
The It’s Our City group said it had collected 26,419 signatures – in excess of the 5% of electors required for a petition subject to be put to a referendum after verification of the signatures.
Two members of Sheffield’s cabinet have resigned so that they can support the campaign to return to the committee system, as have four councillors who held the roles of ‘cabinet assistant’.
It’s Our City said the cabinet system meant that only 10 of the city’s 84 councillors had a real role in making decisions.
The group called for: “A committee-based system, which is more democratic, and where all our councillors would have a meaningful say in making decisions.
“Some people might remember that the current system was brought in to make councils less bureaucratic and more streamlined and do away the with lengthy process of arriving to decisions. We are not arguing for a return to the old system – we want to see a new model that takes the best bits of both worlds peppered with a hefty dose of public engagement.”
Former cabinet member for finance, resources and governance Olivia Blake said: “My preference was to resolve the debate on the council’s governance structure without the need for a referendum but now that it is almost certain to be held, it is time to take a public position on where we go next.
“I will take the side of the people. I will back the committee system. It is a starting point for a wider debate on how to rejuvenate our democracy, and it is important that Labour voices contribute to this debate.
“I have added my name to the It’s Our City petition and will make further statements in the coming days about the role I intend to play in the upcoming referendum.”
The council confirmed the petition had been received and said signatures would be checked.
Previous referendums to mandate a return to the committee system have been held successfully at Fylde Borough Council and the former West Dorset District Council.”
From a disillusioned correspondent:
“The “new” East Devon District Council has submitted their plan covering the next four years. Like the previous tory council it is interesting what has been left out. We are left reading between the lines.
EDDC is to “immediately start preparatory work on the next East Devon Local Plan” but no mention of the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan and of course the former will have to conform to the latter. We must also remember EDDC will be represented by Philip Skinner (conservative) and Susie Bond (independent). Councillor Skinner represented the council when EDDC was prepared to take the lion’s share of the housing for the GESP growth area. I hope that he may have changed his mind but I very much doubt it. This new council must come clean on its strategy. It is of the greatest importance and influence on all our lives.
I applaud the aspiration to provide “300 new affordable homes per annum including an increase of Council housing stock” but once again there is no clue how this is to be achieved. To put these 300 affordables into perspective. The average annual dwelling completions in East Devon between 2007 and 2017 were 469 of which 108 (23%) were delivered by Housing Associations and the Council. (Some of the residual 360 may have been bought through the “Help to Buy” scheme but the majority would have been “market housing”). The annual average housing target in the local plan is 950. To get 300 affordables the Council will have to up its game with developers and increase its affordable delivery achievement to 32% of target or increase its annual housing delivery to a whopping 1,304 a year. However you look at it, 300 affordables a year is nearly three times the historic delivery rate.
At the election I voted Independent in the expectation that we would have transparent, evidence based policy making and not one which plucks numbers out of the air.”
“TiggerTories” outline their plans for the next 4 years (not unlike the plans for the last 40 years!)
Owl says: virtually identical to Tory “aspirations” for the last 4 years – or even the last 40 years!
And no mention of an overhaul of governance or a change to the committee system.
Note the “independent leadership” includes the Independent Group and selected Tories, but only one East Devon Alliance member in a minor role – as Leader Ingham prefers to work with Tories rather than other independents.
The planning application for the conversion of the South West Coast Path WW2 observation post into a holiday dwelling, covered by Owl here:
has been agreed. The roof will be “reconstructed and roof lights, doors, windows and solar panels will be added, thus destroying its original function as a historical building.
The owners of the land are, of course, Clinton Devon Estates.