East Devon MPs and West Dorset MP now on opposite sides – Letwin expelled from Tory Party and now an Independent!

Swire and Parish, of course backed Boris Johnson this evening. However, Sir Oliver Letwin, in the adjoining constituency of West Dorset, who has held the seat for the last 22 years and who has been a Cabinet Minister, has been expelled from the Tory Party tonight for rebelling (along with several former Cabinet Ministers and Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson, Sir Nicholas Soames).

So, Letwin is now an Independent!

Rum old world … wonder what Swire has to say about that!

“Dorset council faces a legal fight over housing development in Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”

“DORSET Council is facing a legal battle over plans to build a large housing estate on countryside immortalised in Thomas Hardy novels, after locals complained of its “devastating” impact on rural communities.

The proposals would result in almost 1,000 homes on Vearse Farm in Bridport, the largest ever development permitted on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England.

But residents now hope to overturn the council’s decision in the courts after raising more than £30,000 through crowdfunding to finance a judicial review.

The challenge is backed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Thomas Hardy Society, whose members described the plans as a “nail in the coffin” of Hardy Country, an area named in honour of the Victorian author.

Outline planning permission was first approved by West Dorset District Council, which has since amalgamated to Dorset Council, in November 2017 but proposals were only finalised in April.

The development, which covers an equivalent of 63 football pitches, would see the population of Bridport increase by an estimated 25 per cent.

But residents objected on the grounds the scale of the housing estate was “inappropriate” and raised fears the surrounding countryside would be spoiled.

A specifically-created campaign group, called ADVEARSE, was created to set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise £34,000 in order to fund a solicitor and barrister to launch a judicial review.

Barry Bates, chairman of the group, said: “If we do not take this action now, nothing further can ever be done to challenge a development of this devastating scale on this site.”

Overlooking the development site is the distinguishable Colmer’s Hill, a beloved landmark in Dorset that is said to be an inspiration for artists and novelists including Hardy, who mentioned it in his 1880 short story Fellow Townsmen.

Dr Tony Fincham, chairman of the Hardy Society, said: “This proposal is just the kind of over-development which irretrievably destroys part of Hardy’s Wessex.

“So often West Dorset (Council) doesn’t realise the value of its very special landscape in both literary and tourism term.

“This plan is just another nail in the coffin of Hardy Country.”

Elizabeth Sims, the widow of eminent violinist Neville Marriner, known as one of world’s greatest conductors, has also put her name to the cause. …

Dorset Council is under pressure to build over 15,000 new homes in west Dorset – one of the worst areas in Britain for affordable housing – by 2036.

The average price of property in the area now stands at £318,000, well beyond the means of most people born and brought up there.

David Walsh, Dorset Council’s head of planning, said: “We are confident in the way the Vearse Farm application was considered.

“As this is a legal process, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this moment in time.”


“Rewild a quarter of UK to fight climate crisis, campaigners urge”

Rewilding would (according to the Environment Secretary) focus on:

Native woodlands
Salt marshes
Peat bogs
Ponds and lakes
Meadows and grasslands

all of which we have in abundance in East Devon.

Perhaps it is now time to revive the idea of a Jurassic Coast National Park (West Dorset would be an already-enthusiastic partner) which was squashed by the previous council because they feared losing their cosy relationship with housing developers …

And, as part of our climate emergency, make rewilding an integral part of all future neighbourhood, district and Greater Exeter development plans.

A tale of two AONBs

A gas-fired power station has been proposed for the East Devon village of Hawkchurch on the East Devon- West Dorset border NEAR an AONB (Area of outstanding Natural Beauty) in Dorset. It was not put out to consultation to the local community.

West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin says of it:

This development will have an impact on the West Dorset AONB.

“I do not believe it is appropriate, or in line with national planning policy, for industrial installations to be located in ways that have such impact on landscape of national importance. I hope, therefore, that this application will be refused.”

Councillor tries to extend consultation period on ‘power station’

In East Devon, an industrial site is being planned WITHIN the AONB at Sidford – after it had been agreed that it would not be allowed in the Local Plan but slipped in because officers did not offer up evidence to a Planning Inspector to remove it.

The local MP, Hugo Swire, has said …

… absolutely nothing at all.

“A Dorset and East Devon national park could help with affordable housing”

Don’t get your hopes up – East Devon District Council has already stamped on it saying it would be just awful as they would lose control of planning!

“CREATING a national park across part of Dorset and east Devon could help ensure affordable housing goes to local people, according to campaigners.

The Dorset and East Devon National Park Team gave a presentation to Lyme Regis Town Council last week – pointing out the benefits the proposals could bring to the town and west Dorset.

Richard Brown, speaking on behalf of the national park team, said the proposals could “help affordable homes stay affordable”.

He added: “I think so many communities across Dorset are passing motions recognising that this is a great opportunity for Dorset.

National parks have a good track record in promoting the provision of affordable homes and keeping such homes affordable and available for local people.”

He added: “It would help develop affordable homes and a coherent Dorset tourism strategy.”

Speaking about a national park established in the South Downs, Mr Brown said that “people now stay longer and spend more”.

Although the project could be “five or six years away”, Mr Brown pointed out that “the proposed national park for Dorset remains unfinished business”.

The team say Natural England has already undertaken a positive first assessment of the proposal submitted to them in 2013.

The team’s current proposal for a national park includes the Dorset AONB land from Lyme Regis to Blandford Forum, excluding the Dorchester area, as well as much of Purbeck and east Devon, excluding Seaton and Sidmouth. But the national park boundary has yet to be finalised.

Mr Brown added: “The environment and the economy are two halves of the same coin.

“All of Dorset would benefit from the economic stimulus a national park brings. They are not against development. They work hard through local partnerships to deliver what local people want.”

The concept of creating a national park gained the backing of some town councillors.

Cllr Derek Hallett remained cautious, urging members to “look at it very carefully”, while Cllr Jeff Scowen described the proposals as “a marvellous idea”. …”


What happens when you put Oliver Letwin in charge of Brexit policy

“Reassuringly, the man in charge of the government’s ‘Brexit unit’ is the go-to guy for not having a clue.

People have always called David Cameron a pragmatist, but the morning after the referendum he must have become a nihilist. Nothing else can explain the appointment of Oliver Letwin to lead the United Kingdom government’s Brexit unit. A prime minister who basically won an election by holding up Liam Byrne’s “I’m afraid there is no money” note has effectively dumped Oliver Letwin on to his successor’s desk – in all senses of that verb. I’m afraid there is no plan. I’m afraid there is Oliver Letwin.

Oliver Letwin! And come to that: unit! “Unit” implies a crack squad, an elite fighting force, a sort of A-Team meets Delta Force outfit whose moral grey areas are a trade-off with the extreme effectiveness best distilled in the famous Jack Nicholson speech in A Few Good Men. Deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want that unit on the wall. You need that unit on the wall.

Instead, you’ve got Oliver Letwin. To fully absorb the fact Oliver Letwin is our guy at the sharp end of Brexit planning is to realise that even as the pound was nose-diving that first morning, we hadn’t reached rock bottom. There was a very deep concealed basement, into which we are only now beginning our journey.

Our tour guide is Oliver Letwin, a man whose chief claim to fame was once being the victim of one of those idiosyncratic Tory burglaries (see also Liam Fox). You know the sort of thing: when you let two strange men into your house at 5am in your pyjamas because they ask to use the loo, only to find – in a development that could only have been predicted by a computer the size of Los Alamos – that they nick your wallet. Or at least, that was Letwin’s chief claim to fame until last year’s declassification of a 1985 report he wrote for Margaret Thatcher in the wake of the Broadwater Farm riot, in which he suggested that social malaise was down to “bad moral attitudes” among black people, who would only re-route regeneration funding into the “disco and drug trade”. (He apologised when this came to light 30 years later.) …

… What’s the plan? “I’m trying to give you the truth,” Letwin twinkled terrifyingly, “which is that I have a completely open mind.” “Which is that you haven’t a clue.” Well of course he hasn’t. Oliver Letwin is your go-to guy if you want someone not to have a clue about something. In 2003, he pledged that a Tory government would automatically deport all asylum seekers to a foreign island “far, far away”. Where? He conceded he did not have “the slightest idea”. He is one remove beyond even Captain Hindsight, the South Park superhero whose speciality is showing up to disaster scenes and explaining what could have been done to avert them. Letwin is Captain I-Haven’t-the-Slightest-Idea. That’s the guy running the Brexit situation room.

“Why was there no mention of Brexit in the national security strategy?” wondered Blunt. “Because,” reasoned Letwin wholly unreasonably, “the government’s firm intent was to remain part of the EU.” And yet, for a government whose firm intent is not to be involved in a nuclear war, it sure has a lot of nuclear weapons. Perhaps it wishes to move to a situation where we wait to be hit by an intercontinental ballistic missile, then appoint Oliver to scratch around for some kind of plan for how to build a nuclear deterrent from the ashes. After all, the ever-upwardly-failing Letwin may be surely added to the list of things that would survive a nuclear holocaust.”