• I reported a few weeks ago that the chief executive of Leisure East Devon, Peter Gilpin had written a letter to East Devon District Council worried about a lack of facilities. Currently, Cranbrook is proposed to have just one badminton court as its total sports facilities for the town. I wrote to EDDC leader, Cllr Paul Diviani a few weeks ago highlighting the parking problems at Colin Tooze Sports Centre.  Ottery St Mary Town Council has now done the same after I raised the issue at June’s full council meeting. Clerk, Judith Reynolds states in her letter:  “Ottery St [...]

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    The new arrangements, imposed on councils by the Localism Act, allows councillors to take the lead in deciding the outcome of complaints against other councillors. My proposal, which was classed as an amendment to the swathe of recommendations in tonight’s paperwork for the Special Meeting of the Council on the new code of conduct and standards arrangements, was the following: “This council writes to the Department of Communities and Local Government expressing deep disappointment about the new regime and requesting that this matter – relating to the removal of independent members’ [...]

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    The council, which normally meets each month at its offices in Ottery, will debate and decide on a range of issues which have an impact on the Ottery parish, including at West Hill, Tipton St John, Alfington and Ottery St Mary town. On Monday key agenda items include - a presentation relating to a new elected police commissioner.  Members of the public will be able to ask questions on this item. - reports from Devon County Council and East Devon District Council members of the town council - proposals for a path between West Hill village hall and the play park - the new code of conduct [...]

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    The 12 month long pilot starts its work on the river Otter and its tributaries, assessing the overall health of the river system and helping to coordinate existing and developing new conservation projects and activities across the area. Devon Wildlife Trust is teaming up with the Environment Agency to carry out the work. The objectives are centred on the European Water Framework Directive which aims to enhance and maintain the ecological status of water bodies throughout the Union. Catchments across Europe have been studied and assessed on a range of criteria including water quality, [...]

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    But Devon County Council seems determined to try and overcome the problems rather than reject the site. An interview with Steve Maddison from the EA was broadcast on BBC Radio Devon this morning, which also carried interviews with Ottery Rural’s Devon County Councillor, Roger Giles and campaigner, Monica Mortimer. Steve Maddison said ‘a lot more more work would have to be done’ by Devon County Council before its proposal to include Straitgate Farm as a site for quarrying, could be taken forward. Straitgate Farm is currently a working dairy farm and is around 500 feet above [...]

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    Hi Ian I am getting increasingly frustrated with the number of times that the planning online service has been out of action recently.  In the past two to three weeks it has been down for days at a time, which is annoying for residents trying to read documentation and it is also hampering councillors trying to get on with their work of monitoring and commenting on applications. No one minds the system being down occasionally for short periods but the unavailability of documentation is getting to be several times a week, for long periods at a time. It is starting to become a [...]

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    Incomprehensibly, the government has ruled that independent members (external to the council) of standards committees must have their voting rights removed. Changes, rushed in by the government under the Localism Act, must be in force from Monday 2 July. It will mean that decisions on complaints against councillors, will now be determined largely by EDDC’s ruling conservative party, which holds 43 out of 59 seats. Sanctions for councillors who breach the code of conduct will be weakened, with fewer and less serious options available as punishment. The implications of the new rules have [...]

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    Dear Central Planning Team I am writing to express my concern at the length of time that the above application has taken to determine, given the strong and clear reasons that exist for refusal. It was validated in early February and there have been two sets of amended plans submitted since.  The applicant has been given four months to overcome significant objections.  I would question the reasonableness of allowing the applicant repeated opportunities to address the objections from key consultees, including Natural England and from your own countryside team. I have copied and [...]

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    The report is the culmination of a 5-year research project ‘Mapping Local Food Webs,’ supported by the Big Lottery Fund. It demonstrates that local food offers a great opportunity to support vibrant town centres and countryside, but that its role is undermined by the dominance of superstores and the multiple retailers. The report presents a fundamental challenge to superstores and the damage they are doing to local food webs. Graeme Willis, Senior Food Campaigner for CPRE, says: “In setting out to map local food webs we hoped to measure the fantastic contributions these networks make. [...]

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    Myself and Cllr Roger Giles spent an hour talking with the year seven Citizenship students, this morning - a class run by Jo Elliott, who has also worked hard to help bring Ottery’s skatepark into being. Part of the Citizenship work includes politics and exploring how things can be changed, by engaging with the political process. I was asked how I thought that councillors could engage more with young people.  I said that this was something more councillors needed to do, that there weren’t enough young people influencing issues and councillors needed to do more face-to-face and[...]

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    Around 30 residents from the village made the effort to travel to the meeting and sat through four hours of debate, before the Tipton application agenda item started. 13 members of the public spoke against the application.  They had diligently prepared three minutes speeches, however, after the first five speakers had used their three minutes, the remainder of the speakers hastily had to rearrange their speeches to fit into just one minute, as the chairman said the meeting was overrunning. The speakers were: Mrs Schofield Robert Guest John Harding Jean Kotch Bill Bolt Penny Guest Lyn [...]

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    The other is whether there is need for a new site.  The introduction some years ago of the Aggregates Tax and the Landfill Tax has resulted in more sustainable waste practices. Less material is landfilled; there is less waste of finite natural resources. For some years DCC, when resurfacing roads and pavements, has used the “planings”  to repair bridleways and unclassified county roads (UCRs).  Previously this material went to landfill.  Now it is used instead of primary aggregates.  It suppresses demand for primary aggregates, and reduces the need for new [...]

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    The publication came as Cllr Allen was quoted in the Sidmouth/Ottery Herald as “calling on the chair of the standards committee, Peter Halse, for a thorough review of the inspector and two officers’ behaviour, since he believed they contradicted legal opinions of the principal legal officer and the common practises by which chairs in the council control meetings.’ Cllr Allen described his misconduct as ‘minor errors’ and claimed that the all-Conservative EDDC cabinet ‘had already reviewed procedures with considerable concern for their fairness.’ The [...]

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    The item was on the agenda following a request from by Cllr Roger Giles at a full council meeting earlier this year. The meeting was peppered with thinly veiled criticisms of my blog. As a member of the scrutiny committee, I spoke up strongly in favour of webcasting, an extremely useful facility, which has been used by Devon County Council for some years. Aside from myself and Cllr Derek Button, who spoke at length of the importance this issue was for democracy and transparency, other councillors were less keen for meetings to be webcast, apparently on the grounds of cost. A report to the [...]

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    Ottery St Mary Town Council has now also agreed to write to Cllr Diviani backing Mr Gilpin’s proposal (as outlined in my letter below) to make better use of the multi-purpose building, following an agenda item at last night’s full meeting. Mr Gilpin wrote a letter to EDDC’s chief executive in April, outlining his anxiety over a lack of sports facilities at Cranbrook - and the resulting impact on Colin Tooze Sports centre, as well as sports centres at Broadclyst and Honiton. Regular users of Colin Tooze Sports Centre (which is in my ward) will be familiar with the dreadful [...]

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    http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/77485

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    I viewed on the live webcast Cllrs Paul Diviani (also leader of East Devon District Council), Eileen Wragg and Jim Knight (all East Devon councillors) all speaking of a need for more aggregates, despite available evidence not supporting this. And despite a consultation response from the Environment Agency setting out a large number of significant concerns, largely relating to the probable loss of ancient woodland, biodiversity, damage to the water table and the loss of water supplies to 100 residents. The councillors spoke following Cllr Roger Giles’s address to the meeting.  He [...]

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    Although the hill, behind Barton Orchard, is classified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and visible from many parts of the village, planners say that houses here would not be unduly intrusive because they would only be built at the bottom of the hill. The officer’s report also states that the development would provide much-needed affordable homes for the village. I opposed the application and am disappointed by the recommendation.  I don’t believe it is economically viable, which could lead to a ‘phase 2’, where the development eventually creeps up the [...]

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    On Wednesday (6 June) minerals officer, Andy Hill, will be giving councillors feedback on the consultation, which took place during April. Devon County Council is proposing to include Straitgate Farm, near Daisymount, in its minerals plan.  The site would be around 100 acres. Observers are welcome to attend the meeting, which starts at 2pm.  Anyone who would like to keep up with the debate but is unable to get there can view it via the webcam here - http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/ The link to the agenda is here.  [...]

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