• It started today on Woodbury Common and the events continue all week, helping to raise the profile of nature, habitats and some of the rarer creatures that can be found on heathland in East Devon. Heathland at Aylesbeare Common is one of few places in the country that the Dartford Warbler can be found.  And children will be encouraged to go out and find the southern damselfly, also relatively rare now. There are reptile rambles at Sidmouth and Trinity Hill and on Wednesday there is an all-day event for adults and children who want help wildlife, working with the RSPB. There is basket [...]

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    Chris Down, of Crealy Farms, first submitted his application for an industrial pig unit in February, prior to a rejection of an earlier application in 2011, which featured on the BBC’s Inside Out programme. The unit, which consists of a half acre slurry ‘lagoon’ and two large pig accommodation buildings, would span around three football pitches.  An access track of around half a kilometre would also be constructed. As the adjacent ward member I am entitled to give a view on the application. Nearby heathland at Venn Ottery common supports some of the most sensitive flora and fauna [...]

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    Up until last night EDDC has claimed that the move would be ‘cost neutral.’ Several Sidmouth residents spoke at the meeting including Michael Temple, Richard Eley and Barry Curwen.  They highlighted a number of issues and asked a number of questions, relating to: - lack of justification for the move - potential spiralling costs - the existing building receiving a good c-rating for energy efficiency - no independent assessment carried out on costs Former Sidmouth chamber of commerce chair, Richard Eley told the meeting that chief executive, Mark Williams had informed him the cost of a [...]

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    The public gallery was packed with members of the public – around 80-100 people sweated it out in a stuffy council chamber for over three hours to hear the debate on the Local Plan and my notice of motion - which was the last item on the agenda. In the public speaking session at the start of the meeting, Sandra Semple, former mayor of Seaton asked the council why it was ‘bank-rolling EDBF’ A member of EDBF – Bill Murray – spoke in defence of East Devon Business Forum.  He said he wasn’t a developer or a landowner and asked what measures the council had in place to deal with [...]

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    Mrs Elliott’s citizenship class has been enormously busy over the past few weeks getting support for the project. Myself and Roger Giles have visited the class several times at the invitation of Mrs Elliott, and assisted with thoughts and ideas about the campaign and how it might be helpful to approach it. I have been really impressed with how hard the students have worked in garnering support for the scheme.  In just a few weeks, they have: • presented their ideas to Ottery St Mary Town Council • spoken to students at Ottery St Mary Primary School • given a presentation to pupils[...]

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    I have limited my comment to three towns that I believe are the still the most controversial, in terms of proposals for development. But it was a decision over development at Sidmouth that caused residents anger to erupt into shouts and heckling, after an amended recommendation to retain a 12 acre industrial estate at Sidford, was backed by the committee. Fords of Sidmouth are promoting the land at Sidford.  Fords are also members of the East Devon Business Forum. Committee chairman, Cllr Mark Williamson read out an amendment to the recommendation to retain the industrial estate.  He[...]

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    Councillors on the committee heard that Feniton is under pressure from developers and there is shortly to be an appeal by a developer (Wainhomes) which is why EDDC has asked the parish council to identify preferred sites for development, prior to other villages in East Devon, which will identify their sites during the autumn. Feniton Parish Council’s preferred sites are land at Acland Park (32 dwellings) and land between Fircroft and the railway (3 dwellings).  There is already a planning application pending for land at Acland Park. Future consultation documents will show these [...]

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    The information was blocked last week by the East Devon Business Centre, the EDDC-employed administrators for EDBF.  Following my request for the list, there was an exchange of around six emails with the facilities manager during last week. I was asked to do the following: 1. ring Cllr Graham Brown (chair) or Roy Stuart (vice chair) 2. look at the EDDC website 3. look at the EDBF website 4. read through five years worth of minutes to get a feel for attendees Finally, in exasperation I referred my query to EDDC monitoring officer, Denise Lyon.  The business forum is after all, funded[...]

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    It will be the last time the plan is debated prior to being rubber stamped at next week’s full council meeting on Wednesday 25 July. The most controversial aspect of tomorow’s debate will be the highly unpopular 12 acres of industrial land proposed for Sidford.  Campaign group, Save Our Sidmouth will deliver a petition to the committee and will speak against the proposed industrial estate, as well as the selling off of EDDC’s Knowle offices and grounds. Town councils have been invited to present their views at the meeting and Judith Reynolds from Ottery St Mary Town [...]

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    I have copied and pasted this analysis from the BBC, which is thought-provoking and raises many questions about the implications of a dramatically increasing population. Interestingly, in 2006 Office of National Statistics (ONS) reports under the guise of the regional spatial strategy (RSS), projected a housing demand in East Devon of 11,400.  Just two years later in 2008, the RSS hiked its projections to 17,100 houses for East Devon.  It is this statistic that EDDC has based its housing figures on, for the Local Plan, although the RSS has now been scrapped by the coalition. Inward [...]

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    Councillors agreed at July’s Ottery Town Council meeting on Monday 2 July, that the town council would fund half of the work for the path, as well as a gate into the park. Cllr Roger Giles will fund the rest from his locality budget. Currently, at the end of school, (on dry days at least!) a surge of excited children leave school and run across the car park into the play park.  Many of the cars are leaving at that time and several parents had commented to me that it was an issue that worried them. The path will continue a footway, which currently finishes at the entrance to the [...]

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    Today, a letter by Sidmouth resident, Barry Curwen, published in today’s Sidmouth/Ottery Herald, calls for an inquiry by Hugo Swire MP, into EDBF’s influence over EDDC’s Local Plan. The EDBF is chaired by Cllr Graham Brown, with former EDDC councillor and Ottery Town councillor, Roy Stuart, as its vice-chair.  Cllr Brown represents the National Farmers Union on the business forum, and is the business champion at EDDC.  There are a number of EDDC councillors who regularly attend meetings, some of whom wear other ‘hats’.  Cllr Brown runs a planning [...]

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    Councillors on the EDDC planning committee (development management committee) will make a decision on Tuesday (17 July) on whether they allocate a piece of land in the centre of Feniton, to include in the Local Plan.  If the recommendation is approved Feniton will be the first village in East Devon go through the formal built-up area boundary review process, as part of the Local Plan.  Other villages (with built-up area boundaries) will have their boundaries reviewed (and amended if necessary) in the autumn. Feniton, part of which I represent, has been under enormous pressure from [...]

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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9736000/9736445.stm If you haven’t heard it you can listen by clicking on the link above.  It includes a fascinating account of the major flood of 50 years ago. More heavy rain is forecast for this area tomorrow. Photograph:  The Otter flowing through Tipton, at its normal level.

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    I attended a meeting with EDDC engineers, Keith Steel and Chris Brookbank, Cllr John Harding, and the contractors carrying out work to stabilise the riverbank at Metcombe Vale this morning. The work started a few weeks ago and almost half way through.  But the dramatic and heavy rainfall that took place on Friday and Saturday has caused the bank to erode by around one metre and has washed important topsoil away. Shingle from the river now lies all over adjacent field next to the river. The work is funded by East Devon District Council and is to protect its properties at Metcombe Vale, [...]

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    Four times as many homes and firms risk flooding in the next 20 years if the UK does not prepare for climate change, a government advisory panel has said. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) blames the government for cutting funds for flood defences. It says these will be needed more than ever if climate projections prove accurate. The Environment Department said money for flood defences was “being spent more effectively than ever before”. A spokesman added: “The committee has acknowledged the work we have done to reduce flood risk for 182,000 homes over the last three [...]

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    Dear Secretary of State, We all realise that many parts of the UK have been subjected to exceptional rainfall, yet, of course, some areas, notwithstanding the rain, have suffered less than others. As you know from your visit to flood-prone Ottery St. Mary in East Devon, local residents, once again, have had to endure yet more flooding. The problems were less severe because of work undertaken by the Environment Agency but a project now being considered by Devon County Council, to develop a new quarry just outside OSM, could result in an increased risk of flooding. This is the view of many [...]

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    Cllr Roger Giles has lodged a notice of motion for the next meeting, which calls on the Government to include ‘windfalls’ in housing allocations for communities.  Currently, housing allocations for each town and village under the Local Plan is in addition to houses built in gardens, or even affordable housing schemes, such as the one in Tipton St John approved last month for 15 houses, two thirds of which will be affordable. This is clearly nonsensical and significantly increases the number of houses built in any area, with no allowance made for necessary infrastructure. Five[...]

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    Well known places became unrecognisable as the river Otter swallowed up the land around it, making it almost impossible to distinguish where the river ended and the land began. The road from West Hill to Ottery St Mary has been closed all day as parts of it are under deep water.  And there are reports that much of the farmland between Ottery and Honiton is submerged. Some 76 flood warnings and 142 flood alerts remain in England and Wales, with 13 flood warnings in Scotland.  Much of the Otter has a flooding warning in place for most of today, The rain has now (this afternoon) [...]

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    East Devon Business Forum is only open to members of the business community and in 2007 membership was restricted to businesses or representatives of businesses employing 10 or more people. Our role is relay our concerns and hopes for the future of our businesses and the future of East Devon.  For us to prosper, employ staff, pay rates, income tax, VAT, PAYE, tipping tax etc we have to have PROFIT. Somehow to some people PROFIT is a dirty word.  Without PROFIT we go bust.  End of story. No more staff - no more paying taxes. Without PROFITABLE companies the whole economy will [...]

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    Introduction 1.1 The East Devon Local Plan provides land allocations and criteria based policy that seeks to encourage, facilitate and support better job provision in the District.  Objectives in the plan (Development Management Committee – 8 May 2011), Jobs and Economic Growth, are: • Improve average income levels. • Diversify the sectors where jobs can be found. • Improve local job opportunities. • Reduce the need to travel by car to secure work and jobs. 1.2 The Local Plan is therefore supportive of and takes a positive view towards job creation and provision.  In this [...]

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    Report for Monitoring Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, Denise Lyon 1. Introduction As a member of the former Local Plan Panel, I have taken the decision to write this analysis motivated by a deep concern that East Devon District Council’s excessive proposals for industrial estates or ‘employment land’ in the district, could result in an ‘unsound’ verdict at inspection. I have spent considerable time researching the evidence connected to proposed development within East Devon over the life of the Local Plan period until 2026.  This is an issue that I have raised at Local [...]

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    Landowners could be allowed to convert disused barns into shops, cafes and even rock music venues without planning permission. Under radical plans to boost the rural economy, changing the use of a barn would be treated in the same way as a small conservatory built by a homeowner. Planning Minister Greg Clark said the controversial idea would make it easier for firms and entrepreneurs to create jobs in the countryside. Cutting edge venue: New laws could make it easier to turn old and derelict barns into shops, cafes and music venues. The measure is part of a package published yesterday aimed [...]

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    The year seven students, who attended with their teacher, Jo Elliott, were: Frankie, Tom, Hannah and Lauren and they presented a piece of work (which must have been completed since Thursday’s lesson) about why the cycleway was so important for Ottery. They said it would help with tourism, fitness and helping children to learn to ride bikes.  They asked for the town council’s support for the campaign. Mayor, Glyn Dobson, said the town council was very much in favour of the cycleway, that it might be a long-term project but it was really important to be determined and persevere.[...]

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    I am accustomed to deleting around 30 spam messages a day.  These are always completely random and unrelated to my website content, selling loans or containing links to websites, for example. But the messages I received yesterday and last night were completely different.  They were clearly from a dubious source, however, the content WAS relevant.  There were several comments to my quarrying blogs from residents apparently worried about quarrying in another part of Devon, for example.  But oddly, most of the comments were copies of those that had appeared on our old [...]

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    Myself and West Hill’s county councillor, Roger Giles, were invited in to hear the children’s concerns, last week. The meeting was arranged by class 5 teacher, Mrs Harris, following a member of the class falling into a hedge along West Hill Road, due to a car driving too fast and too close to him. A show of hands revealed that most of the class walked to school, a few cycled and the rest were driven to school. One of the girls said that she had also been forced into the hedge when a car ‘whooshed’ past her and her brother, on their way to school. Many of the children [...]

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