• Just before Christmas (17 December) a House of Commons debate took place on the controversial Growth and Infrastructure Bill, which aims to ‘remove red tape’ (read yet more de-regulation for developers and more misery for the people). Amendments by Conservative MP Nick Herbert, relating to only allowing development if there was sufficient infrastructure was outvoted, as were a series of amendments by Labour’s Roberta Blackman Woods. Mr Herbert previously wrote an editorial in the Telegraph, very concerned about ministers pushing of new housing projects, regardless of whether [...]

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    George Osborne’s hope for a shale gas revolution in the UK has been dealt a serious blow after a leading authority on the energy industry predicted that it would not be commercially viable to extract the gas. The consultancy, Wood Mackenzie, also cast doubt on suggestions that the UK contained vast reservoirs of shale gas, with the analyst Niall Rowantree arguing that “it is not possible to accurately predict the ultimate recoverable volume of shale gas in the UK and therefore any estimates of the ultimate impact on UK gas supply are premature”. Wood Mackenzie estimates that [...]

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    Merry Christmas!

    24 Dec 2012 | News

    - Presents bought (I *think* I have remembered everyone) - Mega Christmas food shop done and space eventually made in a too small fridge and freezer - Christmas cards sent (a very haphazard affair - my apologies if you should have received one and didn’t - I need to organise a proper Christmas card list!) - Sausage rolls made - Mince pies made (and mostly consumed) - Good Christmas films circled in TV guide - Celebrations retrieved from cupboard where husband attempted to hide them - Presents to be wrapped this evening in front of “The Girl” (was going to do it last night [...]

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    According to the January cabinet agenda papers that were published yesterday, hidden away in the revenue and budgets report, is a section on how much EDDC would claw back from second home owners by charging the full 100 per cent council tax charge, as opposed to the current 90 per cent. Cabinet members are being asked to back the revised position, which apparently is based on new government guidance, set to be in place from April 2013. Just over a year ago (at the October 2011 full council meeting) I lodged a motion asking EDDC councillors to call on the government to scrap this [...]

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    Council tax breaks for second home owners have been abolished in a part of Devon, in a bid to save money. From April, South Hams District Council will charge 100% council tax on second homes, rather than the current 90%. Properties that have stood empty for more than two years will be subject to 150% tax. The council said it hoped the changes would “protect the most vulnerable people in the district” from having to pay more council tax. John Tucker, leader of the Conservative-led council, said: “We feel that second home owners in particular should contribute fully to our [...]

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    Following a telephone conference with Silver Command I’m writing to inform you all of the likelihood of severe flooding over the next few days. ·      Met Office predicts rain commencing at midnight tonight through until 6pm on Mon 24th.  Particular intensity is expected between 0300 and 0600 tomorrow morning. ·      Environment Agency expect to be issuing severe flood warnings in the next few hours and/or early hours of tomorrow.  They are not yet able to predict the specific locations but advise that the same places will be hit again as were [...]

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    The Ottery food bank currently receives around one request for help a week, but the need is expected to rise significantly next year, when the cold weather really bites and many state benefits are cut. Food is distributed through front-line agencies in social, health and education services. Most of the requests received thus far come through Social Services based in Ottery but the church also welcomes referrals from other agencies. Volunteers collect the following items, which should have as long a shelf life as possible. Tins: meat, fish, soup, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, [...]

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    The Environment Agency has registered amber flood alerts for the rivers Otter, Clyst, Sid and the Exmouth part of the Exe. As a result, possible flooding could happen at the communities of Lympstone, Exmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth. The flood forecasting centre states:  “In Devon and Cornwall, heavy rain now brings a medium likelihood of significant river and surface water disruption on Thursday. This is a MEDIUM flood risk overall.” I wish every East Devon resident whose home is at risk of flooding, strength and courage. Below is a link to [...]

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    Feelings were running high in Feniton on Monday night as around 160 residents turned out on a wet night close to Christmas, to voice their concerns on three planning applications, proposing over 150 new houses for the village. The applications come hot on the heels of a planning inspector’s decision to allow Wainhomes to build 50 houses on high quality agricultural land in the village. Feniton is proposed 35 houses in the draft Local Plan, until 2026. The village has a serious flooding problem, which saw a number of residents up all night pumping out water from their homes in the floods of [...]

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    It is now on the agenda for the 3 January meeting, starting at 6.30pm. The recommendation is that audio recordings of key meetings is put in place ..... BUT, it is proposed that officers and members of the public can ask not to be recorded.  See this link for the summary of the proposals - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_recommends_key_meetings_to_be_recorded/ Also, in the papers are the minutes of the East Devon Business Forum scrutiny task and finish forum, which you may like to read.  Certainly, much space is taken up with the justification on gagging the [...]

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    The piece was broadcast prior to a public meeting (more on this later) to debate the latest planning applications submitted for the village, totalling over 150 new houses. This is in addition to an appeal decision for 50 new houses, which was allowed in September. The piece can be viewed for the next few hours only, via the link below.  If you drag the time indicator to 06.56, you should be in the right place. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01pclq3/Spotlight_17_12_2012/ A Feniton garden under water in last month’s floods.

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    This has effectively already happened in East Devon thanks to the Redrow Homes appeal decision, announced on Friday, which allowed the appeal, based on the pro-growth national planning policy framework (NPPF). Most residents across the country won’t be aware of what is coming in March 2013, but when they realise that their councils are finding it very difficult to reject planning unsuitable planning applications, they will suddenly wake up - and the full force of their anger, will quite rightly, be directed towards Messrs Cameron and Osborne.  The government has sold residents [...]

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    Dear Chancellor On the decision to embark on a disastrous “dash for shale gas” We, the people of Devon, who love this beautiful county, advise you that we will do everything in our power to protect Devon from the devastation caused by fracking for shale gas. Will not allow this technology be implemented in Devon, or indeed anywhere in the UK. We believe that this government’s decision made on the 5th December to generate up to a half of the UK’s energy needs from gas, is reckless and will do nothing to resolve this country’s energy and climate problems. We are aware of the [...]

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    EAST DEVON residents are being urged to have their say on the district’s draft Local Plan as its final consultation reaches the halfway point. And those who question the council’s propriety are being challenged to make it formal rather than resort to the rumour mill. The Local Plan sets out how much-needed homes and jobs will be delivered around the district over the next 15 years, whilst also taking in to account the balancing act between provising these and protecting the environment and other things that make East Devon outstanding. If it is approved by an independent Planning [...]

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    The national planning policy framework’s aggressive pro-growth stance is the main cause of the decision, which will mean that Ottery St Mary gets at least 430 houses now, without the infrastructure to support them. EDDC won three previous appeals this year, using a formula for calculating housing land supply that was deemed acceptable.  But then the national planning policy framework (nppf) was published.  Now this approach is deemed UNacceptable and nothing else matters than building houses. An out-of-date local plan was the other reason for the inspector allowing the [...]

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    Westhayes, which is parkland belonging to a very large house, was subject to an application last year for 15 dwellings, which was refused and then dismissed by a planning inspector at appeal, on landscape grounds.  It is outside the village’s built-up area boundary. But since the dismissal, the pro-growth national planning policy framework (nppf) has been published. And the Wainhomes appeal at Feniton for 50 houses has been allowed, based on the government’s new approach to planning in the nppf, where the push for housing can now trump every other issue, including [...]

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    But this time he didn’t just upset residents, he would have got up the noses of other council leaders, as he ordered them to ignore the nimbys and “just get on with it.” He acknowledged that large housing estates can change the character of picturesque villages, but claimed that as soon as people “got their planning permission” they wanted to stop anyone else from moving in. He even hinted that there should be more new towns like Cranbrook in Devon (Cranbrook is scheduled to get 6,000 houses before 2026).  He alluded to a ‘housing crisis’ - a term[...]

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    And 150 per cent tax will be charged on homes that have been empty for more than two years. See remainder of BBC story below:  Tax breaks have been removed for second home owners in a Devon city. Plymouth City Council decided to remove the 10% discount on second homes and will now also charge 150% on those which have stood empty for two years. The council said it made the decision due to “government cuts” but hoped the changes would generate £1m. It said it removed the tax breaks for people considered “more able to pay” to ensure a “fairer and more [...]

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    The move follows a number of amendments on the planning application to develop the Knowle and its gardens.  Last month the council announced that the application would be withdrawn from the December Development Management Committee, also due to an error on the economic impact assessment and its calculations on job losses from Sidmouth. According to the Save Our Sidmouth campaign group, whose member uncovered the errors, the correct figures reveal that the move will cause around 75 job losses - a significant change from the original claim of three job gains. EDDC’s press statement [...]

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    Conditions have been imposed to minimise the risk of seismic activity. Fracking involves creating little explosions underground, then injecting water and chemicals to release gas trapped in cavities in shale rocks. The firm, Cuadrilla, was stopped from fracking after two small earthquakes. In the US, exploitation of shale gas boom has sent energy prices tumbling, and the Prime Minister has expressed hopes that the UK can enjoy a similar boom. But government advisers warn today that shale gas may be unlikely to bring down energy prices much in Britain. In fact, the Committee on Climate Change [...]

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    The meeting – possibly one of the most controversial ever staged at East Devon District Council - was quite bizarrely almost completely devoid of conservative councillors, save the three serving on the committee and a further three who were observing proceedings. Not a single member of East Devon Business Forum (EDBF) appeared to be present either. Around 50 members of the public attended but the absence of EDBF and almost all the 43 members of the ruling group, including the chairman, leader, deputy leader, and most of the cabinet, gave the distinct impression of a mass boycott. Public [...]

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    Presenter, Michael Chequer visited the house of Sue and Terry Collins who live on the edge of the village and have been flooded FIVE TIMES in the past six months. Developers, Strategic Land Partnerships, who have applied to build up to 120 houses on land opposite The Burlands and The Signals, declined to be interviewed. Myself and Sue Collins were interviewed, as was John Withrington from Feniton Action Group.  The link to the programme, which will be live for the next seven days, is below, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0113gtr Photograph by Feniton Parish Council:  Feniton [...]

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    Despite EDBF’s interest and influence in planning policy being the biggest issue and motivation for forming a committee to look into EDBF, the draft scope states that planning policy should not be included in the terms of reference. A large public attendance, with many people giving a view on this stance, will hopefully change minds. The meeting starts at 6pm, tomorrow (Tuesday 11 December) and will be held in the council chamber at the Knowle, Sidmouth.

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    And why did my supplementary questions cause the leader, Cllr Paul Diviani, to become so angry with me? I arrived just before 6pm, on the basis I would have to assimilate quite a bit of information and decide on suitable supplementary questions for each, in a short space of time. My written questions are below, accompanied by the written replies.  I have also included the five corresponding supplementary questions and answers: 1. Please provide a detailed estimate of the full costs of relocation of the EDDC Offices from The Knowle to Honiton.  Please include all anticipated [...]

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    Two applications - one for 120 houses and another for 59 houses have been submitted by Strategic Land Partnerships on land opposite the Burlands. Residents are urged to attend the meeting and give their view. It takes place in Feniton Primary School at 7.30pm, on Monday 17 December.

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    The meeting will be held on Tuesday 11 December at 6pm, EDDC’s council chamber, Knowle, Sidmouth. The meeting will cover the future scope of meetings, background information on East Devon Business Forum, how other councils engage with business and the council plan. Unfortunately, the scope appears to have been written by East Devon Business Forum. The agenda link is below: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/business_taff_111212_combined_agenda.pdf

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    My motion, which was submitted for debate at last night’s full council meeting, called on the government to lower the voting age to 16, on the basis that 16 year olds are already treated as adults in many ways, including being able to ride a motorbike, get married and get a full-time job. With an amendment to direct the motion at the Local Government Association (LGA) instead of the government, councillors voted unanimously in favour of supporting the motion, despite some expressing misgivings….. After my speech (below) to propose the motion, the motion’s seconder, Martin [...]

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    The announcement follows news from the government that they are intending to allow fracking companies access to almost two thirds of the British countryside. The eastern part of Devon is in the area designated by the Dept of Energy and Climate Change as suitable for licensing of shale gas drilling operations. Frack Free Devon opposes the development of fracking and the dumping of frack waste within the borders of Devon. Frack Free Devon’s factsheet is below, which also includes ways that you can influence the outcome of this worrying new way of creating [...]

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    The applications, which will go ‘live’ tomorrow, are for 120 houses and 59 houses respectively, on land next to Ottery Road, opposite Grey Gables. The applicants, Strategic Land Partnerships (SLP), are asking residents, councillors and East Devon District Council’s planning department, to choose between the two applications.  The justification being used by the developers is the Wainhomes appeal decision, the national planning policy framework, EDDC’s out-of-date Local Plan and the government’s policy on ‘growth.’ Last December, an application by [...]

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    At last night’s Feniton Parish Council meeting, which followed a hugely busy flood drop-in event during the afternoon, chairman, Martyn Smith outlined his proposals for a way forward he felt might help residents battle floods the next time around, if there was one. As he spoke, representatives from South West Water, Devon County Council and East Devon District Council, agreed that they would do their best to help spare Feniton from future floods. Earlier in day, Feniton’s MP, Neil Parish had walked around the village with councillors, seeing the problems for himself. Parish council[...]

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    Nick Boles, the Housing Minister, was slapped down last night following his proposal to build homes on two million more acres of rural land. The Department for Communities and Local Government said that “there were no new targets” and admitted that Mr Boles was using baseline figures that were five years out of date. “This Government does not set top-down Whitehall housing targets,” a spokesman said. “It is for elected local councils to determine how best to meet housing need.” Mr Boles said last week that people who object to development are selfish.  Earlier this year he[...]

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    More than 60 per cent of the British countryside could be exploited for shale gas, government documents show, as ministers prepare to give the go-ahead for developing the country’s most significant new energy source since North Sea oil. The Independent understands that Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, will soon end the current moratorium on shale gas production, which was put in place after fracking caused two small earthquakes near Blackpool in 2011. His decision will pave the way for a significant increase in shale gas exploration. The Chancellor, George Osborne, is also expected to [...]

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    East Devon District Council used the environmentally damaging draft Local Development Framework to approve the application in September 2010, which had been published for consultation just two or three weeks previously.  Its approval was one of the driving forces behind the creation of campaign group Communities Before Developers, of which I was a founder member. Save Our Parkland lodged a legal challenge, with the help of planning and environmental consultant, Charlie Hopkins, who works with a barristers’ chambers in London.  Charlie spends much of his working life fighting [...]

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    Cllr Paul Diviani is expected to answer the majority of them, with the final two - about a contentious planning decision involving one of my constituents, Kelly Lynch - likely to be answered by development management committee chairman, Mark Williamson. The format is that my written questions, which must be submitted several days in advance of the meeting, will receive written answers which each member receives when they arrive at Wednesday’s evening’s full council meeting. At the allotted agenda item, I will be asked whether I have a supplementary question on each, which will be [...]

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    The council says that the eight page newsletter deals with some of the ‘wilder claims’ that are being made about all sorts of controversial proposals, including the Knowle sale, the proposed developments at Sidford, the Elizabeth Hall sell-off in Exmouth and even a planning decision in Feniton. To see the newsletter click here - http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/x1453_east_devon_extra_december_2012_lowres.pdf To view the associated press release, click on the link below: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/communications_and_consultation.htm?newsid=744

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    The village’s county councillor, Roger Giles was interviewed and explained the background to the decision - that it was the Government’s priority to build houses, trumping serious problems, such as sewage facilities being at capacity and flooding issues. The new priorities, have been weaved into the National Planning Policy Framework, published earlier this year. Previously, there had been a balance in national planning policy, in terms of environmental, social and economic impact.  Now the only thing that seems to matter is building houses.  That is more important than [...]

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    Today’s Telegraph ran a story on flooding, where Feniton gets a significant mention. See the link HERE A garden in Feniton last weekend.

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