• Tom Corcoran of Mallocks Close, who is a regular attendee of EDDC meetings, told me that the letters took him just 10 minutes to cut. He said he let the grass grow a bit and then cut out the letters, starting with the “i” with his small rotary lawnmower. Tom put the skill and speed down to many years as an engineer and having to work quickly and precisely. I am bowled over that someone should think of doing something so creative and different to show their support for my campaign, it is so thoughtful and inventive! Roger and I drove over there this morning, to take a picture, which[...]

    Read more

    Pasted below is the BBC news story, with the link here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22335520 ...................................................................................................................... The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue. There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations. Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees [...]

    Read more

    Beekeepers have hit out at David Cameron, the Prime Minister, for falsely claiming to be life patron of a beekeeping club and failing to ban pesticides blamed for killing the pollinators. In Prime Minister’s Questions last week Mr Cameron claimed to be life patron of the Oxfordshire Beekeepers’ Association. But although he was president for five years and took a keen interest in bees – even visiting the club’s training apiary, he is no longer an official patron. John Craven OBE, the presenter on Countryfile, is the current president of the association. Peter Randall, the Treasurer [...]

    Read more

    17 Devon County Council candidates bidding for East Devon seats have signed up to the pledge, including high profile Sidmouth conservative, Stuart Hughes, as well as five greens, three UKIP, one libdem, one labour and five independent candidates. For more information - click here - http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/whos-signed-eda-charter/

    Read more

    http://www.planningresource.co.uk/news/1179678/government-announces-judicial-review-changes/ The government is to push ahead with proposals to reduce the time limit for applying for judicial review of planning decisions, despite an overwhelmingly negative response to a consultation on the plans. The government published a consultation on its proposals to reform the judicial review process in December. In its consultation response, published today, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said it would cut the current period during which objectors can apply for judicial review in planning-related cases [...]

    Read more

    Europe is on the brink of a landmark ban on the world’s most widely used insecticides, which have increasingly been linked to serious declines in bee numbers. Despite intense secret lobbying by British ministers and chemical companies against the ban, revealed in documents obtained by the Observer, a vote in Brussels on Monday is expected to lead to the suspension of the nerve agents. Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, loss of habitat [...]

    Read more

    http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/dccelection2013 There is also a by-election on the same day, in the EDDC ward of Feniton and Buckerell, following Graham Brown’s resignation.

    Read more

    Here’s the message from Greenpeace: ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... It’s time to swarm. Bees are dying in record numbers. And yet on Monday, our government plans to side with the chemical industry and block a European ban on the pesticides killing bees. Email environment minister Owen Paterson now and tell him to ban bee-killing pesticides - [...]

    Read more

    The swansong motion, which will be debated at DCC’s full council meeting tomorrow, is typical of the work that Roger has been doing on both EDDC and DCC over the years - trying to protect the area from over-development and help protect our lovely environment - a big issue for many residents. The full motion is below: Strategic planning is a vitally important function for Devon County Council in conjunction with Devon District Councils. It is vitally important to plan to achieve sufficient development to meet projected needs; it is also vitally important to carefully consider constraints [...]

    Read more

    Earlier this month, the Office of National Statistics published its most up-to-date housing projections for each area, based on the 2011 census.  The report shows that a considerable reduction in housing, should be applied to most areas, including East Devon. The statistics align with the East Devon Campaign to Protect Rural England’s own estimations back in January, which also calculate that only around 11,000 houses need to be built in East Devon, until 2026 - see - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/east_devon_cpre_housing_numbers_should_be_radically_slashed/  [...]

    Read more

    A government proposal to allow neighbours to object to plans by homeowners to build extensions under increased permitted development rights has been approved by MPs. A measure in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill extends permitted development rights to allow single-storey extensions of up to eight metres. An amendment to the Bill, to require neighbour consultation on such extensions, was yesterday approved in the House of Commons by 265 votes to 221. Last week, communities secretary Eric Pickles sent a letter to MPs outlining “a new light-touch neighbours’ consultation scheme” [...]

    Read more

    Over the last few days in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, over a thousand stricken seabirds including guillemots, puffins and razorbills have been washed up on our shores, dead or dying. The culprit: a substance called Polyisobutene (PIB) which covers these precious seabirds in a toxic glue. [1] Currently, it’s legal to dump PIB at sea. But a simple change to maritime law could change that and help prevent the scenes of destruction we’ve seen in areas like Whitsand Bay this week. That won’t happen unless our transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP, puts pressure on the International [...]

    Read more

    The proposal, which is likely to be quickly followed by a planning application, will be a revised version of a scheme for 50 houses, that was rejected and later dismissed at appeal in 2011. Last autumn, West Hill residents gave their views on where housing should be built in the village under EDDC’s Local Plan until 2026.  The land next to Eastfield was listed as one of the possible locations for building.  The other locations deemed acceptable by residents, were land opposite McColls and a small piece of land at Windmill Lane. I will not be formally commenting as an EDDC [...]

    Read more

    The programme starts at 6.30am tomorrow morning (Thursday). I am not being interviewed due to election purdah rules.

    Read more

    Planning reforms aimed at getting more new homes built have actually slowed down the process, new figures show. Ministers have consistently said that the Coalition’s planning reforms are intended to speed up development to boost the economy. Government statistics show that fewer applications are now being approved after introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework. The figures show that the proportion of new small scale developments with fewer than 10 homes being approved within a Government target of eight weeks has fallen from 71 per cent to 68 per cent between 2011 and 2012. [...]

    Read more

    Kelly has been battling EDDC to remain on land at Tipton St John for years, including against a prosecution notice and eviction last spring. Her application to build a tiny bungalow was borne out of research by her planning agent, John Watts last year, who looked through her grandmother’s planning files and found some information, which indicated that her grandmother may not have received all the information she was entitled to. Controversially and perhaps uniquely, Kelly’s application was first approved by the planning committee, and then brought back to committee on a [...]

    Read more

    From 38 Degrees ................................................................................................................................................... Our bees are in danger. Three species are already extinct, and others are in rapid decline. Scientists say that certain pesticides are responsible. Next week environment ministers from across Europe will come together to decide the fate of our bees. They’ll vote on a ban of these pesticides - but Owen Paterson, our environment minister, is currently saying he’ll vote against. [1] We only have one week to show him that he’s not[...]

    Read more

    East Devon could be set for a battle royal in the upcoming council elections, as the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Green Party and a handful of dogged independents look to challenge years of Tory domination. Phil Goodwin visits to see whether anger over a number of recent controversies has put voters in the mood to give the Conservative party a bloody nose in its own back yard… The tranquil, genteel and well-heeled enclave of East Devon has lost some of its reputation as a bastion of conservatism and has actually been quite riotous of late. Allegations of corruption and widespread anger [...]

    Read more

    Here’s the link and first part of the story below:  http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Environment/article1248864.ece  BRITAIN’S nature reserves, woodlands and meadows could be ripped up by developers — provided they put aside money to create new habitats under a government scheme to put a value on wildlife. Under the “biodiversity offsetting” proposals, the money raised would be used to turn low-grade farmland into woodlands, for example. The scheme, detailed in a new report, could be among the most controversial proposed by the coalition government [...]

    Read more

    Natural England (NE) is currently only required to be consulted on planning applications that would result in more than 20 hectares (around 50 acres) of the highest quality crop growing land being developed. At Feniton Parish Council’s meeting on Friday 19 April, where Neil Parish MP was present, Cllr Roger Giles raised the issue of NE being prevented from commenting on virtually all but the biggest developments, in relation to the loss of high quality agricultural land. Grades 1, 2 and 3 are recorded in national government policy as “best and most versatile” agricultural land, with [...]

    Read more

    Government plans to ease planning rules in England for three years have been amended to give neighbours the right to be consulted on building work. It comes after 26 coalition MPs - 16 Conservatives and 10 Lib Dems - voted against the government on Tuesday. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has written to MPs setting out a “light-touch neighbours’ consultation scheme”. He said he wished to tackle “head on” concerns about the effects the plans would have on “neighbours’ amenity”. The amendment will be debated in the House of Lords when the Growth[...]

    Read more

    CONCERNS have been expressed at the “confusing and conflicting” information issued about a police investigation into whether a former East Devon councillor has committed a criminal offence. Members of the East Devon Alliance campaign group are concerned that as a result of the time it is taking for controversial comments made by Graham Brown to be examined, potential evidence may be lost. Last month, Feniton and Buckerell councillor Graham Brown resigned his seat after he was caught on camera boasting that he could secure planning permission as part of his professional work as a [...]

    Read more

    A LEADING national journalist and researcher has included East Devon District Council in a report she has written on the local democratic process. In her 28-page report entitled, Scaring the Living Daylights out of People: The Local Lobby and the Failure of Democracy, Anna Minton, describes the council as being “the subject of ongoing controversy over contentious planning decisions and allegations of conflicts of interest which date back more than 20 years”. The London-based author refers to concerns surrounding the East Devon Business Forum which is “perceived to have [...]

    Read more

    Well he has now issued replies to Sidmouth residents, Kelvin Dent, Tony Green and Richard Eley. I am not sure they will be very happy with the letters, however, as Cllr Diviani doesn’t seem to have really addressed the issues.  And the leader’s reply to Tony Green contains an accusation that Mr Green’s question was “rum” ....?! See the Save Our Sidmouth website for more - http://saveoursidmouth.com/2013/04/16/questions-to-full-council-non-replies-from-the-leader/

    Read more

    Here’s the story below and the link - http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jameskirkup/100212390/conservative-mps-rebel-over-planning-because-they-fear-their-local-activists-more-than-their-leader/ ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................ The Government may have survived this afternoon’s Commons vote on David Cameron’s plan to relax the rules on conservatories and home extensions, but at a cost. The [...]

    Read more

    The first article is below and here - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/planning/9998215/Government-planning-reforms-in-disarray-after-backbench-rebellion.html The Government’s planning policy was in disarray today after ministers were forced to back down over a scheme to make it easier to build extensions and conservatories. Faced with a major Coalition rebellion, Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, announced a “rethink” of the proposals, which would allow people to extend their homes by as much as 26ft without planning consent – double the current limit. The [...]

    Read more

    The trust has created a database of important trees, whether they be ancient oaks, veteran trees or trees viewed as important to its community. I note from the interactive map that there aren’t too many entries for East Devon - and not West Hill (which is a woodland village after all!), so perhaps now is the time to start walking around our villages, recording where our important and loved trees are, and registering them with the Woodland Trust website. My understanding is that although this will not mean the recorded trees are protected by law - unless they have tree preservation orders[...]

    Read more

    MPs have been urged to back a local opt-out for controversial planning changes in England, ahead of a vote. Ministers want to double the maximum size to which home extensions can be built without planning permission, in a bid to boost construction. But the Local Government Association (LGA) wants MPs to give individual councils the power to reject the rules. The LGA says the plan could “open the floodgates” to thousands of “unsightly and unsuitable” house extensions. Ministers announced last year that they were considering a three-year relaxation of the planning rules [...]

    Read more

    The initiative, which sets out a series of reasonable statements about development, as well as openness and transparency, is aimed at helping residents select who to vote for in the elections on Thursday 2 May. Sidmouth Independent News (link below) has published the charter, in advance of the new EDA website being launched. I have signed up to the charter. http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/charter-of-the-east-devon-alliance/comment-page-1/#comment-3920

    Read more

    Election poster

    14 Apr 2013 | News

    I am getting a few requests now for copies, which is very nice.  I have a few laminated ones I can drop off, or I can email copies to print off for car windows, if required, for residents who live in the Ottery Rural county council ward. Just to confirm - the Ottery Rural county council ward covers, (in no particular order):  West Hill, East Hill, Ottery St Mary, Feniton, Sidbury, Tipton St John, Alfington, Gosford, Taleford, Fenny Bridges, Fairmile, Wiggaton, Gittisham, Buckerell. My leafleters appear to be out in force!  Many many thanks for all your help! You can either leave[...]

    Read more

    .... swapping them for my waterproof jacket and trousers! Roger Giles and I were out election leafleting at Taleford this morning. A strange hooded figure, I think frightened off a few dogs.  Certainly the last time I wore my waterproofs out leafleting I managed to really alarm an unsuspecting Feniton resident! Driving around rural lanes trying to find and leaflet, houses in the more remote areas of the ward, the inside of my car has got covered in mud and my walking boots are caked in mud and cow dung. I got my hopes up that spring may have arrived yesterday, as the April showers rained [...]

    Read more

    East Devon District Council Meeting on 10 April 2013 Agenda Item No 10 Question 1: Procedure Rule 9.2 to the Leader of the Council from Councillor Roger Giles The Development Management Committee meeting agenda of the afternoon of 2 April 2013 contained two planning applications for Feniton: planning application 12/2626/MFUL for 32 dwellings at Acland Park, and planning application 12/2649/MOUT for 59 dwellings at Ottery Road. At 11.35am on 2 April all Development Management Committee members were emailed a copy of an email from the Chief Executive to me about the Feniton Flood Defence scheme[...]

    Read more

    112 of the distinctive trees in Broad Oak wood are to come down in a “thinning” exercise, including an area over an acre containing 37 scots pines, to be completely cleared. See blog of yesterday here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/over_an_acre_of_woodland_to_be_felled_at_west_hill/ All traces of rhododendron are also being removed. At a time when woodlands all over the country are at risk from disease, it is very sad to lose so many trees in this way.  In East Devon there are great patches of scrubland laid bare, after acre upon acre of native species has been[...]

    Read more

    The story is here and below, in today’s Express & Echo - http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/Crisis-talks-farm-land-plan/story-18673078-detail/story.html#axzz2Q9c4AvqH ......................... LEADING East Devon district councillors called an emergency meeting with the chief executive and leader of East Devon District Council urging them to re-visit how a planning decision was reached two years ago. Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Eileen Wragg and her deputy, Councillor Geoff Chamberlain, called the meeting this month in light of the recent revelations surrounding former councillor [...]

    Read more

    PROSECUTION action is being considered by officials after more than a dozen trees were cut down without permission in a conservation area in Ottery St Mary. Fifteen trees, some thought to be up to 60 years old, which were growing on a patch of land south of Mill Street and west of the development of the convent, were felled at the end of March. The land is privately owned, but most of it is within a designated conservation area and therefore six weeks’ notice of any work to be carried out must be given to the council. A police spokesperson also confirmed that the disturbance of a [...]

    Read more

    Sidmouth resident, Mike Temple started to ask a question about EDDC’s internal investigation into the activities of resigned councillor, Graham Brown.  But before he could get very far, Peter Halse, chairman, attempted to stop him, on the grounds, he claimed, of sub judice. But Mr Temple carried on speaking over Cllr Halse, so he stood up and announced that the meeting would be adjourned for five minutes because Mr Temple had continued talking. When the meeting reconvened, Independent leader, Ben Ingham challenged the chairman’s use of the word sub judice, which only applies when [...]

    Read more

    I was contacted yesterday by a resident at Broad Oak Close who was concerned about chainsaw activity. I visited the road and learned from tree surgeons who are working on the woodland between Broad Oak Close and Heather Grange, that they have been instructed by the landowner, to fell an area of trees, which forms part of the protected woodland between Broad Oak Close and Heather Grange. The area earmarked for felling stretches to the boundary of trees bordering Heather Grange.  Safety grounds have been given for the reason for cutting down the mature woodland, which consists mainly of [...]

    Read more

    Here’s the story in Planning Resource below and here - http://www.planningresource.co.uk/bulletin/planningdaily/article/1177698/statistics-body-predicts-lower-growth-households/ The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reduced its projection for the growth in households in England between 2011 and 2021 by nearly 25,000 per year. The ONS this morning published a statistical release on the projected number of households in England and its local authority districts to 2021. The figures replace earlier projections that were published in November 2010 and for the first time use data from[...]

    Read more

    The questions are as follows: From Roger Giles 1.  At the EDDC Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 28 March the Chief Executive intimated that a number of EDDC leaving staff had been subjected to confidentiality clauses. Would the Council Leader state how many departing staff over the last three years were the subject of confidentiality clauses? Would he indicate who made the decision to implement a confidentiality clause, and with whom consultations about this took place? Would he indicate whether the Council Leader was involved in, or informed, of these arrangements at the time?[...]

    Read more

    The agenda item was to debate whether the influence by East Devon Business Forum on EDDC planning, would be be looked into. The proposal to do so, seconded by me, was voted through narrowly.  Councillors Troman and Hughes voted in favour. Read SIN for the full story - http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/minor-reshuffle-expected/

    Read more

    The meeting was due to take place on Tuesday 16 April. An email to members from committee clerk, Debbie Meakin, states: “In light of the revised scope of the Business TaFF as agreed at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 28 March, and currently being in the pre-election period for the Feniton by-election on 3 May, the Deputy Monitoring Officer has advised that the meeting of the Business TaFF set for 16 April should be postponed until after the election, given the matters members may wish to discuss.  “We have also reviewed the work required to be done by [...]

    Read more

    There are a lot of candidates standing.  Most of the 11 East Devon county wards have five candidates, with only a few having four.  EDDC conservative leader, Paul Diviani, has the most opponents in his Honiton St Paul’s county council ward, with five other candidates vying for his seat - a green, an independent, a UKIP, labour and a libdem. UKIP has candidates standing in most wards, no doubt spurred on by the Eastleigh by-election, and the green party has representatives in most wards too. As for Ottery St Mary Rural ward, which I am contesting, I have three [...]

    Read more

    Roger’s decision to retire from Devon County Council’s Ottery Rural ward (he will remain an EDDC councillor for Ottery Town ward), is a huge blow, so in a bid not to let his all excellent work go to waste, I have decided to campaign for his seat. Roger, who has served on DCC as a committed Independent councillor for 20 years has given me his enthusiastic support and is currently organising my campaign as my election agent, batching up leaflets and taking them to the kind people who said they will help deliver them for me. I feel slightly like I am currently rushing around randomly [...]

    Read more

    http://www.thisisdevon.co.uk/Homes-refusal-national-significance/story-18618465-detail/story.html#axzz2PZmv7Hkc - and copied below: Campaigners against the overdevelopment of a village “under siege” from planners have declared an authority’s decision to reject proposals of almost 100 new homes could have national significance. Two applications for new properties in the East Devon village of Feniton were rejected, despite officers recommending them for approval. “This significant victory should send a strong message to developers and the national government,” said[...]

    Read more

    Looking at the plants, daffodils and trees, it seems as though we are stuck in a miserable weather groundhog day, somewhere about the beginning of February.  There are virtually no buds on the trees, the daffodils are still only just emerging and it is horribly cold.  The poor birds are thinking about nest building but any chicks unlucky enough to be born in this min ice-age are almost doomed, with freezing temperatures and hardly any food around. Last week we heard on BBC Radio Devon that butterflies are scarcer and scarcer, with last year being the worst year in memory (or [...]

    Read more

    .............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. A council has launched a legal challenge against communities secretary Eric Pickles’ decision to approve almost 300 homes on two greenfield sites near Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Cotswold District Council said it will seek a judicial review of Pickles’ decision to give the go-ahead to two schemes, despite their impact on the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding [...]

    Read more

    In a debate peppered with what seemed like open rebellion against their party’s planning document, the controversial National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), one conservative councillor after another spoke against over-development and expressed anger over a lack of autonomy, caused by the introduction of the NPPF. But the liberal democrats, independent, Geoff Pook and most of the conservatives, were united in their dislike of what they saw (and what everyone else sees) as Feniton being at the centre of developers’ ambitions. The application for 59 houses, was brother to an application [...]

    Read more