• And a toothless half-measure was found over a second recommendation relating to planning consent start dates.  A third recommendation, which sought to lobby government on allowing councils more time to put together its Local Plan, was given what appears to be half hearted support - a shame because EDDC would do much better in giving this lamentable government a very much deserved good boot up the behind instead. At the last scrutiny committee on 28 March, councillors UNANIMOUSLY recommended to the cabinet that the long-standing practice of splitting the district in half when planning [...]

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    Straitgate Farm, which is between Ottery St Mary and West Hill, is the subject of intense activity by the quarrying firm, as it appears to be gearing up for a planning application. Last year, a campaign launched, following Devon County Council’s proposal to include the site in its minerals plan, which would mean the dairy farm was almost certain to destined for a quarry. But the proposal was put on hold, following major objections from government consultees, Natural England and the Environment Agency, both of which were very concerned about the effect of disturbance to an underground [...]

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    Strategic Land Partnerships applications to build 120 dwellings and 56 dwellings on the same piece of land, next to Ottery Road, have been registered. And so has an application for 32 houses behind Acland Park. Two applications were rejected by councillors sitting on EDDC’s development management committee, last month, with the proposal for 120 dwellings being rejected by planning officers. An application for a further 83 houses by Wainhomes on land next to Louvigny Close and Green Lane, is expected to come forward for a decision in the next few weeks.  50 houses were allowed on [...]

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    Pests and diseases such as ash dieback could threaten the majority of the 115,000 veteran and notable trees listed by the charity Thousands of “precious” ancient trees could be at risk from pests and diseases such as ash dieback and acute oak decline, experts have warned. Described as the natural equivalent of listed buildings, ancient trees have stood for hundreds of years, watching over historic events and playing a role in folklore and culture. But the majority of the 115,000 ancient, veteran or notable trees registered on the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Tree Hunt website [...]

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    Amend the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and uphold local democratic decision making Responsible department: Department for Communities and Local Government We the undersigned believe that the NPPF is inherently unsound leading to irreversible loss of open countryside and irreparable damage to valuable landscape and heritage assets which are highly valued by local communities. Prioritisation of economic factors and presumption to develop, together with risible sustainability criteria, is leading to decisions from the Planning Inspectorate that damage local communities and create [...]

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    The programme will interview the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s representatives, as well as a conservative councillor in Teignbridge - Kelvin Shantry. Tune in to BBC 1 at around 11.30am on Sunday, for the south west part of the programme.

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    Why East Devon’s town centres are deemed not to suffer from significant harm from the latest in a long line of stupidity I don’t know.  Another sigh.  I seem to do a lot of sighing over this government and its appalling policies. The article below is published by Planning Resource - here also - http://www.planningresource.co.uk/news/1184325/use-class-shake-up-comes-force/ ...................................................................................................................................................................................... Sweeping changes to [...]

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    Building houses will create more ‘human happiness’ than preserving fields, the Planning Minister has claimed. Nick Boles says the Government is determined to speed up the rate of house building, despite opposition from countryside groups. And he said communities who refused to support the initiative risked losing their hospitals and high street shops as their populations shrank. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Boles acknowledged that rural rights campaigners and Conservative supporters were ‘very worried’ when greenfield land was replaced by ‘the sheer ugliness and[...]

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    Cllr Hart confirmed that DCC monitored hedge cutting, following my written question, submitted in advance of DCC’s annual council meeting last Thursday (23 May). National guidance recommends that landowners cut hedges back in January and February only, to ensure the following: - reducing the chance of disturbance to breeding birds, nesting birds and other species, such as bats and dormice, which are given legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - most plants will have finished flowering and seeding - it allows the availability of berries and nuts for feeding birds [...]

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    Police have confirmed they are investigating a former East Devon councillor who resigned after being caught on camera boasting about his ability to secure planning permission. The move has prompted campaigners to hand officers a 20 to 30-page dossier on alleged planning “irregularities” gathered as part of an ongoing dispute over alleged undue influence between local developers and East Devon district council. Former Feniton and Buckerell councillor Graham Brown was suspended by the local Conservative party in March. He later gave up his seat after a sting operation saw him tell [...]

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    EDDC’s development management committee meeting (planning), which took place a couple of weeks ago, approved six of the seven planning applications ,in a meeting which took an entire morning. But there had been concerns from Mill Street residents about the height of the residential apartment block in the grounds of the adjacent Tumbling Weir car park so a site inspection was organised. But councillors approved the final element of the scheme after the site inspection, last week. Controversially, site owner, Paul Conway, told the committee that he could not afford any community benefit [...]

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    I pose this question because of all the important issues on last night’s EDDC annual council agenda, this seemed to provoke the most debate, especially among the conservative leadership. It was towards the end of the meeting when nominations for “think tanks” were made, that the tories decided to make rather pointed remarks about members of the independent group, not always attending portfolio holder “think tanks.” It followed a question from me on the nominations for “champions” about why all the champions were now conservative, whereas in the past they were from all [...]

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    It is aimed at showcasing what Ottery has to offer and will involve all sorts of activities, including food tasting and live music. The winner of the competition to find the most mouth-watering children’s recipe will be announced on Saturday morning. The order of play is as follows: - Friday 31 May Four course food safari - Saturday 1 June A food and drink street market in Mill Street, from 9.30 - 5pm Sainsbury’s car park - in a large marquee is the children’s recipe winner announced, from 10am Cookery demonstrations by a number of local chefs, supported by River Cottage [...]

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    Wildlife on the brink

    22 May 2013 | News

    Devon’s treasured environment is “in trouble”, conservationists have warned, as the country’s first-ever State of Nature report was published.   Scientists and researchers from dozens of conservation groups – including Devon Wildlife Trust – have worked together to produce a “stock take” of the nation’s fauna and flora. It shows that 10% of all the species assessed are currently threatened with extinction. More than half of the species studied have declined in recent decades.   Some 44 million breeding birds have been lost since [...]

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    For too long the human race here in the UK and globally, has plundered what it can from the earth, without giving anything in return. And this is the result. It’s about time our own government - and those across the planet - woke up to how this world will be in 50 years. Will it be a world where birdsong is barely heard, water is scarce, bees are a rare species and our eco-systems are irretrievably broken down? Because if this is the case then we are staring down our own demise and we will only have ourselves to blame - and if governments can’t see this or refuse to face this, [...]

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    At Thursday’s annual Devon County Council meeting, councillors will be asked to rubber stamp two of its four scrutiny committees being chaired by conservative members. EDDC used to have non ruling party councillors chairing its scrutiny committees.  Roger Giles was the last one, but in 2010, the then leader, Sara Randall Johnson sacked him, replacing Roger with Tory, Ray Bloxham, who remained the chairman, until Stuart Hughes took over in 2011. EDDC proposes a new Tory overview and scrutiny chairman, Tim Wood, who will no doubt be rubber stamped into his position by the rest of his [...]

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    The excellent initiative is below and asks an interesting question about whether supermarkets will deliver to rural villages or hamlets.  See information below and please reply to Greg Davies if you have any information that may help him with his research.  Isn’t it odd that Tesco doesn’t have this information (that might help vulnerable people) yet it holds all sorts of personal information on most of its customers, for commercial reasons.  I haven’t shopped in Tesco for at least three years - not since I saw how they handle their planning applications (gosh [...]

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    The driving force behind the campaign, John Loudoun, said:  “The meeting discussed the possible options that could arise out of the pub being put up for sale. These included concerns that given the owners, Punch Taverns, dire financial problems it could find itself without a buyer and the village could find itself with a pub that becomes another closed & unused property like so many that blight the landscape of many towns & villages these days. “At the other end of the spectrum there was real enthusiasm to ensure that a buyer was found who was willing to invest in the [...]

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    It does make me so very angry to hear this news, when Devon County councillors have been told by chief executive, Phil Norrey, that DCC is facing the hardest four years in its history, due to budget cuts, which is likely to mean yet more major service cuts. Don’t forget that the police commissioner elections cost £75m alone.  There was around a 14 per cent turnout in East Devon, in line with most of the rest of the country.  I haven’t yet met a single person who can explain to me how a police commissioner will help policing.  Can I also add that the policing cuts [...]

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    Mr Swire’s private secretary has confirmed to me that he will meet with Mr Boles sometime in July, although the precise date has not been confirmed. The meeting follows on from mine and Cllr Roger Giles meeting with Mr Swire in early February, where we outlined our serious concerns about planning issues in East Devon and the likelihood of significant levels of inappropriate and excessive development as a result of a deregulated planning system, caused by the National Planning Policy Framework, as well as a raft of further deregulated planning rules published since the NPPF has been in [...]

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    Matt Dickins, EDDC planning policy manager, has circulated the update below: - We are currently collating representations on the Local Plan and these have been added to our database - Everyone who has made comments on the Local Plan has been sent our summary of their comments and been asked to let us know if they do not consider the summary to be reasonable and accurate - We have advised that we plan to take a feedback report on comments made to Development Management Committee on 16 July 2013 - In late July we envisage submitting the Local Plan, and all comments made and supporting paperwork[...]

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    One of the conditions of homes being occupied at Cranbrook was that there would be an improved bus service from Exeter to Cranbrook through Ottery and on to Honiton and Axminster. This is very good news for Ottery town, but I have already had complaints from people living in Gittisham and West Hill. Ottery’s bus service will increase from hourly, to half-hourly as will Alfington’s.  Ottery and Alfington are on a direct route through to Honiton, so are easy to upgrade, I am informed by Devon County Council’s transport co-ordinating officer. Gittisham, however, will lose [...]

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    The application is on a large piece of parkland outside West Hill’s built up area boundary, next to Eastfield and includes six affordable houses. A previous application last year for 15 dwellings by the same developer was also rejected by EDDC and dismissed at appeal on landscape grounds. All previous comments will now be forwarded to the planning inspector. West Hill residents have selected land in the village for future development in EDDC’s Local Plan until 2026, but did not support the Westhayes parkland for house building. More information can be found at the blog link below [...]

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    The education secretary faced one of the angriest receptions of his three years in office when he appeared before head teachers in Birmingham. Michael Gove was heckled and jeered at the National Association of Head Teachers conference. The union passed a no confidence motion in his policies, while president Bernadette Hunter said teachers and pupils had “never had it so bad”. But Mr Gove said he was striving for higher standards in schools. The education secretary appeared taken aback by the frosty reception as he appeared for the question and answer session on Saturday. He was [...]

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    Sir Mervyn King, the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, has warned that the Government’s plan to revive the housing market should not become permanent. He warned that there “was no place in the long run” for George Osborne’s Help to Buy scheme, which will guarantee up to 15 per cent of mortgages on properties worth up to £600,000 from next January. The Bank’s governor fears that the scheme could leave taxpayers exposed to billions of pounds worth of private mortgage debt. Sir Mervyn said: “This scheme is a little too close for comfort to a general [...]

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    Species such as the Red Mason Bee and the Leafcutter Bee will lay their eggs in the boxes, which are easy to make using the instructions provided by the Countryside Rangers. Most people are now aware of the decline in our bee population, and its adverse effect on the pollination of flowers and fruit trees, and the response from the East Devon public, who are keen to do their bit for the bees, has been very encouraging. If you would like to order a bee box kit, (cost £7.50 with instructions) please contact the Countryside team on 01395 517557 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this[...]

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    See the story below and here in today’s Telegraph - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/planning/10062759/Michael-Gove-People-fighting-planning-reforms-are-against-aspiration-family-and-social-mobility.html Campaigners against the Government’s planning reforms are opposing social mobility, aspiration and the family, a senior Cabinet minister has suggested. Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said the countryside should not be considered sacred when it comes to building new homes and suggested that the Coalition’s reforms to the planning system would have been approved [...]

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    Cllr Hughes is angry after being kicked off every single committee on East Devon District Council, as well as losing his overview and scrutiny chairmanship.  And he has been relegated to the back bench at full council meetings. Prior to the EDDC “reshuffle” Cllr Hughes had backed, in his role as chair of EDDC’s scrutiny committee, an investigation into controversial planning issues connected with East Devon Business Forum - something that residents have been calling for, for months. Cllr Hughes has also opposed major controversial development in Sidmouth - at Sidford [...]

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    The Red Lion Inn, owned by Punch Taverns, has put on the market for £295,000 - a price that campaigners worry may be out of reach for many people. John Loudoun, the driving force behind campaign - The Pub In The Village - said people are concerned that a developer may buy the pub and turn it into housing.  Residents are considering the possibility of a community-run pub, in order to save it. Quoted in today’s Sidmouth Herald, Mr Loudoun said:  “We need to keep the pub in the village for a whole range of reasons - there is absolutely the opportunity for investment there [...]

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    Dear Hugo Myself and Roger Giles met you on 4 February to express our concern about the looming environmental destruction caused by the NPPF and its pro-growth policies. As you are aware, a significant issue for EDDC is a lack of ability to demonstrate a five year land supply for housing, which has made it very vulnerable to speculative applications for housing. Prior to the NPPF the five year supply was an important consideration. Now this issue is the overriding consideration that takes precedence over every other material consideration, based on the rules in the National Planning [...]

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    If significant damage to an AONB isn’t a barrier, what is? We must continue to write to our MPs to put pressure on the cabinet.  They are the only ones who can change this downward spiral of environmental destruction looming…...............................................................................................................Neil Parish - .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)/*= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if (el[j].getAttribute('data-eeEncEmail_EBfqdTuQKQ'))el[j].innerHTML = out;/*]]>*/  and Hugo Swire - [...]

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    The rules appear to have been changed at a national level after former councillor, Graham Brown featured in the Daily Telegraph on 11 March. Previously, councillors who were also planning agents, were only restricted in terms of not being allowed to take part in decision-making on planning applications. Cllr Brown, a planning consultant, chaired the local development framework panel during 2009/10, which proposed development at a strategic level across the district, including proposing large-scale housing allocations. Following the publication of new guidance by the Local Government [...]

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    The agenda papers for the EDDC annual council meeting next Wednesday (22 May), show that Cllr Hughes has been deposed and replaced by Exmouth councillor, Tim Wood. Conservative, Cllr Hughes has also been relegated to the back bench at full council meetings and is now one of only two EDDC councillors without a seat on a single EDDC committee.  The news is likely to fuel speculation that Cllr Hughes has been sacked from his EDDC scrutiny chairman post and removed from all committees, for backing a controversial proposal, which reportedly went down badly with senior Tories. Cllr Hughes has [...]

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    My interview that I carried out with Jenny Kumah earlier this week was broadcast, in which I outlined my views on localism, which weren’t very positive. Despite all the evidence staring everyone in the face that localism is a farce, I still hear government ministers and MPs talking about it as though it actually exists and enthusing how communities get a say in “shaping their communities” (groan, what a horrid expression that is!) Also interviewed was new Independent councillor for Feniton and Buckerell, Susie Bond, who spoke about the pressures from development, Feniton is [...]

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    In two weeks’ time a coalition of conservation charities will launch a campaign aimed at making saving nature a priority. Tonight, Channel 4 News ran an exclusive and extremely worrying report on how climate change has already dramatically affected our insect and bird population.  Even our hedgehogs could be extinct in just a few years, with an unbelievable loss of the creatures in a short space of time. Trees have never been under more pressure from disease and we all know what is happening to our bee population. The natural world’s symbiosis is starting to break down, [...]

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    Unfortunately this childish but common style of response by a government minister only serves to inflame tensions and reduces important debate to a slanging match. The story is on the BBC website and below - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22454459 ................................................................................................................................ Millions of people face losing libraries, sports centres and museums if “significant” further cuts are made to council budgets, a report says. The Local Government Association says potholes could go [...]

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    On page 5 of the Local Government Association (LGA) and Planning Advisory Service’s latest guidance, dated April 2013, it states:  “Officers and serving councillors must not act as agents for people pursuing planning matters within their authority even if they are not involved in the decision making on it.” Previously, national guidance stated that serving councillors who act as agents for people pursuing planning matters within their authority, should not play a part in the decision-making process for those proposals. The revised LGA/Planning Advisory Service guide to [...]

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    The south west part of the programme, will also examine the appeal of independent councillors. There will be interviews with Dr Margaret Hall from the East Devon Campaign to Protect Rural England, new EDDC councillor Susie Bond, who was elected in a landslide victory in last week’s Feniton and Buckerell by-election, following Graham Brown’s resignation.  I was also interviewed by Jenny Kumah about how important planning issues were to residents during the election.  Answer:  It was one of the top two issues raised with myself and Roger Giles, as we went from door to [...]

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    David and Stuart will be advising on how to identify different species and how maintain trees. The walk will start at 6.30pm from McColl’s shop on 17 June and will last around two hours. Sturdy footwear is advised. EDDC has asked that people book to attend.  Either ring 01395 517557 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)/*= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if (el[j].getAttribute('data-eeEncEmail_dyUXcduQeg'))el[j].innerHTML = out;/*]]>*/ Ash Hill Woods on the edge of West Hill.

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    Here’s the link - http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/communications_and_consultation.htm?newsid=836 ............................................................................................ DEVON & Cornwall Police are still looking into the issue surrounding an East Devon District Councillor who was filmed by a national newspaper apparently suggesting he could influence the planning process. Former Councillor Graham Brown, who represented the Feniton and Buckerell Ward, has since resigned from the Council – but denies any wrongdoing. A by-election for the Feniton and Buckerell Ward on [...]

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    Elected!

    3 May 2013 | News

    I had been receiving a positive response from residents as I went around during the past four weeks so I was hopeful that I might be elected…. But I never would have anticipated the result! Here it is: Labour (Andrew Blackwell) - 124 UKIP (John Kelly) - 382 Conservative (Chris Wale) - 522 Me – 2970 The turnout in Ottery Rural ward was 43 per cent – the highest in the county, the overall turnout across the county being 34 per cent. With a 74 per cent share of the vote, I appear to have the biggest majority on Devon County Council. Not being a numbers person I don’t think the results [...]

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    The applicant, Chris Down, has now taken his proposal to appeal. This means that the planning inspectorate will now consider the application, although a date has not yet been fixed. The application drew almost 200 objections from nearby residents. The application included two large buildings and a large slurry “lagoon.” EDDC rejected the application last October, on visual impact grounds as well as a potential impact on a site of special scientific interest - Aylesbeare Common. The field is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Photograph:  The field where a large [...]

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