• The meeting will include a presentation from the developers about the scheme and a chance for members of the public to have their say. The meeting kicks off at 7.15pm on Monday 5 August, with the developer’s presentation, at the usual venue of Aylesbeare village hall. So far, there is one objection by a resident of Marsh Green and an objection by the Campaign To Protect Rural England.  My counterpart Ottery Rural EDDC ward member, Tony Howard has commented that he is concerned about the scale of the scheme. Also, the highways department is recommending refusal because a [...]

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    In my Ottery Rural ward hundreds of houses over and above the levels proposed in EDDC’s local plan, is causing capacity problems for several schools, with pressures to expand class sizes and build on outside space.  The headteacher of King’s School, Faith Jarrett, appeared on the front page of yesterday’s Ottery Herald, expressing her own concerns about the issue. My proposal to write to central government about the issue came about through a previous motion of Cllr Roger Giles, who proposed that Devon County Council made more robust responses to major planning [...]

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    Certainly, several of the questions were not answered, if not evaded completely (again). Question 1: Procedure Rule 9.2 to the Leader of the Council from Councillor Ben Ingham As part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s 2013 spending review announced in June, George Osborne confirmed that local authority spending will be cut by ten per cent. This will be on top of a thirty three per cent cut in central government funding earmarked for councils in the current spending round period 2011/12-2014/15. Can the Leader explain how he is going to accommodate this at EDDC?  Answer: Can I refer[...]

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    Feniton has its own exchange and is also set to receive an fibre-optic cable upgrade, next June. The interactive map on the site, which was spotted by an eagle-eyed Cllr John Harding, comes alive if you hover your mouse over it and provides updates for each telephone exchange area, on when superfast broadband is likely to arrive. The Ottery exchange serves West Hill, Tipton St John and Alfington.  Currently Ottery residents are getting pretty good speeds of around 8-10 megabits per second, but communities such as Tipton, West Hill and Alfington have much slower speeds, often less than one[...]

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    The committee debated public speaking at meetings, including full council, overview and scrutiny, audit and governance and standards committee and have recommended to cabinet to allow members of the public to make statements, rather than insisting that questions should be asked. I could not understand why it was so important that people asked questions and did not make statements and expressed this view at the June standards committee meeting. Some councillors had suggested that the system was being “abused” by members of the public who made statements rather than asking questions - See [...]

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    At Thursday’s overview and scrutiny meeting, which I was unable to attend, some councillors argued for it to be debated at the standards committee, following my request that lobbying, its practices and implications should come before the scrutiny committee. Cllr Roger Giles argued on Thursday evening that it should be debated by the scrutiny committee. However, it was agreed that the subject of lobbying would be taken forward by the standards committee. I will keep you posted.

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    Here’s the link if you want to see what happened! http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/

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    Cllr Ray Bloxham introduced the policy, which he had helped produce with a senior officer. Myself and Roger Giles both told the meeting that we were unhappy with the policy, and Cllr Trevor Cope said the document needed to be properly proof read, picking out a number of typographical errors. Roger Giles said it was entirely wrong to try and bar councillors from mentioning “sensitive” issues on social media sites.  Who and how is a decision taken on what is too sensitive for a social media site?  And quite often it is the sensitive issues that need a good airing. I said I[...]

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    David Mason, independent standards committee member, who is also a parish councillor on Rockbeare Parish Council, suggested that the sentence: “You must not make any comment or post material that may cause damage to the council’s reputation or bring it into disrepute” may be used against “certain people” who do not have views that accord with the council. Cllr Mason went on to give an example of councillors who were not in agreement of EDDC’s Local Plan, for example. Officers said that the policy was not designed to gag councillors.  Cllr Peter Bowden (con) worried about the [...]

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    And similar rules will apply to officers. An officer who conducted a consultation with officers and councillors since the last standards committee meeting in June, confirmed that she had received three responses to the consultation, all supportive that the new national guidance should be applied by EDDC. The guidance, which can be viewed via this blog - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_to_consult_on_new_guidance_on_councillors_as_planning_agents/ was published by the Local Government Association and Planning Advisory Service, in April. Cllr Susie Bond asked what guidance there[...]

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    When councillors arrive the questions and answers will be at each place. I (and all other councillors who have asked written questions) will be given the opportunity for a supplementary question. I am aware that independent councillor colleagues, Susie Bond and Ben Ingham, also have submitted written questions. My questions are: 1. Page 42, point three of the audit and governance papers, dated 27 June, state that the former Cllr Graham Brown’s actions are considered to be a “one off, with a limited risk of repeat.” Can the leader confirm what is meant by “limited [...]

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    I attended a meeting last week with Feniton Parish Council, EDDC engineer, Keith Steel, Phil Simcox from Howicks and Feniton councillor, Susie Bond, to have a look at the proposed route of the £1.6m scheme and hear about the process involved. Martyn Smith, chair of Feniton Parish Council said afterwards:  “The proposed alleviation system was discussed in detail and Phil was able to answer questions about how the scheme would work. The Parish Council up to that point had a few issues, but can now say that they are fully confident that the scheme will do what it is intended. [...]

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    At the meeting I asked that drawing up lobbying guidelines was put on the agenda for a future overview and scrutiny meeting. Officer advice was that this may be an issue for the standards committee to address and advice would be sought.

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    Below and here, is the story in yesterday’s Telegraph - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/utilities/10189331/Water-firms-raise-fears-over-shale-gas-fracking.html Fracking for shale gas will raise the risk of water shortages and could contaminate drinking supplies, Britain’s water companies have claimed. In a blow for shale gas explorers and government alike, Water UK, which represents all major water suppliers, has published a series of concerns about fracking and warned that failure to address them could “stop the industry in its tracks”. Ministers hope the [...]

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    Technical guidance for planning authorities on deciding applications for the exploration and extraction of shale gas has been published this morning by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The guidance covers whether operators need to provide Environmental Impact Assessments, how planning will interact with other bodies involved with the regulatory regime covering shale gas including the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive, and site restoration. Planning applications for exploration of shale gas should not take account of hypothetical future activities[...]

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    Good for Cllr Peter Halse for voicing his honest opinions. There is no support for the move, he has found from talking to people around the district. Risky expensive capital project is about right… and at a time of financial uncertainty. A further whopping £95,000 will be spent on looking to move. Last December, Cllr Diviani confirmed that £350,000 had so far, been spent on looking to move. Yesterday morning, I heard EDDC leader, Cllr Paul Diviani interviewed on BBC Radio Devon about the possibility of EDDC moving to either Honiton or Cranbrook. No decisions have been made, he told [...]

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    THE acting chairman of an East Devon business group that is in the process of re-launching has responded to fresh criticism. At the first meeting of the East Devon Business Group – formerly the East Devon Business Forum, prospective members were involved in a debate about its new constitution. Concerns have been expressed that the decision to approve the revised constitution was “steam-rollered” through. The forum was initially set up to “improve communication” between businesses and East Devon District Council. But the forum’s relationship with the council was [...]

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    Large stores in Torbay should be taxed to raise more than £800,000 for the community, say Liberal Democrats. They are supporting a campaign to impose a levy of 8.5% of the business rate paid by stores with a rateable value of at least £500,000. Conservative-controlled Torbay Council has been told in a report that it could raise £804,950 by taxing eight stores. Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said taxing supermarkets more would push up the cost of living. The proposal by the Liberal Democrat group on the council could affect two Sainsbury’s stores, a Morrisons, Asda, Dunelm, [...]

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    Cllrs Roger Giles and Ben Ingham are the authors of the motions, seconded by me and supported by other independents - Susie Bond, Trevor Cope, and Geoff Pook The first motion - a disaggregated approach to development - hopes, despite repeated conservative opposition, to get agreement for this simple policy which has been an informal policy of the council for many years in any case, to be adopted. Mine and Roger’s conversations with independent planning experts, has advised that enshrining this policy into the local plan could help protect the area of East Devon, from Cranbrook eastwards [...]

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    At the last standards committee meeting in June, the recommendation was that there should be a consultation of councillors and officers, before a decision was made on whether the guidance should be endorsed “to assess any individual impact.” The minutes of last month’s meeting state: “The committee was advised that EDDC did not have a bar on councillors or officers working as planning agents and would require changes to the code of conduct/terms of employment for officers and to the constitution. Should members wish to have a bar introduced, as had been indicated, it [...]

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    The report sets out a choice of the following recommendations, which, once agreed on, will be considered by councillors on the cabinet. The public speaking debate came about following Roger Giles’ (and members of the public) complaining about not having an ability to speak at a development management committee meeting in February, relating to a controversial issue on the five year land supply problem.  However, a request for wider public speaking rights appears to have prompted a wider review of public speaking at meetings. The range of recommendations to be considered by [...]

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    In response to my question, the officer explained that the next meeting to be recorded after the overview and scrutiny committee meeting on 25 July, would be the development management committee meeting in September. Following this, other key meetings would gradually be added to the schedule until the end of the year, when it is expected that the full calendar of meetings below, would be recorded: - Full council - Cabinet - Development management committee - Overview and scrutiny committee - Housing review board - Audit and governance - Licensing and enforcement committee - Standards committee[...]

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    The Woodland Trust has described the Pickles decision as: “One of the UK’s largest losses of ancient woodland in the last five years”, and the “first real test of whether the Government’s recent planning reforms would offer sufficient protection to ancient woodland”. Attempting (and utterly failing in my view) to justify such large scale destruction of habitat, Mr Pickles says:  “The very considerable need for both crushed rock aggregates and dimension stone, together with the eventual biodiversity improvements, and the ongoing socioeconomic [...]

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    Cynically relaxing planning controls puts rural Britain at risk while doing nothing to ease the housing shortage in our cities. Shakespeare knew it, when he gave “this sceptered isle” to John of Gaunt’s dying breath. Great artists knew it when they took their easels to the summit of our hills and captured England’s finest landscapes. Soldiers knew it, when wartime propaganda urged victory to protect the countryside we love.The London Olympic designers knew it, when their opening ceremony defined our modern nation with pastoral scenes. Hell, even the government knows it.[...]

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    Yesterday’s Telegraph has more - here -  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10176896/Englands-precious-inspiration-and-irreplaceable-countrryside-at-risk-from-developers-say-celebrities.html The CPRE charter website is here - http://www.saveourcountryside.org.uk Please sign up, it is so important. View across the fields at Higher Metcombe, on the edge of West Hill.

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    Here are my comments, submitted to the planning officers, today. This application is in my ward and my preliminary view is that it should be REFUSED. In March, four mature oak trees were felled after being deliberately and fatally damaged, it would appear, in order to gain planning permission for more dwellings than would have been permitted if the oaks remained, because of damage to roots.  This was an act of indefensible destruction of irreplaceable and magnificent trees, which supported important eco-systems. Three dwellings are now proposed on the land at Cornercroft and Wrenswood [...]

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    The Trustees of the Gibbons Family Trust are looking for organisations that benefit children and youth of East Devon to come forward.  A sum in excess of £50,000 has been set aside to help one or more local worthy causes for those up to the age of 25 resident in East Devon. It is intended to support or promote a specific new scheme or schemes which will improve the lives of young people, e.g. training for employment, education, sports, or assistance to those in difficult circumstances.  Grants will not be made for overseas travel.  The Fund may be awarded for one project or [...]

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    Cllr Eileen Wragg (libdem) who was referred to EDDC’s standards committee for criticising an officer in a letter to the Exmouth Journal last year, left the hearing early before knowing what sanctions she faced. The hearing was scheduled following Cllr Wragg’s letter published in the Exmouth Journal in July 2012, which was in response to a letter penned by deputy chief executive, Richard Cohen. Mr Cohen’s letter had irked Cllr Wragg as it had contained criticism of Exmouth residents, relating to the sale of Elizabeth Hall.  The particular sentences that had caused Cllr Wragg concern[...]

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    The NHS in England needs to take urgent decisions about reorganising hospital and GP care to avoid a growing funding gap, according to its leaders. In a report, NHS England warns that by 2020-21 the gap between the budget and rising costs could reach £30bn. The organisation’s chief executive, Sir David Nicholson, said services needed to be concentrated in fewer hospitals. Otherwise he said pressures could lead to another tragedy on the scale of the failings at Stafford Hospital. In an interview with the BBC, Sir David said trying to maintain services in the same number of hospitals [...]

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    It will be a trial recording of the overview and scrutiny committee, which starts at 6.30pm.  At tomorrow night’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting, members will receive a briefing relating to the next meeting’s recording. At the full council on 22 May, the following was agreed: (1) The Monitoring Officer be requested to review the Constitution with a view to making recommendations for the changes that would be required to Council proceedings to enable audio recording to take place; (2) To implement audio recording of specified Council proceedings using existing [...]

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    A report that will be considered at next week’s (Wednesday 17 July, 2pm) development management committee meeting, states the following: Head of Planning, Transportation and Environment to report that Devon County Council has produced specialist technical landscape impact guidance for development proposals. This document provides technical guidance on how landscape character and quality should be taken into account in planning applications and forward planning for onshore wind energy and free-standing solar photovoltaic developments. It examines the potential landscape effects that may [...]

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    An email from a senior EDDC officer circulated last Friday asks members to contact the legal team if they have any questions or comments to make, on the new guidance. At the standards committee meeting last month, councillors were made aware of the new guidance and a consultation with members was recommended, before any decisions were made on a way forward. Friday’s email states that if a change was introduced at EDDC, it would most likely be by inclusion in the code of conduct/appropriate protocols. Full council agreement would be needed to make any change, it was advised. The email [...]

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    Devonshire Homes is applying to build 19 houses on land outside the built up area boundary, between Mallocks Close and Otter Close.  In 2011, an appeal to the planning inspectorate to build 56 houses on the same land was dismissed by a planning inspector, following EDDC’s rejection of the scheme. A later application for 28 dwellings in that location was also rejected by EDDC. Plans of the proposed development appear to show that public open space would replace the previously applied for housing.  Up to seven dwellings are proposed to be affordable.  15 dwellings were [...]

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    Visual intrusion is the obvious planning issue and I was helpfully forwarded this document (link below) by an EDDC officer, to help with assessing the impact on the landscape. Interestingly, the document views solar array developments of 15 hectares (37 acres), as “very large.” The scheme at Aylesbeare is 55 acres. http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/environmentplanning/natural_environment/landscape/landscape-policy-guidance.htm

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    The proposal is for land next to Great Houndbeare Farm and would entail five fields - most or all of which are currently growing wheat - becoming a “solar farm.” A public consultation event took place in Aylesbeare and Marsh Green last November and the applicant says that the proposal has been modified in response to people’s views. The fields in question, which are adjacent to woodland in quiet countryside, if approved, would be boundaried by a 2.4m high security fence, with almost 40 closed circuit tv cameras in operation. The applicant says that the scheme would involve [...]

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    OPTIONS for the future of East Devon District Council’s offices will be debated on Wednesday 17 July. EDDC’s Cabinet will consider a report outlining all the options available to the Council, which include staying at Knowle with reconfigured or rebuilt offices or moving to an alternative location. The full report is viewable on EDDC’s website at: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/cabinet_agenda_170713_-_public_version.pdf Officers are recommending that Knowle options are not pursued further because of the high costs of maintenance, refurbishment or a new building on the site and instead [...]

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    Controversial proposals to relocate East Devon District Council’s offices are set to be debated by the authority’s cabinet on Wednesday, July 17. A face-to-face event with local stakeholders is due to follow on Friday, July 26. The council is inviting representatives from around East Devon, to join councillors and senior officers to hear more about the council’s objectives for the project and talk about any decisions made by the cabinet. Among those invited to the event are representatives from Chambers of Commerce, community organisations, neighbouring local authorities and pressure [...]

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    Local Plan adoption is scheduled to take place next year ... providing that the planning inspector does not have any significant objections. Currently, there is only a 4.71 years supply of land for housing, as assessed against 2008 regional spatial strategy figures. This means a shortfall of well over 1000 houses. And of course EDDC is subject to a penalty of having to provide a further year’s supply, because it was deemed to have persistent under-delivery of a five year supply. A lack of a five year housing supply puts EDDC at risk of speculative inappropriate planning applications by [...]

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    After which the inspector writes up his/her report, which may take until late December, with a final report from the inspector to be dispatched by mid February. At this point the “soundness” of the plan will be known, and whether there are any changes, significant or otherwise, to be made. Here’s the full agenda for the special development management committee meeting on Thursday 18 July, starting at 10am - http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/combined_special_dmc_agenda_180713.pdf

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    See policy here D3 - Trees and Development Sites: ® 6.231 Permission will only be granted for development, where appropriate tree retention and/or planting is proposed in conjunction with the proposed nearby construction. The council will seek to ensure that there is no net loss of trees or hedgerows resulting from an approved development. The development should deliver a harmonious and sustainable relationship between structures and trees. The recommendations of British Standard 5837:2012 (or the current revision) will be taken fully into account in addressing development proposals. No [...]

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    A huge well done to the Pub In The Village campaigners, who hope that it will assist them in their efforts to keep Red Lion open.  Here’s their press release:............................. The Red Lion pub in Sidbury went head to head with 63 other pubs nominated in the recent Exeter Express & Echo’s Pub of the Year Competition. The Competition was open to all pubs in the newspaper’s wide catchment area. Just to have been nominated to be in the Competition was an achievement for the Red Lion as many, particularly in the Sid Valley, were not. The Red Lion, despite being one of[...]

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    A Standards Hearing Sub-Committee yesterday (Wednesday) censured an Exmouth member of East Devon District Council for her public criticism of a senior officer of the council in a local newspaper. Finding that there had been breaches of the Code of Conduct for Members and an EDDC Protocol, the Sub-Committee ruled that Councillor Eileen Wragg, representing Exmouth Town ward, should face a number of sanctions for her actions. The Sub-Committee also recommended that EDDC should publicise the outcome through its Press Office. The issue arose out of a comment that Councillor Eileen Wragg made in a[...]

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    Here’s the agenda, including the proposed scope - http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/os_agenda_110713_combined.pdf  The meeting will be on Thursday 11 July, starting at 6.30pm. Members of the public are welcome to attend and ask questions.

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    A NUMBER of minor changes are being proposed to East Devon’s 15-year planning blueprint, following a final round of public consultation at the end of 2012. The latest draft of the Local Plan document includes small but important amendments to proposed development boundaries at the Council’s Knowle HQ in Sidmouth, reducing the size pf the proposed development area within the Knowle campus. The latest version of the document follows months of analysis and revision in the light of feedback received during the consultation in November and December last year. The proposed changes will be [...]

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    “The news reported to the ERaTA committee is not very good. The first meeting of this new group was chaired by an ex Councillor who forced through a constitution despite concerns voice by some of the traders associations and although it was not accepted attempted to impose a chairman who is not even qualified to be a member according to that new constitution and has set up a divide within the new group. So much so that it could come about that the traders representative groups will separate and set up their own democratic organisation, also forced through that a member would have to pay [...]

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    It is a short press release, but one that certainly strikes a chord with me.  I am also wondering why Mr Osborne is not prioritising our railways.  Dualling the the Waterloo line track in East Devon would increase the train service and may even prevent the steady declination of the service.  A missed opportunity to put it mildly. .........................................................http://www.sustrans.org.uk/press-releases/investment-roads-not-way-economic-recovery?dm_i=6EB,1JWLL,AAXKN8,5BF2C,1 [...]

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    There has been ongoing and significant public interest in examining the input that East Devon Business Forum had in the process of the inclusion of employment land in the local plan.  It emerged last year that the forum, formerly led by ex councillor and planning agent, Graham Brown, boasted that the forum had made an “enormous difference” to the amount of employment land in the local plan.  Two independent reports commissioned by EDDC have recommended much lower levels of such land. During the EDBF scrutiny sub committee meetings (which I am a member of) there have been ongoing[...]

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