• At the last standards committee meeting in July where the social media policy was debated, committee member, David Mason said he was concerned that the policy contained a “gagging clause” and could prevent councillors from giving their views freely about controversial issues, such as the local plan, for example - see account of the meeting here - [...]

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    The motions are: By Cllr Julian Brazil (libdem) seconded by me This Council is appalled at the effect of the new NPPF document and this Government s policy of building houses as a solution to the economic crisis. This is having an adverse impact on our schools and health provision. We will continue to support the housing needs of our local communities to build houses for local working families but[...]

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    New national guidance states that such advice should be made available to the public. The recommendation on the report circulated with last night’s agenda papers, was to “note the restrictions in place on communicating confidential and commercially sensitive information disclosed at pre-application discussions.” Member of the public, Jessica Bailey, who had patiently sat through three hours [...]

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    Portfolio holder, Cllr Ian Thomas, and a senior officer, gave presentations to last night’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting about the parlous state of the council’s finances.  They outlined the measures that the council was taking to try and cut costs. Measures include: - a budget working party being set up and being charged with saving £1.5m over the next three years - the [...]

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    An officer confirmed that the fees and charges task and finish forum had “benchmarked” fees and EDDC had been found to be charging below what many other councils are charging. I said that the rise in costs were extortionate and I could not support the recommendations.  I asked that the committee be provided with evidence that EDDC was undercharging.  I said the cost increases[...]

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    I arrived to the meeting late as I had come from a Feniton flood defence meeting elsewhere in the building.  I arrived, incidentally, at the beginning of the relevant agenda item. Roger Giles was already asking a question about why the audit report relating to Graham Brown, was confidential when I sat down. The answers that came back from a senior officer was that it was: written for [...]

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    Overview and scrutiny committee chairman, Cllr Tim Wood, said that it was not possible to bring the subject of the office move to the committee until 30 January, because the scrutiny agendas for the next three months are full. An officer said that a major report on the office move would be debated by EDDC’s cabinet on 4 December. I argued that it was probably the most important issue facing [...]

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    The move is linked to the huge funding cuts that the government has insisted the council must make over the next four years. Over £110m must be cut from DCC budgets.  This is in addition to almost the same amount being cut over the last four years. The youth services issue comes before people’s overview and scrutiny committee tomorrow, accompanied by an agenda paper which states that [...]

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    INDEPENDENT auditors have scrutinised East Devon District Council’s governance procedures following concerns about the integrity of a former councillor. Councillors on the Audit and Governance Committee called for the audit following concerns about whether there was a conflict of interest between former councillor Graham Brown’s role on the council and his professional work as a planning [...]

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    I hear many anecdotes about what is happening across East Devon and I am sure that the article (link below) will resonate with many people. http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/local-government-lawyers-unhappy-about-the-current-standards-regime/ When the new regime was imposed on councils last year I tried to get EDDC councillors to mount a protest to government about it, but [...]

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    Page 20 of this Thursday’s audit and governance papers states:  “The Audit & Governance Committee were concerned relating to the perceived or actual conflict of roles of Ex-Councillor G Brown and accordingly amended the 2013/14 Audit Plan to include an audit by SWAP (south west audit partnership) to consider the Governance arrangement implications and to suggest any necessary [...]

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    Here’s what page 72 of the Audit and Governance agenda say: “Following the approval of the 2013-14 budget, the Council now face a cumulative budget gap of £3.973 million over the next five year period, with a budget gap of £1,878,000 for 2014-15. “These gaps are before consideration of New Homes Bonus to fund the shortfall. Whilst this is a significant income stream to the [...]

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    The event, organised by the Otter Trail cycle way campaign group, of which I am a member, made an impact on the streets of Ottery, with the colourful “pelloton” doing a quick and dramatic tour of Ottery town, before heading back to the Land of Canaan car park and over the new connect bridge. Stalwart police community support officer, Maria Clapp, was on hand to distribute high [...]

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    http://www.nlgn.org.uk/public/wp-content/uploads/Future-Councillors_FINAL.pdf

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