• Here’s a brief overview of what the community around Ottery St Mary and further afield, will be getting involved with, or reading about this year: Feniton triple public inquiry appeal for 230 houses The government’s national planning policy framework with its powerful presumption in favour of development is mostly responsible for developers encircling Feniton like hawks hoping for a kill. The triple inquiry kicks off on Tuesday 7 January and is expected to last for around two weeks. I will be arguing against the plans, on behalf of the community, as will Feniton Parish Council, [...]

    Read more

    The Romantic English poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, quipped that “In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly”.  The public debate over MPs’ pay and perks risks suffering the same fate – but there is a way to restore faith, and improve the value-for-money of Parliament. Sir Ian Kennedy, the head of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, is right to conclude that MPs need a pay rise, to benchmark it properly against other comparable public sector jobs, and to prevent Parliament becoming the preserve of the rich. But, it would confirm every worst prejudice [...]

    Read more

    The application application is for 300 houses on the edge of Gittisham, west of Hayne Lane. The deadline for comments to be with EDDC, is now 21 January. See Susie’s blog for further information on how to submit a comment - http://susiebond.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/300-houses-at-gittisham-vale-update/ Here’s the post I wrote previously - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/planning_application_for_300_houses_on_edge_of_gittisham_goes_live/v

    Read more

    Predictably, major potholes are starting to appear. I have reported two in the past few days - there is a particularly huge one on the road between Higher Metcombe and Tipton St John - around one metre in width. This needs to be repaired urgently. The most efficient way of reporting a pothole is to complete an online form that enables you to plot on a map precisely where the pothole is. Please let me know if it is taking some time to repair and I will try and speed things up. http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/transportroads/roads/road_maintenance/pothole.htm

    Read more

    Amid the angry rhetoric, I can’t helping wondering one thing….... If the tory whip is truly offended at the idea that he does as his job title indicates, I wonder if he can explain why it is at full council meetings (and sometimes other meetings) the conservative group (42 members) vote en bloc for a particular course of action? Here’s the letter ................................................................................. Can Councillor Roger Giles “walk the walk” or just “talk the talk”? Following my recent letter to the Herald challenging Cllr Roger Giles to [...]

    Read more

    But in the past few years the African elephant has been targeted like never before.  There is now urgent action needed. In some areas, elephant populations have plummeted by a staggering 80 per cent in six years. Some believe that if the slaughter continues at its current rate elephants could be wiped off the face of the earth within 10 years. Whole herds are gunned down from helicopters by armed militia. Ivory trinkets are sold to fund terrorist activities, or they are kept under lock and key in the hope that the scarcer the beasts become, the more expensive the trinkets will get. [...]

    Read more

    The report’s preamble states:  “One in four local authorities surveyed reported that councillors’ behaviour had worsened since the new standards regime came into effect, against just 4% claiming that it had led to improved behaviour. “The vast majority of survey respondents (85%) believed that the member sanctions introduced by the Localism Act were ‘too weak’.” As a result, in some councils there have been more complaints from members of the public against councillors, who it is believed, tend to think that they don’t need to worry too much about [...]

    Read more

    Many councillors simply said that the two storey glass fronted cafe was “iconic” and that Budleigh “needed it.”  I think Budleigh Salterton is the most beautiful unspoiled beach in East Devon and I cannot imagine how incongruous this cafe would look, right on the seafront.  Bad decision. Here’s the story in the online Echo - http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/High-Court-judge-gives-ahead-demolition-Britain-s/story-20348941-detail/story.html  Below is a press release issued by resident, David Daniel, who masterminded the campaign and legal [...]

    Read more

    In one of the most cynical moves you could imagine, the developers, Welbeck Strategic Land, submitted the application to EDDC earlier this week, in what appears to be a suspiciously cunning attempt to sneak it in while everyone is in the throes of last minute Christmas preparations. Cllr Susie Bond, the EDDC ward member, has, quite rightly, asked EDDC for a two week extension for public comments, which is usually just 21 days, from the day the application goes live. The land in question is to the west of Hayne Lane and developers say that there would be around 40 per cent affordable housing. [...]

    Read more

    http://www.otterystmary-tc.gov.uk/Core/Ottery-St-Mary-Town-Council/UserFiles/Files/Notes%20taken%20%20at%20Informal%20Meeting%20with%20Persimmon..pdf

    Read more

    The process is expected to last up to four months. For full details see the Straitgate Action blog here - http://straitgateactiongroup.blogspot.co.uk/

    Read more

    A minerals officer has confirmed:  “We have had no contact from any company interested in any form of oil or gas exploration or production (shale gas or otherwise) in any part of Devon.”

    Read more

    Here’s a link to the story - http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Devon-Dorset-Somerset-Cornwall-open-fracking/story-20336705-detail/story.html Fracking could take place in Devon, Dorset and Somerset - but not Cornwall - under plans announced by the Government to step up the search for shale gas and oil. The areas of the country which could be opened up to shale gas exploration are detailed on a map showing areas the Government plans to offer to energy companies. Ministers said they would offer energy companies the chance for rights to drill across more than 37,000 square miles, [...]

    Read more

    The public speaking discussion took place at yesterday’s special development management committee meeting (planning committee). One of the recommendations was that all members of the public who wish to address the DMC on a planning application, must register to speak before the agenda is finalised. A further implicit recommendation was that that only those who have already submitted a written comment on an application, would be allowed to address the planning committee. See my earlier blog here for more information and a link to the agenda papers - [...]

    Read more

    The reason for the change of venue is due to the developers claiming that the Feniton Bowling Club is not big enough for three sets of developers, three legal teams and the EDDC team, as well as members of the public. Wainhomes threatened to charge all their legal costs to EDDC, if the planning inspector on the day, adjourned the inquiry as a result of their objections. Despite, Cllr Susie Bond and Feniton Parish Council trying their hardest to find an alternative venue and EDDC planning officers preference to stay in Feniton. And to be fair to planning officers they did want to remain in [...]

    Read more

    The motion was proposed by libdem, Cllr Julian Brazil and seconded by me. Cllr Brazil spoke on the motion, which as procedure dictates, had already arrived at full council with a recommendation from cabinet, not to support it. He said that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was a tool used by government to boost economic growth, which was inappropriate and any boost to the economy was short-term only. He said that communities were really concerned about the numbers of houses being built and councillors should act on their behalf and make a strong protest to central government. I [...]

    Read more

    See the link below for details and how to watch the debate live via webcast….. http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/devon_county_tories_urged_to_back_development_motion/

    Read more

    A controversial planning application to build more houses on the pub garden and car park, was approved earlier this year.  This followed an application lodged before I was Aylesbeare’s ward member, to build houses on its garden - a real shame and surely damaging to its future. Residents have told me that over this year, that opening hours have become less regular, especially during the last few months and the pub has been closed for several days on more than one occasion.  It was also often closed on Monday and sometimes Friday lunch times and it was often closed early in the [...]

    Read more

    The application, at Eastfield, off West Hill Road, had previously been refused by EDDC and dismissed at appeal, for 50 dwellings. The application approved today, was for development on one of the two fields that developer, Blue Cedar Homes have bought. A number of residents spoke against the application, including Terry Smith and Ruth Scott-Freer.  Dick Beardsall from West Hill Residents Association argued for West Hill’s built up area boundary to be drawn tightly around the development, if it was approved. I was not present at the meeting because I am have an interest in that my [...]

    Read more

    At next week’s special development management committee (DMC) meeting, an agenda item on public speaking at the development management committee, recommends that all public speakers who wish to address the DMC on a planning application must register to speak before the agenda is finalised. Furthermore, the recommendation appears to impose a further restriction, in that the only people who will be permitted to speak, will be those who have already submitted a written comment on an application. The recommendation is here: “The pre-registration of all public speakers at Development [...]

    Read more

    I would like to add to the debate prompted by Councillor Roger Giles’s letter - “Electing to stand” (Opinion, November 22). Roger insults the intelligence of the electorate in East Devon, which over the years has elected two Conservative MPs, contributed to electing three Conservative MEPs, and duly elected a Conservative majority at East Devon District Council and Devon County Council. Roger, face it - we live in an area where the electorate has chosen the values and beliefs of the Conservative way of life ... Conservative policies are a matter of record and well established[...]

    Read more

    Anyone who wishes to speak must register with the programme officer by Monday 16 December. A press release will be issued today about this I had expressed my concern to EDDC officers about the very short timescale for registering, but it is set by the planning inspector.  See more here - http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/local-plan-hearings-scheduled-you-must-inform-the-examiner-by-16-december-2013-if-you-wish-to-speak/

    Read more

    The fish pass being constructed by the Environment Agency at Tipton St. John has been completed. The weir at Tipton St John has been a major barrier to fish migration on the River Otter since the 19th Century and a serious limiting factor for the numbers of fish found in the river. Completion of the fish pass now means migratory species, such as Salmon and Sea Trout will be able to pass the weir and continue their journey to spawn in the River Otter’s headwaters.  As more fish are able to spawn in suitable areas of the river there will be a significant boost in fish numbers. Fish are [...]

    Read more

    The government’s relaxed planning rules are causing mayhem in East Devon, with a large number of speculative major planning applications targeted in locations that developers wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting consent in previously. In some places, there huge pressure on services such as schools, roads and doctors surgeries, as a result. The national planning policy framework (nppf) also states that highways officers can now only object to planning applications if the impact on traffic is “severe.”  Around 235 houses proposed at Feniton (growth of the village [...]

    Read more

    These are legal criteria that EDDC uses to govern its own procedures, but it would be reasonable to assume that they also apply to town and parish councils. Not surprisingly, the subject of privately meeting a developer does not fall into the criteria. So, it appears that Ottery Town Council were not entitled to exclude the press and public from the meeting for this reason. See pages 122-125 on this link - http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/constitution_2013_(update_oct_2013).pdf Even if this criteria does not apply to town and parish councils, Cllr Giles is actually covered under the [...]

    Read more

    Jess worked in London as commercial property solicitor before having children. She moved back to the west country in 2007 and to West Hill at end of 2008. Jess has two children at West Hill Primary School and one at West Hill Pre-school. Jess (pictured) got straight into community work when she moved to West Hill and has been a trustee of West Hill Pre-school since 2009. She says her interests include antiques, baking and transparency in local government! Last night, West Hill Residents Association chairman, Dick Beardsall, said that he was delighted that Jess was joining the strong team of[...]

    Read more

    There will then be a public consultation on proposals from the beginning of January until March. I need to study my ward areas properly yet but there sure are some interesting comparisons between villages that developers haven’t bothered with, and then other villages which are surrounded by hatched lines indicating that landowners want to develop land. The meeting starts at 2pm on Tuesday 17 July. Here’s the agenda: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/combined_special_dmc_agenda_171213.pdf  Very regrettably, there is no public speaking allowed at this meeting.

    Read more

    The vote took place following a series of questions and objections from West Hill residents about the town council’s private meeting with Persimmon, which is interested in a field adjacent to Higher Broad Oak Road. Dick Beardsall of West Hill Residents Association told councillors that he supported the idea of the council meeting with developers, but it should be done in the public domain.  He added that the field in question at the end of Higher Broad Oak Road, was deemed “not developable” in EDDC’s strategic housing land availability assessment and was not [...]

    Read more

    Councillors acted as judge, jury and executioners, as they forced him to “admit” to informing me about a confidential piece of information, before proposing that he be suspended from the planning committee. Cllrs Lewis, Dobson, Holmes, Carter and Hansford all took turns in traducing Cllr Giles for his apparent crime - and all the above, except Cllr Dobson (who abstained), voted in favour of his suspension from the town council’s planning committee. What on earth was this dreadful breach of confidentiality? It was informing me – West Hill’s district councillor - that Ottery Town [...]

    Read more

    The land is outside West Hill’s built up area boundary and developer, Blue Cedar Homes, have bought the adjacent field, which was included in their original proposal for 50 houses. But things have changed, say planning officers. Although West Hill is deemed to be of “limited sustainability” in planning terms owing to a lack of shops, services and continuous pavements, officers say that a lack of an adequate supply of land for housing and the new pro-development rules in the national planning policy framework (nppf). In EDDC’s case, it must find a six year’s [...]

    Read more

    This is a message from Louise Irvine, a 38 Degrees member and hospital campaigner. Read her message below, or sign her petition here: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/hospital-closure-clause Dear Claire, I’m a doctor and part of the Save The Lewisham Hospital campaign. Along with thousands of 38 Degrees members, we stopped health minister Jeremy Hunt from closing services at Lewisham Hospital. Thousands of us chipped in to take him to court, and we won. [1] Jeremy Hunt appealed the decision - but he lost again. So now, having been told twice that he acted illegally, he’s trying to change [...]

    Read more

    The land, which is in my Devon County Council ward, is also in the East Devon area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). The proposal is for more than 33,000 panels to be installed for a 25 year period, with associated buildings and infrastructure. The AONB team say that the application would “significantly alter the landscape character of this location” And: “erodes the intrinsically rural nature of the countryside in this sparsely developed area.” EDDC’s landscape architect takes a similar view. Devon County Council highways department recommends refusal on the[...]

    Read more

    Following a public meeting last month, where Feniton Parish Council and Fight for Feniton’s Future outlined the issues and next steps relating to the triple appeal for 235 houses, starting in January, over £1000 was pledged there and then! The village, even after all its flooding and drainage problems, clearly has plenty of fighting spirit! And residents will go to battle next month knowing that they have done all they can to help prevent the village from succumbing to the developers chasing profit and little else. A march will take place at Feniton halfway through the inquiry, on [...]

    Read more