• However, officers say the letter, which is thought to contain the planning inspector’s initial reaction to the local plan (and possibly his early view on proposed levels of housing and industrial land)  cannot be made public until late this Thursday because of instructions from Mr Thickett. EDDC’s local plan has been controversial since it was first published in 2010. A senior planning policy officer confirmed to me a few minutes ago: “We have received a letter from the inspector who has requested that it be made available after we have had a few days to digest it and [...]

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    At the committee’s meeting last week Cllr Roger Giles raised the issue of the threat made by George Osborne in his Autumn Statement in December 2013. Mr Osborne had said that he was considering removing the entitlement to the new homes bonus from councils who refused planning permission to developers who subsequently won planning approval on appeal. Roger Giles said that all planning applications should be decided entirely on their merits. By threatening to remove entitlement to the new homes bonus the chancellor of the exchequer was trying to bribe councils – particularly [...]

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    The great and the good who run the National Trust, the organisation in charge of protecting the country’s finest buildings and landscapes, are not meant to get cross. But Sir Simon Jenkins is furious and — it seems — has been for a large part of his six years as chairman. The reason for Sir Simon’s wrath is planning regulations and specifically the Coalition’s decision to rewrite them for England in the midst of the recession with a new bias in favour of “sustainable development”. The Trust, and readers of The Telegraph through its Hands Off Our Land campaign, vigorously opposed [...]

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    At last night’s overview and scrutiny committee I asked that the proposals, which will be debated by the planning committee on Tuesday (1 April), be called-in to the overview and scrutiny committee’s April meeting for examination. A group of councillors have proposed strict limits on the number of public speakers, which would mean that many people who are currently permitted to address councillors on the development management committee in person, will no longer be able to do so, from May. And in my view, developers and agents are to be handed a clear advantage as they would [...]

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    I requested, in the forward plan section, that the controversial plans to move from Knowle and build new ones at Skypark, be scrutinised before going before the full council in July. For some reason, there is no overview and scrutiny committee scheduled for June so I asked that one be arranged.  This was agreed by officers and councillors present. Some councillors asked that the item be held with the press and public excluded, which I completely disagree with, given that virtually all decisions have been taken so far in private session. Scrutiny is about examining issues of public [...]

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    15.4 Repeal of duties relating to consultation or involvement (clause 57) Background Section 3A of the Local Government Act 1999, inserted by section 138 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, provides that: (1) Where a best value authority considers it appropriate for representatives of local persons (or of local persons of a particular description) to be involved in the exercise of any of its functions by being— (a) provided with information about the exercise of the function, (b) consulted about the exercise of the function, or (c) involved in another [...]

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    In a paper that has just appeared on EDDC’s website, the proposed new public speaking regime will be debated at the development management (planning committee) meeting next Tuesday (1 April). The paper from the working group, which was chaired by Cllr Ray Bloxham, insists its proposals will bring it in line with other local authorities and are to counter: - very long meetings - public repetition - the many planning applications to be considered now and in the future. The new rules would mean pre-registration of speakers and impose strict limits on the numbers of people allowed to address [...]

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    The application, on land at Westclyst from former EDDC councillor, Roy Stuart, was nevertheless brought forward in advance of the planning inspector’s initial feedback about the new draft local plan, expected at the end of this month. Planning officers said that although the application was “unplanned development” it was ready to be determined and they were obliged to bring it forward promptly for a decision.  The lack of a housing land supply was given for recommending approval for the application It emerged that part of the land was green wedge, and most of it was on [...]

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    Here’s the link to the EDDC statement published today - which is also pasted below:  http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/standards_240314_osm_complaints_conclusion.pdf 24 March 2014 Ottery St Mary Town Council complaints conclusion The District Council’s procedure for handling complaints about councillors is, for the most part, a confidential process. This is in order to protect councillors from unfounded and potentially politically motivated complaints. The options open to me, the Monitoring Officer, who receives and considers the complaints, are: a. No further action (usually due to [...]

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    I have lodged a motion urging the council to support a national campaign to cut tourism VAT, to five per cent. East Devon’s tourist industry is our lifeblood - and as councillors, we should be actively seeking ways to support it. They’ve certainly hit hard times over recent months. Here’s my motion: “This council recognises the significant contribution that the local tourism industry makes to the East Devon economy. “It also recognises how local tourism businesses are eager to encourage people to holiday here. “This council therefore resolves to write to[...]

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    http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Towns-villages-siege-developers/story-20843419-detail/story.html ..................... Towns and villages across the Westcountry are “under siege” by developers, according to landscape campaigners who found that two-thirds of council decisions to block major schemes are being overturned on appeal. The Government’s planning reforms are unnecessarily damaging the countryside and undermining local democracy, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has claimed in a new report published today. The research has discovered that recent reforms are forcing[...]

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    Agreement reached for Sidbury Community Enterprises to buy Red Lion pub, Sidbury Sidbury Community Enterprises is excited to announce that the Red Lion pub in Sidbury looks set to become the first pub in East Devon which having been listed as an Asset of Community Value becomes a community owned pub. The pub’s owner, Punch Taverns, placed it up for sale in April 2013 and in response to a local campaign to retain the pub its owner has now agreed to sell it to Sidbury Community Enterprises. Once purchased the Red Lion will be owned by Sidbury Community Enterprises which is a community [...]

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    Dear Claire, “Do you recognise how much influence you as an organisation have on the way people think about politics and politicians?” That’s what a Conservative MP said to me yesterday about 38 Degrees members. I was speaking in front of a committee of MPs looking into why people choose not to vote or get involved with the political process. I wanted to speak for as many of us as possible - so thank you to all 110,000 members who filled in the survey this week. [1] It really felt like some of the MPs were listening. Some of them were clearly rattled after hearing our home truths. But [...]

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    Cllr Will Mumford, who has controversially proposed that all of the council’s youth centres close by September, unless volunteers step in, was last week photographed at a stormy youth consultation event in Exmouth, with his head in his hands, following ardent protests from 120 teenagers about the loss of East Devon youth centres. Here’s the Devon County Council press release:  http://www.devonnewscentre.info/devon-council-leader-renews-cabinet/ Devon County Council leader John Hart today renewed his Cabinet following the resignation of Will Mumford. Mr Mumford has been the [...]

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    Councillors will determine the application, which is in my Devon County Council ward, at a development management committee meeting on Thursday 3 April, which starts at 9.30am. The land is a reserve site in the EDDC local plan and was allocated in case not enough sites come forward. The planning inspector overseeing EDDC’s local plan is due to give his initial feedback on 31 March. The recommendation for approval is being justified because of ..... yep you guessed it - a lack of a five year housing land supply.  Here’s the committee report - [...]

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    The meeting, which took place at county hall on Tuesday 11 March, heard that the paper had been delayed by a month or so and now should be published at the end of March instead. The proposals are likely to involve bed closures, as the NHS moves to provide more care at home, or as close to home, as possible. The reason for delay in publishing the paper, known as “transforming community services” was said to be a need for further consultation with communities, this month. The paper submitted to the committee stated that the New Devon clinical commissioning group now intended to present its [...]

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    It appears that I was right. Leafing through this week’s edition of Local Government First - a fortnightly newsletter that gets distributed to councillors I was pretty horrified to read the following paragraph: “The LGA (Local Government Association) has taken an interest in the (deregulation) bill as it includes proposals such as .......  ... “abolishing councils duties to consult, allowing them to make their own consultation decisions for their communities.” What?? How many genuine public consultations have actually been carried out by EDDC where we didn’t [...]

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    What’s gone wrong with politics in the UK? An influential committee of MPs have asked me to give evidence to them next week. They’re investigating why so many people choose not to vote or to get involved in the formal political process. Please can you help decide what I should say? I have a hunch that I’ll have to tell the MPs some home truths. Lots of 38 Degrees members have told me before that they feel there are big problems with our democracy and our politicians. That’s certainly how I feel. I want to be sure I’m speaking for all 38 Degrees members, not just [...]

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    This morning, I understand that Mr Thickett, who was speaking at his last session this morning, confirmed that he would report back on the plan and possibly what changes need to be made, by 31 March.

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    Not mincing his words, Cllr Diviani, says it is “disingenuous” to suggest such a thing. At last week’s Ottery Town Council meeting, Cllr Ian Holmes referred to a meeting last July (which was attended by him, Cllr Glyn Dobson, Cllr John Harding, Cllr David Cox, EDDC chief executive and Cllr Diviani) where he said it was suggested that any involvement in a project by independent councillors me and Roger Giles, would mean the “death knell” for it, in terms of EDDC support. Cllr Roger Giles, the Ottery EDDC member, does not appear to have been invited to the meeting. [...]

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    With around 80 or so people were present, the event kicked off with a presentation on parliament and how decisions are made and laws passed. It was really interesting and very well articulated, by a locally based civil servant, who was obviously passionate about her job. Next up, after a very pleasant sociable coffee and cake break, was a presentation by someone from the cabinet office, about how registration is changing for elections. The jist was that people will soon need to register individually, rather than someone being allowed to register on their behalf. Then, youth campaigners, 17 [...]

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    Here’s the story, webbed by the Express & Echo .................................................................... http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Insensitive-County-councillor-criticises-decision/story-20798284-detail/story.html Concerns have been expressed that the public were barred from speaking at a crucial county council meeting regarding the fate of three local authority run children’s homes in Exeter and Tiverton. Dozens of people turned up hoping to speak at the meeting of Devon County Council’s People’s Scrutiny committee meeting yesterday afternoon to hear [...]

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    http://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/so-whats-happening-the-graham-brown-investigation/

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    A new bus service via Skypark could cost £100,000 a year, confirm senior officers at Devon County Council. Officers also confirm that the existing 4 service timetable would not permit it to be diverted into Skypark, due to time constraints. At last month’s EDDC full council meeting, the conservative group voted in favour of starting detailed negotiations to buy land at Skypark for almost £1m and build new offices there. Cllr Roger Giles (Independent - Ottery Town), who sought information from Dave Black (Head of Planning and Transportation at DCC) said: “The message shows that the claims[...]

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    Police have confirmed that officers are still investigating whether an East Devon district councillor may have committed a criminal offence, a year after bragging he could secure planning permission for a fee. In March last year, former 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 planning consultant. It is not illegal for councillors to work as paid consultants. East Devon District Council referred Mr Brown’s comments to the police, under the Bribery Act [...]

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    Around 25 members of the public along with councillors and some youth service staff were briefed about the plans to cut dozens of youth worker jobs and shave off almost £1m from the budget, in the next financial year alone. Devon County Council must cut a crippling £110m from its finances by 2017.  This follows a similar amount in the last four years. In what has been described by some as “ideological” proposals, the council proposes to close down its 30 or more youth centres, among other services, such as residential homes and day centres. Instead, the council is encouraging [...]

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    Well hello Claire This was one of many conversations I have around the district which are frequently without an agenda or minutes taken. The topic as I recall was a perceived lack of funding for OSM as opposed to other towns, which you will know to be a misconception (there is a perceived lack of funding in other East Devon towns as well where no one says they receive more than they need). I don’t recall any particular comment on involvement of independent councillors but it could well have arisen in general conversation if at the time independent councillors such as you and Roger Giles had [...]

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    Currently, in line with most other areas of Devon, Feniton’s street lights switch off at around midnight and automatically come on again at about 5am. But residents have understandably complained that it is very difficult to manage during night-time flooding incidents and Feniton Parish Council asked me to take the issue up with Devon County Council. I wrote to highways chief, David Whitton, asking for at risk streets to be allowed to return to all night-time lighting until the flood defence scheme is in place. I am really pleased to report that Mr Whitton readily agreed to this and [...]

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    It relates to an Ottery St Mary Town Council meeting on Monday (3 March) evening, where Cllr Ian Holmes declared that he and mayor, Cllr Glyn Dobson, were told at a meeting with EDDC chiefs last year, that if “either of our independent councillors were involved in a project it could signal the death knell for it.” The meeting reportedly took place last July between mayor, Cllrs Glyn Dobson, Ian Holmes, David Cox, EDDC leader, Paul Diviani and EDDC’s chief executive, although the attendance is to be confirmed. Cllr Roger Giles was not invited to the meeting, nor was he aware [...]

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    For a summary of the various items and the associated link, have a look at Sidmouth Independent News here - http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/hear-sidmouth-and-honiton-being-sold-down-the-river/ In addition to that listed on Sidmouth Independent News, item 10 is my lobbying motion, where several members of the conservative group became suddenly very confused over the meaning of the word.

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    On Monday evening, Alfie Weaver, one of the lead youth campaigners working with local UK Youth Parliament members, gave a short speech on service’s importance to young people and his fears if Devon County Council’s proposals for closing youth centres, go through. King’s School student, Aled Foley, who was accompanied by two of his fellow students, also spoke of his connection to Ottery’s youth centre and how it has helped him. Councillors agreed to write a letter to Devon County Council asking for the centre to be retained. Cllrs Roger Giles and Jess Bailey agreed to [...]

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    At the meeting, which took place on Wednesday 26 February, I made a short speech about the importance of the youth service and how it was being put at risk, before proposing that half the money allocated to the office relocation budget be diverted to help youth services in East Devon. I reminded the council that this practice (allocating the money in this way) had been criticised by the overview and scrutiny committee, because there was no specific expenditure listed in the budget line. As such it may not all be required. But it was certainly needed by the youth service. There was hubbub of [...]

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    Dear Claire, Jeremy Hunt’s ‘hospital closure clause’ is dangerously close to becoming law. [1] It could put all hospitals across England at risk and it has just been announced that the crucial vote is only a week away. If we’re going to win this we’ve got to move quickly. Our best chance to stop it is if David Cameron and Nick Clegg see that the reputation of their party is at risk if the plans go ahead. Luckily we’ve got exactly what we need! Over the last few days, award winning filmmakers have been working at break-neck speed to pull together a hard-hitting video. Everyone [...]

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    Skulking in a corner

    4 Mar 2014 | News

    Here are some engaging observations on the article at Sidmouth Independent News…. http://sidmouthindependentnews.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/too-transparent-mr-diviani-too-transparent/  ............................................................................................................................................... Almost £1m has been agreed by district chiefs to buy a plot at the SkyPark, near Exeter, the frontrunner for the council’s new HQ. But the decision made at East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) full council meeting on Wednesday night was preceded with a [...]

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    Mr Hale seemed to be arguing in favour of a developer’s position at EDDC’s local plan examination in public environment session, who wanted to remove the protection was he said it acted as a “constraint” to development. In response to local public concern about the issue , the CPRE’s website now states:  “There may be some misunderstanding of the position that CPRE Devon takes on defending the environment when it comes to planning applications in those areas involving our coasts and estuaries. Our general approach is set out in the “Help Desk” Blue [...]

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