• The meeting, which has been called by the libdems to address public concern about crippling service and budget cuts, offer members of the public a chance to address the full council of 62 councillors. There are proposals to cut a raft of services including residential homes, day centres, libraries, youth centres, children’s centres, children’s homes, and the hot meals service, among other things. Devon County Council must cut around £110m from its budgets by 2017, according to orders by central government. The loss in funding follows a similar amount being cut in the previous [...]

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    The Express & Echo has the story here - http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Exmouth-councillor-guilty-breaching-code-conduct/story-21035171-detail/story.html And here ........... A LONGSTANDING Exmouth town, district and county councillor has been found guilty of breaching the town council’s code of conduct. A complaint was made against Lib Dem Councillor Eileen Wragg but the town council’s Conservative group. They accused Cllr Wragg of being “extremely rude” and making derogatory comments to town mayor, Councillor John Humphreys at last year’s annual town council meeting. The[...]

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    In a decision published yesterday (Monday) John Wilde, planning inspector concluded that the location, on land between Otter Close and Mallocks Close, was not a sustainable location due to a lack of community facilities, such as a secondary school and range of shops. Also listed as a reason for dismissing the appeal, which was lodged by Devonshire Homes, in a series of planning applications dating back to 2011, was an infrequent bus service. Mr Wilde states:  “I have found that the proposed development would be in an unsustainable location in transport terms, and on balance, I am [...]

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    http://www.devonnewscentre.info/study-explores-multi-use-trail-linking-sidmouth-to-feniton/  A feasibility study has been published looking at the possibility of developing a walking and cycling route from Sidmouth to Feniton. The concept of the 16km multi-use route has been around for many years but has now been explored in more detail by sustainable travel charity Sustrans. The study has been produced following a community meeting last year which highlighted the need for the report as part of the legacy work of the construction of Coleridge Bridge in Ottery St Mary, which opened to the[...]

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    Devon’s youth service is cherished by young people and their parents and operates on a system of voluntary engagement that forms the basis of an extremely effective preventative service. The service has, at its heart, the respect agenda. Young people attending youth centres are encouraged to be respectful in relationships with each other and in their conduct generally.  Many of the young people I have spoken to have formed strong attachments with their youth workers, who care about their jobs very much and have a unique role. It is a different role from teachers and parents. They are[...]

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    A petition with 7,000 signatures was handed over to Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, by Alfie Weaver. Photograph right to left:  Mel Beer, George Downs, Alfie Weaver, me http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-27171789

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    Most councillors voted in favour of approving the application, apparently with a lack of a five year housing supply in East Devon as the main reason. The land is a reserve site in the new draft local plan. The general aim of a reserve site is that it is considered if other allocated sites do not come forward in the plan period. Unsurprisingly, this piece of land to the west of Hayne Lane, where there is currently no development, has come forward before any other application.  Most towns have not been allocated reserved sites.  The case planning officer stated that the land was [...]

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    The news of yet another important facility in the town being at risk of closure came to light as a public consultation on the future of Devon’s children’s centres started on Tuesday (22 April). The centre, which is behind the town council offices, opened its doors just three or four years ago, following government funding being made available to support new parents and their young children. The children’s centres are run by charities for Devon County Council. And the number of children’s centre contracts are being reduced due to major cuts to council budgets, by central government. [...]

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    At yesterday’s procedures committee meeting, Cllr John Clatworthy, told me that I was wrong to ask for the young campaigners to speak at February’s budget meeting in the way that I did, because I was aware of the rules. The procedures committee was discussing a proposal from me to relax the rules on allowing members of the public to speak at meetings, which currently are stringent and require several days notice for submitting a written question at cabinet and council. The four scrutiny committees don’t have a formal public speaking agenda item, requests are allowed (or not) at the [...]

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    Tracey Reeves, Associate Director of Midwifery and Patient Care / Acting Deputy Chief Nurse at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said: ”Due to exceptionally high levels of staff sickness midwifery services for birth and in-patient postnatal care at Honiton Hospital were temporarily suspended on 23 March 2014 Our priority is ensuring services for new mothers and their babies are safe and high quality and the unit will remain closed until we are confident staffing levels have returned to normal and that this level can be sustained. This is an operational matter and is not a [...]

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    I am continually impressed by the monumental effort that Devon teenagers are going to, to try and save the youth service. The film is set to the soundtrack of “We can’t back down” by Demi Lovato, which tie in perfectly to the message that the campaigners are aiming to get across. Here are the lyrics: Don’t close your eyes We’re all in this together Wherever we draw the line We’re not gonna straddle across it, or lose it We can’t back down There’s too much at stake This is serious Don’t walk away We can’t pretend it’s not [...]

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    I asked for the agenda item to be debated at procedures committee, of which I am a member, following the refusal by the conservative group, to allow youth centre campaigners to address the full council for three minutes at the February budget meeting. I had asked that a representative of the group of about 30 young people, which included teenagers from across the county, to be allowed to address the council, which was about to make an important decision about the funding for youth services. But after a brief exchange in which the answer was no, there was a vote on whether to suspend standing [...]

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    Permission has been granted to landowners, the Salston Estate, to fell around 1300 douglas fir and larch that form woodland next to West Hill Road, between Lower Broad Oak Road right the way down to the former Salston Hotel, on the edge of Ottery St Mary. Some areas are to be completely cleared of trees, with other parts being thinned. West Hill, being set amongst trees, is known as The Woodland Village. After talking to both EDDC’s tree officer and a representative from the Forestry Commission, it is unfortunately, not legally possible to prevent such a large area of trees being cut down.[...]

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    The following South West Candidates have agreed to attend (To speak in alphabetical order): KAY BARNARD representing LIBERAL DEMOCRATS GEORGINA BUTLER representing CONSERVATIVES TONY MCINTYRE representing UKIP EMILY MCIVOR representing GREEN PARTY CLARE MOODY representing LABOUR The event starts at 2pm and will be held on Friday 25 April, at Honiton Methodist Chapel, off New Street. Tea will be available from 1.30pm. The European elections take place on Thursday May 22nd.  Don’t forget to register to vote. See here for details - [...]

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    I really enjoy getting comments on my blog – negative and positive - because it is a useful way of finding out what residents think on a range of issues. But there are rules that commenters must follow, to ensure that any comment published under my name, complies with defamation laws and the councillor’s code of conduct. Please take note of the following guidelines when using my blog for comments: - do not defame any individual (post an untrue damaging statement about someone) - do not criticise council officers. (EDDC’s monitoring officer has advised me that this may breach the [...]

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    To: Campaign Supporters It’s amazing to think that just under a year ago over 60 of us came together to launch a campaign to retain the Red Lion after its owner Punch Taverns had put it up for sale. Now 11 months later the campaign’s community benefit company Sidbury Community Enterprises has launched its community share offer to purchase the pub. The objective is to create a successful village pub that supports and encourages its local community. Please help us to achieve our share offer target. Retaining the Red Lion as a community asset will be to the benefit of Sidbury, its community [...]

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    Let’s get Ottery Town Council and East Devon District Council’s achievements into perspective. Reading recent press articles and drawn to Claire Wright’s blog, I am astonished at the level of criticism aimed at certain Ottery town councillors, as well as councillors of the Conservative-led district council. Both town and district have seen some very significant achievements in recent times, in spite of limitations to available funds. Ottery St Mary Town Council has demonstrated vision of what is good for the town. Consider the flourishing supermarket drawing many people into [...]

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    Unfortunately, the future of Ottery’s library is one of those looking rather precarious. Bluntly, unless volunteers come forward to run it, it will shut. The move is due to the government’s crippling cuts to council budgets, which will lose around 40 per cent of funding by 2017.  A £110m cut. A similar amount was cut in the last administration. Anyone who is under the impression that Ottery’s library is empty half the time couldn’t be more wrong. Actually, it is one of the highest performing libraries in the county, being ranked 29 or 30 out of 50, for the number of active [...]

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    Cllr Susie Bond has posted the letter on her blog, which was read out at Monday’s parish council meeting by vice-chairman, Pete Privett. The letter can be viewed here - http://susiebond.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/chairman-of-feniton-parish-council-speaks-out/

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    My first formal request for the full unredacted Minutes of all the ‘Relocation Working Parties’ was made to the District Council on 27th November 2012: It was turned down by legal officers on 13th May 2013. I contacted the Information Commissioner (ICO) asking for my complaint to be pursued on 19th May 2013. The ICO case officer decided on 10th March 2014 that the unredacted Minutes should not be released but that the full reports from consultants Davis Langdon should be made available. The ICO case officer said: In reaching a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies [...]

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    Today we are looking at the feedback from public engagement exercises. The paperwork states that proposals are now set to be published at the end of this month. Here’s the link to the article, which is published in today’s Telegraph - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10768844/Hospital-bed-shortage-exposed.htm l ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ The UK has second [...]

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    East Devon youth parliament representative, George Downs, along with fellow campaigners, Alfie Weaver and Paige Wonnacott, are spearheading plans for the demonstration, which be a march from Princesshay to county hall, on Saturday (26 April), in order to deliver a petition containing thousands of signatures. George Downs said:  “The meeting place will be in Princesshay, Exeter at 11am. We will then march to County Hall in order to present the petitions, currently numbering over 5000. The protest will hope to end at 3pm, inclusive of speeches. “We are hoping for a large [...]

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    Instead, the conservative leadership opted for the distraction technique, with oblique references made to the national situation on local plan production, which did not seem relevant to EDDC’s predicament. The answers to the questions, it was stated, would be provided in a report to the Development Management Committee on 6 May 2014 “which will outline the resulting workload and issues deriving from the Inspector’s letter.” I asked that instead the answers could be made available within the next week or so, given the gravity of the situation. This request was refused by[...]

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    http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Matrix-devastation-measure-effect-110m-Devon-cuts/story-20943104-detail/story.html  An analysis of the potentially devastating cumulative impact of £110million cuts to multiple services across Devon is being prepared. Devon County Council leader John Hart told a meeting of his cabinet this week that he was concerned over the combined effect of planned reductions to youth and children’s centres, libraries and care homes. The move comes after it emerged that South Molton could become a government case study to assess the effects of cuts to an average [...]

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    At last night’s full council meeting councillors discussed recommendations by Cllr Ray Bloxham’s working group, to limit public speaking which if they had been approved, would have meant the following key rules: - pre-registration of three working days for addressing the committee - only those who have commented in writing on an application be permitted to speak - on minor applications, limits of two speakers in favour, two against, with an additional slot for the applicant or agent - on major applications, limits of five speakers in favour, five against, with an additional slot for the [...]

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    The tories were so opposed to the proposal that it prompted one opposition councillor to suggest they might like to join the labour party. I picked up the campaign from twitter. It is being backed enthusiastically by the South West Tourism Alliance, the East Devon Excellence (a group of small tourist businesses in East Devon) and many other local business people that I have spoken to. Alistair Handyside, chair of the South West Tourism Alliance, addressed the council at the beginning of the meeting. He gave a very persuasive speech on the benefits of such a move, including: -  how all the[...]

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    It was in response to my question about the impact of the cumulative loss of a range of important community facilities, on Ottery town and the surrounding villages, due to the ongoing savage local government funding cuts. Ottery is set to lose its youth centre, its library and possibly its children’s centre. There are also question marks about changes and cutbacks at Ottery St Mary Hospital. And the town lost its police enquiries desk a year or so ago. Central government is cutting Devon County Council’s budgets by over £110m by 2017.  A similar amount was cut from the [...]

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    The discussion came about following my motion at February’s full council proposing that EDDC’s planning committee have the opportunity to declare whether or not they have been lobbied about a planning application. The motion was referred to standards committee and was debated this morning. Cllr Peter Bowden thought that lobbying was about improper influence, seeking to change a councillor’s mind about a particular issue.  Cllr Godbeer asked many questions of Cllr Bowden, who explored more of how he thought lobbying was defined and its complexities. Cllr Frances Newth [...]

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    An East Devon District Council Cabinet Member has welcomed the dismissal of three out of four cases in the Feniton ‘Super Appeal’ as a “victory for common sense”. EDDC Deputy Leader Andrew Moulding said he was “delighted” that a Planning Inspector had rejected appeals against the council’s refusal of three proposals to build a grand total of around 260 homes in the village. Inspector Jessica Graham did allow an appeal by Feniton Park Ltd against refusal of permission to build 32 homes to the north of Acland Park. Among the Section 106 undertakings is that the developer will pay [...]

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    Transition Exeter is holding European election hustings on Thursday 8 May, 6.30pm at the University of Exeter (Amory Moot building) to discuss what is needed to build a just and sustainable Europe. Candidates for the European Parliament for the South West constituency will be giving their views on issues relating to the economy, environment and social justice. Panellists from Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIP and Green parties will be debating live. Questions must be submitted beforehand to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)/*= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/,[...]

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    She has allowed the appeal for 32 houses at Acland Park, but the most damaging applications have been rejected. Absolutely brilliant news for the community after years of battling against floods and large-scale planning applications.  Let’s hope this stops the developers in their tracks. Ms Graham found that the 83 houses off Green Lane (Wainhomes) and the 120 houses adjacent to Ottery Road (Strategic Land Partnerships) would both cause significant and demonstrable harm to the landscape and setting of Feniton. She concluded that although Feniton was a reasonably sustainable location[...]

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    The local plan has been found unsound by government planning inspector, Anthony Thickett, who described the absence of an up-to-date strategic housing market assessment as a “serious failing.” As a result of the significant delay in getting the local plan adopted, we are likely to see an avalanche of large-scale speculative planning applications. Our questions are: Cllr Ben Ingham Housing Numbers 1 – How much do you think it will cost EDDC tax payers for us to provide up to date evidence of housing number requirements for the local plan and to prepare a Strategic Housing Market [...]

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    The paper, which will be discussed at Tuesday’s (8 April) committee meeting, also reveals that complaints have more than doubled from the previous year. And the number of complaints referred to the ombudsman, are the second highest among Devon district councils, at 21.  Only South Hams District Council had more complaints referred to the ombudsman (25), over the past year. The average annual number of ombudsman complaints for a district council is 10, according to the Local Government Ombudsman’s website. A total of 72 complaints were made to EDDC’s monitoring officer between April[...]

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    “Openness and transparency in the planning process is vital. This Council therefore agrees to include an item on the agenda of all Development Management Committee and Planning Inspections Committee meetings, requiring Members of those committees to declare if and who they have been lobbied by, about items on the agenda.” The agenda advises councillors that there was not sufficient time to prepare a report on the subject, however a report will be presented to the June standards committee. It is suggested that councillors “use this opportunity to give their views on what [...]

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    If you are concerned by EDDC’s proposed changes to rules for public speaking, NOW is the time to let your representatives know, in writing. A decision will be made next Wednesday evening, 9th April, when the Full Council meets (6.30pm at Knowle). The letter copied below, which has been sent to the three Sidmouth town ward members, may be helpful as an example. EDA also understands that the author has also asked a councillor who did not agree with the new speaking rules plan outlined by Cllr Bloxham at a previous Development Management Committee meeting, to request a recorded vote. [...]

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    In particular, paragraph 14, which states “where the plan is absent, silent or relevant policies are out-of-date, granting permission, unless ... any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits ... This basically makes the answer a default yes.  But then after all, the government let a team of developers write the NPPF!  And tory party coffers are much richer because of it. And paragraph 32 which states that a refusal on highways grounds can only be sustained if the impact is “severe.” Also, paragraph 47, which hands out a[...]

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    http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/communications_and_consultation.htm?newsid=1064 - here’s the link and it is pasted below. East Devon is not an island so its future is linked to neighbours EDDC is to be given more time to provide additional evidence as to the volume of housing that is right for the district looking ahead over the next two decades. That’s the key message from a preliminary letter to the council from a planning inspector examining East Devon’s draft Local Plan. The council’s efforts to protect East Devon’s unique environment will continue – but against a background of[...]

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    I am not sure that things could be much worse.  I have highlighted sentences of particular note. http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/letterno8toeastdevon.pdf  Dear .... At the last hearing I promised to write to you giving a date for my report or setting out what further work is required. Unfortunately I do not consider that the Local Plan is sound nor at this stage can it be made so by main modifications. Housing Numbers 1. I do not consider that the 15,000 housing target is justified by the evidence submitted to the examination. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) requires [...]

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    On Saturday 29th March over 20 young activists from across Devon met in Exeter as representatives of their local Save Devon Youth Service campaign groups. The aim of the meeting was to network with isolated young activists in order to gain an insight into the dedicated campaign work young people have been participating in since the cuts were announced. Hosted by George Downs MYP and Alfie Weaver, we participated in workshops throughout the day including how we can learn from each other and common goals for the future. Every young activist was encouraged to organise a campaign day in their [...]

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    The full council meeting starts at 6.30pm, on Wednesday 9 April. Members of the public will be entitled to speak on this issue at the beginning of the meeting for three minutes each. If you have concerns you only have a few days to act. Either email your ward member and/or come to the meeting and speak. I would be grateful to know your views too, so please feel free to leave a comment below. Here are the details of proposals and my comments - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_set_to_clamp_down_hard_on_public_speaking_at_planning_committee_meetin

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    At this morning’s meeting many committee members expressed their reservations about the application, with Cllrs Mike Allen, Alan Dent and David Key among the principal objectors. The public gallery was packed and several members of the public spoke, as well as Sara Trumper from Gittisham Parish Council and David Valentine. A representative from Honiton Town Council also addressed the committee. I spoke against the application as Gittisham’s Devon County Councillor and Susie Bond spoke as EDDC ward member. The land has been designated as a reserve site in the draft local plan. [...]

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    More than half of Devon’s libraries could close under proposals being considered by the county council. The BBC has obtained a briefing paper listing 28 of the 50 public libraries in Devon where council support is being cut. Communities will now be asked to take over the running of services, otherwise they will end. The paper proposes keeping 22 major libraries - to be known as Devon Centres - under council control. LIBRARIES UNDER THREAT: Appledore Ashburton Axminster Bampton Bovey Tracey Braunton Buckfastleigh Budleigh Salterton Chagford Chudleigh Chumleigh Clyst Vale Colyton Combe [...]

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    The proposals also rule that people must pre-register to speak, and only those who have commented on an application in writing will be permitted to address the committee. The plans appear to hand an advantage to applicants as they are offered a slot of their own, in addition to the slots given to supporters. The new rules are complicated, confusing and far too restrictive at a time of huge anxiety, with the pressure of major development on many communities. Cllr Ray Bloxham, the author of a working group paper setting out the revised public speaking arrangements, spoke to councillors on the [...]

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    Here they are as printed on the agenda: - A period of 15 minutes has been provided at the beginning of the meeting to allow members of the public to ask questions/make statements. If a question does not relate to an agenda item, there is now a requirement (Council meeting 26 February 2014) for the question to be submitted to Democratic Services two working days before the meeting. - This arrangement is in place to enable a considered response to be given at the meeting. The speaker is entitled to ask a supplementary question relevant to the advance-notice question. If a member of the public[...]

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    East Devon District Council is expected to ask the County Youth Service for more time to consider proposals to radically re-shape the service from September to help deliver some of County Hall’s substantial cost savings next year. EDDC’s Cabinet will be asked on Wednesday to approve a recommendation that Devon County Council be asked to grant a stay of execution for the changes, which would include the closure of youth centres in East Devon and elsewhere in the county. Devon County Council has youth centres in Sidmouth, Exmouth, Honiton, Axminster and Ottery St Mary. Impact County are [...]

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    Here’s the story - http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/East-Devon-District-Council-officer-issues/story-20886649-detail/story.html ................................................ THE monitoring officer at East Devon District Council has issued a response to whether an Ottery St Mary town councillor was guilty of a breach in confidence – but has not revealed whether the councillor was guilty or not. At the full council meeting of Ottery St Mary in December, a majority voted that independent ward member of 22 years, Councillor Roger Giles was guilty of divulging information deemed [...]

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