• My bid for Parliament

    29 May 2014 | News

    People who are frustrated that their voices are not being heard at Westminster. People who are unhappy about what is happening at central government, including: - relaxation of the planning rules - the pursuit of economic growth at all costs - public service cuts, when billions of pounds is being wasted elsewhere, such as on high speed rail and police and crime commissioner elections. - the focus on big business, including big business lobbying of ministers and the “gagging bill” - the quiet but steady privatisation of the NHS - the number of MPs who appear to be acting in their party’s [...]

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    The controversial proposals were voted through by the majority of the overview and scrutiny committee earlier this month, despite attempts by myself and Cllr Roger Giles to argue against them. See the account of what took place at that overview and scrutiny committee meeting, here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_public_speaking_clampdown_plans_make_it_through_scrutiny_committee The question is, will there be any debate at cabinet, or will the proposals be nodded through? Photograph: The demonstration outside Knowle prior to the full council meeting last month, where the [...]

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    A report to EDDC’s cabinet for Wednesday 4 June confirms that a delay has been caused by residents’ town and village green application, which aims to stop or limit redevelopment of parts of the Knowle. And an application by residents to create a formal public right of way through the picturesque Knowle grounds, which have been used by the public for decades, has also slowed down the relocation project, which has seen costs spiral and residents become increasingly angry. EDDC’s agents, hired to sell the Knowle to developers, have advised the council to defer any marketing of the Knowle [...]

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    Sidmouth Vision Group’s website carries the information here and below - http://futuresforumvgs.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/knowle-relocation-project-further-foi.html?spref=tw The District Council has appealed against the Information Commissioner’s request that they publish the full, un-redacted report from consultants Davis Langdon, which had looked in detail at relocation: Unredacted Minutes and Reports of Relocation Working Parties - a Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council - WhatDoTheyKnow This case is now with the Information Tribunal: case EA/2014/0072: [...]

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    Britain’s wildlife is trapped between traditional Tories and their neoliberal counterparts, who think any green regulation a burden. Robins. Starlings. Pied wagtails. Badgers. Herring gulls. Buzzards. Cormorants. Grey squirrels. Foxes. The kill list created by the UK government is getting so long it is starting to look like the work of a psychopath. What can be compelling the coalition to be so brutal? The biggest challenge for nature lovers remains all the things that we and our politicians are not doing – our passivity when faced with habitat loss and climate change, which is [...]

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    In East Devon the result was similar to elsewhere, with the following outcome: - Ukip - 14,475 - conservatives - 13,647, - greens - 4,974 - labour - 3,623 - lib dems - 3,085. Across the south west, the green party have gained their first seat. Ukip secured two seats, the conservatives, two seats, and one for labour. Libdem MEP Graham Watson lost his seat. See below the following analysis by the Express & Echo - http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Labour-wins-Exeter-UKIP-East-Devon/story-21140934-detail/story.html UKIP and The Conservatives have topped the South West European [...]

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    Gittisham Parish Council called a public meeting on Wednesday evening to discuss the recent planning approval granted for 300 houses on land west of Hayne Lane and to ask for a mandate from the village to take legal action over the planning consent. The meeting was held in St Michael’s Church, Gittisham, and was attended by over 50 members of the public, members of Honiton Town Council, Parish Councillors, as well as District and County Councillors. Chairman of the Parish Council, David Fallows, welcomed everyone and outlined how the meeting would run. Parish Councillor and barrister, Sara [...]

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    Here’s the latest in the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/10845202/Rivers-rare-beavers-face-cull-threat.html

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    Dear Hugo Please see the above story from today’s Independent newspaper. It is scandalous that DEFRA may be considering killing the beavers living on the Otter, for such a suspiciously spurious reason. The beavers have been a source of delight to residents, many of whom have been concerned for the welfare of the animals, especially as news of them living here has reached the national media. I have walked that stretch of the river many times and they have not made any noticeable negative impact on the environment.  Devon Wildlife Trust intends to monitor them - and you will [...]

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    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/after-the-badger-cull-is-defra-planning-to-kill-devons-beavers-9405767.html The first confirmed sighting of wild beavers in England in hundreds of years delighted environmentalists. But now the future of the family of beavers caught on film in the River Otter in Devon in February looks perilous, as campaigners fear the Government is drawing up plans to trap and cull them. There have been huge successes reintroducing the dam-building mammals in Scotland in recent years, but campaigners say the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) [...]

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    http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/European-elections-2014-need-know-South-West/story-21114427-detail/story.html?ito=email_newsletter_exeterexpressandecho Forty-eight candidates under eight separate party banners will contest the South West’s European Parliament seats this Thursday. The region, which includes Gibraltar, returns six MEPs to Brussels. The candidates are: An Independence from Europe: David Smith; Helen Webster; Mike Camp; Andrew Edwards; Phil Dunn; John Taverner British National Party: Adrian Romilly; Cliff Jones; Arnold Brindle; Wayne Peter Tomlinson; Andrew Webster; [...]

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    The building, which is owned by Devon County Council, was vacated last month and the 45 staff have been relocated to Tiverton. The council wants to declare the building surplus to requirements, with a view to selling it. However, I asked for this decision to be referred to cabinet last week and went along to speak in favour of delaying the decision.  My reason is because of the ongoing consultations relating to cuts to the library, children’s centre and youth centre. Both the children’s centre and library buildings have been described as “unfit for purpose.” And [...]

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    Here’s the starting pic .... For more information about what we are trying to achieve - which is the creation of a cycleway along the old railway line from Feniton, to Ottery to Tipton st John to Sidmouth - visit http://ottertrail.org/ Photograph thanks to Kirby James.

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    Cllr Graham Salter, attended a public standards hearing at EDDC on Thursday (15 May) and was deemed to have broken the rules by speaking and voting against the planning application, which was near his house. However, despite finding a breach of the code of conduct, the standards committee also found that Cllr Salter had acted “solely in the public interest”, in trying to get the application refused. No sanctions were imposed against Cllr Salter.  Instead, all Newton Poppleford parish councillors must attend training on the code of conduct and specifically in relation to [...]

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    In a ruling published on EDDC’s website, it states that Cllr Paul Hayward had been disrespectful. A complaint by Cllr Hayward against Cllr Twiss was dismissed due to lack of evidence. In last year’s Devon County Council elections, independent, Cllr Hayward came in second with over 1000 votes when he stood against EDDC deputy leader, Cllr Andrew Moulding for the Axminster seat. Here’s the standards notice - http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/axminster_town_council_code_of_conduct_finding.pdf

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    The contentious – and in my view, complicated and unwieldy - plans were referred to the overview and scrutiny committee after a heated debate at full council last month – see here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/stormy_debate_stalls_public_speaking_restrictions At last night’s meeting the scrutiny committee went through each recommendation one by one. Despite some of the scrutiny committee, including me, Roger Giles, Steve Wragg, Graham Troman and Eileen Wragg, arguing that the committee time is largely taken up with officer and councillor debate, conservative councillors [...]

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    The EDDC annual general meeting on (Wednesday) 14 May) proposed constitutional changes to the motions procedure. Before 14 May a group of at least five EDDC councillors had the right to include a notice of motion on the agenda of EDDC full council meetings. The proposal was that the EDDC chief executive may seek to clarify that a motion “is compliant with the Council’s legal and administrative powers” and “where the wording of the motion is not immediately relevant to the business of the Council” it should first be referred to an EDDC committee, so that research could be carried out[...]

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    The voting took place to a barrage of angry heckling from the public gallery, some shouting “watch your seats on election day!” And “shame!” The libdems said they asked for the meeting to be arranged because they were worried that too many decisions were taken in private, the consultations for some service cuts had been vague – and that there hadn’t been enough opportunity for members of the public to address the council. A main motion put forward by libdem group leader, Cllr Alan Connett, urging the council to extend the public consultation period for many of the proposed service [...]

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    The document, which was published yesterday, has been expected for the last few months, but has been delayed a number of times. We have discussed the thinking behind the process - known as “transforming community services” many times at Devon County Council’s health and wellbeing overview and scrutiny committee. The NEW (North, East and West) Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, which has put together the document, has said it will publish proposals on how the proposed service changes might apply in each locality “in the near future.” However, the document (or at [...]

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    The day before the debate on restrictions to public speaking takes place, another restriction will be debated at the annual council meeting on Wednesday (14 May), as the council proposes to amend the constitution. On page 26 - the “annual constitution update” the new way forward for motions (which the independent group use a lot for a way of getting something of public interest to be debated), is that any motion not directly linked to the council’s business, to be first referred to a committee. This is apparently to “facilitate a relevant and informed debate.” I [...]

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    The closure of public services such as leisure centres, libraries and youth clubs is likely to intensify over the next two years as councils across Britain deal with a tipping point in their finances, the Local Government Association has warned. A survey of council financial strategies found three in five will have exhausted other ways of making savings by the 2015/16 financial year, meaning they will need to make deeper cuts to public services before the general election and in the following year. The LGA sounded the warning before this month’s local elections, which are taking place in[...]

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    The report in the papers gives a summary of the fiery debate that took place at the last full council meeting in April, which can be read in more detail here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/stormy_debate_stalls_public_speaking_restrictions  Outraged members of the public staged a demonstration outside the Knowle prior to the meeting. The paper states that there have been “concerns” about my amendment to the proposals submitted at full council, which had attempted to mitigate the restrictions. It says that elements of my amendment could result in “serious [...]

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    Devon County Council wants to include around 80 acres at Straitgate Farm, between Ottery and West Hill, in its minerals plan for quarrying, but Natural England and the Environment Agency have expressed concerns because of an important underground watercourse which would be disturbed by the quarry and could damage ancient woodland at Cadhay Bog and Cadhay Wood. Digging up aggregates for concrete and roads from greenfield sites is both unsustainable and environmentally damaging. In fact, the company who recently won the contract to use china clay waste from Cornwall as aggregates for [...]

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    The event, will include will include extracts and poems by established and published writers, past and present, together with original new writing from a recent competition. The readings will celebrate the variety of East Devon life across the ages and incorporate a literary tour of the district. Admission is free and all are welcome. The event will take place at the Institute, Yonder Street, Ottery St Mary on Friday 23 May between 7.30 and 9pm. There is free parking at Sainsbury’s. NB. It is not an East Devon Alliance event, but organised by a range of people across the district.

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    EAST Devon district councillors are due to approve an ‘action plan’ which seeks to address “serious failings” in its long term development plan, recently critiqued by a Government inspector. After the three week public examination of the authority’s Draft Local Plan 2006-26, inspector Anthony Thickett concluded that the 15,000 housing target is not justified by evidence submitted, which is inadequate and not up-to-date. He also said the absence of an up-to-date Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) was a “serious failing” and made a full assessment of need difficult. The [...]

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    The event, which is organised by West Hill Residents Association, is part of their annual general meeting and will be held from 7.30pm, in West Hill village hall. Residents can ask questions on any topic of councillors during the “councillor’s forum” section of the meeting. For more information see the West Hill Residents Association website here - http://www.westhilldevon.org.uk  Refreshments will also be available.

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    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/planning/10809862/Nick-Boles-told-to-apologise-for-costing-Tories-seats.html Planning minister urged to apologise to Gloucestershire MP who will ‘lose his seat’ in planning revolt. The planning minister has been urged to apologise to a Conservative member of parliament for “costing him his seat” at the next general election. Nick Boles was told by a life-long Conservative voter that Neil Carmichael, MP for Stroud in Gloucestershire, would lose his seat in a backlash against the Government planning reforms. Many Conservative MPs in[...]

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    The Government should allow building on hundreds of square miles of greenfield areas, and order an urgent review of green belt rules, according to Lord Wolfson, a Conservative peer and a key member of George Osborne’s inner circle. Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise said that ministers should increase the proportion of Britain which has been developed from 8 per cent to 9 per cent, equating to a further 808 square miles or the equivalent of 30 times the size of the city of Nottingham. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Lord Wolfson, who is the chief executive of high street retailer Next, [...]

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    Police commissioners are “on probation” because of a failure to cut through to the public, a powerful committee of MPs has concluded. The Home Affairs Select Committee said in a report the case for Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) has yet to be made, after low election turnouts and the failure of some PCCs to live up to the expectations of the public. PCCs were elected for the first time in November 2012 on very poor turnouts of less than 15%. They were intended to replace police authorities drawn from local councils. Tony Hogg, Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commisioner, was [...]

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    The group has set up a community interest company and is now asking people to buy shares in the pub. This is to enable them to take out a mortgage to buy it. A figure of £200,000 needs to be raised in order to buy the Red Lion and shares can be purchased at £50 per option. The funding must be raised by 23 May. Architect, Simon Spence and campaigner, Paul Hunter, showed me the designs and explained the background. It is a massive undertaking undoubtedly and the commitment and creativity of the group is impressive. I wish them every luck in the world. It would be wonderful if the project was[...]

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    I can’t hope to match Claire’s objectivity and care in reportage, but I thought it was worth noting my impressions of the Ottery Annual Parish Meeting below. There were a number of matters of concern to residents, which I mention in passing, fully aware that they deserve more, but unable to desist from the livelier bits of the meeting. Given the recent history of the town council in Ottery, the Parish meeting on the 29th April was potentially a tense one, and the turn out was substantial enough to indicate that all was not well. Initially, proceeding were bathed in consensual [...]

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