• NHS bosses are allowing people more time to have their say over controversial proposals to shake-up community health services across East Devon and beyond. In September the North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is £14m in debt, announced its aim to improve care in the community, increasing the number of healthcare professionals and therefore close hospital beds to fund this change. The CCG launched a 12-week consultation process in September which was due to end in December, but it has now announced an extension to its consultation period until February 15. [...]

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    THE leader of East Devon District Council has accused East Devon MP Hugo Swire of raising concerns about the authority’s costly and controversial relocation plans “because he has an election to fight”. The Conservative MP has written to Conservative council leader, Councillor Paul Diviani, who has remained resolute on the plans to relocate from Sidmouth despite widespread concern, urging him to pause the process. Council deputy chief executive Richard Cohen and Cllr Diviani have both maintained that, on the back of various surveys and assessments, the financial burden on the council, and[...]

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    Natural England will now formally consult members of the East Devon public, to get their views at an open meeting next month. Those unable to attend the consultation may send their comments to Natural England by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)/*= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if (el[j].getAttribute('data-eeEncEmail_euWxDVWttb'))el[j].innerHTML = out;/*]]>*/, or by post to c/o Carys Coleman, Block B, Government Buildings, Whittington Road, Worcester, WR5 2LQ, by 15 January 2015. The public meeting will take place at Ottery [...]

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    Some key quotes: Tory MP Hugo Swire has told the leader of East Devon District Council to put its relocation project on hold. Mr Swire says it is ‘prudent’ for the Conservative-led authority to wait before committing to a costly move from Knowle to Honiton and Exmouth. The MP for East Devon has contacted Paul Diviani to say he does not want EDDC to move to Honiton – as it is outside his constituency – and thinks ‘more intelligent ways’ of using Knowle should be explored. “The prudent thing to do is put everything on hold and not proceed at this stage,” Mr Swire told the [...]

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    I am also very surprised that the legal fees aren’t very much higher, given that a barrister represented the council for a whole day at the courts in August - and EDDC’s battle with the Information Commissioner has been rumbling on for ages. My first question was:  “Please detail the total costs incurred so far by EDDC as a result of resisting the Information Commissioner`s ruling that EDDC should release information relating to the office relocation project.” EDDC Conservative leader, Paul Diviani’s answer was: “It was not this Council’s desire to [...]

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    Misplaced Tory sensitivities I am sorry I missed the recent fun in Devon over the meaning of the word “cull”. It centres on an independent councillor from Ottery St Mary named Claire Wright, who plans to run against the incumbent Tory MP for East Devon, Hugo Swire, next year. Last month, a member of the public wrote a comment on her blog, saying: “Cull all Tory councillors.” It is pretty obvious to almost anyone that this was a call to throw the Tories out of office at the next election, but the secretary of the Tory group on East Devon council, Phil Twiss, interpreted it as a [...]

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    https://www.devonnewscentre.info/county-council-leader-warns-of-more-cuts-next-year/?utm_campaign=twitter&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitter Devon County Council will be faced with even more cuts next year, following today’s announcement by the Government of further spending reductions. Council leader John Hart said the authority had already found savings of £128 million since 2009. But he warned today that further cuts of £50 million will have to be made in the next financial year with £34 million the year after. The council is well into the budget-setting process which will [...]

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    Around 50 members of the public were present to hear the debate on the office relocation and Cllr Roger Giles motion on the scrutiny function at EDDC. Cllr Graham Troman had also submitted an amendment to the cabinet recommendations to move closer to selling the Knowle and moving to Honiton and Exmouth.  Cllr Troman’s proposal was to: - bring the matter before the overview and scrutiny committee - bring the matter before the audit and governance committee - have the internal and external auditors examine the project detail But after Cllr Troman put his amendment, Leader, Cllr [...]

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    They are concerned that hundreds of houses will be built in the village if they don’t act quickly, following a number of major planning applications being submitted. Ward councillor, Independent,Ben Ingham was interviewed and went head to head live with a developer. Resident, Jean Carpenter, was also interviewed. Developers claim that Woodbury is a “sustainable location” for development. Oh how many times have I heard that one before?! Good luck Woodbury residents!

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    The building, which is known as St Saviour’s, is much larger than one might expect, with accommodation stretching back to the Recycling In Ottery area. The town council has been given an opportunity by Devon County Council to put forward a business case to acquire the building for the community. The bid that was agreed this evening proposes a free transfer, on the basis of a viable business case, that has the community’s welfare at its heart.  The invitation follows my request to Devon County Council’s finance portfolio holder, Cllr John Clatworthy, in June, to defer [...]

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    It certainly seems that our protests have had an impact!  Well done everyone! Briefing document Consultation on the proposed commissioning intentions for community services and in particular the future role of community hospitals began on 17 September 2014. Throughout this consultation Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) has actively engaged. In the Eastern locality we have received a vast amount of responses particularly in communities most affected by proposals for change to inpatient services. In addition through the consultation [...]

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    The government’s flagship planning policy has seen “inappropriate and unwanted” housing development spring up across England, MPs have said. Rules allowing shops and offices to be converted without planning permission should be scrapped, the Communities and Local Government Committee urged. It said the National Planning Policy Framework left High Streets unprotected against out-of-town store developments. Ministers said the two-year-old reforms were “locally-led” and working. The framework came into existence in April 2012 and saw planning law changed with the aim[...]

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    He was preparing a piece on devolution, or at least a more local decision-making process - and wanted a non party councillor to comment. I marched the poor man around West Hill - along School Lane, down Bendarroch Road, into West Hill Road, up Lower Broad Oak Road, into Elsdon Lane and back along School Lane to Potters Close.. I completed the interview albeit rather breathlessly at times, especially while stomping up the hills. Hopefully, I made some reasonable points. I normally try and listen to at least some of Today as it is so informative. I will definitely listening tomorrow morning when[...]

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    EXISTING RECOMMENDATION TEXT 2. that the Deputy Chief Executive, in consultation with the Office Accommodation Executive Group, be authorised to take forward further actions in pursuit of the above recommendations and Project Plan, 3. that further reports be produced for Cabinet and Council on project progress and to seek formal approval for any disposal of Knowle. CHANGE TO: Due to the: - rapidly escalating costs at a time of financial austerity - requirement to take out a loan of several million pounds to finance the project - widespread public concern about the plans - concern over the [...]

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    It had already been supported by cabinet last month and came with a recommendation that full council should approve it. I gave a brief speech illustrating the problems, particularly on an application for 300 houses at Gittisham and the horrendous financial problems and the pressures on the local NHS, from rapidly rising demand on the service. Cllr Paul Diviani suggested I wasn’t up-to-date, however, supported the motion along with everyone else when it was time to vote. Health services motion 2 The fate of my second motion hinged on a change to the health and wellbeing scrutiny [...]

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    What fantastic news and massive congratulations to Friends of Ottery Library, and in particular, chairman, James Goddard. The group has worked its socks off to achieve this!  Ottery St Mary will keep its library, thanks to the tenacity and intelligent campaigning of its residents.  And the open-mindedness of councillors and officers, who wanted very much to retain as many libraries as possible across the county. ................................................................................................................................... See Devon County Council press release [...]

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    At yesterday’s Devon County Council cabinet meeting in a response to my question, Leader, Cllr John Hart confirmed that he was going to be explaining the council’s position to MPs “in great detail” and was seeking meetings with all of them. Next year, Devon County Council is being forced by central government to cut £50m from its budget. It follows £28m being slashed from its budget earlier this year. Cllr Hart indicated that last year several promised to back the council and request more money and vote against the massive budget cuts, but only three did in practice.  He [...]

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    Change to planning guidelines means less cash for communities with small new-builds Sites with a few homes will escape demand for neighbourhood contributions Changes in government guidance on what councils can ask small developers to pay for community benefits are set to hit the provision of open spaces, sports and play areas and even education upgrades in East Devon. Until recently, anyone who wanted to build an estate of new homes was required to offset the impact the new households would have on existing amenities by making a ‘Section 106’ financial contribution towards improvements.[...]

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    The first motion has already been supported by cabinet last month and comes with a recommendation that full council should approve it. It simply asks that: 1. health services are a material planning consideration when determining planning applications 2. health service commissioners become statutory consultees when determining a planning application above 10 houses The second motion is a new one and asks that the full council opposes the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans to cut beds and minor injuries services across North, East and West Devon. It also asks the council to [...]

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    Here’s the story - http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Scrutiny-group-scrutinised/story-25469775-detail/story.html EAST Devon District Council’s independent contingent is calling for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to be “genuinely” independent. Overview and Scrutiny Committees were set up under the Local Government Act 2000. They hold the function of developing and reviewing policy, making recommendations to council and, in effect, holding the executive or cabinet to account. Ottery St Mary ward member, Councillor Roger Giles, has proposed a motion to be considered at the [...]

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    The meeting was called by the Sid Vale Association, which has long campaigned for scrapping the five hectares of industrial land at Sidford, which is an allocation in the draft local plan. It has also campaigned against selling off the Knowle and building on the beautiful parkland, which has public access. Six Sidmouth councillors were present - Graham Troman, Sheila Kerridge, Peter Sullivan, Chris Wale, Frances Newth and Christine Drew. The councillors (with the exception of Graham Troman, who expressed much concern) all defended the office relocation and said that it needed to happen. Cllr [...]

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    Police have decided not to investigate an East Devon councillor and would-be MP after a comment posted on her blog called for a “cull” of Conservatives in East Devon. Cabinet member and Conservative councillor Phil Twiss took offence at a comment posted on Councillor Claire Wright’s web page in response to a council U-turn on the location for a new office headquarters. Cllr Twiss told the Echo that following his complaint on November 27, officers visited him this morning, Monday, December 8, and told him they were taking no further action but the matter would be kept on file. Cllr [...]

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    The committee, at which only three of its six members were present, met at 9.30am to discuss ways in which the council could better protect important trees across the district. The meeting got off to a tricky start as I queried a procedural matter about the chairmanship of the committee. Around a year ago I had asked to chair the committee because of my particular interest in trees. I am the Woodland Trust tree champion for Devon. Normal procedure is that a chairman of such a committee is selected either by the overview and scrutiny committee, or at the beginning of the task group [...]

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    Smokers and the morbidly obese in Devon will be denied routine surgery unless they quit smoking or lose weight. Patients with a BMI of 35 or above will have to shed 5% of their weight while smokers will have to quit eight weeks before surgery. The NHS in Devon has a £14.5m deficit and says the cuts are needed to help it meet waiting list targets. The measures were announced the same day government announced an extra £2bn of annual NHS funding. ‘Urgent and necessary’ The Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) organises most NHS treatment [...]

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    In what will come as no surprise to any regular reader of this blog, Woodbury is also facing pressures from inappropriate and unwanted planning applications that are damaging the character of the village. There must have been well over 100 residents squashed into the skittle alley this evening and possibly more than 150 people, although it was difficult to tell exactly how many were there. Here’s the story, from what I can gather. Woodbury was allocated 35 houses to 2026 under EDDC’s draft local plan. However, over 80 houses have already been approved. Now around 40 more houses in [...]

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    I was on the panel of speakers, alongside Dr Richard Mejzner - a Budleigh Salterton GP, who was speaking for the North, East and West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG), and Cllr Christine Channon – Budleigh Salterton ward Devon County Councillor, whose ward includes Newton Poppleford. The meeting was chaired by Roger Giles (East Devon District Councillor) who stepped in at short notice when the previous chairman dropped out. Dr Mejzner outlined the financial difficulties facing the CCG. He and Christine Channon referred to the changes at Budleigh Salterton Hospital which [...]

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    Pic: Chatting with Ros Browne, from the excellent Roberts DIY.

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    Last night, a senior officer said he could not confirm how much the abortive negotiations at Skypark had cost, which started in February and were recently abandonded. Cllr Diviani told BBC Radio Devon listeners that a move to Honiton and Exmouth would cost in the region of £10m. We also know that millions must be borrowed to achieve this. Cllr Diviani struggled to answer a question that Matt Woodley put to him several times, which was whether EDDC’s HQ, Knowle, had been valued early on in the process. Cllr Diviani’s reply seemed to say that the Knowle had not been valued by [...]

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    The recommendations also paved the way for the Knowle to be sold, with a decision to come back before cabinet and then full council, next year. The council has u-turned on its plan earlier this year to relocate from Sidmouth to Skypark, on the edge of Exeter. The planned move to Skypark was a change of plan from the previous option of a new HQ at Honiton. Councillors and officers decided (after about eight months of negotiations) that Skypark was unaffordable.  Officers were in the process of arranging to buy land at Skypark for building at a price tag of almost £1m. Instead the [...]

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    http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Police-urged-investigate-cull-Tories-blog-remark/story-25016293-detail/story.html A councillor and would-be MP could be investigated by the police cyber crime unit after comments posted on a blog called for a “cull” of Conservatives in East Devon. Cabinet member Phil Twiss took offence at a comment posted on Claire Wright’s web page in response to a council U-turn on the location for a new office headquarters. Mrs Wright, an independent who lives in West Hill, Ottery St Mary, removed the post, which was written by a reader, Chris Wilkins. Critics of [...]

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    The meeting will be held in the council chamber, Knowle, Sidmouth. Please come.

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    I received a letter from Post Office Ltd on Saturday, which confirmed that the branch will be closing “temporarily” on 31 December 2014. If this move starts the process of a permanent closure, I am deeply concerned.  It is the latest in a long line of losses to public services locally and local people without their own transport will be disadvantaged.  The post office at Sidford is most definitely not safe to walk to from Sidbury and it is too far in any case. I have contacted Post Office Ltd with a series of questions that I look forward to receiving prompt answers to. [...]

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