Residents’ chance to influence local plan as policy context shifts

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The government has finally given way on their dictatorial housing targets which force local councils to allow developments in inappropriate locations. It’s too soon to know what this will mean for EDDC’s new local plan, currently under consultation, but it should give residents a new opportunity to make their views effective.

There is a consultation exhibition in Seaton Town Hall (Gateway) on 15th December. A group of local residents concerned about the plans to allow development in the Green Wedge near to the Wetlands have produced this leaflet to alert local people to the issues. Please go along and have a look at what is being proposed and then express your views to EDDC.

EDDC’s new Local Plan out for consultation

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The latest stage of the new Local Plan can be found HERE.

Consultation runs from 7 November 2022 to 15 January 2023. This is your chance to have a say.

Public exhibitions: Where and when?

  • Thursday 1 December, Axminster, Guildhall, 3pm – 7pm
  • Thursday 15 December, Seaton, Gateway, 3pm – 7pm

Potential sites for development in Seaton are outlined as follows:

  • Land at Barnards Hill Lane for around 40 dwellings. In order to ensure no adverse effect on the integrity of the Beer Quarry and Caves SAC, suitable avoidance/ mitigation/compensation measures will need to be identified. 
  • Land to the south of Harepath Hill for around 70 dwellings. In order to ensure no adverse effect on the integrity of the Beer Quarry and Caves SAC, suitable avoidance/ mitigation/compensation measures will need to be identified. 
  • Land off Harepath Road for around 100 dwellings and 2.2 hectares of employment land. The employment land is located in the field immediately north of the existing Harepath Road Industrial Estate. In order to ensure no adverse effect on the integrity of the Beer Quarry and Caves SAC, suitable avoidance/mitigation/compensation measures will need to be identified. 
  • Land at Clay Common is allocated for around seven dwellings.

Seaton Hospital to be one of Devon’s new GP-led Covid vaccination centres

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With this good news, and Citizens Advice moving to the Waffle House in the hospital, it feels as though we have finally secured its future in the near term.

But we still need to be vigilant – ‘selling public buildings’ is apparently one of Rishi Sunak’s austerity options.

Re:storing Christmas Cheer in the Axe Valley Community

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RE:STORE, the Seaton-based community group who brought Christmas to local families in need two years ago, have a new appeal for CHRISTMAS 2022. This is much needed since many people are already finding it difficult to survive.

I’VE JUST GIVEN TO THEIR APPEAL – IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO DO SO, PLEASE MAKE A DONATION HERE NOW.

Here is what RE:STORE say about what they’re planning to do:

Using those who receive free school meals as a criteria, we are aiming to bring some Christmas Cheer to local families who need a little support in these challenging times, providing a hamper with food, treats, a children’s book & high street vouchers to spend in local businesses.

Previously run in 2020, the Christmas Cheer scheme helped 108 families and 185 children in the Axe Valley catchment area with the support of the local community, councillors, businesses and schools.

With the current cost-of-living crisis the project is more essential than ever and will benefit an increasing number of children and families who need support and help.

Working with 10+ schools in the Axe Valley area we estimate the numbers of children who will benefit will exceed 200 this year.

The overwhelming success of the 2020 scheme is reflected in the positive feedback received from schools and recipients:

“Thanks so much. What a lovely gesture. I’m struggling financially at the moment so this means a lot”

“Our families were overwhelmed by the generosity and were very emotional with it all. Thank you so so much to you and all of your wonderful volunteers.”

“How wonderful, the present will go under the tree as we have not been able to do much this year for my child and are so grateful for this”.

The more support and funds we can raise the more families and children we can provide a little Christmas Cheer for.

A breath of fresh air – Richard Foord MP talks in Axminster

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Richard Foord in conversation with Paul Arnott this morning

More than 50 local residents and activists came to Axminster Guildhall this morning to hear Richard. The thing he’d learnt by getting close to Tory ministers, he said, was that ‘these people are amateurs’, and a ‘new bunch of amateurs’ seemed to turn up every few weeks as the Tories changed leader yet again. The real tragedy, he said, is for all of us as citizens. A lively Q & A covered a range of issues. For me, Richard is a breath of fresh air after the stale Tory representation this area has had for so long.

Open meeting with Richard Foord MP, in Axminster Guildhall this Saturday, 22nd, 10.30

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Richard Foord: My First Hundred Days as an MP

At the start of this summer, Richard Foord was happily working in the academic sector, having retired from the army, enjoying family life in Devon. 

A hundred days on, he has won an historic by-election which helped trigger the downfall of Boris Johnson and become the LibDem spokesperson for Defence as the war in Ukraine rages. He has seen the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II and the proclamation of King Charles III. He has witnessed the government acquire a new leader, followed by an immediate economic crash triggered by the “fiscal event”. Arguably few new MPs have ever entered Parliament at such an historic time.

Richard will be talking about his first hundred days, in conversation with East Devon District Council Leader and historian, Paul Arnott. The event is to be held at Axminster’s Guildhall starting at 10.30am (doors opening 10.15am) on Saturday 22nd October 2022.

The event is non-political and open to the public. No charge, though contributions to cover hall hire welcome.

Now we turn to the economic and social crisis

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My column in today‘s local papers:

As we emerge from the commemoration of the late Queen Elizabeth, our attention returns to the dire economic and social crisis which months of a zombie government has only made worse.

The Queen survived just long enough to see the back of Boris Johnson, who insulted her by presiding over law-breaking parties while she mourned her husband. But she then had to swear in Liz Truss, whose shrill, publicity-seeking persona is such a contrast to hers, despite their common first name. Truss even wanted to cash in on the new King’s tour of the UK nations, until it was pointed out that making it political would bring the monarchy into disrepute.

Certainly, Truss has capped energy costs. But at a massive £2500 a year for an average household – £529 more than we’re currently paying and more than twice what we paid 12 months ago – more people will join those already in hardship. A windfall tax (on the extraordinary excess profits that energy companies are currently making from our excess bills) would have enabled her to freeze them at the current level, as the opposition proposed. Instead she’s gone for another big increase on 1st October. Truss once worked for Shell and she has advisers who worked for BP; it seems she cares more about their balance sheets than the finances of ordinary households.

On top of forcing us to continue paying excessive sums each month to the energy firms, Truss is giving tax cuts to the rich and big corporations, and lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses which are already at ultra-high levels. Borrowing in order to hand extra money to corporations – who are not even asking for a cut – and  wealthy individuals – who will save much of it instead of putting it into their local economy – is madness now the UK is in recession and small businesses are already closing down. 

Any borrowing should be to support the health service, social care, schools and other public services. You can’t rely on the ambulance service (it’s worse in the South West than anywhere else), people are being forced to pay privately for operations, and tens of thousands of people are even dying because the NHS is so run down. With this backdrop, how dare Truss give handouts to those who don’t need them?

The energy crisis also shows that the chickens are coming home to roost from the Conservatives failure to secure a low-carbon energy future. They blocked offshore wind farms, like the proposal for Lyme Bay (I’ve seen the one off the Sussex coast, and it’s hardly the blot on the landscape that they claimed). They’re still blocking onshore wind turbines, the quickest, cheapest and least environmentally harmful way to improve our power supply. They scrapped schemes to support home insulation and solar power on roofs, so that you often can’t find a firm to install them even if you want to.

After a decade heading in a far right direction, the Tories have managed to find a leader who is even more extreme, who has promoted a notorious climate denier, Somerset MP Jacob Rees Mogg, to manage energy policy. Truss is backing fracking, which even her new Chancellor agrees won’t deliver significant energy for the UK, and hyping nuclear power, which may have a role to play but will take many years to make a difference. It’s almost as though she is trying to annoy people who care about the environment. Thought things couldn’t get worse after Johnson? Think again.

***

A local footnote to the story of inadequate government support for public services. This has now forced Conservative-run Devon County Council into a severe financial crisis, so it is increasing parking charges to help with its deficit. Yet recently local Tories berated East Devon District Council’s modest parking rises, forced by similar financial pressures. Will they now apologise for their ill-judged campaign?  

Covid autumn booster can now be booked by anyone over 65

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Appointments are available at Greendale this week (see my previous post) and walk-in is also possible.

Seaton Hole beach path will close from 26th as sea defence repairs begin

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EDDC STATEMENT:

Essential Coastal Works to begin at Seaton Hole to trial low carbon technology

£150,000 worth of works to repair the existing sea defences at Seaton Hole will begin on Monday, 12 September.
Annual coastal inspections of this area by East Devon District Council (EDDC) have revealed the existing concrete and rock structure to be deteriorating much quicker than anticipated, so the refurbishment has been advanced ahead of the planned works as part of the Beach Management Plan (BMP) project.

Works will involve excavating the existing structure, repacking the existing rock, and pumping in new basalt reinforced concrete. This will help to slow erosion to the western cliffs at Seaton Hole. EDDC is trialling basalt reinforced concrete as part of a lower carbon trial. Instead of steel, the concrete will have basalt reinforcement placed in it giving the structure a longer life, as basalt, compared to steel does not rust and expand which cracks the concrete, as well as an approximate saving of 40%.

Unfortunately the works will require the closure of the footpath from Seaton Hole to the beach, as concrete will need to be pumped down this access. The footpath is likely to be closed between Monday, 26 September to Wednesday, 19 October, meaning there will be no access to and from the beach to Seaton Hole above. This does not affect the official South West Coast Path however, which heads inland at this point. EDDC will sign the closure at either ends of the beach and encourage users to take the signed coastal path. The council would like to apologise for this closure as well as any noise and disruption of the works and construction traffic on the roads above.

The remaining elements of the BMP are under development and require further design and consultation before they can be built.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC’s Portfolio Holder for Coast, Country and Environment said:“I do appreciate that this access onto the beach at Seaton Hole is popular, but this work is essential to protect the safety of the footpath and access to the beach at this point, which over the years has taken some pounding from storms. However, this work is essential to maintain and protect the public access for the future. Therefore, I apologise for this short term inconvenience.”

Priority groups and 75+ can now book seasonal Covid vaccinations at Greendale

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Booking is now open here and I found that there were slots at Greendale every day next week. Covid is still around and the growing evidence about its long-term effects (increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, brain shrinkage, as well as fatigue, even from mild infections) means that everyone should protect themselves as much as possible.