Month: January 2016

Local Plan finally beckons

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susie-cover-pic-1by Independent district councillor for Feniton, Susie Bond:

The agonising and tortuous journey taken by the Local Plan is coming to an end following the publication of the Planning Inspector’s final report.

The Government gave all local councils a deadline for production of a Local Plan of March 2012 (with a period of grace up to March 2013) and moved the goalposts endlessly while councillors and officers attempted to produce a plan which everyone could agree. For East Devon, it was an almost impossible task with members of the public, landowners and developers all having different views on almost every aspect (see Claire Wright’s comment).

Following publication of Anthony Thickett’s final report on Monday, and to the relief of all those who believe in democracy and Localism, the Local Plan will be put before an extraordinary meeting of East Devon District Council with a resolution to adopt.
Adoption of the plan will mean that planning decisions will be made according to the Adopted Local Plan for 2013–2131, as will any decisions on planning appeals currently in progress.

The main points are:
• Anthony Thickett has agreed with the council that 17,100 more houses between 2013 and 2031 is a realistic and achievable target. Others are considerably less convinced as it relies on unprecedented levels of economic growth throughout the plan period.
• The district will have a 5-year housing land supply upon adoption of the plan. This is a requirement for making the plan sound and indeed has been the cause of so much misery across East Devon.
• There is a need for 37 gypsy and traveller pitches and these are to be placed at Cranbrook as the settlement grows over the plan period, although EDDC is actively looking for sites elsewhere in the district.

Martin Shaw adds: the confirmation of the housing land supply could be good news for objectors to several planning applications pending in Seaton, above all in the Green Wedge.

Neil Parish among landlord MPs who voted against rental standard

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Neil Parish photoOur MP, Neil Parish, is listed as one of 72 mainly Tory MPs who are landlords and voted against a Labour amendment to the Housing Bill which sought to establish “Implied term of fitness for human habitation in residential lettings”:

“This new Clause would place a duty on landlords to ensure that their properties are fit for habitation when let and remain fit during the course of the tenancy.”

As the threshold for registration with Commons authorities is £10,000 rent per annum, other landlord MPs who did not have to register their interest may also have voted against this amendment. 39% of Tory MPs, 26% of SNP MPs and 22% of Labour MPs are registered as landlords, compared to only 2% of the general population.

Total County council tax rise 3.99%

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More news from Devon County Council – the total council tax rise, including the extra 2% that is permitted to partly offset the shortfall in funding for social care, will be 3.99%. At the same time, EDDC will be increasing its take by 1.99% and there will be a rise in the small Seaton Town Council precept. Overall households’ council tax increase will be well in excess of 3%, since the County accounts for most of the tax.

As I noted earlier in the week, council tax is rising to partially offset savage government spending cuts – no doubt ministers hope councils will also take the blame.

Care homes’ hollow boasts over Living Wage

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View from Seaton reports today my attempt in December to persuade Seaton Town Council to make Seaton a ‘Living Wage Town’, promoting the Living Wage of £8.25 an hour.

3007021_4ebd9eaeHowever the same issue contains a full-page advert proclaiming ‘Cannon Care Homes achieve another first!’ The owners of The Check House (right) and Thornfield boast:

‘On April 1st the new Living Wage of £7.20 is being introduced country wide for over 25’s. At Cannon Care Homes our Minimum Wage for over 25’s all be £7.25 from March 1st!’

To understand this, you need to know that George Osborne is rebranding the official Minimum Wage as ‘the National Living Wage’, increasing it to £7.20 per hour from April 1st.

So Cannon will be paying their employees 5p per hour (yes a whole 5p!) more than the legal minimum and introducing this one month (yes a whole month!) before they are legally bound to.

Living Wage Foundation logo

The Living Wage which I support is independently researched as the minimum amount which, on average, employees need to live on and should apply to all workers over 18. The Government’s rebranded Minimum Wage is still over £1 an hour below this level, and does not apply to workers aged 18 to 25.

The care home sector is very important in Seaton. Which care home employer will be the first to pay the real Living Wage to all its employees?

Government cuts funding, Council tax rises

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claireIndependent County Councillor, Claire Wright, comments: ‘Devon County Council is set to increase council tax by two per cent this year, as it tries to manage yet another massive funding cut from central government of £28m.

‘I loathe the idea of raising council tax in such hard times, however, I am putting the blame squarely at the government’s door for this.

‘The revenue expected to be raised from the council tax rise of 2 per cent, is a drop in the ocean compared to the cuts for this year, which amount to £28m.

‘What we are now seeing is a situation where residents are paying more every year for ever decreasing services. And this will continue as the Conservatives continue to shrink the state.

‘Legal tax avoidance by big business costs the country tens of billions of pounds every year, but the government shows no signs of tackling this.  Why not?’

Here’s the official press release –

EDDC’s Local Plan finally judged ‘sound’ by inspector

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EDDC has two weeks to make factual corrections to the Inspector’s report, according to the Exmouth Journal. So it’s nearly there, which should make a real difference to all outstanding planning applications, including the Green Wedge.