Month: February 2017

Seaton Heights auction details

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How Seaton fares in the papers for CCG meeting

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The papers for the CCG meeting on Thursday are available online. On a quick reading of the 92 pages of the report on the consultation, it is impossible to say clearly what outcomes they point to. All the report says about how the meeting will approach the decision is: ‘The scheduled date for the Governing Body to make a decision is the 2 March 2017, although a key feature in that meeting will be assessing readiness for such a key decision. The CCG has already confirmed the papers will be published and the decision will be made in public, and communicated to stakeholders afterwards. If it is decided that further work is needed prior to decision, it will be for the Governing Body to confirm the rationale and when the decision will be made.

However the summaries of the consultation highlight some things which are hopeful for Seaton, and maybe for the wider aim of keeping more beds in more hospitals than the CCG envisaged:

  • The public meeting in Seaton organised by Seaton Town Council, the League of Friends and the GP surgeries was easily the largest event (estimated at 250 people – I thought 300) of the whole consultation.
  • The EX12 postcode (Seaton) produced about 400 responses, almost twice the number in any other postcode (and there were about 100 from EX24, Colyton, on top).
  • The Seaton option (A) was the most supported of the CCG’s four options.
  • However ‘other (write-in) options’, many of which included retaining more beds than CCG envisaged, were even more supported than Option A overall. Almost half of all respondents did not support any of the CCG’s options.

At the very least, we can say that the Seaton community did a good job in creating awareness and promoting responses, with keeping beds in Seaton hospital strongly favoured – and much support for keeping many more beds than the CCG options offered.

Thursday is D-Day for Seaton beds

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The NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body will meet on Thursday, 2nd March, to decide the outcome of the proposals to cut community hospital beds across the district. The meeting is at 1.30 pm at Exeter Racecourse Kennford (Denman room) and the “Success Regime” Consultation report is timed for 1.45 to 2.45.
The public are welcome to attend these Governing Body meetings. To book your place or request a copy of the papers when they are available:

Greater Exeter: bonanza for landowner-councillors?

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Did you even know that East Devon is proposing to be part of a Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP)? This could supersede the Local Plan which the district has so painfully drawn up over recent years, and which is supposed to last to 2031.

Ed Freeman, who is the Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management, writes to EDDC councillors on the consultation for GESP:

… The consultation paper is attached for you to get an advanced preview and we would welcome your comments by 10th April. Alongside this will be a call for sites to land owners and developers for housing and employment land across the area which can then be considered for allocation to meet the needs of the area for homes and jobs in the future. 

So if you are secretly sat on a few acres of land and would like to put it forward for development now is the time to tell us! …”

As East Devon Watch, which broke the story, says, ‘yes, you read that right. Let us know about any secret land holdings you are sitting on. NOT so we can report you to the Monitoring Officer for not listing them on your declarations of interest – but so that we can do our best to help you to get them developed.’

This from the Council which gave us Graham Brown, who had to resign in 2013 because he boasted to the Daily Telegraph that he could get planning agreed for £25,000.

5% on your Council tax, but drastic cuts

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Independent County Councillor Claire Wright explains how the Government is forcing Devon people to pay 5% more while services are slashed. This follows a 4% rise last year -and 5% a year is likely to be the pattern until 2020.  This is as unfair as the Poll Tax: we should not be putting up with this. Claire’s questions to Hugo Swire are for Neil Parish, too.

Devon’s council tax will rise by 4.99 per cent from April, following yesterday’s budget meeting. More services and backroom functions are being cut, including road maintenance, community composting payments, as well as funding for vulnerable children and adults services.

Government ministers, who have forced councils, and as a consequence, citizens (mainly vulnerable ones and those on low incomes) across the country into austerity have this year allowed councils to increase tax to higher levels, to offset in a very small way the massive cuts they have made to council budgets.

This year the government has slashed £23m from Devon County Council’s budgets – a 15 per cent cut in the seventh year of austerity.

According to the scrutiny budget papers of 30 January, fewer people will be eligible for social care, due to budgetary pressures. Page 88 states:  “This (budget) requires an overall reduction in the number of clients to achieve budget levels.”

It goes on to state on page 89: “The scale of change is likely to severely test the capacity of managers at different levels, especially where pressures of essential work cannot be reprioritised without risk to those who receive services.”

Over half of Devon County Council’s budget has now been cut since 2010.  More than £267 million over the last seven years.

The council tax rise will cost the average Band D council taxpayer £1.16 a week extra. Devon County Council leader, John Hart said in a press release:  “I believe we are justified in asking for that to help protect and support some of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Of course, he really has no choice with the crisis in social care that is present. This year’s budget was around £5m overspent due to increasing costs of care and massive government budget cuts.

While £1.16 a week extra might be shrugged off by people who are comfortably off. Others on a tight budget, those who are struggling to pay debts and bills, will regard it as yet another burden..

The government says it can’t afford to look after its sick, its vulnerable and its elderly, so it encourages councils to increase council tax instead. Pushing a huge burden onto residents. Charging the taxpayer significant sums of money for poorer and fewer services.

And of course, this isn’t the only council tax rise that people will have to swallow. The likelhood is that district councils will hike their tax, Devon and Cornwall Police has already announced it is increasing its council tax and the fire authority will also surely, like it did last year to increase its council tax.

That’s a massive year on year increase in council tax, for fewer and poorer services. Each year as the cost to taxpayers rise, the services get sparser and poorer.

According to a report out this week almost a third of the population of Britain is living on an ‘inadequate’ income. More people than ever are using foodbanks and homelessness has rocketed.

How do ministers sleep at night knowing that it is their policies, their ideology, their own selfish version of how they believe a society should operate, that are causing this awful hardship… in the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world.

Hugo Swire MP has expressed concern about social care funding and the closure of hospital beds.

But if Hugo Swire was REALLY concerned and REALLY serious about these issues, he would vote AGAINST the council budget cuts in the House of Commons next Wednesday afternoon (23 February).

But so far he, along with his conservative colleagues have quietly voted in favour, hoping no one will notice.

Once again this year, I will notice. And I will sure everyone notices how he and his colleagues vote.

Because this vote surely goes to the absolute heart of whether Mr Swire really cares about his constituents or is little more than a party yes man.

Here’s the webcast of yesterday’s budget meeting –

Consultancy firm creams off more NHS cash

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nhs-696x278View From reported in December that Carnall Farrer, a consultancy firm run by Dame Ruth Carnall, who is head of our CCG’s ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan‘ – which is behind the proposed cuts to hospital beds – was being paid £40,000 a month by the CCG, i.e. nearly half a million a year. Now East Devon Watch reports that the same firm is taking even more in Camden.

It is completely unacceptable that top NHS officials like Carnall set up private businesses which cream off scarce cash from the service.

Ottery getting NHS’s attention – I wonder why?

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As the NHS and social care crises deepen, two key consultation meetings are both taking place in Ottery St Mary next month, the only venue for each in the whole of East Devon.

  • The NHS is holding meetings across Devon to get people’s views on services at major hospitals such as the RD&E. It is all part of the SUSTAINABILITY AND TRANSFORMATION PLAN, which will involve major cuts and centralisation of NHS services across Devon. This meeting is on Monday 13th March 6pm-8pm – The Kings School
  • Devon County Council is holding meetings about PROMOTING INDEPENDENCE, which is its name for getting ‘families, friends and informal social networks’ to support people who need social care that DCC can’t afford to provide (to attend this, email by Tuesday 28th February). Wednesday 15 March, Tumbling Weir Hotel, Ottery St Mary. Facilitated event: 3pm-4.30pm, Drop-in discussion opportunity: 5-6pm, Facilitated event: 6.30-8.30pm.

Is it just coincidence that both these events are in Ottery? Or is it because Ottery has an Independent County Councillor, Claire Wright, who has been pushing hard on these twin crises, and bringing them to the attention of the public, while other councillors haven’t bothered?