Month: July 2018

Local Economic Partnership massages local businesses’ anxieties about Brexit: just 1 business out of 29 surveyed thought it would have a ‘positive’ impact, 9 said negative, many were worried – but that is just a ‘quite varied’ assessment according to the LEP!

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Devon for Europe County Hall 15.2.18The Heart of the South West Local Economic Partnership (LEP) has belatedly published a report (dated May 2018) on local businesses’ views of Brexit.
This table shows answers to the question, ‘What is your overall assessment at this stage of the likely impact of Brexit on your business?’
Neutral (7)
Mixed (6)

Don’t know (6)


The LEP summarises this table as ‘Businesses’ assessment of the overall impact of Brexit at this stage is quite varied.


Other findings:

  • two-thirds of businesses have done no formal planning for Brexit
  • uncertainty is a big concern
  • the biggest specific concerns are about are changes to regulatory alignment [i.e. departure from the Single Market] and the speed of customs arrangements [i.e. departure from the Customs Union]
  • only 1 out of 29 expects it to be positive for their sector; 9 out of 29 expect it to be negative (the rest expect it to be ‘neutral’ or ‘mixed’, or don’t know)

This report (How firms across HotSW are preparing for Brexit, Report to HotSW LEP, Devon County Council and Partners) was prepared in March and April 2018, drawing on interviews conducted in February and March 2018, so it is already seriously out of date.

In the spring, businesses could reasonably have hoped for a deal:

  • What do businesses think now that May’s government has caved in to Rees-Mogg and ditched plans for a customs union with the EU?
  • What do they think of the ‘no deal’ scenario?
  • How are they going to cope if they still haven’t done the formal planning?

It isn’t difficult to guess. And why has this report been so delayed? Why wasn’t it reported earlier to DCC?

Vehicle activated sign finally installed at the entrance to Colyford – I almost missed it as I was doing under 30!

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Vehicle_activated_sign_(VAS)_speed_limit_enforcementThe Vehicle Activated Sign (VAS) on the A3052 near Gully Shoot – which I funded by my Locality Budget with support from the Colyford Burgesses – has finally been installed. At least it will be working through the rest of the summer.

This is the first of several long-awaited traffic-calming measures. A second VAS is planned for the other end of the village, which Colyton Parish Council and Colyford village organisations are expected to fund, and Devon County Council is currently doing design work for a zebra crossing near the Memorial Fund, due within this financial year.

Claire Wright warns on dangers of No Deal and backs a People’s Vote before the looming Brexit deadline – do we really want to leave when it will do all this damage, and there are no real benefits?

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Claire’s post: Leaving the EU with no deal now looks like the most likely scenario … here’s what you can do…

‘Prospect magazine has a very comprehensive piece this month on what will happen if we crash out of the EU with do deal – here’s the link… Meanwhile our unbelievably irresponsible politicians mostly seem not to care one jot that they are about to plunge the country into disaster.  Several – including those who have their eye on the leadership, like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees Mogg seem to positively welcome the idea.
‘I am doing my bit by campaigning with Devon For Europe, which is getting support all over the county for a People’s Vote on a final deal (or not as the case may be). Either way, we must have another vote, especially now it has emerged that the Leave campaigns broke electoral law, plus their links with American Trump associate fascist, Steve Bannon and Arron Banks, who bankrolled the campaigns with money obtained from highly dubious sources, mean that the whole shady business needs a laser light sweeping the entire operation.  If it brings Gove and Johnson down, I will be delighted. Their naked ambition, selfishness and ruthlessness has plunged this country into chaos, from which it will take many many years to recover. Sign up to a People’s Vote and Devon for Europe here –

So ‘No Deal’ would be OK, would it? Exeter-based Flybe warns no agreement in place for flights to Europe after 29 March

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From BBC Spotlight

Flybe, whose headquarters is in Exeter, is warning that no agreement is in place for services to mainland Europe after Brexit.

With only eight months until Britain leaves the EU, airlines have no legal, commercial or political deals in place.

Flybe said it was already selling fares for next summer, with fingers crossed that common sense would prevail. But it warned there was no certainty.

Chief commercial officer Roy Kinnear said: “Customers are used to buying their flights in advance.”

Chief commercial officer Roy Kinnear said he hoped common sense would prevail

Seaton care home graded ‘Outstanding’ by Care Quality Commission

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The Check House, the care home on Beer Road, Seaton, has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission. It is great to know that high quality care is provided in our area, and I have written to Robin Cannon of Cannon Homes to congratulate him and his staff on this excellent result. Nationally, barely 10 per cent of homes get this rating, and even in Devon, it is under 15 per cent.

Sexual harassment and bullying case involving leading Devon councillor: I think the County has handled it properly

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At the last Devon County Council meeting, Councillor Emma Brennan (Labour, Heavitree and Whipton Barton, Exeter) made a protest about the continued presence in the Council of Councillor Brian Greenslade (Barnstaple), who has been found guilty of sexual harassment and bullying against Council employees during his time as leader 10-15 years ago. Earlier, we had approved the minutes of the Standards Committee which considered the matter.

Councillor Greenslade has lost his membership of the Liberal Democrats and now sits as an Independent (but he is not a member of the Non-Aligned Group to which Claire Wright and I belong). He has also lost his membership of Council committees and his access to all but the minimum Council facilities necessary for him to act as a councillor. These are the maximum penalties the Council is able to impose; it is not possible for the Council to force him to stand down as a councillor.

DevonLive reports that Devon County Council has refused to release details of the case. Based on what I know now, I think that Council officers and the Standards Committee have handled the case properly, taking the matter extremely seriously, and if they say that releasing sensitive details would undermine confidentiality and the integrity of the case, I accept their judgement.

Electric bikes scheme to be expanded

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meet-your-electric-bikeEast Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee heard the other week that the publicly funded electric bikes scheme in and around Exeter will expanded into the eastern end of East Devon, with more bikes and pick-up/drop-off locations. The batteries are capable of lasting for a return trip from Exeter to Exmouth. In the near future, however, these bikes won’t make it to Seaton and Colyton, although I and other members expressed interest in a wider scheme.

Desperate Conservatives advertise for candidates on Facebook, as they try to cling to control of East Devon in 2019

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Conservatives control our County and District councils and both parliamentary seats in East Devon, but their members are so thin on the ground that (not withstanding the well-known pitfalls of social media) they are trawling Facebook for candidates to replace councillors who retire next year. The big problem with their pitch is that if you really ‘want to stand up for your local community and the interests of local residents’, you’re going to come bang up against how the Tory party works both at local and national level.

2019 looks likely to be the year when the Conservatives finally lose control, as the local party (discredited by its failure to defend community hospital beds) is further undermined by the mess the national party has made of Brexit (due to take place 6 weeks before the district elections). Lots of people who really want to represent their local communities will be standing as Independents, so as not not to have their hands tied by a party machine.

Conservative advert for candidates Ian Hall

I realise why Devon’s Tory leaders are resigned to a train-crash Brexit – after 8 years of austerity, they just want to ‘make whatever comes down work’, however bad it is for everyone

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fullsizeoutput_1107Following the chaos in Westminster over the UK’s customs relationship with the EU, and the Government’s cave-in to extreme Brexiteers who want the country to crash out – even if that means turning Kent into a giant lorry park, risking our food and medicine supplies and renewed violence in Northern Ireland – Devon County Council discussed the customs union last Thursday.

To a man and woman, the Tories opposed the Council expressing a view. While the Leader, John Hart, recognised the mess in London, he said it was not our job to try to influence Government. ‘We know we’ve got to make whatever comes down work. That’s the important bit for us’, he said. At that moment I realised that the local Tories’ complacency towards Brexit is exactly the same as their attitude to the austerity of the last 8 years. However bad it is for the Council’s services and the people of Devon, for our Conservative councillors, Brexit is another just another stage in our inexorable decline which they have to manage.

Cllr Hart reminded the Council that 6 Devon districts voted for Brexit, and only 2 against. True – but no one voted to leave the Customs Union, since it wasn’t on the ballot paper, wasn’t part of the Leave campaign, and no one knew what it was when they voted!

Photo: me at the anti-Trump demonstration in Exeter ten days ago. Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg want a Trump trade deal, but that it is likely to involve US healthcare and pharmaceutical firms taking getting their hands on our NHS.