Jack Rowland reports on seafront, hospital, & current EDDC administration, to Seaton’s annual town meeting
Seaton’s Annual Town Meeting will be held outdoors, in the car park at Marshlands, at 7 pm on Thursday. I have sent my report on my last year as County Councillor for inclusion with the papers.
Jack Rowland’s district report is not currently available on the website, but I have been sent a copy and reprint it below:
EDDC Councillor report for Seaton Town Council Annual Town meeting on 13 May 2021
Report produced by Jack Rowland on 9 May 2021
Seaton specific subjects that I am involved with
Seafront Enhancement Scheme
In order to resuscitate the scheme where the stumbling block has always been the necessary funding I have been working with EDDC Cabinet colleagues, EDDC Officers and the local MP’s.
This work is in connection with making a bid under the Central Government Levelling Up where the prospectus was issued in late March. Any bids require the written support of the relevant MP at the time of submission and the first bid target date is 18 June. We have agreed tactically that the first bid will be submitted from Exmouth with the support of the MP, Simon Jupp. An Axe Valley bid that will incorporate the Seaton scheme will be submitted in the second round of bids that will open later this year and will require the support of MP Neil Parish who has verbally indicated that he would support the bid.
However, for such a bid to have any chance of success it really needs to have an approved planning application to underpin the bid and demonstrate that the project is “shovel ready”. In view of my opinion and the information given I urge Seaton Town Council to put an item on a Council agenda as soon as possible to consider resubmitting the planning application to mirror the expired approval.
In my role as Chair of Seaton Area Health Matters (SAHM) and an EDDC Cabinet member I continue to fight to secure the future of the hospital. I am still having discussions with NHS Property Services who are legally the owners of the site.
Many readers will recall that a business plan was submitted by SAHM in June 2019 where SAHM, via the setting up of a CIC, would purchase the hospital via EDDC taking out a Public Works Loan and the CIC becoming the legal owners and being responsible for making the loan repayments to EDDC to enable them to meet the PWL obligation. For SAHM to have the funds to meet the repayments involved having the existing NHS services as an anchor tenant plus concluding the negotiations with a third party dementia care service that had progressed at the time as another anchor tenant. The remaining space would then be available for use by community based health and wellbeing related activities.
Unfortunately, the EDDC Cabinet of the time, in January 2020, did not vote in favour of the recommendation to take out the PWL. However, as I am now a Cabinet member I am revisiting this possibility, hence my ongoing conversations with NHS Property Services at the moment.
District wide subjects
Due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the associated lock downs and restrictions over the past year EDDC, by the end of this month, will have paid out £80m in various support grants where the Government has supplied the funds, but relied on Local Government to set up the systems and administer the payments. Some of the grants have been of a discretionary nature, albeit still within rules governing the types of business etc, and I have been a member of the grant panel in view of my finance portfolio responsibilities.
EDDC Partnership Administration
The current administration, since last June, is formed of a partnership of Councillors:
- 12 East Devon Alliance (EDA)
- 7 Liberal Democrats
- 7 Independents
- 2 Greens
A total of 28 Cllrs from the total of 60. The remaining 32 is made up of 21 Conservatives, 10 Independents and 1 vacancy.
Since last June the administration have achieved the following (not an exhaustive list):
- Despite the financial challenges produced as a result of Covid 19 that affected both income and expenditure a balanced budget was produced for 2021/22 although challenges lie ahead for future budget years.
- Withdrew from the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP) and started work on a new Local Plan that has undergone public consultation.
- Supported Leisure East Devon (LED) financially to the tune of £1.3m to the end of the 2020/21 financial year. Of the £1.3m EDDC has received £299k from Central Government support, but of this £90k can be used to offset the £1.3m and the remaining £209k has to be used towards the re-opening costs for April to June this year where EDDC will be filling the expected gap above that amount. A LED Monitoring Forum has been set up to meet monthly and a strategic review of LED services looking at future provision is also underway.
- The climate emergency has resulted in a strategy and action plan to meet the carbon neutral targets.
- A poverty action plan is also nearing completion where the issues confronting the district have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
- Exploring the options to be able to build more council housing in the district despite the current constraints that exist due to the right to buy existing stock and how the proceeds can be used.
EDDC Councillor – Seaton Ward
Portfolio Holder – Finance JRowland@eastdevon.gov.uk