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Beer Road field – developers appeal EDDC’s refusal

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The owners of the field south of Beer Road, who applied for permission to build a house and were refused permission by EDDC, have now filed an appeal. The papers are in the EDDC portal (20/1775/OUT) but the Planning Inspectorate has not yet started the appeal. EDDC will notify objectors when this happens and we will then have a chance to comment to the inspector, who will already have our original objections. On a first reading of the appeal ‘Statement of Case’, it doesn’t appear strong. The inspector would have to depart completely from the approach of the inspectors in the two Pembroke House appeals in order to allow this appeal.

Former Tiv/Hon Lib Dem candidate’s switch to Greens highlights need for a Progressive Alliance

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John Timperley, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Tiverton and Honiton constituency (which includes Seaton) in the last general election, has announced that he’s joined the Green Party, commenting: ‘Almost identical policies, better vocalised and on steroids! Unforgivable that @LibDems gloss over need for #ElectoralReform at national level. #makeVotesMatter‘.

In reply to a critic on Twitter, he says that moving parties ‘won’t split the vote in a #ProgressiveAlliance. The Greens are more public advocates of #electoralReform‘.

The idea that Green and Lib Dem policies are ‘almost identical’ is striking – but it’s also largely true for Labour. Certainly, the policy differences between all three parties are far smaller than the gulf between them and the Tories.

That’s why many of us will vote for whichever of these – or a strong Independent or East Devon Alliance candidate – can defeat the Tories in a particular ward or constituency. In my case, while mainly voting for Independent/EDA candidates at a local level, I’ve voted Labour, Lib Dem and Green at different national elections over the last decade, depending on the context.

Each of us should support the party or group that we think closest to our ideas, but remember that none of us can change Britain without the others. We need a Progressive Alliance so that our choices have a decent chance of defeating the Tories.

I’ve joined Compass, the national campaign group for a Progressive Alliance, and am on their steering group for the South West, trying to make sure that we get the best possible cooperation to keep EDDC in the control of the current progressive administration (EDA, Lib Dems, Greens and Labour) and to take seats from the Tories in the next General Election.

NB. John may be right that the Greens are more strongly advocating electoral reform, but PR has always been one of the Lib Dems’ key policies, and it’s Labour that really needs to shift on this.

The full extent of local sewage pollution revealed

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After Neil Parish, Simon Jupp and other Tory MPs voted to block a key amendment to the Environment Bill that would have required water companies not to pump waste into rivers, the full extent of local sewage dumping is revealed in the interactive map here.

Remember that what is dumped into our waterways ends up on our beaches …

I’ve picked out the worst examples in the Seaton and Colyton area:

Seaton South (pumping station at southern end of the Wetlands): In 2020 this sewer storm overflow spilled 59 times for a total of 877 hours (‘the performance of this storm overflow will be investigated in 2022’).

Colyton: In 2020 this sewer storm overflow spilled 63 times for a total of 700 hours.

Axmouth: In 2020 this sewer storm overflow spilled 29 times for a total of 198 hours.

Beer, Sea Hill: In 2020 this sewer storm overflow spilled 32 times for a total of 48 hours.

Seaton Hole and Seaton North (north end of Wetlands): SW Water have permits to discharge sewage but these outlets are not monitored.

Enough is enough!

Colyton Grammar School mask mandate as local Covid crisis gets worse

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I am informed that the Colyton Grammar School has issued new advice that students should wear masks, in response to the high level of Covid infections. Latest official data also show that the Colyton-Kilmington-Uplyme area has the highest rate in East Devon.

It gives me no pleasure to say ‘I told you so’, but I did, over two months ago. It almost beggars belief that Devon had one of the lowest rates in the country for over a year, and then had one of the highest rates of vaccinations, but we have thrown away these advantages.

The main blame for this rests squarely with the Government, which foolishly removed the requirement to wear masks in indoor spaces (including schools), failed to launch a drive for improved ventilation, and allowed mass gatherings – pressing ahead regardless of the hugely more infectious Delta variant which they had allowed in from India.

However some of the blame also lies with the backbench Tory MPs who irresponsibly pressed the government for this, and the deceitful anti-vaccine campaigners who have been so loud on Facebook.

The damage this has caused is huge: tens of thousands unwell in Devon alone (some of whom will suffer long-term harm), hundreds in hospital, dozens of deaths, our hospitals desperate to discharge patients, pleading with relatives to pick them up, huge delays in ambulance services, people waiting for operations waiting even longer, etc. etc. Not to mention the disruption to schools, isolation of vulnerable people, and cautious people staying away from local businesses.

It was largely avoidable. We had big advantages, both nationally and locally, a few months ago, and now we are the only major Western European country still with a large pandemic.

Time for Plan B? The time was two months ago – but as soon as possible.

Objections to Wetlands CPO withdrawn – Stop Line Way link will finally go ahead!

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Devon County Council have told me today that the last objection to the Compulsory Purchase Order has been withdrawn, and the Department of Transport have confirmed to me that the inquiry which was due on Friday has now been cancelled. This means that the missing link in the Stop Line Way in the Wetlands will now be completed! Funds for both the purchase and the completion of the route are in the County’s budget.

Congratulations are due to all those in Seaton, Colyford and beyond who have campaigned for this over the whole of the last decade, to County Council officers for their tireless work, and to the Council’s leadership for pursuing this (although we’d like them to back the rest of the route, to Axminster, too). This was one of the subjects on which I got most correspondence during my term as county councillor and it is a great satisfaction to see it coming to fruition.

Devon is in denial about the pandemic – we must all quickly change our behaviour

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Devon is seeing the highest rates of Covid cases of any time in the pandemic. For the first time, our region is the forefront of the wave, Exeter is a major hotspot, and our hospitals and ambulance services are under acute stress. The brief dip in infections after schools closed has now ended and all the signs point to a new surge early next month when they go back.

Yet people are behaving as though the pandemic has gone away. Elementary precautions are being abandoned – masking has all but stopped in many situations, there is little effort to secure proper ventilation, and no one seems to mind that our older children, almost alone among 12-15 year olds in Western countries, are not being offered the vaccination.

The pandemic is rising despite the fact that around 80 per cent of adults locally (70 per cent nationally) have been vaccinated. This is partly because, including children, well over a third of the population haven’t been vaccinated.

However it’s also because people really haven’t understood that the Delta variant is twice or three times as transmissible as the original variant. Be indoors in an inadequately ventilated space with an infected person, especially if people aren’t masking, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and you’ll almost certainly catch it.

You’re less likely to catch it if you’re vaccinated, and you’re much less likely to be seriously ill, but you can pass it on if you do. In these circumstances, it is hugely irresponsible of the Government to end isolation for people who are pinged or have been in touch with someone infectious.

Indeed the Government’s neglect of the public health risks has once again become outrageous. We have to do it for ourselves, for our families, our friends, our work colleaguesMASK, VENTILATE, SOCIALLY DISTANCE (AND VACCINATE)!

Town Council consultation – a chance to flag the urgency of progressing Seafront Enhancement

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Image: Devon Live

Seaton Town Council is running a consultation until 31st August asking residents how they would like the Council to prioritise its future spending and strategy.  

The imaginative Seafront Enhancement scheme -which residents have repeatedly given their support to, which received planning approval in 2017, and has already cost over £60,000 – is not mentioned in the questionnaire.

The town has waited many years to see this project come to fruition. The Town Council needs to resubmit the planning application which was allowed to lapse last year.

Funding is in place for a first phase – which would greatly improve Fishermen’s Gap – to commence. However the Town Council is in discussions with EDDC about the best way to bring it forward, and any route which will get it moving would be very welcome.

If you want to see the Seafront Enhancement proceed, you can add your comments on the Council’s questionnaire (question 4) – available via the link above, at www.seaton.gov.uk or (in hard copy) from the Council Offices at Marshlands, Harbour Road. 

As Covid surges in Devon, it’s important to prepare for next month’s school reopening

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Exeter now has one of the highest Covid rates in the UK and large clusters exist across Devon, especially in urban areas where the population is younger. Covid is becoming a disease of young people, including children – nationwide, over 1000 children were hospitalised with Covid in July, more than three times the rate earlier in the pandemic. The County Council should be helping schools to prepare for the return in September, to stop a new explosion of the pandemic.

The new vaccination programme for 16 and 17 year olds is welcome but it is too little – if vulnerable 12-15 year olds can be vaccinated, why not others? – and too late to make a difference to the situation next month.