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Honiton applies for Judicial Review

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This statement has been issued by the Save Our Hospital Services-Honiton group:

SOHS – Honiton Steering Group that we will be applying for a judicial review of the CCG decision regarding the beds in Honiton Hospital because it was based on a flawed consultation process. There may also be human rights issues. The steering group have created a crowdfunding page on Just Giving in order to raise £75,000 for the first tranche of funding as lawyers and barristers are very expensive. The steering group believe it’s really important to go for a judicial review as we may well be able to demonstrate that the decision was unlawful. If we can get people to give £10 each we can very soon raise the first round of funding. When you think about it £10 is four coffees or two glasses of wine so we are not asking people to make a massive sacrifice to support the judicial review.” For those who wish to donate the URL is www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/honitonhospitalbeds

The reason why we put “we are going for a judicial review” is because it is not just the steering group ..it is the town, the mayor, the league of friends, senior voice. They have all been consulted and are in favour of a judicial review.

 

Seaton Heights auction details

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Go to https://eastdevonwatch.org/2017/02/27/seaton-heights-up-for-auction-at-2-5-3-million-next-month/

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 – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/244712

Cutting West Seaton out of Seaton

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The Boundary Commission for England has made proposals which would take part of Seaton ‘around Beer Road’ – which the map shows means the area to the west of Castle Hill/Marlpit Lane and to the south of Bunts Lane – out of the Seaton district council ward and puts it into Beer and Branscombe ward.

Because the area would then be in a different district ward from the rest of Seaton, it would be also be a separate ward for town council election purposes, with one councillor (the rest of Seaton would be another ward, with 11).

The Commission justifies this on grounds of ‘electoral equality‘, i.e. ensuring that each ward has roughly the same number of voters per councillor. However while this change would leave Seaton ward with just 1% over the recommended number of voters, it would leave the expanded Beer and Branscombe ward 5% over.

It seems that Beer and Branscombe parish councils are behind the drive to expand their ward. Alternatives to ‘include either Salcombe Regis from Sidmouth parish or the parish of Southleigh’ were rejected because they ‘would not meet our statutory criteria of community identity.’ Bizarrely, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Commission that West Seaton citizens might have feelings about having their Seaton identity taken away!

This is now out for consultation until 3rd April and will be considered by Seaton Town Council. By coincidence, the AGM of the West Seaton & Seaton Hole Association takes place on Thursday 16th February (at the Marshlands Centre, Harbour Road, starting at 7 pm). We will add this to the agenda.

Here is what the Commission says in full:

‘Beer & Branscombe, Coly Valley and Seaton 35 We received a number of different suggestions for this area. One of the two district-wide warding patterns we received proposed that the parish of Southleigh be added to the existing Beer & Branscombe ward to improve electoral equality. The other district submission suggested that a part of Seaton parish be included in Beer & Branscombe ward but did not specify a proposed boundary.

36 We received submissions from both Beer Parish Council and Branscombe Parish Council that accepted that the current ward of Beer & Branscombe needed to be extended to provide for better electoral equality. It was suggested that either an area around Seaton Hole or Salcombe Regis be added to the current ward. We visited the area and considered all proposals. We concluded that to include either Salcombe Regis from Sidmouth parish or the parish of Southleigh would not meet our statutory criteria of community identity. A ward coterminous with Seaton parish would not provide for acceptable electoral equality. Therefore, we have included an area of Seaton parish around Beer Road in our Beer & Branscombe ward. This provides for good electoral equality for both our proposed Beer & Branscombe and Seaton wards. Coly Valley ward remains unchanged, which was supported by a submission from one of the parish councils in this ward.’

Diabolical cuts to Devon funding

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Independent County Councillor Claire Wright, bottom right, says (see full post here):

budgetscrutinyjan17‘Fewer people are set to be eligible to receive social care in Devon in the coming year, following the latest required budget cuts, due to government austerity measures.

At the same time Devon County’s council tax is set to rise by three per cent from April, to try and cope with the latest massive loss in income.

At yesterday’s joint budget scrutiny meeting councillors agreed to urge all Devon MPs to speak AND vote against the council cuts debate in the House of Commons, which is expected to take place early in February.

Between April 2017 and March 2018 a huge £23m must be struck from budgets – a 15 per cent cut.

We are now in the eighth year of austerity and Devon County Council’s annual government grant has plummeted by well over half – from £283m in 2010 to £128m.

We continue to see our roads break and fracture. The government gives councils a fraction of the money that has been cut and the blames councils when it can’t repair all the roads. Some roads are simply deteriorating and will not be properly repaired.

Almost all Devon County Council run care homes have shut, Devon County Council run youth centres have closed and many bus routes were lost or cut back.

… Children’s homes closed and funding has been cut for vulnerable children and adults.

Last month, the council removed some of the schools’ budget for special needs funding to make its books balance.  This has plunged more Devon schools into an even worse financially austere position.’