More news from Devon County Council – the total council tax rise, including the extra 2% that is permitted to partly offset the shortfall in funding for social care, will be 3.99%. At the same time, EDDC will be increasing its take by 1.99% and there will be a rise in the small Seaton Town Council precept. Overall households’ council tax increase will be well in excess of 3%, since the County accounts for most of the tax.
As I noted earlier in the week, council tax is rising to partially offset savage government spending cuts – no doubt ministers hope councils will also take the blame.
View from Seaton reports today my attempt in December to persuade Seaton Town Council to make Seaton a ‘Living Wage Town’, promoting the Living Wage of £8.25 an hour.
However the same issue contains a full-page advert proclaiming ‘Cannon Care Homes achieve another first!’ The owners of The Check House (right) and Thornfield boast:
‘On April 1st the new Living Wage of £7.20 is being introduced country wide for over 25’s. At Cannon Care Homes our Minimum Wage for over 25’s all be £7.25 from March 1st!’
To understand this, you need to know that George Osborne is rebranding the official Minimum Wage as ‘the National Living Wage’, increasing it to £7.20 per hour from April 1st.
So Cannon will be paying their employees 5p per hour (yes a whole 5p!) more than the legal minimum and introducing this one month (yes a whole month!) before they are legally bound to.
The Living Wage which I support is independently researched as the minimum amount which, on average, employees need to live on and should apply to all workers over 18. The Government’s rebranded Minimum Wage is still over £1 an hour below this level, and does not apply to workers aged 18 to 25.
The care home sector is very important in Seaton. Which care home employer will be the first to pay the real Living Wage to all its employees?
Independent County Councillor, Claire Wright, comments: ‘Devon County Council is set to increase council tax by two per cent this year, as it tries to manage yet another massive funding cut from central government of £28m.
‘I loathe the idea of raising council tax in such hard times, however, I am putting the blame squarely at the government’s door for this.
‘The revenue expected to be raised from the council tax rise of 2 per cent, is a drop in the ocean compared to the cuts for this year, which amount to £28m.
‘What we are now seeing is a situation where residents are paying more every year for ever decreasing services. And this will continue as the Conservatives continue to shrink the state.
‘Legal tax avoidance by big business costs the country tens of billions of pounds every year, but the government shows no signs of tackling this. Why not?’
Here’s the official press release – https://www.devonnewscentre.info/more-cash-to-support-devons-elderly-and-vulnerable-adults/
EDDC has two weeks to make factual corrections to the Inspector’s report, according to the Exmouth Journal. So it’s nearly there, which should make a real difference to all outstanding planning applications, including the Green Wedge.
Devon County Council is consulting on a proposal that ‘school communities’ that want to keep their crossing patrols should fund them themselves. DCC would only make sure that provision met legal standards. You can comment here, but you’ve only got until 8th January.
The Council’s own impact assessment shows that a child is injured each week in a road accident in Devon around home-to-school travel times, and there are occasional fatalities. Moreover crossing patrols are essential for parents to feel comfortable about their children walking to school – cue a big increase in car use if they were abolished.
So doubtless schools like Seaton’s will feel it’s essential to raise the money – a form of blackmail by the County Council. Although legally Devon have got to make cuts, school crossings are a well-functioning and essential service. Leave well alone!
These cuts show the madness of George Osborne’s ruthless drive to starve local government services of necessary funds. He might better start with the tax avoidance that saw Facebook pay £4,300 tax last year on a £3 billion turnover in the UK, roughly the same as paid by a worker on £30,000 a year.
A deal to ensure the transfer of the Town Hall to Seaton Town Council has been revealed this morning, and is given in full below. The Council will not now apply for a loan to refurbish the building, and therefore there will be no need for a referendum. Nevertheless I welcome this agreement, the first step to resolve the conflict that had developed. I will save further comment for the special meeting of Seaton Town Council on 11 January. – Martin Shaw
PRESS RELEASE – Seaton Town Hall
A joint statement by EDDC, Seaton Town Council, Seaton’s Voice and Seaton Museum…. Friday 18th December 2015
It’s beginning to look a bit like… the future of Seaton Town Hall will be secured!
East Devon District Council, Seaton Town Council, Seaton’s Voice and Seaton Museum are pleased to confirm that agreement in principle has been achieved which will secure a long term future for Seaton Town Hall as a public building, beneficial to the local community.
Our agreement is based on the transfer of the Freehold interest of Seaton Town Hall from East Devon District Council to Seaton Town Council, without charge.
Seaton Town Council will concurrently agree a long lease on the Town Hall to Seaton’s Voice, excluding the current area occupied by the Museum. This will secure the future of the Gateway Entertainment Venue and the use of the hall by community groups.
Seaton Town Council will then relocate from Seaton Town Hall to Marshlands.
Mayor, Cllr Tony Woodman spoke for Seaton Town Council;
“I am pleased that all parties have been able to work together toward an excellent outcome for the future ownership and protection of the Town Hall for the people of Seaton. The Town Council will be ratifying the details at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council on 11 January. We are confident residents will agree that the proposed agreement will deliver the economic and community benefits that everyone has been seeking to achieve.
I hope we can now all move forward and ensure the Town Hall continues to offer a fantastic service to both locals and visitors alike. The town council will work hard to further ensure that our proposed new Marshlands base adds a complementary community asset and civic centre we can all be proud of.”
A representative of Seaton’s Voice added;
“We are happy with the progress and results of recent meetings between ourselves, East Devon District Council and Seaton Town Council. The outcome will provide a secure future for The Town Hall/The Gateway and will ensure we can continue to build upon the past 5 years of work.
We share the objective to secure the building for the community and provide ‘something for everyone’. We already have a wide range of events/activities on offer with much more in the pipeline.
In 2016/2017 we will also work hard to raise funds for the necessary refurbishments through patronage and grant funding opportunities.
We will hold a further full open meeting as soon as we have any further news.”
A further lease will be agreed between Seaton Town Council and Seaton Museum. This will ensure that the museum can continued to offer access to its valued resources, from the upper floor of the Town Hall.
Ted Gosling, Curator of Seaton Museum, added his support;
“I am delighted that agreement is being reached in principle to securing Seaton Town Hall for the town.
It was over 30 years ago that it was first proposed that a museum for Seaton should be established at Seaton Town Hall, and that museum now houses a wonderful record of the town’s history.
By all parties working together, the town can be assured that the museum is safe for the future and my collection will remain in the town.”
Cllr Ian Thomas, Portfolio Holder for Finance at EDDC concluded;
“I would like to add my personal thanks to all from Seaton Town Council, Seaton’s Voice, Seaton Museum and my East Devon District Council Member and Officer colleagues, for all the work and effort they have made to secure this agreement”.
We now have a solution which I am confident can work well for all concerned. Most importantly it can secure a sustainable long term future for Seaton Town Hall in the community.
My colleagues and I will continue to offer our support to the Town Council, Seaton’s Voice, Seaton Museum and their advisors as we work together to deliver the plan.
I am not expecting any further public comment until after Seaton Town Council moves to ratify the agreement at its Extraordinary Meeting on 11th January 2016.
We would all like to wish everyone associated with Seaton Town Hall our best wishes. Now is the time to relax, enjoy Christmas with friends and family and look forward with renewed confidence to a happy and prosperous future for Seaton Town Hall in 2016 and beyond…..”