Figures just released show that 28% of East Devon workers don’t receive the 2014 Living Wage of £7.85 per hour outside London.
However the Living Wage Foundation has announced that, based on research showing average living costs, the hourly Living Wage is now £8.25. This contrasts with the legal Minimum Wage, currently £6.70. This will still fall short even when it is increased to £7.20 early next year and misleadingly rebranded the ‘National Living Wage’ by George Osborne .
How many workers in Seaton fall short of £8.25 per hour? And what is to be done about it? Increasing wages to this level still won’t compensate many low-earners for the recent cuts to tax credits – but it would be a big step in the right direction.
@neil_parish attacks tax credit cuts – will he follow through and vote against proposals that don’t fully compensate workers who lose?
Our MP, Neil Parish, is one of 20 Conservative MPs who has voted for a backbench motion moved by veteran Labour poverty campaigner, Frank Field, calling on the Government “to reconsider the effect on the lowest paid workers of its proposed changes to tax credits due to come into force in April 2016, to carry out and publish an analysis of that effect, and to bring forward proposals to mitigate it.”
Mr Parish’s comments
He rightly said: ‘we have to make sure we support those people who are working hard in our constituencies. It’s arithmetic. If you’re on a low salary, those £1,000 or £2,000 … is a huge amount of your disposable income.’
How true this must be for many people in Seaton and East Devon, which are notorious for low wages.
Mr Parish added: “we have just lost our way a little. The Conservative party and this Government’s reputation is very much at stake.”
Will Mr Parish insist on full restoration of income for the affected families?
Mr Parish’s welcome stand adds to the pressure for ‘mitigation’. However this was still quite a weak resolution:
- It does not call for full compensation, so that no family on tax credits loses from the Government’s changes.
- It is does not call for reinstatement of full tax credits for new claimants, so it will not help low-waged workers in the future.
When George Osborne brings forward his expected revised proposals in his Autumn Statement, will Mr Parish at least insist that they provide for full compensation for everyone who has lost £1,000 or £2,000 – or even £3,000 – through these cuts?
An opportunity for Mr Parish and his fellow ‘rebels’
Mr Parish supported the Government when the issue first arose in September, and has only come forward now that the Lords (led by Labour, Lib Dem and independent peers) have forced the Government to rethink. Apart from Mr Parish and the other 19 ‘rebels’, the rest of the Tory party abstained on this motion, so the need for a retreat is recognised.
However since the Government has a majority of only 12, the 20 MPs have a lot of power – if they insist, they can force the Government to fully compensate all the losers.
Will our MP follow through – and promise to vote against any proposals that don’t fully compensate those workers who are losing out?
Sorry I have given out incorrect information on the closing date – it remains officially 27 October! Often comments are accepted after that, but to be sure please submit today, even if briefly, on the portal or by email to planning email@example.com
Independent County Councillor, Claire Wright (Ottery St Mary), has typically forthright comments on the police cuts:
To object: go on EDDC’s Planning Portal to view the application and then submit your comment online, or email your objection to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Planning (East), EDDC, The Knowle, Sidmouth EX10 8HL
Quote application no. 15/2188/MOUT – Land East Of Harepath Road Seaton. Write your objection in your own words about the issues that are most important to you – don’t just cut and paste from these suggestions.
The application proposes a combination of up to 130 or 150 houses (both figures are given!) with some employment and business facilities. However the latter will only be built if there is a demand – so maybe only houses will actually happen.
The application is described as containing 75 affordable dwellings (50%) but the application form specifies 38 (25%). Apparently council officers persuaded the developer to increase the percentage because the site is outside the Built Up Area Boundary.
- In Seaton we’re used to affordable housing disappearing during the development process, but to lose them at the turn of a page must be an all-time record!
- It’s difficult to have any confidence that any affordable housing would actually be built.
THE SITE ACCORDING TO THE LOCAL PLAN
- In the Local Plan, the main part of the site (labeled LSE2) is not designated for housing, but only for employment and recreation facilities. At least 45% of this site must be for recreational use – we need additional playing fields in Seaton – but the application proposes no recreational facilities.
- The other part is currently a reserve site (labelled E315) which may be used for mixed use development – BUT only in the case of shortages of land elsewhere, which are NOT proved. However the new version of the Local Plan (which now has ‘substantial weight’ in planning decisions and is likely to be approved very soon) removes this reserve site. The developer is working against the clock trying to get it before the new Plan comes in.
The Local Plan protects Green Wedges between settlements. This is the 3rd application by this developer to build in the Green Wedge.
- EDDC refused the previous applications, but they were only defeated after an appeal inspector ruled that concerns about housing were not sufficient to override the protection of the Wedge.
He said: ‘the housing shortfall although significant is – arguably – relatively short term, whereas the erosion of separation between Colyford and Seaton would be permanent, and should not be acceded to lightly.’
The gap left between Seaton and Colyford in this application – 250 metres – is a little bit larger than than previously. However it is still less than the 450 metres that another inspector found insufficient to separate Lympstone from Exmouth in 2011.
The alleged ‘housing shortfall’ in East Devon has been addressed. The applicants are trying to take advantage of the residual uncertainty (about whether East Devon has a 5-year housing land supply) because the new Local Plan has still not yet been finally approved.
- However EDDC has shown that it has a 5-year supply, and this is not one of the issues remaining to be resolved with the new Local Plan.
- Seaton is already meeting its target for new houses in the Local Plan within the town, as the Plan stipulates. Large numbers of extra houses are already being built in or are approved for Seaton, at Harbour Road and elsewhere.
The Green Wedge is crucial for the environment of Seaton and Colyford. The new Local Plan says that ‘Seaton’s outstanding natural environment especially its Wetlands is its most precious and defining asset’. Building houses across this site will damage:
- The landscape, views across Axe estuary and the setting of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- The setting of the Seaton Wetlands, the jewel in Seaton’s crown. (This development will bring housing right up to the main entrance to the Wetlands, at the Cemetery, replacing the rural setting of the Wetlands with an urban environment.)
- The environment of bats which live on the site and other wildlife on the site and in the Wetlands.
Colyford Road is a narrow country lane with no pavement. Extra traffic into this road from the development will cause congestion – and threaten cyclists on the new national cycle route, the Stop Line Way (the section between Colyford and the cemetery has just opened) which passes along it.
In the Local Plan, Seaton’s economic future is based largely on a ‘green tourism’ strategy – if all the tourist sees is urban sprawl, they’re not going to be attracted into Seaton. The Wetlands and the cycle route are crucial to this strategy.
Seaton has grown hugely in recent years. The new Local Plan says that its ‘community facilities, school, health, social and cultural, are seen as borderline or inadequate with no capacity to serve additional residents.’ So extra housing will place unacceptable strains on the primary school, GP practices, etc.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
- Preserving the green setting of Seaton and Colyford
- Protecting our environmental assets
- The right balance between development and community services
- Making sure areas designated for recreation are actually used for recreation
- Stopping the developer riding roughshod over local opinion and the Local Plan.
The Seaton Town Council Planning meeting which will consider the Green Wedge application will now be in the United Reform Church, Cross Street, at 7 on Monday 19th October, as the council anticipates a large public turnout.
The developer whose previous application was turned down by EDDC, a refusal confirmed by an Inspector on appeal, has put in a new bid to build on land between Harepath Road and Colyford Road, in the Green Wedge between Seaton and Colyford. This will be discussed at Seaton Town Council Planning Committee on Monday (19 October, 7 pm). You can view the application here:
I have been co-opted to the Council to fill a vacancy, and I took my seat last night. Many thanks to the members who voted me on and to friends who came to support me at the meeting. I look forward to an interesting four years.