Seaton Town Hall transfer – from the horse’s mouth

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After I was coopted on to the Town Council at the end of September, one of my first acts was to spend the morning of 16th October with Carol Manley and Elga Mackie of Seaton’s Voice, which runs The Gateway, discussing plans for the future of the Town Hall. This meeting confirmed my inclination to support Option 3 in the referendum on the Town Hall’s future, i.e. that the Town Council should take the asset transfer from EDDC, take out a loan, and refurbish the building. At that time, Seaton’s Voice supported the same option and I looked forward to working with them to encourage voters to agree.

Barely 10 days later, Seaton’s Voice had ‘withdrawn’ from the proposal. Two weeks after that, they attacked the Council in the press just as the referendum was about to be launched, and Carol and Elga urged supporters on Facebook to vote for option 1, to do nothing and wait for EDDC to give everyone notice, of which they said in October, ‘The result of this will potentially be EDDC sells the building on open market’. I have written a letter published in View From Seaton explaining why I find their new advice perverse, which I will post following this post.

Seaton’s Voice’s October leaflet is below – but please note that notes 2, 3 and 4 are inaccurate, as is the claim that with Option 2 ‘the building could fall into disrepair’.

Seaton's Voice leaflet Ocotber 2015

How many Seaton workers don’t receive the Living Wage?

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Living Wage Foundation logoFigures 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?

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Neil Parish photoOur 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:

  1. It does not call for full compensation, so that no family on tax credits loses from the Government’s changes.
  2. 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?

Last days for Seafront consultation – plans now online

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Tomorrow is the last day for the Seaton seafront redevelopment consultation. A model and some diagrams are on view in the Library,  I have spent three half-days there over the last fortnight explaining them to people, and there has been a lot of interest – and indeed enthusiasm.
Following requests from visitors, the Town Council has now put the the plans online – there is more detail than you can see in the Library, so it’s well worth a look.

Green Wedge – corrected closing date TODAY!

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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 east@eastdevon.gov.uk

Seaton’s police station to close – where is our MP?

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Independent County Councillor, Claire Wright (Ottery St Mary), has typically forthright comments on the police cuts:

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/tony_hogg_on_police_budget_cuts_we_need_to_hold_our_mps_to_account