Independent County Councillor Claire Wright writes that community hospitals across Devon are to be ‘acquired by NHS Property Services which has the ability to charge commercial rents to NHS organisations’. Will NHS Property Services resist the temptation to up the rent and will the NHS Trust which runs the Seaton Hospital keep it and other hospitals going?
The combined effects of the decisions of the Conservatives in the last Coalition government (which the Lib Dems failed to stop), first to chop up the NHS into myriad organisations which deal commercially with each other, and second to cut the £16bn extra funding needed to only £8bn, are putting our community hospitals and many other areas of the service at risk.
As Seaton Jurassic opens this weekend – it’s a great visit – the organisation that runs it, Devon Wildlife Trust, has warned that wildlife protection would be threatened by Britain leaving the EU.
In a letter to DWT members, chief executive Harry Barton – who I had the pleasure of meeting at Thursday’s opening ceremony – notes that ‘many of the improvements of the last three decades have much to do with the environmental and wildlife legislation that has come out of Europe. The Habitats, Birds and Bathing Waters Directives, to name just three, have required Britain and other countries to increase standards dramatically.’
‘European nature laws have provided a common platform’, Barton points out, ‘and they are long term and binding, making it much more difficult for individual governments to weaken or circumvent them at their own convenience. … Our relationship with Europe has many imperfections, but in my view there is no doubt that, where the environment and wildlife is concerned, it has been a real success.’
Next time you hear someone moan about EU bureaucracy, remember these (and other) sensible common standards which EU laws uphold. How are we going to maintain these standards if Britain leaves? And will Continental visitors be so keen to come to the Jurassic Coast if Britain has turned its back on Europe?
Council tax bills have just popped through our letterboxes, showing a 4% rise overall, including 4% increases for Devon County Council and EDDC, 2% for the police, and 11% for Seaton Town Council. These unwelcome rises are the result of the Conservative Government’s savage cuts to local government spending, which are forcing councils to tax more to keep services afloat. George Osborne will pretend that he has avoided tax increases – but he hasn’t, he’s just passed the parcel to councils and hopes voters will be stupid enough to blame them rather than him. He will also claim that this deep austerity is inevitable – but it isn’t, it’s a choice, which could be avoided by proper tax collection from multinationals and rich individuals, as well as perhaps by modest extra taxes (on property, rather than income?).
NB Seaton’s rise partly reflects the short-term costs of taking on the Town Hall and Marshlands at the same time, before income is realised from the latter.
A proposal by the developer to move the position of his proposed block of flats at Pendeen, Castle Hill, in a way which would have made it worse for neighbours, was unanimously defeated at East Devon’s Development Management Committee today. Karen Curnock spoke ably for herself and her neighbour, I was able to point out the inconsistency of DMC’s past decisions, and Jim Knight strongly opposed the variation of the planning approval. It’s a pity Peter Burrows, Seaton’s member on DMC, wasn’t there, and the refusal had to be moved by Ben Ingham, Lympstone councillor and Independent leader.
The bizarre aspect of the debate was that the applicant applied to vary the permission in order to allow the possibility of a short section of footpath, which the Highways Agency agreed was not practical – and the planners said should be disregarded in the making of the decision.
Thanks to Councillor Marcus Hartnell for the news that Premier Inn’s planning application for Harbour Road is now in, though not yet visible on the EDDC Planning Portal. There are also positive reports about the Seaton Heights plans.