The so called Devolution process taking place in Devon and Somerset right now, is an totally undemocratic and possibly unlawful transfer of power from local authorities to a quango of unelected and unaccountable business people called the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.
Their meetings are held in secret and their minutes are not published. They control £4 billion worth of grants from the government and the EU and have spent millions on Hinkley C power station. These are the people, nearly all property developers and construction CEOs who are writing the devolution bid for Devon and Somerset. Whilst local councils have their budgets slashed to a point they can barely function, the LEP enables enormous construction projects and is pushing for the building of 179,000 new homes, which are not affordable.
Local people are being shut out of decision making processes altogether while the responsibility for care homes, roads and house building is passed over to this opaque and remote quango, whose only goal is growth at the expense of everything else.
“The dreadful “Devolution” proposals from the Heart Of The South West Local Enterprise Partnership were endorsed by South Hams District Council today – but not before Opposition Group of councillors had put up a big fight. Here is what one of them said:
“The Government has taken away the funds that local authorities were once spending to meet the needs of local people – for affordable homes, care services, repairing local roads etc. It now offers to give back £195.5 million – but only if we endorse a package of megaprojects in which we have had no say.
This is coercion, not ‘devolution’. The decisions about how this council spent its money were once democratically decided; the proposals in this Devolution Prospectus were not. It is not the economic recovery plan that residents would have created themselves if they had been given the opportunity.
New postby Independent district councillor for Feniton, Susie Bond:
The agonising and tortuous journey taken by the Local Plan is coming to an end following the publication of the Planning Inspector’s final report.
The Government gave all local councils a deadline for production of a Local Plan of March 2012 (with a period of grace up to March 2013) and moved the goalposts endlessly while councillors and officers attempted to produce a plan which everyone could agree. For East Devon, it was an almost impossible task with members of the public, landowners and developers all having different views on almost every aspect (see Claire Wright’s comment).
Following publication of Anthony Thickett’s final report on Monday, and to the relief of all those who believe in democracy and Localism, the Local Plan will be put before an extraordinary meeting of East Devon District Council with a resolution to adopt.
Adoption of the plan will mean that planning decisions will be made according to the Adopted Local Plan for 2013–2131, as will any decisions on planning appeals currently in progress.
The main points are:
• Anthony Thickett has agreed with the council that 17,100 more houses between 2013 and 2031 is a realistic and achievable target. Others are considerably less convinced as it relies on unprecedented levels of economic growth throughout the plan period.
• The district will have a 5-year housing land supply upon adoption of the plan. This is a requirement for making the plan sound and indeed has been the cause of so much misery across East Devon.
• There is a need for 37 gypsy and traveller pitches and these are to be placed at Cranbrook as the settlement grows over the plan period, although EDDC is actively looking for sites elsewhere in the district.
Martin Shaw adds: the confirmation of the housing land supply could be good news for objectors to several planning applications pending in Seaton, above all in the Green Wedge.
“This new Clause would place a duty on landlords to ensure that their properties are fit for habitation when let and remain fit during the course of the tenancy.”
As the threshold for registration with Commons authorities is £10,000 rent per annum, other landlord MPs who did not have to register their interest may also have voted against this amendment. 39% of Tory MPs, 26% of SNP MPs and 22% of Labour MPs are registered as landlords, compared to only 2% of the general population.
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?