Sunday, 25 February 2018

Brexit: and the future of food and farming: from the Initiative for Free Trade

The Environment Secretary has a very positive vision of farming:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and questioning the brave new world for farming and the countryside

And indeed many beyond government see the future as offering new horizons:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and a moment of opportunity for rural England?

There are loads of issues and areas involved, just to take the more recent ones considered:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and dairy farming
Futures Forum: Brexit: and producing food in the UK
Futures Forum: Brexit: and whether subsidies are bad for sustainable agriculture...

The NFU have been upbeat, but still offer warnings to the government:

Food and farming can power Britain post-Brexit, says NFU President

20 February 2018

Time is running out. To use a farming analogy, those three cornerstones outlined in our vision are three legs of a milking stool. There’s a lot of spilt milk if you remove one of them.

We must have frictionless trade with the EU. Everything else, including the final shape of any domestic agricultural policy, is dependent on that. And of course, those who advocate a cheap food policy, of scouring the world for low cost food should bear in mind the price paid in traceability, in standards and in the off-shoring of environmental impact.

And to deliver farming’s true potential for Britain we must have a trading environment that helps, not hinders. We must have a food supply chain which shares the risk equally – rather than piling all the risk onto the farmer.

British farmers are extremely proud of the standards they adhere to – most of them linked to the Red Tractor, which ensures the very best in traceability. We mustn’t let those standards slip and be undermined by a bad trade deal during Brexit negotiations.

Food and farming can power Britain post-Brexit, says NFU President - The Pig Site
'Frictionless' EU trade is vital post-Brexit for UK farming to survive | Environment | The Guardian

And this has been echoed by a joint statement from the food and farming industries:
UK food and farming sector unites over views on Brexit | HeraldScotland
UK food and farming sector comes together in joint Brexit statement - New Food Magazine
Food and farming sector highlights Brexit impact on home-grown production - Farming UK News

Whilst environmentalists and farmers have also joined forces:
Ecologists and agriculturalists find common ground in the future of farming post Brexit - The Ecologist

Meanwhile, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee also warns:
Food standards 'must not be sacrificed to cheap imports' after Brexit, say MPs | The Independent
Farming businesses 'could be wiped out after Brexit transition' | UK news | The Guardian

It depends what sort of Brexit you're looking for, as the non-partisan Farming UK website notes:

Plot emerges 'mistakenly' calling for UK to ditch food standards to secure US deal

Plot to ditch EU food and safety standards threatens food producers, a Green MEP has said 

21 February 2018

A plot has emerged "mistakenly" by leading Brexiteers to ditch EU food and safety standards post-Brexit to secure a US trade deal, according to an MEP. The coalition of conservative think tanks are pushing for a free trade agreement that would allow the import of US meats, drugs and chemicals currently banned in Britain, according to Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato.

Dr Scott Cato said the revelations of the plot "emerged mistakenly" on the website of the Initiative for Free Trade organisation, which was founded by Brexit advocate and Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan. They call for Britain to recognise US standards, which are weaker than those adopted by the EU. The revelation follows worries by the British farming industry that any trade deal between the UK and US could result in chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared beef entering the market.

Dr Scott Cato, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said this confirmed her "worst fears" for farmers and food producers. “For many rightwing conservatives, Brexit has always been about tearing up high EU standards on food safety, environmental protection and animal welfare, under the guise of freeing the UK from ‘red tape’,” she said. “Farmers and food producers in the South West will rightly feel deeply concerned about pressure to ditch these higher standards. Any trade agreement with the US which allows for the import of food and drugs produced without these current safeguards will threaten the viability of many small-scale farmers and food producers. They simply could not compete with the mega-farms and giant corporations of the US.”

Dr Scott Cato said many promises made by Brexiteers during the referendum campaign are being "broken" in "secret talks behind closed doors". She added: “This revelation also destroys the credibility of Michael Gove's promise to ensure a 'Green Brexit'. As more evidence emerges of the risks of a Tory Brexit we continue to demand a referendum on the final deal with the option to retain all the protections that membership of the EU offers.”

Plot emerges 'mistakenly' calling for UK to ditch food standards to secure US deal - Farming UK News 

This is from Greenpeace itself:

A hard-Brexit think tank accidentally published its plans for US-UK ‘shadow trade talks’

The Initiative for Free Trade - which is supported by trade secretary Liam Fox - has now deleted the plans from its website


Lawrence Carter@lawrencecarter1

A transatlantic network of conservative think tanks accidentally published its secret plans to influence US-UK trade negotiations, Unearthed can reveal. Documents outline plans to form an “unprecedented” coalition of hard-Brexit and libertarian think tanks, which will call for Britain to ditch strict EU safety standards – including rules on food and pharmaceuticals – in order to secure a sweeping US-UK trade deal.

The group will hold “shadow trade talks” in Washington and London to “hash out an ‘ideal’ US-UK free trade agreement (FTA).” It hopes this will form the “blueprint” for the real negotiations between the British and US governments. The project plan – which was discovered by Unearthed – claimed the talks would be attended by an official from Fox’s Department for International Trade (DIT), with the aim of making sure the department feels “ownership” of the process. But a DIT spokesperson told Unearthed the department had not yet received an invitation to the talks and so could not comment on whether an official would attend.

The IFT said the plan was an “internal proposal document that includes some ideas that have not yet been put into practice. It therefore shouldn’t have been put online.” No US or British government officials have yet been invited, the spokesperson added.

Trade secretary, Liam Fox, has previously told the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT) – which is organising the talks – that his department is “a very, very willing partner in your great and wonderful quest.”

The plans, which were presented in a glossy brochure, have now been removed from the IFT’s website – but Unearthed is publishing them here in full.

Shadow trade secretary Barry Gardiner told Unearthed: “This looks like another attempt by the IFT to legitimise what is an overtly political agenda by using a government department to sanction their work with right-wing think tanks overseas. There is far too cosy a relationship between some of these organisations and senior Cabinet figures”.

Fox’s connections

According to the documents, the shadow trade talks are set to include 10 leading right-wing think tanks from the UK and US – including the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs and the Legatum Institute, which has recommended dropping in the EU’s precautionary principle to boost trade.

More on Brexit
Brexit: Liam Fox’s department signs deal to keep trade talks secret
Trump’s top trade nominees lobbied for hormone-meat exports
Brexit: UK trade delegation to Washington had virtually no experience negotiating deals

Source: Initiative for Free Trade.

An IFT spokesperson told Unearthed that Policy Exchange, one of the UK think tanks listed in the brochure, had not yet confirmed it would join the trade talks.

On the US side, the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation are listed as participants. The Cato Institute – which was founded by billionaire oil refiner, Charles Koch – will write the first draft of the “ideal” agreement.

Trade secretary Liam Fox has longstanding links to several of the groups involved in the project, and helped launch the IFT – which is run by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan – in September 2017. Concluding his speech at the event, Fox told Hannan his department would be “a very, very willing partner in your great and wonderful quest.”

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson also spoke at the launch, which was controversially held at the Foreign Office.

The IFT’s website boasts of its’ “extensive networks within governments”, which it will “use to promote new trade agreements and to make sure that they focus on mutual recognition”.

Angus MacNeil, chair of the international trade select committee, told Unearthed the shadow trade talks risked handing the DIT an “off the shelf agenda”. He added: “The other danger with the libertarian types is that they will drop any form of protection for business.These further plans will absolutely throw agriculture under the bus. The bus with £350m on the side”, he continued.

A spokesperson for the Cato Institute said: “Scholars in our Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies are currently working on a paper concerning the US-UK trade agreement, which they plan to present at a meeting in London in April.”

Libertarian blueprint

The shadow talks aim to shape the negotiations before they have even begun, the brochure says – producing “a blueprint that is looked upon favourably by both governments” and can serve as something “to work towards in the actual US-UK FTA negotiations”. The tactic of drafting model legislation and ensuring buy-in from government along the way has long been used by US libertarian groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The Heritage Foundation boasts that 64% of the 344 policy recommendations it made in its “Mandate for Leadership” document have been adopted by the Trump administration.

The IFT’s plan for the shadow talks says a key goal is “to ensure the blueprint reaches as many of the relevant individuals as possible, including government officials, ministers and legislators”, through the access enjoyed by the think tanks.

The document explains that although the government officials it planned to invite will not participate directly in the talks, their presence will ensure “that the respective administrations feel some involvement in and ownership of the process.” It added that the presence of UK and US officials will “lend greater weight to our endeavour”.

Brexit, trade and the environment: What’s the big deal?

Daniel Hannan MEP is president of the IFT, which accidentally posted the plans. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

Chlorinated chicken

The “ideal” free trade agreement outlined by the IFT in the document could transform the way the safety of imported products – such as food and pharmaceuticals – is regulated. The IFT argues that, by recognising some US standards and dropping some restrictions on the import of US agricultural products, the UK can pivot away from the EU’s precautionary principle, saving consumers money through cheaper food imports.

It says a shift away from the EU’s approach would mean that “US exporters of agricultural produce – beef, for instance – would have a brand new market to sell to”. Imports of US beef are currently restricted by the EU because of a widespread use of growth hormones that the European Commission deems unsafe.

This type of regulatory change would also allow for imports of chlorinated chicken, an issue that caused huge controversy during Liam Fox’s visit to Washington in July 2017. During an event at the American Enterprise Institute, Fox dismissed the issue as a sideshow: “the British media are obsessed with chlorine-washed chickens, a detail of the very end-stage of one sector of a potential free trade agreement. I say no more than that”.

However, documents obtained by DeSmog under freedom of information and seen by Unearthed, reveal that the chlorinated chicken issue was one of the first things Fox was lobbied about when he met with the Heritage Foundation – just a week after his appointment as trade secretary.

According to a summary of a July 2016 lunch with 16 representatives of Heritage – including his former special advisor, Luke Coffey: “participants highlighted the political significant [sic] of chlorine-washed chicken (banned in the EU) to US agriculture (COMMENT: a long-standing restriction that the US argues is without scientific basis)”.

Unearthed contacted the Heritage Foundation for comment and will update the story when we receive a response.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Land Value Uplift Tax >>> >>> "Public investment on or near a piece of land significantly increases its value wherever you are."

Several countries are looking at a 'land value tax':

Dublin’s new tram highlights the untapped bonanza of land values

February 5, 2018
By Joseph Kilroy

Few, apart from the odd urban motorist, whose well of sympathy has surely run dry, would argue that Dublin’s new tram (Luas) line extension isn't both overdue and welcome. Besides the tangible benefits of ease of access to previously sequestered parts of the city – the multi-award winning Grangegorman campus springs to mind – the Luas has also had a less visible impact on the value of Dublin, in particular its land prices.

The numbers make this contribution clear: conservatively, the value of land along the new Luas line has increased by 15-20 per cent as a result of its construction. This increase in land values is typically capitalised in house prices.

To be clear, what has actually increased as a result of the Luas being built is the value of the land the house sits on, not the cost of the house itself, a detail that is often lost in the ether of the national fixation on house prices. The price of property along the line surged by 15-20 per cent during 2017 as result of Luas inspired land value uplift, while the value of the actual houses that sit on it has not increased (notwithstanding any improvements the owners have made). This is an important distinction: it disaggregates the value added by the collective (society) to the land, from the value added by the individual property owner to the building that sits on the land.

The important point is that this 15-20 per cent uplift in land value along the Luas line is an absolute cash bonanza resulting from collective public effort. And what we do with it says a lot about where we are as a society.

As it stands, it is presented as a fait accompli that this uplift should all flow to property owners, in spite of the fact that it is created not by anything individual property owners have done. Instead, it’s created by the collective efforts of citizens: paying taxes to finance the building of the Luas, and partaking in the activities that make having access to a city valuable: working, eating, drinking, studying, playing and whatever you're into that contributes to the economy. As Churchill put it

"Roads are made, streets are made, services are improved, electric light turns night into day, water is brought from reservoirs a hundred miles off in the mountains – and all the while the landlord sits still.

"Every one of those improvements is effected by the labour and cost of other people and the taxpayers. To not one of those improvements does the land monopolist, as a land monopolist, contribute, and yet by every one of them the value of his land is enhanced. He renders no service to the community, he contributes nothing to the general welfare, he contributes nothing to the process from which his own enrichment is derived."

If we had a progressive tax on the uplift in land value that currently flows to landowners as a result of publicly funded infrastructure projects like the Luas – call it a Land Value Uplift Tax on 80-100 oper cent of the uplift – this value would flow back into the public purse. That way, it could be invested in other public infrastructure projects like, say, a public programme of local authority house building, which we are struggling to finance under the status quo.

Crucially, the idea of a Land Value Uplift Tax is not blue sky thinking. Land value uplift capture is done all over the world: Hong Kong built an entire metro and funded public housing for free using land value tax; a significant amount of London’s new Crossrail line has been funded with a land value uplift tax; and urban regeneration in the US is typically funded through a value uplift capture mechanism called tax increment financing.

There is no difference in the mechanics of how this all works between Dublin and other cities: public investment on or near a piece of land significantly increases its value wherever you are. The difference lies in our attitude to property owners. Other cities building or expanding public-transit systems to cope with population growth and urbanisation have acted swiftly to both recognise and exploit rising land values for the public good. It is time to connect the dots, and stop the long arm of property assets reaching into the pockets of citizens.

Dublin’s new tram highlights the untapped bonanza of land values | CityMetric
Are you ready for Welsh Land Transaction Tax? Transitional provisions passed and guidance released - Lexology
Namibia: Farmers Sue to Halt Land Tax - allAfrica.com
SA's land audit makes case for land tax | News24

And it's gaining traction in the UK:
Time may be right for land value tax discussion, says... | Daily Mail Online
Labour says land value tax would boost local government budgets | Politics | The Guardian 
Labour moots land value tax as a solution to council funding crisis | Planning Resource

It was in last year's Labour manifesto:
Labour Manifesto 2017: What is a land value tax? How would it work? | The Independent

And was dubbed a 'garden tax' by opponents:
Labour's secret plans for £4,000 'garden tax' | Daily Mail Online
What is Labour's Garden Tax and how could Corbyn's new Land Value Tax affect me? All you need to know
Labour's garden tax will hit 10 million households: Philip Hammond warns of Corbyn's local levy 'bombshell' - Telegraph What is Labour's 'garden tax'? The truth about proposed land value tax explained and who will be affected - Mirror Online 

And yet Corbyn's arch-foe adopted it claiming it is a policy neither of the left nor the right:
Tony Blair backs Labour’s ‘land value tax’ to tackle housing crisis | Politics | The Guardian

For example, the Bahamas has no income tax, but it does have a land value tax:
The Bahamas | The Caribbean paradise levies zero income tax on personal income, corporate income or gains. The primary source of earning for its government is tourism and a slew of indirect taxes and property taxes like stamp duty, land tax, value added tax among others. (Wikimedia Commons)

As an economist points out:
Land Value (or Garden) Tax – more Adam Smith than Marx | British Politics and Policy at LSE

And as the Adam Smith Institute pointed out:
Why everybody is wrong about the Land Value Tax (except me) — Adam Smith Institute

The Economist has asked the question:

Why land value taxes are so popular, yet so rare?

Throughout history, economists have advocated such a tax. Adam Smith said "nothing [could] be more reasonable". Milton Friedman said it was "least bad tax". Yet there are only a handful of real-world examples of land value taxes (LVT). Why are they so popular yet so rare? 

The bigger barrier is political. LVTs would impose concentrated costs on today’s landowners, who face a new tax bill and a reduced sale price. The benefit, by contrast, is spread equally over today’s population and future generations. This problem is unlikely to be overcome. Economists will continue to advocate LVTs, and politicians will continue to ignore them.

Why land value taxes are so popular, yet so rare - The Economist explains

See also:
Futures Forum: We cannot rely on rising property prices to keep the UK economy going
Futures Forum: Henry George and the land-value tax

Cranbrook: a town without a centre > or just another massive housing estate?

An Exeter student wrote last month that "rather than building houses, developers must build communities":
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: build communities

One example of a town with lots of houses but little sense of community would be Cranbrook:
Futures Forum: Pseudo-public space 
Futures Forum: "Regeneration and economic development" in East Devon >>> looking beyond the conventional, the ideological and the heavyhanded 
Futures Forum: Cranbrook: welcome to dismaland

It lost its sense of purpose a couple of years ago:
Futures Forum: Cranbrook: an 'eco-town' no more

But it hasn't gained a town centre since:
Futures Forum: The Cranbrook project >>> where's the town centre >>> the infrastructure >>>the 'growth point'?

But, then, it's just a massive housing estate after all:
Futures Forum: Cranbrook: What's the difference between a housing estate and an eco newtown?

Here is East Devon's MP Sir Hugo Swire talking about Cranbrook and how big developers are 'gaming the system' - building big blocks rather than in the local vernacular.

He would also like to know how we can encourage local builders; and how Neighbourhood Plans can be taken more seriously when development is considered.

And ... where the town centre is:

Westminster Hall: Neighbourhood and Town Planning - 30.1.18 - YouTube

The East Devon Watch blog comments:


13 FEB 2018

He says developers refused to create a town centre because there weren’t enough people living there! He says the council is now having to step in to rectify this! Owl thinks that perhaps there are not enough people living there (question: how many is enough?) because there is no town centre!

Swire says developers “gamed” Cranbrook to its detriment and Neighbourhood Plans aren’t working! | East Devon Watch

It's happening everywhere, though:
Welcome to Toytown: what life is like in new-build Britain | Society | The Guardian 

Brexit: and dystopia

Which is your preferred dystopian image?

Brexit like 'scene out of Apocalypse Now', French car industry expert says
Ben Chapman 3 days ago

Apocalypse Now is a dive into the dark depths of human insanity which famously took years longer to make than intended

Brexit is reminiscent of the brutal Vietnam War film, Apocalypse Now, according to a leading figure in the French car industry.

“It reminds me of Apocalypse Now when Martin Sheen is walking in a trench and he asks another soldier, ‘hey soldier, do you know who’s in charge here?’ and he replies, ‘ain’t you?’”, said Francois Roudier, director of communications for the CCFA, the French car industry lobby group. “For us in the industry its a real problem,” Mr Roudier told the BBC’s Today Programme on Wednesday.

Not knowing what’s going on with regards to Brexit could be “a disaster” that may lead to job losses on both sides of the Channel, he warned.

The comparison with Francis Ford Coppola’s three-hour war epic comes just a day after Brexit Secretary David Davis drew his own movie parallels. Mr Davis attempted to reassure European business leaders concerned about Brexit by telling them that Britain would not be “plunged into a Mad Max-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction”.

Apocalypse Now is a dive into the dark depths of human insanity and the horrors of conflict which famously took years longer to make than intended. Production was beset by a host of serious problems, including infighting amongst the cast and a mutiny by the crew.

The disturbing tale follows army officer Martin Sheen, sent from the relative civilisation of Saigon into the Cambodian jungle to assassinate the power-crazed Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando, who has lost his mind and attempted to set up in his own kingdom.

At one point during filming, Mr Coppola reportedly screamed at Dennis Hopper, one of the film’s stars, who was heavily intoxicated and couldn’t remember his lines. Mr Hopper is said to have turned to his director and reminded him that most of the dialogue and the scenes themselves were being made up as they went along because Mr Coppola had torn up the script.

Brexit like 'scene out of Apocalypse Now', French car industry expert says | The Independent 

David Davis: "Brexit Britain will not be a Mad Max dystopian world." - YouTube
Brexit will not end in 'Mad Max dystopia’, David Davis reassures | The Independent 
What a Mad Max Britain would look like - BBC News

The view from Holyrood:

“I soon expect to receive my deliveries from Amazon by drone,” he boasted, though presumably, he didn’t mean during his speech. “In fact – at this moment, weather permitting, at my home in Yorkshire – a robot lawnmower, designed in Sweden and built in the North East of England, will be mowing the grass.”

Robot lawnmowers. At least in Mad Max they had cars. In Davis’s half-baked attempt at dystopia, we’ll be stuck holding running motorway battles on the back of souped-up lawnmowers. To be honest, that’s probably the sort of dystopia the British public deserves – yes, our society is in a violent state of collapse, but on the other hand, we do have immaculate lawns.

David Davis: There will be no ‘Mad Max’ Brexit. 
We’re thinking of going for the Bespoke ‘Planet of the Apes’ model instead 

Friday, 23 February 2018

Maintaining a balanced community in Sidmouth >>> >>> "The town is not well supplied with facilities for younger people and the closure of the only nightclub is a loss."

One of the central issues of our time is to make sure the local community is 'balanced':
Futures Forum: Maintaining a balanced community in Sidmouth

As a recent piece demonstrates:

Balanced communities: One of the key ‘rules’, especially for Sidmouth, is that of fostering ‘balanced communities’, as laid out in Strategy 34 of the Local Plan.[1] It is vital to maintain this balance, as highlighted in other key planning documents: “Sidmouth has a far higher over 85 population than the rest of the country, let alone Devon. Assisted living accommodation on this site will do nothing to redress the existing imbalance.”[2]

Sidmouth faces a ‘demographic time bomb’[3] – and the development at Knowle will exacerbate an already serious issue, as demonstrated in a devastating critique of EDDC’s 'Care Housing Needs Assessment' commissioned by the developers.[4] Moreover, “there is not sufficient capacity in the home care services” in the Sid Valley – further casting doubt on the adequacy of provision for the residents at Knowle, all of whom will require care.[5]

Even EDDC itself recognises that the “influx of new residents”[6] will be made up entirely of the elderly – most of whom will be from outside the District.[7]

Neighbourhood Plan: Significantly, a key finding during the unprecedented public consultation for the draft Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan has been the need for more ‘balanced communities’.[8] And yet during the recent Appeal, the Neighbourhood Plan was largely dismissed, despite the fact that “there is no evidence of local housing need of the type Pegasus Life proposes”.[9] What is more, in terms of planning regulations, “an emerging plan carries statutory weight: we contend that if this appeal by Pegasus Life is supported, the result would be to undermine and prejudice the preparation of the final Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan.”[10]

And 'balanced community' means having something for young people.
Conversion of Sidmouth’s only nightclub refused | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald 

News was broken last night of the immediate closure of the town's last night club:
Sidmouth’s sole nightclub Carinas closes permanently | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

With more details coming out today:

Permanently closed Sidmouth nightclub to become all-in-one bar and restaurant

PUBLISHED: 11:31 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:18 23 February 2018

Carinas Nite Club. Ref shs 04-18TI 6549. Picture: Terry Ife

The owners of Sidmouth’s only nightclub have unveiled their plans to turn the venue into an all-in-one restaurant and bar.

It comes after an announcement which revealed the immediate and permanent closer of the nightclub yesterday (Thursday).
Director Chris Eccles, of Residential Trust Ltd - which owns the venue, said: “The reality is that there has been insufficient real support in the form of customers spending money on a regular basis in the club and the existing business model is not sustainable.
“Tastes and trends in the leisure market have changed significantly. If there are organisations out there that want to subsidise the club as a community facility then I would be interested in hearing.”
The owners announced the venue, in Fore Street, would be closing for eight weeks at the end of January, to part-convert it into a bar and restaurant. During this time the remaining section of the club, which is more than half the existing floorspace at Carinas, was supposed to undergo some much-needed improvements.
Mr Eccles said the refurbishment was now at an advanced stage and they were going to upgrade the remaining part of the club.
He added that they would be immediately applying for planning permission to convert the rest of the building into a feature bar and restaurant and were looking forward to substantially upgrading the Dove Lane frontage which faces Market Place and re-instating part of the original glass domed winter garden roof.
Mr Eccles said: “The building has suffered from a lack of investment with previous owners and combined with changing trends the club has had its day. In line with what we previously suspected, turnover has continued to fall to below a sustainable level and all our research has suggested that this will continue to do so and that the offering required needs to have a different focus.
“It is with regret that we are announcing the permanent closure of the club with immediate effect, and would like to thank all our staff and customers for their support during our ownership. Our proposal will add to the vibrancy and economy of Sidmouth and we are sure we can find an attractive operator for the space.”
An application to convert Carinas into a large feature restaurant was refused by East Devon District Council (EDDC) in May 2017 on the basis that the town would lose a ‘social gathering facility’ that contributed to its ‘vibrancy and vitality’, which was in conflict with the authority’s Local Plan. The decision was made after nearly 300 people signed a petition to stop the nightclub becoming a café or a restaurant and Sidmouth Town Council concluded that it would be a ‘great loss’ for youngsters.
EDDC approved a fresh application in October 2017 which proposed to turn part of the venue into a bar and restaurant whilst also safeguarding more than 50 per cent of the nightclub, helping it to become more financial viability.
Councillor Cathy Gardner said: “I realise this is a business decision but this is very disappointing news. The town is not well supplied with facilities for younger people, whatever age that means, and the closure of the only nightclub is a loss.
“We await news on the future use of the Drill Hall which has the opportunity to house a wide range functions.”

Permanently closed Sidmouth nightclub Carinas to become all-in-one bar and restaurant | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Fairtrade Fortnight in Sidmouth > 26th Feb - 11th March > Treasure Hunt!

Next week, Fairtrade is in focus:
Futures Forum: Fairtrade Fortnight in Sidmouth > 26th Feb - 11th March

With a fun activity happening during the fortnight:

Sidmouth Fairtrade Steering Group's Events
Sidmouth Fair Trade Group - Home | Facebook

"Real power and progress can only be achieved through autonomous localities"

Localism is back on the agenda in the UK:
Futures Forum: In defence of localism
Futures Forum: The 'funding pressures' on local government
Futures Forum: Aiming for a fairer planning system

Lord Kerslake 26 January 2018

Lord Kerslake: Let's reignite the possibilities of localism

Lord Kerslake: Let's reignite the possibilities of localism
Nearly seven years ago the Localism Act 2011 promised a ‘fundamental shift of power’ away from Westminster and towards communities. When I was permanent secretary at the then Department for Communities and Local Government, I never doubted that this aspiration was a sincere one from ministers. It built on an emerging political consensus that the scale and complexity of our social challenges are so great, they are unlikely to be effectively addressed from SW1.
But the landscape for localism was a gruelling one, as the Act was implemented alongside a deep austerity programme, squeezing local government finances and hollowing out much of our community infrastructure. And while the Community Rights have brought new powers for communities – to save local buildings and get involved in local planning – these have not been enough to fundamentally change the balance of control in our neighbourhoods.
Ultimately, the transformational potential of localism – to tackle disadvantage, rebalance our economy, and revitalise democracy – is still waiting to be fully unleashed.

Lord Kerslake Lets reignite the possibilities of localism - LocalGov.co.uk - Your authority on UK local government

Come on councils, it’s time to let local people lead

1 Feb 18

Local people have expertise and entrepreneurial flair. Councils should make the most of it, says Vidhya Alakeson of Power to Change.
Last week, the independent Commission on the Future of Localism chaired by Sir Bob Kerslake and established by Locality and Power to Change issued its final report.
It concluded that the fundamental shift in power promised by the 2011 legislation has not been achieved and called for localism to be reinvigorated to give greater voice, choice and control to Britain’s left-behind communities.
While the commission called for action from all levels of government, local authorities were in the spotlight. The commission called for stronger partnerships between local authorities and local communities, greater support for community institutions and an environment where local initiatives were more likely to thrive.
What is clear from the work of the commission is that localism is far more significant for the future of our country than a simple reorientation in the role of local government. It is about nothing less than the future of our democracy and reconnecting citizens with those who govern them.

Come on councils, it’s time to let local people lead | Public Finance

The idea is gaining some momentum in the States:

THE MAGAZINE: From the February 19 Issue

When Localism Works

Success stories for better cities and better lives.

Many of America’s cities are struggling. Once-strong communities have experienced post-industrial collapse, rampant unemployment, and brain drain. Crumbling infrastructure, the opioid crisis, and a host of lesser pathologies have contributed to instability and frustration among citizens and leaders.
In the face of these challenges, the available policy solutions often seem unsatisfactory. Some people say we need a new federal fix—a renovated set of Great Society programs, perhaps, or a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. Others believe, as Kevin Williamson wrote in National Review in 2016, that “dysfunctional, downscale communities . . . deserve to die.”
It may be that fresh answers can be found among the “localists”—intellectual and wonkish conservatives and liberals who have found, at least when it comes to problems, some common ground. Inspired by such writers as Wendell Berry, Jane Jacobs, and Wilhelm Röpke, localism generally asserts that federal oversight is usually too heavy-handed, uniform, and cronyist to serve local communities well. Organizations like Smart Growth America, the Congress for the New Urbanism, and Strong Towns have advocated for a small-scale renewal of urban communities and the built environment. In books like Why Place Matters, on websites like Front Porch Republic and CityLab, and in magazines like Yes! and the American Conservative, journalists and academics have explored how localism can help solve social ills and empower citizens.
For some of these thinkers, localism is a decidedly libertarian idea: a means for individualism and innovation to flourish. For others, such as Berry, a novelist and farmer, the idea is more conservationist and traditional—localists ought to preserve and protect their communities from abuse, unbridled change, and federal hubris. Still others suggest that localism is truly the new progressivism: They believe that real power and progress can only be achieved through autonomous localities, as local governments working in tandem with private philanthropists and powerful CEOs draw their communities into the increasingly globalized economy.
The New Localism, a new book by Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak, fits best in the last category: They present a variety of city-building strategies that emphasize the grassroots and small-scale, advancing broadly conservative principles of subsidiarity but giving them a progressive spin. Katz is a scholar at the Brookings Institution and a former co-director of its program on metropolitan policy; Nowak is a fellow at Drexel University’s Lindy Institute for Urban Innovation and the creator of the Reinvestment Fund, one of the largest community investment institutions in the nation.
Katz and Nowak counter the top-down, federally run approach to governance we’ve become so accustomed to over the last half-century or more, suggesting that cities do not need the feds and Washington politicians to save them. With D.C.’s deadlock and hyperpartisanship come an opportunity: “The ability to get things done has shifted from command-and-control systems to the collective efforts of civil society, government, and private institutions.”
The book covers a great many subjects—housing, finance, jobs, community renewal, and more—but several themes remain constant. First, the authors argue that local government allows for flexible, fluid interactions between private and public institutions, thus creating a more fruitful method of governance and reform than our current top-down model. They put great stock in the mediating institutions and spirit of volunteerism that Alexis de Tocqueville once saw as integral to the American experience.
Katz and Nowak also emphasize the ability to see, test, and tweak theories at the local level, a method that allows for variation, specialization, experimentation. Washington’s one-size-fits-all attitude ensures the “proliferation of highly rigid programs” administered by government that, “like a fossil, is inflexible and stiff.” Cities, by contrast, can “respond nimbly and flexibly to challenges and opportunities . . . a small city or regional philanthropy has more discretion to make smart, aligned investments than distant federal agencies do.” This allows (at least hypothetically) for less waste and greater accountability.
Finally, the localist approach plays to different cities’ identities and strengths: The people who actually live and work in a given place know what they do best, where their greatest assets lie. Rather than trying to replicate Silicon Valley or New York, each city must discover and determine its own ingredients for success. “Solutions are often more likely to succeed because they are customized to place,” the authors write. Instead of trusting in (and waiting on) some “omniscient central power,” which often infantilizes cities, localism empowers and animates.

When Localism Works | The Weekly Standard

See also:
Futures Forum: For community and against sprawl ..... 'Strong Towns' and 'the end of the suburbs'