Monday, 26 October 2015

"If EDDC were abolished and Sidmouth Town Council became equivalent to what used to be Sidmouth UDC (with other responsibilities going to Devon CC) then we would get much better maintenance of Sidmouth's treasures and a better civic responsibility."

How should local authorities look after their assets?
Futures Forum: Redeveloping East Devon >>> of 'income streams' and 'regeneration'

And would doing it as 'unitary' or 'devolved' authorities help?

Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> "but it is certainly not democracy"
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils >>> Devon and Somerset to merge?
Futures Forum: "Cornwall is the first rural authority in the country to be given a devolution deal."

Or should we looking beyond the 'authorities' anyway?
Futures Forum: 'If we’re going to “get it together”, we should be looking not to mainstream political parties but to civil society groups and campaigns.'

This is the current debate going on at Streetlife:

Local Authority Maintenance of Assets

hibou  in Sidmouth
Had a lovely walk in Connaught Gardens today but was struck by the lack of simple maintenance;many of the benches need a coat of stain, many of the shelters need a coat of paint, the wood boarding needs a coat of preservative, the railings down on Western beach need a coat of paint. Local authorities are neglecting simple jobs which will save money in the long run, whilst wasting vast sums on unnecessary projects (relocating springs to mind, but there are lots of others perhaps less contentious).Short-termism rules and no-one on the council seems to care - cue Stuart Hughes who will say he spent tuppence halfpenny of his special budget to fix one screw to fix one bracket on one leg of one bench - sorry Stuart I don't mean to demean your efforts, but that's not the way it should be done. All that needs doing is for the local authority to act as most of us do and be responsible property owners. How much better our environment could be for little cost, for diverting a little money from vanity projects to sensible maintenance; for diverting money from things which most of us don't think are the responsiblity of rate-payer funded local authorities to things we really would appreciate and save us money in the long run too. Rant over.
    Cathy G
    As I said re All Saints Road .... A case of 'false economy' by the council???
    Stuart H
    I don't intend to put Mrs Gardner back in her box re All Saints Road however she has failed to understand that All Saints Road is structurally sound however periodic maintenance is required on roads constructed from concrete sections and All Saints Road had some slab stabilisation carried out on it a few years ago.... The joints between the concrete slabs also have to be periodically sealed which has recently been carried out and the issue here is the proudness of material used and which I have a site meeting planned to discuss with highway engineers.
    Pauline H
    I couldn't agree more all of Sidmouth would be much better with common sense maintenance
    I can't help but think that if EDDC were abolished and Sidmouth Town Council became equivalent to what used to be Sidmouth UDC (with other responsibilities going to Devon CC) then we would get much better maintenance of Sidmouth's treasures and a better civic responsibility. A handyman for Connaught gardens would be such an advantage and cost a fraction of many of the current EDDC "non-jobs" which cost us so dearly.
    Stuart H
    Hibou it was only a few years ago that the electorate of East Devon rejected a Unitary Authority which would have seen what you have outlined.
    Rozzy G
    This has happened in Wilts with it being CC & town council with the middle layer cut out seems to work well. Less expenses & buildings more for the towns & environment.
    Richard E

    I think what Hibou is suggesting is rather different from what the County Council proposed a few years ago.   Ill-advisedly, the County wanted to grab powers for itself rather than devolve to the Town Council, i.e. it was anti-localist, anti-democratic.  They even wanted some people appointed to the Town Council rather than elected.

    What is needed is a more localist approach, as Hibou suggests.   As East Devon, which is already the largest District in Devon, continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly remote from the communities it serves.

    I would like to see EDDC broken up and some functions such as maintenance, street cleaning, and planning transferred to STC.   Other functions such as rates collection, which work very well at EDDC could continue to be shared.  

    The savings, by removing a tier of government, would be enormous, and residents would have a greater say over issues that directly affect them.

    Exmouth, in particular, is crying out for more self-government, and I fear for their prospects as the core administration relocates to Honiton.   Exmouth is easily big enough to self-govern and would undoubtedly thrive given the opportunity.
    Stuart H
    Not sure where you got that from Richard however you're completely wrong the Unitary would have been for Devon
    And ALL Town and Parish Councils would have taken on more powers I.e looking after Car Parks etc ...... There wasn't any mention of unelected members being put on Councils not sure where you got that from?
    Sid C.Gull
    With unitary councils which were proposed many years ago, here I was led to believe that this area would have two full time councillors...which is a shame because I think many Councillors do a good job.

    Hibou, so many of the jobs are out sourced by the Council now, but totally agree with you regarding Connaught...I used to like the box hedges many years ago around the pond and the gravel, but they got diseased.  Still a lovely garden.

    But what happened to the Wednesday giant games in the summer?
    Richard E

    This is what the County proposed: ( apologies - I said 'Town Councils' when I was referring to the new Community Boards )

    'Community Boards

    Our concept proposes the creation of democratically accountable Community

    Boards, which would cover the geographical area of each of Devon’s 28 market

    and coastal towns and their hinterland of surrounding parishes.

    We would in no way wish to undermine the existing Town and Parish Councils,

    but would rather seek to strengthen their role by providing an opportunity to

    support their local unitary councillors in meeting the needs of their


    Each Board would comprise all the elected unitary councillors in each of those

    community areas together with representatives of their town and parish

    councils and non-voting representatives from key public service partners and

    representatives from local stakeholders such as the business, voluntary and

    faith communities, and neighbourhood associations nominated by a

    Community Forum. The membership would include:

    • Town Mayor

    • Town and Parish Councillors

    • Unitary Councillors

    • Police representative

    • Primary Care Trust representative

    • Local representatives nominated by the Community Forum.

    Each Board would be chaired by a unitary councillor who would, effectively,

    become the leader and champion for that community area.'

    I haven't printed it all off, but you can see that they wanted 'Community Boards' with representatives, albeit non-voting, from all kinds of organisations.   I could never see the point of these community boards in addition to our Town Council - almost creating another tier, and competing with the Town Council for influence.   Any Town Councillor who didn't get on the board would be almost an irrelevance.   In my view, this was the big weakness in the County's proposal, and possibly why they lost.

    I particularly note that the Community Boards were described as 'democratically accountable' rather than 'democratically elected'.

    Streetlife | Local Authority Maintenance of Assets

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