Sunday, 31 January 2016

Climate change: 'season creep' and an early spring

Last week's 'Winterwatch' on BBC2 from the Cairngorms went dramatically from spring to winter in just a few days:
BBC Two - Winterwatch

This is due to something called 'season creep':
Season creep - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This story was reported on Winterwatch and throughout the British media last week:

More Than 600 Plant Species Flowering At The Wrong Time Because Of Confusing Winter Conditions

By Alyssa Navarro, Tech Times | January 27, 9:05 AM

An unusual number of plant species flowering across Britain and Ireland has left botanists astonished. From daisies to the red campion, experts recorded flowers that bloomed at the wrong time due to confusing weather conditions.(Photo : Paul Reynolds | Flickr)
In the United Kingdom, particularly in Greater London, the warmest winter solstice was recorded on December 22, 2015.
MeteoGroup, a group of forecasters, recorded temperatures of 14.3 degrees Celsius or 58 degrees Fahrenheit during the morning of that day. The temperature was predicted to last until Christmas Eve.
Why is it important? It's because the incident had set off an early "explosion" of flowering plant species at the wrong time.
A major survey across Britain and Ireland revealed that more than 600 species of British wildflowers had unusually bloomed on New Year's Day 2016.
An Astonishing Number Of Blooming Flowers
In a typical cold winter, experts would expect no more than 20 to 30 types of wild plants to be in bloom at the end of the year. These plant species include dandelion, gorse and daisy.
However, the survey that was conducted by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) found that on Jan. 1, at least 612 plant species were actually flowering, including species from late spring and high summer.
In total, there were about 8,568 plants in bloom across Britain and Ireland, a number incredibly greater than that of last year, which was only 368.
This occurred without any precedence, and has left botanists astonished.
"It's incredible. I've never seen anything like it," said BSBI's Head of Science Kevin Walker.
Ryan Clark, coordinator of the BSBI project, said the milder areas of Britain, south and west, had the highest numbers of blooming species, but there were also more than 60 flowering species reported in Edinburgh.
He said lists from Ireland also had consistently high numbers of plants in flower at New Year.
"It was astonishing to see so many records flooding in, from Guernsey to Shetland and Kent to Donegal,"said Clark.
Should This Be A Cause Of Concern?
Gardeners were concerned that the high number of plant species flowering so early will herald an early spring. Walker assured the public there's no reason for concern.
"There does not seem to be any real indication of an early spring," he said.
Plant species that usually bloom in spring, such as cow parsley, lesser celandine and sweet violet, were recorded, but they make up less than a fifth of the total, Walker said.
What else were recorded? Walker said three quarters of the plants were "autumn stragglers" such as the red campion, yarrow and red deadnettle that had carried on blooming in the mild weather condition. The dandelion and the daisy were the two most recorded plant species, and these two are expected to be flowering at this time of the year, he said.
The 612 plant species represent a quarter of the species that flower regularly in Britain and Ireland. A third of these species are foreign plants that came from warmer climates. These plants are able to continue blooming until the hard winter frost knocks them down.
Urban areas tended to have more species in flower than in rural ones, previous BBSI surveys revealed. This was expected, as there were more sheltered areas with warm temperatures in which alien and native plants can survive, Walker said.
Is The Incident Linked To Climate Change?
As the previous year was considered to be the warmest year on record, Walker said the mass out-of-time flowering suggests substantial climate shift.
"It is what might be expected with climate change," he said.
Meanwhile, the BSBI's annual survey is likely to expand and transform into a valuable tool for measuring changes in the environment.
"The New Year Plant Hunt results will help us build up a clearer, up-to-date picture of what's going on," added Walker.
More Than 600 Plant Species Flowering At The Wrong Time Because Of Confusing Winter Conditions : SCIENCE : Tech Times

It will have serious implications as noted by the Telegraph:

Price of carrots, parsnips and cauliflowers set to rise because of flooding

Cost of winter vegetables could soar because wettest December on record has caused supply chaos for farmers, experts warn

Vegetable stall in Borough Market, London, 2014
The cost of winter vegetables like carrots, parsnips and cauliflowers could soar because the wet December Photo: Alamy
Britain's shoppers have been warned that they could face hikes in the price of popular vegetables because of widespread waterlogged fields and flooding.
According to a new report, the cost of winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and cauliflowers could soar because the wettest December on record has caused supply chaos for farmers.
High Street supermarkets should brace themselves for fresh produce supply shortages in coming months as extreme weather threatens both UK and imported crops, say industry experts.
"We expect an early end of season for round tomatoes and plum tomatoes with a noticeable dip in supply in May and reduced availability of cucumbers over the next month"
Matt Jones
Trade magazine The Grocer reported that in the UK, crops have been thrown into chaos by warm temperatures and heavy rainfall that the Met Office has linked to El Ninoand climate change.
December was one of the warmest and wettest on record, according to the Met Office - and that has led to rivers bursting their banks and meant farmers' tractors have not been able to reach crops in fields.
John Sedgwick, strategic agronomy manager for supplier Produce World Group, said the weather was causing havoc with both the quality and quantity of many winter vegetables.
He said that supplies of carrots and parsnips are likely to be hit because "field-stored" vegetables needed dry, cold soil to remain fresh in the field until they were harvested.
He said: "This will inevitably have a significant impact on how much product will be of the right specification to make it into the final pack."

Matt Jones, senior buyer for specialists Reynolds, said crops in the UK and abroad had been affected. He said that warm temperatures have caused other vegetables to mature earlier than expected.
Mr Jones said the "early spring" had thrown many different crops into confusion with cauliflowers maturing very quickly and new season Jersey potatoes expected earlier this year.
He told The Grocer: "We expect an early end of season for round tomatoes and plum tomatoes with a noticeable dip in supply in May and reduced availability of cucumbers over the next month."

Price of carrots, parsnips and cauliflowers set to rise because of flooding - Telegraph

It's also happening across the United States:
Spring Will Come Three Weeks Early in U.S. Thanks to Climate Change
Climate Change Could Make Early Spring Permanent: Here’s How This Could Affect Wildlife : SCIENCE : Tech Times

The promises of technological innovation >>> >>> "Community Technology" and the World in 1979

There is always the 'promise' of innovation through technology:
Futures Forum: The promises of technological innovation >>> The World in 2016

But actually how much 'technological innovation' is just a waste of time, money and resources?
Futures Forum: Planned Obsolescence: and The Men Who Made Us Spend
Futures Forum: VW... and making 'wholly opaque disposable vehicles' >>> rather than making vehicles which 'run for a long time and are easy to fix'
Futures Forum: Technological unemployment and the Luddite fallacy

You might not know this Oscar-winning documentary from 1980, based on the 1979 book 'Community Technology':

Karl Hess on Appropriate/Community Technology - YouTube

It was very much of its time certainly, but more interest is being shown today in its visionary and practical implications:

Out of the Streets, Into the Community

Nick Ford | | December 27th, 2015

A Review of Karl Hess’s Community Technology

Hess practically started the libertarian movement with his essay, The Death of Politics. It was published in (of all things) Playboy in March of 1969. Its publication led to the wider recognition of the libertarian movement as an actual movement...
Community Technology was published in 1979 and tells the story of Karl Hess’s experiences in neighborhood organizing for self-reliance and political freedom via alternative technologies...

To move towards an alternative community Hess advocates the use of technology. The problem with technology for Hess was that it is too often seen as a tool to be used exclusively for growth or money. But Hess demurs and calls for a “reassessment” of the proper use of technology; for it to be used to further community driven projects, not just for the pecuniary gain of large-scale organizations.

For Hess, this book is particularly for people who’d at least consider such a shift.

Throughout the book Hess tries to undermine the idea that people had when he was writing this and still unfortunately have: That community and technology aren’t necessarily related ideas. They are instead places to start and move towards bigger things. Such examples include corporate structures, governments, bureaucratic ways of dealing with human relations, etc.

Hess rejects this process, saying that the themes of anonymity, pre-packaged reality and the distancing of humans from the material world can be the only end result.

Instead of presuming this, Hess encourages us to assume that people want to live in an environment in which they have more control over their lives. They can enjoy their own work, know other people in the community and have more choice in their political arrangements...

Alternative ways of collecting energy were discussed and in some cases implemented. And the Institute for Local Self-Reliance was formed and still exists today...

Technology has thus been relegated to be seen as something we buy and not something we create, not something for the betterment of communities.

Part of reclaiming technology is to (as Hess says) demystify it. For if we don’t technology shall rule us, or rather the individuals who control that technology will control us. The demystification must come through the free exchange and access of knowledge about things. To aid this free exchange there should be local groups dedicated to these pursuits within the community. Hence this demystification of technology must come in tandem with liberating the very concept of communities. That’s because we need a space to use the tools that’ll also liberate the space around it. Given this, the relationship of community and technology are very synergistic.

But what might this “necessary material base” for freer communities look like?

Hess lists many suggestions: hydroponic setups in green houses, vacant lots, rooftops, the use of aquaculture for the production of food, chicken and fish, solar energy for localized efficiency and more.

We see this happening with political movements like the Free State Project (FSP) that. And while the FSP has certainly a bigger goal than just a community, it stems from similar ideas of intentional and alternative communities. Obviously this is not an exact comparison but I think it’s a relatively decent modern comparison.

Community and technology as concepts have, unfortunately, not changed very much from how they were viewed during the time Hess wrote Community Technology.

Technology is still viewed as a way to get people to work in hierarchically organized factories or stores. Technology is still just a way to help out the biggest corporations instead of the smallest communities struggling for more local liberty....

“If efficiency is seen in terms of satisfying the consumerist model of human life, then the anonymous city (where a person may consumer anything without appearing foolish or profligate to nose neighbors) is a splendid milieu, the production line factory a splendid workshop, and gadget-glitter technology a titillating glory. IF, on the other hand, efficiency is seen as the way in which a situation reflects the creative mode, the community mode, the human being as an active and not passive, then smaller-scale ways of living together may be viewed as serviceable.”...

Hess advised in the book that the practices of the community technology groups should be interested in challenging the economies of scale communities are said to not be able to handle. To demystify technology so it seems something inherently public and a part of everyday life instead of a master of the public.
Literally thousands of small communities online can be used to bring together people with similar beliefs about how communities should be dealt with.

One fine example of this is the Resilient Communities Project which is a project designed to create communities that, “…are decentralized[,] that anticipate risk, limit impact, and bounce back rapidly through survival, adaptability, evolution, and growth in the face of turbulent change.” which is a lot of what Hess wanted to see.

For more on resilient communities you can find information here and here.

Center for a Stateless Society » Out of the Streets, Into the Community

See also:
Resilient Freedom
Karl Hess on Alternative Technology | Open Source Ecology

Climate change: "COP21: a new world order?" >>> >>> Monday February 8th at 7.30pm >>> the Norman Lockyer Observatory

Locally, there have been several followup sessions to the UN talks on climate change last month:
Futures Forum: Climate change: Reporting back from the UN summit >>> with Prof Peter Challenor of Exeter Uni @ Exmouth Thursday 21st January
Futures Forum: Climate change: talk & film in Bridport: Friday 15th January >>> Good COP, Bad COP >>> This Changes Everything

At the NLO in a week's time, Prof Brian Golding of the Met Office will be delivering his take on the UN talks :

COP21: a new world order?

A talk by Brian Golding

The 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris was the culmination of an unprecedented year of UN activity, which produced the Sendai Framework for Disaster Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals and finally the Paris Agreement. 

In my talk I will briefly trace the history of our understanding of how climate changes, review the progress of the UNFCCC and the broader issues that prevented agreement at earlier COPs, before moving on to describe the interlinked threads that culminated in Paris. I shall conclude by emphasising the risks and challenges that remain.

This event will take place on the 8th February at the Norman Lockyer Observatory.

February Talk Abstract | Norman Lockyer Observatory
Monthly Meetings | Norman Lockyer Observatory

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Rebellion in the SouthWest >>> local government finances

Some are warning that the hike in fees for beach huts is only the start:
Futures Forum: East Devon beach huts >>> and the District Council's 'Transformation Strategy'

One of the problems being what to do with local authority assets:
Futures Forum: Of devolution, local assets and investing locally

Especially in the context of the promises of devolution:
Futures Forum: Breaking news >>> Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> Hinkley Point delayed

In other words, local government is under considerable stress at the moment - right across the country:
Futures Forum: The decline of social democracy, the rise of austerity and the promise for local politics

There will be a demonstration in Sidmouth on Monday challenging central government cuts to local government - within the context of the apparent ease with which corporation tax is applied:
Tax avoidance protest to be staged in Sidmouth - News - Sidmouth Herald
Tax avoidance demo: Sidmouth, 1 February 11 am | East Devon Watch
Futures Forum: Corporation tax, small towns and small businesses >>> giving SMEs the same 'level playing field' as multinationals >>> demonstration Monday 1st February

Meanwhile, in Scotland, local councils are in rebellion at the SNP government's proposals:
Angry councils defy Swinney in rebellion over budget cuts | The Times
Fife Council leader says SNP tax freeze is ‘more hurtful than Thatcher’ - Politics / News / The Courier

Whilst south of the border, the government is under real pressure from its own ranks:
David Cameron ‘facing major rebellion’ over council cuts | Politics | News | London Evening Standard

In the Southwest, rebellion is also threatened - especially as it was this part of the country which delivered the government its current (rather thin) majority:
WMN ELECTION OPINION: West helped Tories win the election. Now we want our reward | Western Morning News
Futures Forum: An independent South-West?

In Devon, the locals are getting very restless:
Plea to keep lollipop school crosssing patrols in Devon | Western Morning News
JOURNAL LETTERS: Funding cuts hit communities hard | North Devon Journal
Householders in Devon and Cornwall face tax double whammy | Western Morning News

With an extraordinary vote at County Council this week:
Devon County Council agrees my proposal to urge MPs to speak and vote against huge funding cuts - Claire Wright
Sometimes you wonder if DCC and EDDC are on the same planet let alone run by the same party | East Devon Watch

And the rebellion is spreading: this is from the latest Western Morning News:

South West MPs poised to rebel over rural funding settlement

By WMNKLangston | Posted: January 29, 2016

(L-R) DCLG secretary Greg Clarke, North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones and St Ives MP Derek Thomas

Comments (1)

Westcountry Tory MPs have threatened to rebel over proposed cuts to local government funding, as they accuse ministers of widening urban-rural divides.

A number of the region’s rural MPs have written to ministers calling for a review of funding offers, which they claim favour metropolitan areas.

Many hope this will result in changes to the final local government settlements before the proposals are put to a vote in February. And some have even indicated they could not support the Government in the vote, if they do not see sufficient improvements.

The action follows a passionate debate in Westminster, which saw MPs from across the UK calling for a fairer funding settlement for their rural constituencies. Members from the South West highlighted a raft of challenges facing their local communities, including poor transport links, high deprivation levels and the costs of running rural services.

MPs reassure farmers following 'shocking failures' with payment scheme
Tory MPs lambast Government over rural funding plans
Householders in Devon and Cornwall face tax double whammy

Making the case for the Westcountry was St Ives MP Derek Thomas, who is also among the signatories on the letter. He currently serves on the Rural Fair Share Working Group, and states he does not find the settlement acceptable “and would not be able to support it”.

“Even with the Rural Services Delivery Grant, the gap in central government funding between urban and rural residents will widen further under the provisional funding settlement,” he said

“Local government savings should be applied evenly across councils... as they were in the previous Parliament. Rural MPs, particularly in the South West, are working together to secure fair funding settlements for health, education, policing and local government. As we succeed, we will be correcting a funding arrangement that has discriminated against rural areas over successive governments.”

Under the provisional settlement announced in December, Cornwall Council will see its grant cut by £12 million in 2016/17, bringing its average spend per household down from £1,687 to £1,643. Devon will see its grant cut by £14 million, reducing spending per household from £1,402 to £1,363.

In contrast, despite a £15 million squeeze on Manchester’s grant, per household spend in the city will be £1,872. And over the next year the Greater London Authority will see its budget increase by £26 million.

North Devon MP Peter Heaton-Jones has also signed the letter and says he is “unhappy” with the settlement. But he did not specify how he would vote and said he wants to work with ministers to “try to put it right”.

“The problem is that the new formula the Government is introducing to calculate the size of the grant appears to discriminate unfairly against rural local authorities,” he said. “We understand that we need to live within our means – we understand that the size of the cake is limited – but we want that cake to be sliced more fairly. The provisional settlement is not acceptable, and we, as a group of South West MPs, have written at a very senior level to the Government to say we are not happy. I hope it will change before the final settlement next month.”

St Austell and Newquay MP Steve Double said that as the figures currently stand, the settlement “widens the funding gap from central government between rural and metropolitan areas”. He said he hopes the letter will persuade ministers “to think again and not leave rural areas such as Cornwall worse off... than they currently are”.

Wells MP James Heappey stressed the news is “not all bad”, with rural councils already promised fairer funding for education under the Conservatives. But he said he has “made it clear” both in speeches and conversations with ministers that he expects to see the settlement changed.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said ministers were increasing funding for rural councils from £15.5 million this year to £65million by 2020. “Councils in England will have almost £200 billion for local services between now and 2020 and the multi year budgets we are proposing will allow them to spend that money with greater certainty,” he said.

The vote on the final local government settlement is expected to take place in the second week of February.

South West MPs poised to rebel over rural funding settlement | Western Morning News

Photosynthesis: and why trees (and plants) are good for you

Last year's Radio 4 'natural histories' series took us to the oak:
Futures Forum: The Oak @ Natural Histories on BBC Radio 4

At the same time, there was also a fine programme on BBC4 on the oak:
Futures Forum: The oak tree @ BBC4 ... and @ Sidmouth Science Festival

Within the context of climate change, it is clear that trees play a vital part:
Futures Forum: TEEB: The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Indeed, they can help us 'engineer' our way out of too much carbon in the atmosphere:
Futures Forum: Climate change: and the false hope of the UN conference >>> "We must look at the full spectrum of geoengineering." But "the high political and environmental risks associated with this must be made clear so that it is never used as an alternative to making the carbon cuts that are urgently needed."

In the BBC4 documentary, "Dr Nick Lane from University College London, describes perhaps the most important moment in the history of life. The moment when leaf cells gained tiny structures called chloroplasts, which use sunlight to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, create sugars for the plant to live on and release oxygen – the gas all animals need to breathe."
BBC Four - Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor, How important is the discovery of photosynthesis?

Friday, 29 January 2016

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes off this weekend

You can take part very easily in the RSBP's 'big garden birdwatch' this weekend:

More than half a million people from across the UK are set to take part by counting the birds in their gardens this weekend. They'll also make a record of the other wildlife they see throughout the year, providing a vital snapshot of UK nature. Download a FREE Birdwatch pack

Big Garden Birdwatch

With the Express & Echo joining in:

Can you spare an hour this weekend to help nature?

By Exeter Express and Echo | Posted: January 29, 2016

By Sue Kemp

Robin feeding

Comments (3)

There is still time to take part in the 2016 Big Garden Birdwatch survey this weekend.

Held every year by the RSPB, the survey seeks to help identify the state of the county's bird population.

Morwenna Alldis, spokesperson for the RSPB South West said: "We can all make a huge difference to the future of Devon's wildlife, by giving just one hour of our time across the weekend. The Big Garden Birdwatch is the world’s largest wildlife survey and the results that the public submit are vital in helping conservationists target their efforts towards the vulnerable wildlife that is counting on us for its survival."

And taking part couldn’t be easier, simply register now on the website at rspb.org.uk/birdwatch and download a free Birdwatch pack, which is full of helpful tips to make your Big Garden Birdwatch a real success. On registering you’ll also receive a £5 discount voucher off your next purchase in the RSPB Shop at Darts Farm, Topsham.

"Then pick a one-hour slot convenient to you across the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend, make yourself a brew, grab a few biscuit dunkers and settle down in front of your garden window to record what wildlife you see. If you don’t have a garden, just wrap up and nip to your local park to conduct your survey there," said Morwenna.

"After you’re done, submit your results either online, using our live Big Garden Birdwatch App or pop your survey form in the post – it’s as simple as that. We’re basically asking everyone to take an hour’s break to enjoy looking at nature, so not only is this survey great for our UK wildlife, it’s also brilliant for our mental wellbeing too, by helping us reconnect to the natural world.

“Once we have received everyone’s results RSPB experts analyse the data and are able to see which birds are doing well, and importantly, which species may be in trouble and in need of our extra support.

“Over half a million people take part in Big Garden Birdwatch each year and help us create a snapshot of how our feathered friends are faring throughout the UK. The more people that take part in the survey, the more detailed this wildlife snapshot will be and the better chance conservationists stand of identifying specific species which may be at risk and actively help them before it’s too late.

“Last year’s Big Garden Birdwatch results highlighted that greenfinches had dramatically dropped to 25th place on the most seen birds in our UK gardens. The reason for this decline is likely the disease Trichomonosis and as a result we are now urging people to regularly clean their feeders, bird tables and bird baths to help stop the disease from spreading.

“There is slightly better news for the house sparrow, as its long term decline appears to have continued to slow, and it remains the most commonly spotted bird in our gardens.”

Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist said: “As well as counting their feathered friends, the RSPB is also asking participants to log some of the other wildlife they see in their gardens and green spaces such as hedgehogs, foxes, stoats and squirrels, to help build an overall picture of how important they are for giving nature a home.

Daniel added: “The threats to our wildlife means that it’s facing tough times. For example it is estimated that we’ve lost more than half of our hedgehogs in the last 50 years. We're going to include this part of the survey every year now, enabling us to monitor the distribution of our other wildlife as well as trends in bird numbers."

The survey is part of the RSPB’s Giving Nature a Home campaign, aimed at tackling the housing crisis facing the UK’s threatened wildlife. The RSPB is asking people to provide a place for wildlife in their own gardens and outside spaces – whether it’s putting up a nest box for birds, creating a pond to support a number of different species or building a home for a hedgehog. The Big Garden Birdwatch is just one of the steps you can take to help nature near you. Wherever you live, you can help give nature a home.

Can you spare an hour this weekend to help nature? | Exeter Express and Echo

Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> "Paying more for fewer services?"

Last night, the District Council met to determine how to proceed with proposals for devolution:
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> District Council to give Leader 'delegated authority to sign Devolution Bid' at extraordinary council meeting: Thursday 28th January

This issue encompasses a host of other issues:
Futures Forum: Of devolution, local assets and investing locally
Futures Forum: Breaking news >>> Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> Hinkley Point delayed
Futures Forum: Devolution for Devon and Somerset? >>> 'democratic deficit'?
Futures Forum: Devolution, Local Enterprise Partnerships & accountability

The decision was made last night to take the next step:

EDDC gives green light to devolution deal

15:50 29 January 2016 Harvey Gavin

A devolution deal aimed at boosting jobs, wages and productivity in the South West has been signed off by East Devon District Council (EDDC).

At a specially-convened meeting last night (Thursday), members from all parties voted overwhelmingly to proceed with the Heart of the South West (HOTSW) bid.

The deal, if successful, would give the HOTSW partnership, which includes 13 other local authorities across Devon and Somerset, greater autonomy from Whitehall.

EDDC says the deal could attract more investment to East Devon and lead to more - and better paid - jobs.

Last night’s vote gives the council’s leader, Councillor Paul Diviani, the authority to negotiate on behalf of EDDC during the bid process.

He said: “We know that there may be no additional money coming in as a result of participating in devolution, but there are ways of working smarter and making existing funds work harder for all of our residents. Devolution is important for the district and will bring many benefits, so we do need to be engaged in the process.

“It may result in increased investment in East Devon, produce more and better paid jobs and, with more powers and finance devolved to us, it will allow us to close the productivity gap and let local people benefit from a thriving economy.”

But critics have raised concerns that because a successful bid would likely mean no extra cash from central government, residents could end up ‘paying more for fewer services’.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, Cllr Cathy Gardner, ward member for Sidmouth Town, said: “Councils are facing a financial crisis as a result of government cuts: Devolution is being proposed as a way to mitigate the effects of this.

“There is no new money coming from central government. The changes to business rates being suggested are not enough on their own. The remaining money has to come from increasing local charges.

“This will affect everyone: we will be paying more in local taxes whilst also paying more to use the services those taxes used to cover. And you will pay more for less.”

HOTSW plans to submit its bid to government by the end of February, which will be followed by negotiations over the deal.

EDDC says it hopes to sign the finished devolution deal ‘within the first half of 2016’.

EDDC gives green light to devolution deal - News - Sidmouth Herald

Here is more from Cllr Cathy Gardner:

Another chance to hear….

There will also be questions asked about the Local Plan, especially relating to the retention of the Sidford employment site. Whilst it’s essential to get the plan into action, it’s a pity there are so many weaknesses in it. Surely a better job could have been done in a much shorter time? Other authorities managed to do so, why not EDDC? Who’s benefited from the plan not being there?

Another chance to hear.... « East Devon Alliance
Sidmouth Herald: EDDC’s confidential talks over devolution branded ‘unacceptable’ « East Devon Alliance
Devolution Archives « East Devon Alliance

And here is the press release from the District Council:

Devolution journey to move forward to next stage of negotiating process

When this content has been created

29 January 2016

Members vote in favour of sign off on devolution bid

At last night’s extraordinary meeting of East Devon District Council, on Thursday January 28, there was cross party support from Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independent members, who gave widespread backing for the Heart of the South West Devolution Programme, by voting overwhelmingly in favour of the council approving the prospectus and the Leader of East Devon District Council being given delegated authority to continue negotiations on behalf of the council. The prospectus is a detailed document that maps out proposals for a deal that will devolve powers and finance from Westminster to the Heart of the South West partnership.
Members also noted that clear objectives had been set for the negotiation and that an oversight group has already been established and has met. They also noted all the work that has been done to date and that rural proofing had been included in the draft bid.
The bid document, which reflects months of work by council chiefs in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay, with 13 district councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor National parks, the local NHS and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, was approved on January 25 2016 by Heart of the South West partners and will be submitted to Government, once the remaining partners have given their formal endorsement.
If implemented, devolution aims to turnaround productivity in the South West, which is currently running at less than 80% of the national average. By 2030, devolution could help deliver powerful benefits such as:
  • 163,000 new jobs
  • 179,000 more homes  
  • Higher wage levels which are above the national average  
  • Apprenticeship starts up by 400 per cent
  • Every young person in education, employment or training
  • A better qualified workforce
  • Faster, more rail services with greater capacity
  • Faster road journeys with less congestion
  • 100 per cent superfast broadband coverage
  • A UK centre of excellence for skills development
Next steps
Once the remaining partners have formally approved the prospectus,  the aim is to submit the prospectus to Government by the end of February and then to initiate discussion and formal negotiation with a view to signing a deal within the first half of 2016.
Commenting on the ratification of devolution by councillors, Councillor Paul Diviani,Leader of East Devon District Council, said:
We know that there may be no additional money coming in as a result of participating in devolution, but there are ways of working smarter and making existing funds work harder for all of our residents. We’re trying to drive this process from the bottom upwards and we want to ensure that a cohesive and joined up approach is taken.
Devolution is important for the district and will bring many benefits, so we do need to be engaged in the process. It may result in increased investment in East Devon, produce more and better paid jobs and, with more powers and finance devolved to us, it will allow us to close the productivity gap and let local people benefit from a thriving economy.
We are also mindful of the importance of issues within our own district and will do everything we can to ensure that the productivity agenda will include projects such as improvements to the A303/A30, a North/South relief road for Axminster, the demand for rural workspace from innovation-led businesses, the opportunity to reinvest business rate income in the district and to bring forward employment sites and business growth infrastructure through a growth hubs focus in East Devon’s main towns.

29 January 2016 - Devolution journey to move forward to next stage of negotiating process - East Devon