Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Plans for Port Royal: contemporary and vernacular

There are some very good models for what could be done to redevelop the Eastern Town:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal and the Eastern Town: homes on stilts
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: building big in wood
Futures Forum: Art & Design >>> Reimagining Port Royal >>> Fri Oct 14th @ the Sidmouth Science Festival
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal and the Eastern Town >>> >>> architecture competition to re-imagine Port Royal >>> winning design chosen >>> Architects' Journal report

Here's an interesting mixed development by FCBS Studio for a similar brief to Port Royal:

Take Two: FCBS draws up new plans for historic Cornish quay 

19 May, 2017 By

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBS) has ’significantly reworked’ its plans for a mixed-used scheme on Hayle’s listed South Quay

In 2012 the practice won outline approval for a £30 milllon scheme on the historic Cornish harbourside – a development then backed by ING Real Estate – despite criticism from Historic England (then English Heritage).

But earlier this year, in February, the plot was snapped up by developer Hayle Quays, and FCBS returned with revised proposals for the long-derelict quayside site which sits within the Devon and Cornwall Tin and Copper Mining World Heritage Site.

The practice says the earlier scheme for the site has been refined ‘following a review by UNESCO’.

FCBS associate Matt Williams, who comes from nearby Penzance, describes the new design as ‘an ensemble of buildings which are contemporary in style, yet reference the historic and local iconography of the Cornish vernacular’.

He added: ‘The design process was incredibly complex. The challenge of managing a post-industrial future for Hayle Harbour, which mixes residential requirements with the operational needs of a harbour is immense. The current and future operation of the harbour and the use of the quayside, shaped our thinking.’

The project creates 30 homes, two restaurants and a performance space, and is officially the second phase of the wider regeneration of South Quay. Three years ago the practice also completed the award-winning £15 million Asda store as part of the first phase of the quay’s redevelopment.

Take Two: FCBS draws up new plans for historic Cornish quay | News | Architects Journal

The Big Lunch > Saturday 17th June

It's all happening in a couple of weeks time:
The Big Lunch home page | Eden Project Communities

And here is the poster for the Sidmouth event:

Vision Group for Sidmouth - The Big Lunch
Friends of The Byes / Sidmouth BEE Project - Home | Facebook

"The solely economic focus of devolution – and the corresponding lack of attention to the democracy of devolution."

Earlier in the month, as well as elections to County Councils, some areas of the UK were voting for 'super mayors' of new authorities:
Who are the Metro Mayor candidates you can vote for in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and B&NES? - Bristol Post
Tory Tim Bowles elected West of England mayor - BBC News
What we learnt from Metro Mayor husting with the Bristol Post - Bristol Post

Meanwhile, things don't look that brilliant for England:
Election 2017: A short guide to devolution in the UK - BBC News

And as for democratic accountability:
Who’s going to hold the new metro mayors to account? : Democratic Audit UK

As the East Devon Watch reported earlier in the month:


4 MAY 2017

“… The ERS (Electoral Reform Society) has been vocal in pointing out the solely economic focus of devolution – and the corresponding lack of attention to the democracy of devolution. With the public largely shut out of the process, and models imposed rather than chosen, so far citizen involvement in the constitutional future of their own areas has been minimal. …

… The creation of combined authorities highlights a continuing shift in the role of the councillor. Where once councillors took decisions directly on committees they are increasingly scrutineers: holding to account formal executive structures in the form of mayoral or cabinet/leader structures, or scrutinising bodies such as Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Police and Crime Commissioners, and now combined authorities.

The traditional argument for First Past the Post: that it elects ‘strong’ governments, cannot hold up to the reality of modern councillor life in which councillors are as often scrutinisers as decision-makers, not only of their own executives but of bodies external to the traditional council governance structure.

Yet, there are still many councils overwhelmingly dominated by a single party. …”


English devolution – undemocratic and unrepresentative | East Devon Watch

Climate change: and the general election

What effect will Brexit have on climate change targets?
Leaked docs show UK lobbying to weaken EU climate targets despite Brexit - Energydesk
Futures Forum: Brexit: and climate change >>> the UK’s future participation in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme

And what effect will the US presidency have?
G7 talks: Trump isolated over Paris climate change deal - BBC News
Futures Forum: Climate change: the future of the Paris Agreement

Meanwhile, what are the UK parties' policies on climate change? 
There is some pretty good analysis to be had:
UK Election 2017: Climate Change and Energy | DeSmog UK
Election 2017: What the manifestos say on energy and climate change | Carbon Brief

Naturally, the Green Party is critical of the other parties - but things are a little more nuanced, according to the Independent:

The Tory manifesto said the party would ensure that the UK will “lead the world in environmental protection” and reiterated an earlier pledge to “leave the environment in better condition than we inherited it”.

The Greens described it as an “absolute car crash for the environment”, but Friends of the Earth praised its rejection of Donald Trump-style climate science denial.

Labour’s manifesto said it would ban fracking “because it would lock us into an energy infrastructure based on fossil fuels long after the point in 2030 when the Committee on Climate Change says gas in the UK must sharply decline”.

The UK is currently not going to meet targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the late 2020s and early 2030s, but Labour said it would “put us back on track” to meet commitments under the UK Climate Change Act and the Paris Agreement.

The Labour Party dismissed the premise of the Greens’ question as “nonsense”.

“Labour are committed to protecting our environment. In our manifesto we explicitly pledge to transition to a low-carbon economy and meet climate targets, introduce a new Clean Air Act and to defend and extend environmental protections,” it said in a statement.

Green Party asks Labour and Tories why they are not talking about climate change and the environment | The Independent

The 10:10 campaign is more upbeat:

Three reasons climate change matters this election, and what you can do about it

It’s vital we talk about climate change in this election.

By the time the next one comes around, we’ll have used up our chance to keep warming below 1.5°C. So we can’t wait until then. We need to ensure that our politicians know we expect them to act on climate change now.

Over the next five years, three big things are going to determine how much we can step up the pace on climate action:

If nothing changes, investment in renewables will fall by 95% by 2020. We cannot tackle climate change without expanding renewable energy - which means we need politicians to back it.

Brexit will change the game for all areas of policy. Quite simply, everything is up in the air - and we need a government that will see us through with UK climate leadership intact.

If we’re going to meet our legally binding carbon budgets in the next two decades we need plans and policies across all of society to make sure we get there. To take our carbon cutting up a gear, we need real political will.

The good news is we have many of the solutions, and thousands of us are already getting stuck into making them happen. Renewables are winning every day, all over the world. Like last year, when renewable energy gave us more than one fifth of global electricity. Or when wind produced more electricity for the UK than coal for the first time ever.

This is incredible stuff. But we need more of this action, and we need it faster - which means we need our politicians to step up to the challenge too.

So what can you do…?

+ Ask your candidates to back climate action

If you come face-to-face with one of your candidates over the next few weeks, here are three questions to help you get to the bottom of their commitment to climate action.

1. How is my village/town/city playing its part in tackling climate change - and how will you support it?

People are used to hearing about climate change as a distant, global issue. This makes it super easy for politicians to avoid getting specific by trotting out their party’s manifesto line. If you kick off by asking your candidate about what’s happening in your area, and how they’re going to support it, it makes it harder for them to duck the question.

This might be a good opportunity to ask them about community energy in your area too. While lots of people are eager to generate their own energy, our system is still skewed in favour of big companies. How will your candidate work to change this?

2. How will you back UK leadership in renewable energy?

The UK has huge potential for renewable energy - we’re one of the best places in the world for wind power! Renewables are giving us more and more of our electricity ( 40% last Christmas Day! ), and they’re getting cheaper every year. But we’re not fulfilling our potential. If we’re going to do something about climate change, it’s vital the next government supports more renewables across the UK.

3. How will you prevent energy waste?

The cheapest unit of energy is the one that doesn’t get used. To meet the climate challenge, the UK needs to move beyond energy waste and become more efficient. With some of the leakiest houses in northern Europe, this is a big challenge - but it’s one we must rise to, and we stand to save billions in the process. Government leadership will be key to unlocking this potential in UK homes and businesses.

And if you’d like to know more about the different parties’ climate policies, check out Carbon Brief’s handy analysis .

+ Ask your friends to back climate action

If you don’t get a chance to talk to your candidates, don’t worry, because elections aren’t just about the politicians. A big national event like a general election is a really great time to talk to your family, friends, colleagues and anyone else who’s listening about what you value and what sort of future you want.

So, when you’re having the talk with someone about the candidates on offer this June, why not ask them if they’ve thought about climate change? Or if they know where their candidates stand on climate action?

But we get it. We’ve all had confusing, disappointing, frustrating or downright mind-boggling conversations about climate change. So if you want some tips on why your climate conversations keep going wrong, and how to make them better, we’ve got a great guide for you.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Do charity shops benefit the local economy?

Are charity shops a good thing for the local economy?

The Chamber of Commerce doesn't think they're good for Honiton:
Futures Forum: "We don’t want a main shopping area of charity shops and coffee chains."

And there's a lot of resentment about them in Plymouth:
Are charity shops killing Plymouth city centre? | Plymouth Herald

Charity shops enjoy huge tax breaks:
Futures Forum: Corporation tax, small towns and small businesses >>> giving SMEs the same 'level playing field' as multinationals

And a recent study shows them to be pretty inefficient :
Curb the number of inefficient charity shops that clog up our high streets, say charity campaigners - Telegraph

Here's a debate on the issue in Sidmouth from a couple of years ago:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth: a town of charity shops and coffee shops?

And here's the front page piece from the latest Herald - which gives an interesting take on what charity shops are doing for the economy of Sidmouth:

‘Ingenuity’ of Sidmouth charity shop coach tours celebrated - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

Neighbourhood Plan: final household survey launched > focus on housing supply and the future of Port Royal

And the final questionnaire is off!
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: final household survey launched

With the Herald's report here:

Sid Valley residents called on to answer second questionnaire - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

And a message from the chair of the steering group here:

Last Survey of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan!

The Steering Group are pleased to announce that the paper version of the survey aimed at residents of the Sid Valley, Sidmouth, Sidford, Sidbury and Salcombe Regis will be delivered on 2nd June. Residents have until the 30th June to complete the survey, All dropping off points for completed surveys are listed on the survey itself.
This survey is the result of 12 months of research by the Steering Group which included workshops, fact-finding events and an in- depth Place Analysis by professional consultants, Creating Excellence.
This last survey includes a Housing Needs Section where we invite residents to comment on the type and numbers of Housing that may be required over the next fifteen years and where that housing might be built.
A further section asks residents what they would like to see in any re- development of Port Royal (Eastern Town) which is currently the subject of a Scoping Study led by Sidmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council. Residents are also invited to comment on both our built and natural environment, transport, parking, cycle ways and work opportunities for our young people.
We sincerely hope that you will take the time to sit down with your family and complete the survey which takes about 15 minutes. Most questions are simple tick boxes with just a couple of questions where we invite residents to make written suggestions.
Thank you.
Deirdre Hounsom
The Neighbourhood Plan starts blogging! – Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan

Finally, here are a couple of past stories from the Herald of interest:
What interesting jobs are needed to keep young people in the Sid Valley? - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald
Neighbourhood Plan’s infrastructure wish-list for Sidmouth - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald
Re-imagining Port Royal - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

Ebbtides: locally harvested seaweed up for food award

Eating seaweed is good for you - and a Sidmouth firm is keen to spread the news:
Ebbtides - Hand harvested Seaweed from the Devon Coast

They were part of Sidmouth's first food fest last summer:
Sidmouth to get first ever food festival - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

And they are now up for a prize:

Tony’s company shortlisted after Seed Fund seaweeds out applicants.

PUBLISHED: 04:30 29 April 2017

Tony Coulson is ‘quietly confident’ after being shortlisted to receive £100,000 worth of support The Seed Fund.

A seaweed harvester from Sidmouth is feeling ‘quietly confident’ after being shortlisted to receive £100,000 worth of support from an organisation set up to help new food and drink businesses.

Tony Coulson, 59, of Woolbrook Road, started Ebb Tides, a business which turns seaweed into a cooking ingredient, to help people eat healthily.
He is now waiting to face The Seed Fund’s panel of judges to book himself a place at its academy, where, if he were to win, Tony would be given advice on how to grow his company.
Tony, who has a background in agriculture and the environment, said: “I am quietly confident. I have eaten seaweed most of my life, so I know the health benefits.
“I figured it was the right time to go into business and prepare seaweed because people are now making a large jump into eating healthy.”
“About two months ago, The Seed Fund was asking people to apply to get on the programme and I simply filled in an application form and a couple of weeks ago I was told I was down to the last 24.”
Ebbs Tide will go up against 24 companies, seven of them from the South West, to complete for 12 places at the academy, where they will be able to attend a series of seminars, workshops, one-on-one sessions with mentors, industry visits and meet the buyer events. One eventual winner will be announced at the Great Taste Golden Fork Awards Dinner in September, receiving a further year of support worth more than £100,000.

Tony’s company shortlisted after Seed Fund seaweeds out applicants. - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

Here's the organisation behind the awards:
The Seed Fund 2017 - Food and drink stars of the future

Taking matters into their own hands in the face of seven years of austerity policies

The Greeks invented most of politics:
Futures Forum: Elections are for aristocrats

They are currently inventing many more ways to cope with the current lack of anything:
Futures Forum: Alternative currencies >>> responding to market and government failures

For example - a 'do-it-yourself' approach to pretty much everything:
Futures Forum: Solidarity, the DIY-aid movement and civil society >>> transitioning to a sustainable society, a resilient economy

And this is not just a desperate response to dire circumstances:
Futures Forum: Developing an alternative economy >>> 'stimulated by a climate of changing technology and increasing individual power'

The Cato Institute looks at how things are going:

Greek Anarchists Provide Services the State Doesn’t

In the New York Times, Niki Kitsantonis writes, “It may seem paradoxical, but Greece’s anarchists are organizing like never before.”
No. Anarchists – the sensible ones, at least – are not against organization. They are against rule – against ruling and against being ruled. Merriam-Webster explains the derivation of the word: “Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek, from anarchos having no ruler, from an- + archos ruler.” True, as the dictionary editors note, “anarchy” and “anarchism” are sometimes used to mean something like “absence or denial of any authority or established order” or simply “absence of order.” But rational political theorists and even activists don’t advocate pure disorder; they advocate the absence of rule, which they define as the absence of government
So what is it that these Greek anarchists are organizing for? Well, in fact, the focus of the article is on how anarchists are supplying the services that the Greek state is not providing:
Seven years of austerity policies and a more recent refugee crisis have left the government with fewer and fewer resources, offering citizens less and less. Many have lost faith. Some who never had faith in the first place are taking matters into their own hands, to the chagrin of the authorities….
Whatever the means, since 2008 scores of “self-managing social centers” have mushroomed across Greece, financed by private donations and the proceeds from regularly scheduled concerts, exhibitions and on-site bars, most of which are open to the public. There are now around 250 nationwide.
Some activists have focused on food and medicine handouts as poverty has deepened and public services have collapsed.
In recent months, anarchists and leftist groups have trained special energy on housing refugees who flooded into Greece in 2015 and who have been bottled up in the country since the European Union and Balkan nations tightened their borders. Some 3,000 of these refugees now live in 15 abandoned buildings that have been taken over by anarchists in the capital.
One part of Athens seems to have been a self-governing, but not state-governed, territory for some time. Some sources say Exarchia has existed since as early as 1870. The name presumably comes from “ex-,” out of, away from, and of course “archos,” ruler.
In Athens, the anarchists’ epicenter remains the bohemian neighborhood of Exarchia, where the killing of a teenager by a police officer in 2008 set off two weeks of rioting, helped reinvigorate the movement and produced several guerrilla groups that led to a revival of domestic terrorism in Greece.
The police and the authorities tread lightly in the area.
The police have recently raided some buildings illegally occupied by anarchists, called squats, in Athens, in the northern city of Thessaloniki and on the island of Lesbos, a gateway for hundreds of thousands of migrants over the past two years….
The anarchists say their squats are a humane alternative to the state-run camps now filled with more than 60,000 migrants and asylum seekers. Human rights groups have broadly condemned the camps as squalid and unsafe.
In Exarchia, one of the squats includes a former state secondary school that was abandoned because of structural problems. Established last spring with the help of anarchists, the squat is now home to some 250 refugees, mostly from Syria, who have set up a chicken coop on the roof. Many more refugees are on a “waiting list” for other occupied buildings.
The squats function as self-organized communities, independent from the state and nongovernmental organizations, said Lauren Lapidge, 28, a British social activist who came to Greece in 2015 at the peak of the refugee crisis and is actively involved with several occupied buildings.
“They are living organisms: Kids go to school, some were born in the squat, we’ve had weddings inside,” she said.
There’s really nothing paradoxical about anarchists setting up institutions and communities outside the state to provide needed goods and services. The Greek anarchists probably don’t see businesses as part of that non-state society, though libertarian anarchists and anarcho-capitalists do. 
What is paradoxical, as I wrote five years ago, is Greek “anarchists” who object to the state reducing its size, scope, and power by cutting back on taxes and transfer payments. Anarchists who organize voluntarily to achieve common purposes are just living their philosophy.

Greek Anarchists Provide Services the State Doesn't | Cato @ Liberty
Greek Anarchists Provide Services the State Doesn’t - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world

Brexit: and Countryside Matters

At last weekend's Devon County Show
Futures Forum: The general election in the West Country: the issues >>> farming

... the Country Land and Business Association formally launched its campaign:

CLA launches Countryside Matters campaign

Thursday 18 May 2017

Philip Case

© Juice/REX/Shutterstock

The Country Land and Business Association has launched a campaign calling on government to deliver a Brexit that works for farmers and the countryside.

The Countryside Matters campaign aims to demonstrate why investment in the countryside should remain a national priority post Brexit.

Launching the campaign at the Devon Show on Thursday (18 May), CLA president Ross Murray warned delegates there is a risk the next government might seek to “choke off” funding for farming and the rural economy and reallocate it to other “priority” areas, such as the NHS.

See also: Resilient agriculture is election priority, says CLA

But it is vital for the government to treat farming, the rural economy and our landscapes as a public investment priority, he added.

“Farming and fishing is the lifeblood of our nation’s food industry, providing the essential ingredients for over 1bn meals consumed every week,” said Mr Murray. “Agriculture in its varied forms has absolutely shaped the land, how it looks and breathes, and sustains the vast green lung that the countryside represents to our growing population and the inevitable urbanisation.mThe two, town and countryside, have to go hand in hand.”

Mr Murray said the UK food and farming industry finds itself “at a crossroads” with Brexit. For the past 43 years, regulation and support for the industry has been led by the EU, mainly through the common agricultural policy (CAP).
Brexit opportunity. But for the first time in two generations, the next government will have the opportunity to shape its own agricultural policy. As such, Mr Murray urged the next government, of whatever colour, to allocate immediate investment through the budget process to re-energise UK agriculture and the wider rural economy as the country withdraws from the CAP.

Over the coming months, the CLA will be taking this message around the country at country shows and to newly elected MPs.

Calling on farmers to “make the case” for agriculture with their MPs, Mr Murray said: “We have to show that investing in the countryside is a shared priority, not just for rural dwellers and business owners, but for the whole population.”

As part of the campaign, the CLA will publish new research about what people want from their countryside and how measures can be delivered in innovative and cost-effective ways. Farmers can support the campaign by signing up at the Countryside Matters website and tweet why the countryside matters on Twitter using the hashtag #countrysidematters.

Case study

‘Government must maintain farm support’

Somerset farmer Charlie Ainge says any attempt by a future government to slash agricultural funding would be disastrous for the countryside. Mr Ainge farms 81ha in the Somerset Levels, of which two-thirds is an arable operation, the other part is run as a commercial dairy goat herd.

However, conservation is at the forefront of the farm’s ethos and most of the land sits within a site of special scientific interest.

The farm is in a Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme, engaging with options for raised water levels where appropriate, overwintering bird habitat, species-rich grassland – where appropriate – and the haymaking supplement. Direct drilling of spring crops keeps soils in good condition and cover crops are grown for overwintering birds.

The Pillar 1 payment goes directly to make up for the loss of production from planting spring crops compared with potential winter crop production. If Pillar 1 equivalent payments were reduced after Brexit, Mr Ainge said he would have to consider returning to winter cropping.

“The risk of flooding damage would remain but the increase in yield in non-flooding years would be necessary to keep the land economically viable,” he added.

CLA launches Countryside Matters campaign - Farmers Weekly

'The British countryside is the eighth wonder of the world' - new campaign launched by CLA

19 MAY 2017

A new campaign has been launched by the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) to unite people who care about the countryside and who feel rural areas deserve continued public investment during and after Brexit, writes Karilynn De Wolff.

The initiative called ‘The Countryside Matters’ was unveiled at the Devon County Show in Exeter on May 18 and hopes to garner public support to maintain farming and the wider countryside as a national priority.

The CLA aims to educate people about the important benefits of farming communities, from supplying affordable and nutritious food to promoting natural storage and cleaning of the water and maintaining habitats for wildlife.

Ross Murray, the President of CLA, said: “The British countryside is the eighth wonder of the world and the envy of many. It provides us with a large proportion of the food we eat and the water we drink. It cleans the air we breathe and sustains a rich diversity of wildlife. These features bring benefits to every person who lives in, works in, or enjoys visiting out countryside.”

'The British countryside is the eighth wonder of the world' - new campaign launched by CLA - News - FG Insight

See also:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and rural policy
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the general election in Devon
Futures Forum: Brexit: and backing British farming

Monday, 29 May 2017

A Local Cycling and Walking Investment Plan for Devon

The Sid Valley is pressing ahead with securing more cycle and walking routes:
£1,300 boost for Sidmouth cycling survey - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

This forms part of a larger framework: 
The government is asking Local Authorities in England to develop Local Cycling and Walking Investment Plans over the next couple of years which are intended to guide investment in local walking and cycling networks:

Following a public consultation, the ‘Cycling and walking investment strategy’:
> outlines the government’s ambition to make cycling and walking a natural choice for shorter journeys, or as part of longer journeys by 2040
> sets out the objectives and the aims and target that we will work towards in the shorter term
details the financial resources available
> includes a number of indicators that will help us understand how we are performing
> sets out the governance arrangements that will be put in place and outlines actions that have already been taken, as well as actions planned for the future

Devon have already done a lot of work in developing their current cycling strategy:

Sustrans are very keen:
Government consults on cycling and walking strategy for England | Sustrans

And it is hoped that the report they have done for the Sid Valley Links group will fit very well into the Local Cycling and Walking Investment Plan:

The general election in the West Country: the issues >>> role of the state

There seems to be something quite profound happening in the political landscape:

May maps out bigger role for state in corporate Britain

Fri May 19, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May promised to clamp down on executive pay, give workers a say on strategy and make it harder for foreign firms to take over British ones, as she set out pre-election plans to give the state more influence over corporate Britain.

May's Conservatives have for decades encouraged a low-key approach to corporate regulation, but the prime minister said trust in Britain's biggest companies had been damaged by soaring executive pay and several mismanaged takeovers.

"We do not believe in untrammelled free markets," the party said in its manifesto for the June 8 national election, which surveys suggest it is on course to win by a landslide.

May maps out bigger role for state in corporate Britain | Reuters

In fact, this should not come as a surprise, as pretty much the same was being said last autumn:
Theresa May’s ’red Toryism’: tax justice, statism and attacks on cartel capitalism | Anne McElvoy | Opinion | The Guardian

The free market think tanks are worried:

What Will the UK Election Mean for Freedom? 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

In a column for the Telegraph, Daniel Mahoney of the Centre for Policy Studies analyzes this major threat to the U.K.

This week, the Office for National Statistics published figures showing the level of net dependency on the UK state. …The figure now stands at 50.5 per cent. In the 1980s and 1990s, this figure was just over 40 per cent – that is to say that around four in ten households received more in benefits than they paid in taxes. But this dramatically changed in the New Labour era, which left office with well over half of the population being deemed net dependent on the state.

…Labour’s enormous increase in spending on public services and welfare was equally responsible for this worrying trend. Public spending grew from just 34.5 per cent of GDP in 2000 to 41% of GDP just before the financial crisis hit the UK… There has been some progress in recent years, …but levels of net dependency remain too high. Over half of households are still net dependent on the state. …It is important for the next Government to reduce dependency further.”

What Will the UK Election Mean for Freedom? - Foundation for Economic Education - Working for a free and prosperous world
Will the Tories Take Advantage of a Golden Opportunity to Save the United Kingdom? | International Liberty

But what does all this mean at the local level of government?

Here's a very interesting analysis from Stoke-on-Trent:

Big Issue: Red Tory, Blue Labour - how the Tories redrew the party battle lines

By woodhouse67 | Posted: May 20, 2017

She's been described as the Red Tory, delivering a brand of Blue Labour. Will Election 2017 be remembered as the point the Conservatives tore down traditional party barriers? John Woodhouse reports

It's traditional these days for picture editors to portray images of Theresa May tinged in red. Her willingness to go against the grain of traditional Conservatism and into the realms of more resolutely Labour ideologies, such as capped domestic fuel prices, has seen party lines, and colours, blurred.

Not only that, but the Conservatives talk of taking the winter fuel allowance off the wealthiest pensioners, a group that traditionally makes up a hardcore Tory vote, and easing the burden of social care payments on those with low equity. She's not quite got the cloth cap, but she's certainly taken a look in the window.

These are not just occasional policies, the message is laid down in the party's manifesto. "Conservatism is not and never has been the philosophy described by caricaturists," it reads. "We do not believe in untrammelled free markets. We reject the cult of individualism. We abhor social division, injustice, unfairness and inequality. We see rigid dogma and ideology not just as needless but dangerous."

North Staffordshire voters of a certain age may well be rubbing their eyes, not just at the declaration above, but at the regular appearance of senior Conservative figures in the region. Theresa May has been to Stoke-on-Trent twice in recent months. OK, David Cameron once popped his round the door at JCB, but Mrs May has done the city, first Hanley and now Trentham. Try as anyone might, it's hard to imagine Margaret Thatcher in a Screwfix depot.

The PM says there's no such thing as 'Mayism' and yet peppers her speech with such utterances as "it's time to put the old tribal politics behind us and come together", and "we want to reward talent and hard work, not where you came from."

Big Issue: Red Tory, Blue Labour - how the Tories redrew the party battle lines | Stoke Sentinel

Meanwhile, in Devon just before County elections, Conservative Councillors were blaming a Conservative government for funding issues:

Roads "vigilante" delivers his verdict on Devon's pothole crisis

By WMN_PGoodwin | Posted: May 04, 2017

A retired builder and Tory councillor-turned pothole "vigilante" says Devon County Council has failed to make any progress in tackling the county's crumbling roads. Reg Winsor, 74, got so fed up waiting for a huge pothole on his street to be repaired three years ago that he took matters into his own hands.

Officials have admitted that the huge repair backlog of £750 million – the amount it would cost to bring all 8,000 miles of Devon's roads up to scratch – remains unmoved.

The county council, which is responsible, received an allocation of £38 million from the Department for Transport last year. But this had to pay for maintenance of street lighting, traffic signals, bridge repairs, drainage, safety barriers, public rights and other work. This left around £23 million available to spend on roads.

Reg, a member of Teignbridge council who does not sit on the county council, said the situation was "not getting any better" and he thinks workers are not "doing it properly".

"Many years ago we just had two men in a white van driving around – now they have six people and all this equipment," he added. "I am getting really frustrated because we are being called out to do potholes that were done last year. It is not sorting the problem. We have just been awarded £2m [in the pothole fund] but where has it gone – they just put a some Bitmac down and stamp on it."

The county council blames massive underfunding by the Conservative government.

Last month, a county council cabinet report said it had been calculated that it would "cost £167 million to improve all roads currently rated as red" which means needing planned maintenance soon.

A Devon County Council spokesman said: "Devon's road network needs around £38 million of capital investment every year to maintain our 8,000 miles of roads in their current condition. Our busier A and B roads are holding up well, however, while we face an annual shortfall of funding from the Department for Transport, it unfortunately leaves us in a difficult position which particularly impacts on our urban estate roads and rural roads."

Roads "vigilante" delivers his verdict on Devon's pothole crisis | Devon Live

So, what's going to happen with the previous government's plans for funding local authorities?
Futures Forum: 'The Christchurch question' >>> 'Austerity has made local government financially unviable. Radical reorganisation may be the only answer.'

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Pressure on developers to publish viability appraisals

A planning document has been out to consultation of late:
Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) - East Devon

Here is the comment from Seaton:

Seaton Town Council have examined this document in detail and support the proposals contained within it.

Sections 6.21 to 6.28 deal with viability appraisals in respect of liability to Section 106 payments. In view of the difficulties which were experienced over the viability assessment for Affordable Housing on the Harbour Road site in Seaton the Town Council consider that it is positive that this document proposes (6.27) that:

"There is a strong public interest in financial viability appraisals being made available for scrutiny when relied upon to secure planning permissions. We consider that transparency is extremely important and the public benefit of publishing all aspects of a viability appraisal outweighs any potential commercial harm to the applicant."

Seaton Town Council fully supports the above paragraph.


With comment from the East Devon Watch blog:


26 MAR 2017

Owl says: EDDC makes it seem that THEY decided these appraisals should be made public – but government directives, fights with the Information Commissioner and case-law have meant that they really have no option on this!

Transparency for developer viability appraisals must be published | East Devon Watch

This has been going on for some time:
Futures Forum: When is a development 'viable' or not? (Feb 2015)
Futures Forum: "Viability assessments conclusively prove that we cannot rely on developers to build affordable housing." (June 2015)
Futures Forum: "Some developers use viability reports to wriggle out of building more 'affordable' housing." (July 2015)

And nearer to home:
Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: How to classify the proposed development: as C3 housing or as C2 care home? (Oct 2016)

And there's the question of S106 cash:
Futures Forum: 106 payments and the NPPF.............. the repercussions for East Devon (Oct 2014)