Thursday, 28 February 2019

Knowle relocation project: How do you get to the District Council's new HQ in Honiton for any evening meetings from Exmouth, Axminster, Seaton or Colyton?

The new District Council HQ is on the edge of Honiton's industrial estate:
5 February 2019 - East Devon District Council taking up residence at its new Honiton HQ - East Devon

Which might be better than where it was originally planned for:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "East Devon District Council has ditched its plan to move to Skypark near to Exeter airport from its current headquarters in Knowle in Sidmouth."

The problem with Honiton is that it is actually not at all 'central' to the District:

It has been pointed out more than once, that it's about what serves the population of the District best:

“Centrality” was one of the original reasons for relocating to Honiton, even though Honiton is further from the average East Devon resident than Sidmouth.
R J Thurlow, Chair, Save our Sidmouth

Knowle relocation “far too risky in the current economic climate” . | Save Our Sidmouth

"SIR – When promoting the move from Sidmouth to Honiton, East Devon District Council (EDDC) argues that Sidmouth is inconvenient for many people in East Devon while Honiton is much more central. Let me explode that myth...
The District’s populations are clustered around the coast. I looked at the numbers of people living in each East Devon ward and calculated the distance and travel time from each ward to Sidmouth or Honiton (using a TomTom SatNav to give shortest route and time for that route).
On average, an East Devon resident might travel 9 miles to Sidmouth or 11.1 miles to Honiton. So an EDDC move to Honiton would add 19% to the typical journey. The time taken for travel averages 26.5 minutes to Sidmouth or 29.6 minutes to Honiton – a 10% increase if EDDC moves."
Robin Fuller, Sidmouth

Home - Sidmouth Herald
Exploding some myths re. Knowle relocation. | Save Our Sidmouth
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: comparing the Sidmouth and Honiton/Exmouth options

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the politics of maps ..... "What I have found most difficult to understand is why EDDC ever decided to base itself in Sidmouth where over 50 per cent of the area covered by a 20 mile diameter is in the English Channel."

Moving as far away as possible from the hoi poloi is possibly the point:

One has to wonder why the leadership at East Devon seems so desperate to leave Sidmouth.
Is it because of the constant thorn in their side - represented by the 'serial critics' of the Sid Vale?
The Leader of the District Council certainly seems irked by the volume coming from objectors:

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: the letters of objection

Futures Forum: "Who will rid me of this turbulent Sidmouth?!" ... or ... moving your capital and " running away from the issues"

And so it is, as reported today in the East Devon Watch blog:


28 FEB 2019

Just one small point. If you don’t have a car and no buses are running in the early or late evening (as happens now) how do you get to Blackout House (sic) for this meeting (or any other meeting for that matter) from Exmouth, Axminster, Seaton, Colyton or any outlying villages? Only Cranbrook and Sidmouth are served by late (after 5 pm) direct buses, and a train journey would be horrendously expensive.

Trek to new EDDC HQ in the evening if you want to be a councillor … | East Devon Watch

The Natural Capitalist

Last week, the Environment Secretary addressed the National Farmers' Union:
A World To Win - GOV.UK

This is in the context of new legislation:
The Agriculture Bill - all the information in one place - NFU
Big farmers to see funding cut post-Brexit after Gove shakeup | Environment | The Guardian

And of course, Brexit:
Brexit could be good for UK environment, says top government adviser | Environment | The Guardian
After Brexit, Britain has the chance to create a Restoration Economy - CapX

The proposal is to finance farming rather differently - and some would see it as an opportunity to be grasped: 

The Natural Capitalist
Clause One of the Agriculture Bill sets out future government funding of environmental work in the countryside. 
Charles Cowap considers how the practical details might unfold and how drafting agreements for ecosystem services might look.

F&FF - Technical and Business Information
3086 The Natural Capitalist.pdf 

The full piece is to be found here:
Land Journal: March-April 2019

1819: John Ruskin on the built environment: "A structure’s beauty or ugliness is also a lens into the moral quality of the society in which and for which it was made."

Ruskin was born two hundred years ago this month:
Futures Forum: 1819: John Ruskin: a thinker for our time 

He wrote on many subjects - including our industrial system and what it does to us and our surroundings. Here's a view from the Nation magazine: 

Capitalism Is Responsible for Your Depressing Office Building

Over a century ago, John Ruskin predicted how ugly and inhuman industrialized capitalism would become.

By Chris Gelardi
FEBRUARY 25, 2019

John Ruskin never set foot in Brooklyn. But if he were to walk through certain parts of Williamsburg or Bushwick today, two centuries after his birth, it’s easy to imagine what he’d make of the rapidly changing neighborhoods.

He’d make stops in several recently opened, nearly indistinguishable coffee shops, the interiors of which would all employ the same tired take on taupe walls and reclaimed wood. He’d stroll past buildings, hastily constructed by vulture real-estate developers, sporting harsh geometric facades and see apartment buildings newly renovated with a sharp black-metal trim that clashes clumsily with the original brick; venturing inside, he’d find most of the units decorated in some sort of bland and lazy minimalism.

The coffee shops, the buildings, the apartments would all scream of sterility—a standardized style of austerity disguised as clean, frictionless modernism. They are, in essence, the result of the corporate “non-place” and its metastasis into the most personal spaces of everyday life. And Ruskin wouldn’t hold back in describing them as they are: repulsive.

The Sirius building in Sydney, Australia: Wikimedia Commons

Ruskin was born 200 years ago this month. A Londoner of Scottish descent, he first made his name as an art and architecture critic, until, in the latter half of his life, he turned his attention to social and economic philosophy. Living in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, Ruskin allowed his aesthetic principles to inform his socioeconomic writings as he sought to inject a dose of soul into the detached pragmatism of early capitalist thought.

His unique viewpoint resulted in an acute prescience: He was one of the first thinkers to connect the rise of capital to the proliferation of severe inequality, slave-like wage labor, and environmental destruction. His seminal work, 1862’s Unto This Last, a sharp critique of the science of political economy, had a profound influence on everyone from William Morris and his Arts and Crafts movement to Marcel Proust and Gandhi, and its arguments ring just as true today as they did in the 19th century.

As a humanist and naturalist, Ruskin focused his aesthetic writings on the productive side of art and architecture. He held that a work arrives at beauty not when it achieves technical perfection, but when it successfully expresses the essence of both the person who made it and the materials from which it was made. “No good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art,” he wrote in 1853’s The Stones of Venice.

These intellectual tendencies were undoubtedly rooted in his strict religious upbringing. But even as he abandoned his faith in his middle age, Ruskin’s focus on the sanctity of the soul continued to reveal itself in an idiosyncratic kind of aesthetic moralism. Other 18th- and 19th-century moralistic philosophers—such as Ruskin’s predecessor and fellow Scot, David Hume, or Friedrich Schleiermacher in Germany—grappled with the notion that a work’s artistic qualities could be judged morally, but Ruskin took that thinking a step further: A structure’s beauty or ugliness, he argued, is also a lens into the moral quality of the society in which and for which it was made.

This moralism helped him arrive at a more concrete and expansive social critique—one that was explicitly pro-worker. If architecture’s beauty lies in the humanness of its creation, his thinking went, the architect and the stonemason should work in concert, to ensure that both can affirm their being through their labor. It’s an argument about the basic dignity of work that has wide societal implications, regardless of profession; rather than simply toiling for wages at the behest of one’s boss at the most productive rate possible, shouldn’t all workers also be able to spend their days expressing their humanity? This line of critique in Ruskin’s thought reached its rhetorical zenith when, in the same 1853 work, he threw a jab at another Scottish thinker, Adam Smith, for his defense of efficiency and the division of labor:

Now, it is a good and desirable thing, truly, to make many pins in a day; but if we could only see with what crystal sand their points were polished—sand of the human soul, much to be magnified before it can be discerned for what it is—we should think there might be some loss in it also.

Smith, like today’s capitalists, argued that hyperproductivity is worth the price of dehumanizing, machine-like work, but Ruskin demanded that such dynamics be rethought.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

District Council rejects considering motions > full council meeting Wednesday 27th February

At its full council meeting today, the District Council did not be consider several motions which had been put forward for consideration:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: District Council rejects motion "for the ongoing costs to be published to show confidence that this project will breakeven"
Futures Forum: District Council rejects considering motion "to recognise that Climate Change and Global Warming are the key issues of our time, to acknowledge the strong concerns of young people and for the council to commit to introducing a policy of carbon measurement and reduction"

Here's the agenda for today's meeting:
Agenda for CouncilWednesday, 27 February 2019 - Blackdown House, Border Road,Heathpark Industrial Estate

It included a list of questions from Councillors, including: 

Questions by Members to Full Council on 27 February 2019 

under Procedure Rule 9.2 

Question 1: Procedure Rule 9.2 to the Leader from Councillor Susie Bond 

Eight Notices of Motion were submitted for debate at the 27 February council meeting, all within the prescribed time scale and all with the requisite number of supporters. Five of those NoMs were rejected by the Chief Executive. What criteria was used by the Chief Executive to decide which Notices of Motion would appear on the agenda paper, and which would not? 

Answer: The Chief Executive has to ensure that all submitted motions fulfil the legal criteria for valid motions. In summary form, all motions have to be timely, relevant, accurate, legally precise and fair. The difference, for example, between an officer report and a motion is that a report can provide members with all relevant information to support a recommendation. A valid motion has to achieve a similar objective but all that information has to be clear from the ‘face of the motion’. It was the Chief Executives opinion that the 5 rejected motions did not fulfil the relevant criteria. Had the proposers of the motions discussed their suggested wording with the CEO in advance of the cutoff time limit he could have helped with the drafting. They did not do so, so unfortunately the Chief Executive was obliged to take the action he did. 

Question 2: Procedure Rule 9.2 to the Leader from Councillor Susie Bond 

In January 2017, EDDC's Strategic Planning Committee agreed that two Councillors should represent the views of East Devon Councillors at the GESP Panel. Such was the concern that only two Councillors were to be given such an onerous responsibility given that the GESP will impact each and every one of us, it was agreed at the same meeting that an Informal Reference Forum should be set up and that the make-up of this group should be politically balanced. I am not the representative of the Independent Group, but informed the responsible officer that I intended to attend the most recent meeting as an observer. I subsequently received a phone call blocking me from attending! This is the first (and only) time that I have been blocked from attending a meeting in my role as District Councillor. Does the Council Leader agree that meetings of the Independent Reference Forum should be open to all councillors who choose to attend, in the interests of openness and transparency? 

Answer: It is accepted that the GESP is matter of considerable interest. There are however 5 Councils working in partnership to try and achieve the GESP and it was agreed at a relatively early stage that as each Council would be taking the GESP through its own internal procedures (thereby ensuring all members could engage) it was not appropriate to expand the Reference Forum to each and every member that might want to attend. The Forum provides the opportunity of a non-binding politically balanced sounding board and in view of its limited role I think the rationale remains valid. 

Question 9: Procedure Rule 9.2 to the Portfolio Holder for Environment from Councillor Matt Booth 

It was good to see that the CEO recognises the issue of climate change emergency as one of “critical importance”. On 15th February, the day of the national schools’ strike, Devon County Council committed to debating a motion on ‘Climate Emergency’ which took place at a council meeting on 21st February. 

Does the Portfolio Holder agree that while it is essential to retain focus on all aspects of green living and a green economy, including the excellent work of the EDDC Environment team in particular with recycling, the pressing issue now is that of carbon reduction as recommended by UN scientists behind the inter-governmental IPCC report published in October 2018 that warned global warming will be irreversible if temperatures are not reduced to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels within 12 years, by subsequent recent reports, and by an increasing number of councils most recently Cheltenham Borough Council who two weeks ago committed to working towards being carbon neutral by 2030? 

Does he also agree that it is essential that this council should debate this issue as soon as possible, if only to agree that it should commit to taking immediate steps towards adopting a carbon reduction policy? 

Answer: As we have made clear we are looking forward to engaging with the County Council on this issue and ensuring that a comprehensive approach can be adopted by both tiers of local government in Devon. A report will be brought to Cabinet in due course so that councillors can engage in the debate 

Question 14: Procedure Rule 9.2 to the Leader from Councillor Cathy Gardner 
My proposed motion asking this Council to publish regular updates regarding costsavings from relocation was denied by the CEO. Can the Leader assure residents that fully transparent information on energy costs for Blackdown House and Exmouth Town Hall will be published on a regular basis? 

Answer: We will be bringing a report to Cabinet to inform members of the final costs of the relocation project. This report will remind members of the regular reporting that will take place as a result of our normal procedures and members can then debate what extra reporting requirements may be appropriate.

Questions by Members to Full Council on 27 February 2019

Here's a full reposting of the very handy overview from Radio Exe of the motions which were/not considered:

East Devon's full council meeting

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 9:20am

By Daniel Clark and Anna Byles

East Devon Council's new HQ at Heathpark, Honiton.
Motions put forward NOT being discussed.

Motions to support recycling, to call for a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders, and for East Devon to get its fair share of the police precept rise will be discussed at today's full council meeting.

But motions over the full relocation costs of the move from Sidmouth to Honiton, to put electric charging points in all car parks, what to prioritise in a ‘No Deal’ Brexit and on climate change will not be discussed.

Various motions that councillors had put forward for debate at East Devon District Council’s full council meeting today, were rejected by the council’s chief executive, as either the agenda already provides the opportunity for debate or the wording of the motions were inaccurate.


Cllr Cathy Gardner had proposed a motion calling for the council to commit to publish an annual ‘summary of accounts’ for the relocation project until break-even is reached as relocation from Sidmouth to Honiton was proposed and predicated on the basis that the project would breakeven within 20 years and deliver cost-savings to the council tax payers of East Devon.

Cllr Gardner said: “Whilst some of this information is already available we feel it is vital for the ongoing costs to be published to show confidence that this project will breakeven. A majority of Councillors voted for relocation on the basis that money would be saved on energy bills. We are left unsure of whether breakeven will ever be proven.”

But an EDDC spokesman said: “The rejected motion contained inaccuracies and omissions that had the potential to mislead councillors and it was also premature. It is however proposed to bring a report to the next meeting of the Cabinet that will summarise the position reached with regard to the sale of the Knowle and the relocation. Cllr Gardner can raise the matters she is concerned about as part of the debate into that report.”

The motion would have called for the accounts to include
energy costs for the Knowle for the past 20 years (for comparison);
energy costs for both Blackdown House and Exmouth Town Hall per year;
the capital receipt for the sale of the Knowle;
a Red Book valuation of Blackdown House as of 1 March 2019;
the full costs for the relocation project since its inception, including: project management; removal, furnishing and equipment; staff retraining and travel expenses; new-build costs for Blackdown House; refurbishment costs for Exmouth Town Hall; and any other associated costs.”


Cllr Matthew Booth’s motion had called for the council to recognise that Climate Change and Global Warming are the key issues of our time, to acknowledge the strong concerns of young people in particular the recent walk out of school children and for the council to commit to introducing a policy of carbon measurement and reduction within all aspects of its own activity.

He said: “I personally do not care how we begin to do this, or who does it, but that we act now not wait for some planned strategy in the future.”

An EDDC spokesman said that the issue of climate change emergency is acknowledged to be of critical importance but that it would be appropriate to wait to see what Devon County Council decides. They added: “Currently, however, the County Council is considering its position and will shortly debate the matter. As we are in a two tier area it is appropriate for the District Council to assess the position taken by the upper tier authority and then respond accordingly. The public would expect us to work in partnership with the County Council rather than unilaterally.”


Cllr Eleanor Rylance had submitted a motion calling for the council to plan for and implement over the next five years a full rolling renovation programme of its car parks estates to fit and bring into operation electrical charging points at every space for domestic cars, and cycle parks with charging points for all types of cycle and that there should be mandatory EV charging points for the parking spaces of every new-built house in East Devon.

She added: “This council should approach the future of electrically-powered domestic vehicles with enthusiasm and proactivity, play a positive role in helping develop the use of electrical and should make this infrastructure, that will be a necessity within the next ten years, available in advance of full electrification of domestic vehicles in 2042.

But an EDDC spokesman said: ““The agenda already provides an opportunity for this issue to be raised so this motion was inappropriate.”


Cllr Rylance had also submitted a motion that said in the event of a No Deal Brexit or a version of Brexit that causes significant disruption, the council should approach this event as a situation of emergency in respect of its most vulnerable residents, dedicating any available human, material and financial resources required to palliate any negative outcomes for these groups, but the motion was rejected.

Talking about all the motions, a council spokesman said: “The council agenda for February contains the most important annual decision, namely the setting of the budget and the approval of the Council Tax for the forthcoming year. The process leading to this meeting has included several meetings where members were encouraged to raise all items of future relevance so these could be assessed as part of our service planning process and for assessment as part of the budget.

“It is unfortunate that some members did not take these opportunities and have chosen instead to submit their proposed motions.

“It is also noted that the wording of the motions was not checked in advance with relevant officers who would have been able to give timely advice as to their wording.”

But motions on the police precept, protection for new home owners and supporting recycling will be discussed


Cllr Tom Wright’s motion says: “In view of the £24 per band D property increase in policing precept, this council urges the Chief Constable to recognise the needs of East Devon when deciding how to allocate extra resources. East Devon residents are the biggest contributors to the police budget in Devon, other than Plymouth. It is only fair that we should get a fair share of the larger cake.”


Cllr Douglas Hull’s motion says: “The Government has stated that it would therefore be introducing as a priority a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders. As a council that not only provides an excellent and highly regarded building control service but also has seen significant levels of new building in its district, we call on the government to fulfil its pledge to provide this much needed remedy for homeowners as a matter of the highest priority.”


Cllr Peter Burrows’ motion says: “This Council continues to support the fine work done by the EDDC Recycling team in achieving the best results in Devon and to support and encourage local Organisations and voluntary groups who are involved in trying to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in their communities & beaches by making resources and expertise available, where appropriate. The order of priority should be – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. To actively help promote such activities through the Councils social media platforms.”

The full council meeting will be held at East Devon District Council’s new Honiton Heathpark HQ at 6pm today (Wednesday 27th February)

East Devon's full council meeting - Radio Exe

Getting the government to adopt the Community Energy Manifesto

"A coalition of 20 charities, green campaigners and community energy groups has published a new manifesto calling for stronger support for community energy schemes to help improve their dwindling prospects."

"The UK government is consulting on the design of the future energy system, to determine new rules and regulations around how we buy, sell and manage our energy. It is vital that the voices of community energy groups are heard and that the value they can bring is fully considered in these plans"

The consultation is still open:
Futures Forum: Small-scale low-carbon generation reintroduced in the UK
Futures Forum: Call for evidence on small-scale renewable energy in the UK > deadline 30th August ... ... ... Plus a consultation on plans to close the Feed-in tariff scheme

The 10:10 campaign group is urging us to write to our MP to at least get the Mnister to consider this manifesto: 

Ask your MP to support community energy

February 26, 2019

Imagine a world where your electricity comes from a solar park or wind turbine just down the road. Where local people own a collective stake, and get to share in the profits. Where local renewables mean funding for local projects and good causes.

Community energy is building exactly that vision.

And in a speech last month Claire Perry - the energy minister - signed herself up to that vision: "From power stations to solar panels, the future is local - community energy is a key cornerstone of government’s ambition for a low-carbon energy system."

But since 2015, a raft of government cuts have halted progress. Since then, hardly any new community energy groups have got off the ground.

If Claire Perry wants community energy to play a pivotal role in stopping climate change, she needs to take real action to put it back on track.

That’s why groups from across the country have published a new Community Energy Manifesto. It is an eight point plan for giving community and local energy groups the support they deserve.

We need to make sure the minister reads and enacts this manifesto as soon as possible. Will you write to your MP telling them you support community energy - and asking them to write to Claire Perry on your behalf?


Ministers have promised to consider what support community energy needs this year. That means there’s an opportunity to bank real wins, and ensure groups get the policy they need to transform the energy system.

Community energy puts power back in the hands of ordinary people, puts money back into local areas and builds support for renewable energy across the country. It should be right at the heart of the government’s thinking.

Will you write to your MP asking them consider their proposals?

Climate change >>> an early spring and upsetting the balance of nature

Two weeks ago, the news was how insect populations are collapsing - and that climate change is one of the key factors:
Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers - ScienceDirect
Plummeting insect numbers 'threaten collapse of nature' | Environment | The Guardian

From the weekend, here's a piece looking at the science behind the numbers - and how little we actually know: 

Amid recent warnings of the mass extinction of insects in the coming decades, the global lack of research into insect populations has come into focus.

The science of insect population collapse

By Alex McKinnon.

Last week, an article in the scientific journal Biological Conservation made waves around the world. Its authors, who reviewed 73 studies of insect populations, claimed they found “dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40 per cent of the world’s insect species over the next few decades”, triggering “wide-ranging cascading effects within several of the world’s ecosystems”. Headlines warned of an oncoming “insect Armageddon”. Google searches for the phrase “insects dying” jumped tenfold in a week.

Entomologists are not used to this kind of attention. The study of bugs is not the most glamorous or media-friendly of the scientific disciplines. When journalists do come calling, it’s often in response to a study that’s been blown out of proportion, or with a less-than-rigorous scientific basis. They have spent a lot of time recently talking down excitable people.

With the caution typical of researchers, they invariably start by mentioning the limitations of Biological Conservation’s article. Its authors mainly looked at studies conducted in Europe and the United States, making it difficult to infer worldwide conclusions. They found their 73 studies by searching “insect* + decline* + survey” in the online Web of Science database, potentially excluding studies that found evidence of increasing or stable insect populations. Sweeping conclusions such as “all the world’s insects are dying” can’t be drawn from one paper review, no matter how rigorous.

But none of the entomologists speaking on this study dismiss the Biological Conservation article as junk science. While it’s not a one-stop confirmation of the oncoming insect apocalypse, it confirms what smaller, single-location studies have found in the past. Several entomologists argue that the article’s greatest value lies in the gaps it revealed: the studies it couldn’t draw on, the research that was never funded.

Dr Manu Saunders is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of New England, specialising in insect ecology. She says that while the attention on her often-neglected field is welcome, the media’s treatment of the Biological Conservation article – and scientific issues in general – obscures an even more serious problem: we don’t know nearly enough about the world’s insects to tell if we’re killing them.


The science of insect population collapse | The Saturday Paper

With things particularly acute in Australasia:
Climate change: Dropping insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature' - news.com.au
Climate change is killing off Earth’s insects | Stuff.co.nz
Decline in bogong moth numbers could have catastrophic effects in the Australian Alps - Science News - ABC News

Meanwhile back in the UK, there are fears that the unusually early spring will cause further havoc:
Naturalists concerned for early-emerging spring species in UK | Environment | The Guardian

These fears have been voiced every year recently: 
Futures Forum: Climate change >>> is spring happening earlier or later? (2018)
Futures Forum: Climate change >>> Shifting Spring @ Costing the Earth on Radio 4 (2018)
Futures Forum: Climate change: Spring advancing at an 'eye-opening' pace (2017)
Futures Forum: Climate change: 'season creep' and an early spring (2016)
Futures Forum: Spring has sprung... notably the bluebell and the dandelion ... and spring has sprung early ... (2014) 

The Independent reports today:

What is the impact of hot winter weather and is climate change playing a role?

‘None of this is normal - while nature can adapt to seasonal fluctuations it can be dangerous if it keeps happening’

Harry Cockburn
13 hours ago


Hedgehogs could struggle for food, frog spawn could be lost to frost and birds could suffer if they migrate early, experts have warned as the UK is experiences the highest winter temperatures since records began over a hundred years ago.

A temperature of 21.2C was recorded at Kew Gardens in London on Tuesday, beating the 20.6C measured at Trawsgoed, near Aberystwyth the day before. The soaring temperatures have been described as “an extreme weather event” by the Met Office and come at the end of a particularly mild winter.

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge told The Independent: “To see temperatures of over 20 on a winter’s day is exceptional. The previous record was 19.7 and that’s stood since 1998. It is a rare event to see temperatures this high in February."

While February is now “within striking distance” of becoming the warmest February since records began, December was also two degrees warmer than average overall, with high temperatures early in the month reaching over 15C.

Meanwhile, 27 councils across the country have declared a “climate emergency” in an effort to force authorities to act against climate change.

Later this week the heat is expected to drop somewhat as an Atlantic weather system brings strong wind and rain.

The effects of the unseasonably warm weather are felt particularly keenly at this time of year by hibernating animals, who may emerge earlier and find there is not enough food to sustain them, and that the weather may turn cold again.

“It is mammals who will suffer worst,” Ben Keywood, an entomologist at Sheffield & Rotherham Wildlife Trust told The Independent. “If hedgehogs have started coming out over the last two weeks or so, they are going struggle to find a lot of the food they would normally eat as a lot of it is not out yet. So then [when the temperature falls] they may not have had enough to eat when they go back into hibernation and will have used up more of their fat reserves, which can make them significantly weaker.

“Frogs could also start to spawn, and that wouldn’t normally happen until March or April, if they spawn and then there is a frost, then it could kill all the spawn, which would be disastrous.”

The concern, he said, was that if climate change makes this a more regular occurrence and this keeps happening “then it could start having very severe effects on species because it can weaken them and change their behavioural patterns”.

He added: “Lots of species time their emergence - particularly birds - so it coincides with the food they need is at its most plentiful,” he said. “So if that starts early then they are out of sync with their food source. It could help species such as owls and birds of prey, as [species like dormice and harvest mice] will be more visible, and could be weaker.”

“It’s all about upsetting the balance - none of this is normal. While nature can and will adapt to seasonal fluctuations, it does send things off kilter and can be dangerous if it keeps happening.”

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Plans for Port Royal: details of preferred bidder for Drill Hall 'correspond to Rockfish'

News broke yesterday that the Drill Hall is probably here to stay:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: BREAKING NEWS: All three offers for the Drill Hall propose refurbishment rather than demolition

The media speculation is that the favoured bid is probably coming from Rockfish:
Exeter Seafood Restaurant on the Quay | Rockfish
Rockfish in Exeter is offering half-price fish and chips before it even opens - Devon Live

And today Devon Live gives more focus: 

Restaurant plan to bring redundant Sidmouth seafront site back to life

Each of the three commercial offers – no offers from community groups were received – involve a restaurant or bar as part of the application

Daniel Clark Local Democracy Reporter

26 FEB 2019

A redundant Sidmouth seafront site is set to become a restaurant whose operators ‘draw people into the town based on their name’.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet when they meet next Wednesday are being recommended to approve selecting the offer from the bidder – one of three received by the council – for the Drill Hall site.

Each of the three commercial offers – no offers from community groups were received – involve a restaurant or bar as part of the application.

The cabinet are recommended to allow officers to formally enter negotiations with the approved bidder over the disposal of the Drill Hall site and the neighbouring toilet block, but that a replacement toilet facility must be provided.

No name of who the bidder is has been revealed in the agenda documents. But the proposed hours of operation, number of jobs created, sustainability credentials, that they provide a water fountain outside its buildings, their proven track record in supporting charity and community groups, that they operate a restaurant in Exeter and other towns in Devon, plus the fact their owner announced plans last year to open new restaurants along the south coast, all correspond to the bidder being Rockfish.

The report of Richard Cohen, Deputy Chief Executive, says that ‘offer two, by the unnamed ‘established’ South West brand’, is the preferred offer.

He adds: “The Drill Hall would be extensively and sympathetically refurbished with some external alterations to create a balcony/terrace at the front of the site. The building would be operated as a restaurant and the restaurant company is an established brand in the South West of with restaurants in several Devon towns and Exeter.

“The offer is conditional on securing planning permission and licensing which is the normal basis for an offer within this sector.

“Information was provided regarding the successful operation of this bidder’s restaurants elsewhere and how they would propose to run this offer in Sidmouth, with gives a confident description of their approach. They are a recognised entity that operates effectively and popularly elsewhere and this offer would be expected to draw people into the town based on their name/reputation. They have been a catalyst elsewhere where their presence has turned around parts of town centres.

Drill Hall, within the Port Royal site, on Sidmouth seafront (Image: Daniel Clark)

“The offer reflects the expectations of the brief including high sustainability through none use of single use plastics, sourcing local produce and providing a water fountain outside its buildings.

“Following the analysis and assessment of the bids offered, the Core Group considered that the Offer 2 should be explored further and a meeting with the restaurant company’s bidding team was carried out.

“They were able to provide further information regarding certainty on their funding, details of their ethical and environmental approach and job numbers. The Sidmouth restaurant would expect to create 25 – 30 full time and part time jobs. They would operate 7 days a week from midday to 9.30pm (kitchen closing time, not restaurant closing time).

“They confirmed that they do not use single use plastics or polystyrene. They have applied for Marine Stewardship Council status which is equivalent to Fairtrade. They have a proven track record in supporting local charities and community groups in the towns in which they are located.

“It is recommended that the restaurant company should be taken forward as the preferred bidder for the site for more detailed proposals to be prepared and negotiations to be undertaken between the parties leading to a disposal of the site on the long leasehold basis.”

All three offers were considered by a group made up of town and district councillors and officers, who weighed up the price and quality of each of the bids.

One of the other offers submitted to the council would have seen a two-phase development. Phase one would have seen Drill Hall refurbished as a family business, offering a bar or restaurant, and the second phase would look at the Port Royal area over the course of 10 years. The applicants proposed a land swap 10 acres of agricultural land rather than cash.

The other offer is for a reuse of the Drill Hall, comprising a community function room with pop up restaurant in the basement, living space on the ground floor and office space at the existing first floor space, or an alternative offer in which the ground floor would be used as a restaurant or for community use, with planning permission to create a new first floor for chef or owner accommodation.

East Devon District Council’s cabinet meets next Wednesday to make a decision over the future of Drill Hall.

Previously, 18 months of consultation, communication and engagement with the local community had established that quality restaurants and bars with a clear view of the sea with an outdoor terrace or a patio were among the wishes of residents for the disused and rundown building.

Cllr Cathy Gardner, who represents the Sidmouth town ward, said: “Assuming the recommended bid is accepted and all the hurdles are overcome, the Drill Hall will be refurbished and brought back into use. I am so pleased that the building looks set to live to fight another day.

“Lots of people have campaigned for this and whilst a community bid never proved possible, it seems that we will have an excellent outcome for the town.”

Restaurant plan to bring redundant Sidmouth seafront site back to life - Devon Live

Volunteering Opportunity - Zero Waste Shop in Sidmouth

Last August, a new shop opened up in Ottery St Mary:
Fillfull > the new zero-waste, plastic-free shop in Ottery - Vision Group for Sidmouth

It's doing very well indeed:
Fillfull - Home | Facebook

The idea is to do the same for Sidmouth - with a job advertisement just out from the Salvation Army:

Transforming lives in every community | The Salvation Army
Exeter Temple | The Salvation Army

For more details, contact:
Angie Carney, Community Development Manager, Sidmouth at 07889 755777 / 01392 822100 
or Angela.Carney@salvationarmy.org.uk 

The Salvation Army also helps to run the Repair Café in Sidmouth:
Sidmouth Repair Cafe - Home | Facebook

A Bank of the South West > filling the gap left by current bank closures > public meeting: Tuesday 12th March

The Futures Forum of the Vision Group will be hosting a public meeting next month:
Futures Forum: A Bank of the South West > Tony Greenham in Sidmouth to present SW Mutual bank > Tuesday 12th March

The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan has considered how to address maintaining the vibrant local economy - as covered by the Herald: 

Recent bank closures prompt public meeting about ‘filling the gap’

PUBLISHED: 07:30 23 February 2019

A public meeting has been called to find ways to maintain Sidmouth’s ‘vibrant economy’ in the wake of recent bank closures.

The Future Forum of the Vision Group of Sidmouth is inviting residents to find out more about proposals to set up a regional bank, which may ‘fill a gap’ as the town will have just two banks left from June 20.
The group has invited South West Mutual director Tony Greenham to talk about the company’s plans to create a range of banking services as soon as 2020 at the meeting on March 12.
The Herald reported last year how the bank would be owned by its members and would look to have 21 satellite branches across Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset.
Peter Murphy, from the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said: “We have seen several banks close their high street branches here in Sidmouth and East Devon over the past year – and there is real concern that this will have an impact on both business and residential communities.
“We see all around us the signs of a vibrant local economy and maintaining access to modern banking facilities is fundamental not only for local business but also for our residents.
“It is essential we continue to plan to fill the gap left by current bank closures and provide for further retrenchment in the future.”
The meeting was arranged off the back of the news that Santander would be leaving the town this year on June 20.
Peter said: “The meeting is like a focus group. South West Mutual want to know they are welcome. Do the people of Sidmouth like the idea of a bank that’s owned by its members? Would they be prepared to bank with them if they got the banking license?”
Mr Greenham spoke at last Wednesday’s East Devon District Council cabinet meeting where councillors agreed to invest in the bank alongside South Hams and West Devon councils.
During the meeting, East Devon District Council’s chief executive Mark Williams described the project as ‘extremely high risk’ but said the ‘social and environmental benefits justify the risk’.
The public meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 12, at 7pm in the Leigh Browne Room of the Dissenters’ Hall.
The meeting is open to all.

South West Mutual bank could 'fill a gap' in Sidmouth | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Brexit: and Yes Minister

Last year, Jim Hacker had a couple of thoughts to share on the Today programme:
The last thoughts of Jim Hacker : News 2017 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide

And last month, the co-creator and co-writer of Yes Minister, was asked:
Brexit is a mess – what would Yes Minister’s Sir Humphrey do? | Jonathan Lynn | Opinion | The Guardian

Needless to say, Sir Humphrey's postulations on things European went viral two and a half years ago:
Tragi-comédie britannique : revoir « Yes Minister » après le Brexit (et un peu de « The Wire » en bonus) | Polit’bistro : des politiques, du café

 And they still have relevance. They are still by and large funny:


Yes Minister explains the EEC (EU) - YouTube


Why the UK is in the EU - YouTube

Brexit special

Fancy a bite?

'The Brexit Special' starring Richard Wilson - YouTube

Monday, 25 February 2019

Bridport Green Fortnight > "Food, Farming and the Future" > 9th - 22nd March

An interesting set of events and activities are happening next month in Bridport, Dorset:

What's On - Transition Town Bridport - www.TransitionTownBridport.co.uk

Plans for Port Royal: BREAKING NEWS: All three offers for the Drill Hall propose refurbishment rather than demolition

The bids for what to do with the Drill Hall have been looked at:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: Drill Hall bids to be considered

And news has just broken that these will be presented at the next District Council Cabinet meeting - as covered in the Rescue Sidmouth Drill Hall site: 

EDDC Cabinet Agenda 6/3/2019
Dear Friends,
Things are moving forward, the agenda link is now up on the EDDC Agenda page or if you find it difficult to open from there then try here.

The item of interest appears as the last item in the document and is Agenda Item 21 on page 97. It is propably easier to just zip to the bottom of the document and work up!

It details the suggestions for the Drill Hall and also the bids which were made and the criteria for judging. I think the EDDC deserves praise for the amount of detail they give here whilst protecting confidentiality. If this is a reflection of the change in Council leadership then we could be heading for easier and less confrontational times.

The important fact is that all three bids proposed to retain the hall, have we finally got through to people that it is not economic to try to replace it? The preferred bid would use it as a restaurant, but there is little use in my regurgitating what is said in the agenda, go and read it yourself.

Kind regards, Mary

EDDC Cabinet Agenda 6/3/2019
Rescue Sidmouth Drill Hall - Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue

The 3-Rs group has also broken the news:

Revive Port Royal for all | a community initiative
Drill Hall | Save Our Sidmouth
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: an alternative view: a new campaign: an online petition > The '3Rs' vision to "retain, refurbish and reuse" > website, blog, videos

The East Devon Watch blog does ask a couple of pertinent questions, though:
“Regional” chain restaurant chosen as preferred bidder for Sidmouth Drill Hall | East Devon Watch

And the Herald gives more information this evening: 

Restaurant bids proposed for Drill Hall site

PUBLISHED: 18:15 25 February 2019 | UPDATED: 18:57 25 February 2019
The front of the drill hall has been called untidy and a mess by resident Dave O'Connor.
The front of the drill hall has been called untidy and a mess by resident Dave O'Connor.

Sidmouth’s Drill Hall looks set to become a restaurant, after the first details of the bids to take it on were revealed.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) received three commercial offers for the redundant building, with each submission proposing a restaurant or bar as part of the application.
Offer two, which has been put forward by an unnamed ‘established’ South West brand, has been recommended for selection by a core group and will be discussed at EDDC’s cabinet meeting next Wednesday (March 6).
Members will vote to allow senior officers to enter into negotiations with the approved bidder about the disposal of the Drill Hall site and the neighbouring toilet block – on the basis a replacement facility is provided.
The bidders behind offer two have restaurants in several Devon towns and in Exeter and propose to ‘sympathetically refurbish’ the Drill Hall with some alternations to include a balcony and terrace area.
The report said: “This offer would be expected to draw people into the town based on their name/reputation. They have been a catalyst elsewhere where their presence has turned around parts of town centres.”
The offer would be subject to planning and licensing approvals being secured, and would consider incorporating the toilet block into the site as the negotiation process went forward.
All three offers were considered by a group made up of town and district councillors and officers, who weighed up the price and quality of each of the bids.
The quality of the bid, which made up 60 per cent of the assessment, was assessed based on financing, delivery of the proposal, governance and outcomes.
Offer one was submitted as a two-phase development, starting with refurbishing the hall to be run as a family business, offering a bar or restaurant – employing four full time staff and up to 10 part time employees.
The second phase would look at the Port Royal area over the course of 10 years.
A land swap rather than cash was offered for the Drill Hall site.
The third offer proposed a community function room, with a pop-up restaurant in the basement, living space on the ground floor and office space on the existing first floor.
In an alternative offer, the applicant proposed the ground floor would be used as a restaurant or for community use, with planning permission to create a new first floor for chef or owner accommodation.
The council’s cabinet will discuss the recommendations next Wednesday (March 6) before final approval is given at April’s full council meeting.

Restaurant bids proposed for Drill Hall site | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald