Thursday, 21 January 2010

Council Tax

Teignbridge District Council's annual budget consultation is underway, with a brand new online tool enabling local people to show how they'd prioritise and spend money across Council services.

The public consultation runs until Tuesday 16 February, with local people able to go online to show the Council what they'd spend money on using a notional £10 budget to proportionally represent Teignbridge's whole budget. For those without internet access there will also be a public meeting on Friday 22nd January at Teignbridge's Forde House offices from 6pm - 7.30pm where a similar exercise will take place.

The online consultation can be accessed at, and is a first for the Council, with the results going on to help inform the Council's debate on the budget for 2010/11. Further information including initial discussions by Members regarding potential Council Tax levels and changed can also be viewed on the same web page as the consultation, and may help participants make an informed choice. Teignbridge’s possible budget proposals are not limited to the options already discussed by Members.

Using the online tool people can see how Teignbridge spent its 2009/10 budget as a proportion of £10. They can then split £10 between 11 areas of Council service by adding to, reducing or keeping the current amount. Alternatively they can even opt to 'Stop the service' entirely. When setting their budget they'll be able to use the whole £10, less or more. However, if they go over budget they'll have to explain how they'll find the extra money. The Services are:

· Street Cleaning

· Waste Collection & Recycling

· Public Toilets

· Housing - including affordable housing, homelessness etc.

· Parks, open spaces & play

· Leisure and sports

· Concessionary Bus Fares (non-negotiable as it is set by the Government)

· Economic Development & Tourism

· Planning and Building Control

· Community & Culture - including crime reduction, diversity, engagement, partnerships and more.

· Environment, Food and Safety

The responses to the survey will then be considered by Councillors as they debate and set the budget for the coming year.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Treat roads for ice whilst the sun is shining

The chaos on Telegraph Hill highlighted the old problem of grit lorries not being able to get to areas blocked off by accidents caused by the ice they have come to clear. Devon's greenest councillor Gordon Hook thinks he may have an answer. Gordon wants to the County Council to recycle summer sunshine collected by Devon's roads and use it to keep them ice-free in winter. Gordon has been looking at an experimental scheme that uses pipes installed underneath a section of road to gather solar energy in summer and recirculate it in winter.

The technology is known as interseasonal heat transfer, or IHT. Scientists believe the IHT could be a way to treat the roads which are the first to freeze, and to heat and cool buildings, cutting energy bills and lower greenhouse gas emissions. In summer, when road temperatures can reach 40C, the water is warmed and pumped to pipes insulated with polystyrene. In winter, when sensors detect the temperature at 2C, warm water is pumped back under the road to heat the ground and prevent ice forming. IHT technology has been the subject of a two-year trial on a little-used access road on the M1 by scientists at the Transport Research Laboratory.

More information about Interseasonal Heat Transfer can be found here:http:

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Details of Boiler Scrappage Scheme

The Government has announced details of the Boiler Scrappage Scheme. A scheme championed by Teign MP Richard Younger-Ross and Teignbridge District Council; that will reduce CO2, fight fuel poverty and will boost jobs. Richard managed to get cross-party and some high profile support for the scheme including a government minister, and much to the surprise of many of us the Chancellor announced a Boiler Scrappage Scheme in PBR.

Households in England can apply for a £400 voucher to help with the cost of replacing old, G-rated boilers for a new A-rated boiler or renewable heating system such as a biomass boiler or a heat pump. Teignbridge District Council may be able to top this amount up for certain qualifying groups, subject to the budget being approved in March.

The scheme is open to householders, including tenants, and landlords who privately own and rent dwellings. To be eligible, the boiler to be scrapped must be the main boiler used to heat the home. If the householder is under 60 years of age the boiler to be scrapped must also be in working order. However, householders aged 60 and over can apply regardless of whether the boiler is in working order.
The £400 vouchers will be issued from 18 January 2010. Vouchers are only valid for 12 weeks from date of issue.
If you believe that your home has a G-rated or worse boiler and wish to register an interest in the scheme to receive a £400 cashback voucher towards the cost of upgrading to an A-rated boiler, then arrange for your nominated installer to visit and provide you with a quote. You will be required to provide all of the following information:
i) Your full name.
ii) The address of the property you wish to claim the voucher for.
iii) The make and name of the boiler being scrapped.
iv) The company name, address and contact details of the installer carrying out the work.
v) The type of replacement boiler to be installed e.g. gas, biomass.
vi) Confirmation that you have received a quote or visit from the installer to carry out the work.
Once you have this information please email or call ACT ON CO2 advice line on 0800 512 012. Email:

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

New Use for Old Boxes

Every year we fight to keep our telephone boxes from being removed by BT. The increase coverage for mobile phones has reduced the income from telephone boxes. Slowly but surely BT is removing our telephone boxes, they claim it costs more to look after the boxes than they generate in income. So I was intrigued to see an Environmental Transport Association (ETA) report about how Spain has found a new use for their public telephone boxes - as re-charging points for electric vehicles

Many of Devon's rural telephone call-boxes would be relatively easy to adapt as recharging points because they tend to be located close to the roadside and already have their own electricity supply and obviously telephone line and payment point.Following Spain's example could give our boxes a new lease of life and new source of revenue for BT.

A trial in Spain will see 30 telephone boxes around the city transformed into charging points as part of a network of 546 state-subsidised recharging points, which will also cover Seville and Barcelona.

The Spanish government plans to spend the equivalent of £8.7m on encouraging the use of at least 2,000 electric cars in the three cities over the next two years.


I was surprised to read in the newspaper that Mike Hockin Chairman of Dawlish Chamber of Trade blaming Teignbridge District Council, because Tesco has won a High Court battle to stop rival Sainsbury's plans to build a new store in Dawlish.

The fact is Dawlish’s Conservative district councillors pushed for the Sainsbury’s application to be approved without delay, despite warnings that the council would almost certainly face a legal challenge. Dawlish councillors were under extreme public pressure, one Dawlish councillor said it would be ‘political suicide’ for any Dawlish councillor not to support Sainsbury’s; however they could have supported my amendment without compromising their position, they chose not to. Read the minutes of the 23rd June 2008 here: and the notes here: and the minutes of 10th November here:

The amendment I proposed, seconded by Alan Connett, was for deferral. This would have delayed but not necessarily refused Sainsbury’s planning application, allowing for both applications to be consider together; and avoided giving Tesco the opportunity to mount a legal challenge, as well as negotiate a better contribution for Dawlish town centre from Sainsbury than the derisory £200,000 offered –Dartmouth got £383,700 from Sainsbury.

Regrettably my amendment was lost 9 votes to 13 votes. Had the committee accepted my amendment, Teignbridge council taxpayers wouldn’t have to find an estimated £40,000 in legal bills. However the ultimate irony of this sorry tale is that Dawlish may end up with Tesco after all. Tesco has been refused planning permission, mainly because Sainsbury had permission, now the court has taken Sainsbury’s planning permission away; Tesco has a pretty strong case to take to the planning inspector.