Friday, 20 December 2013

An Inspector Calls

The Inspector’s Proposed Modifications to Plan Teignbridge has been published on the Council’s website www.teignbridge.gov.uk/examination A developer made representations to have the land at Shepherds Lane put back in to the plan (TE2 in the original draft policy) but this has been rejected by the Inspector. There is more good news for the rest of the Teign Estuary in the Inspector's proposed modifications to the Local Plan: KS2 - the proposed transport interchange to the north of the A381 adjacent to the A380/A381 roundabout has been rejected. KS7 - development to the north of Passage House Inn have also been rejected These and other proposed modifications to the Plan are open for comment until 7th February and the Inspector hope to finish his report shortly after that date

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Staying Warm and Well this Winter

The Staying Warm and Well Service runs until the end of March 2014; it has been created to provide support for people in Devon who are living in a cold home and who may need extra support over the winter or who have a heating emergency. The Service is run by voluntary groups on behalf of Devon County Council to help with: Wellbeing assistance from voluntary organisations, including: ◾food and medicine supplies in bad weather ◾welfare calls and alerts ◾maintaining social contacts and help with transport ◾room thermometers - economic support from Citizens Advice Bureau, including: •an income maximisation check at home •fuel debt advice and help with fuel switching •fuel grants - warm and safe homes support from Devon Care and Repair, including: •emergency help with boiler breakdowns and burst pipes •getting heaters and dehumidifiers •advice on how your home can be more energy efficient •help to apply for insulation, boiler replacement and housing grants •help with loft clearance before insulation is installed •a warm homes pack, which includes a blanket and socks •a room temperature alert for people at risk •installation of smoke alarms, Carbon Monoxide detectors and handrails to help prevent accidents. How do I get help? If you are having difficulty staying warm and well in the winter phone the Staying Warm and Well Service on freephone 0800 046 7700 or complete the online referral form -http://www.teigncvs.org.uk/component/rsform/form/7-in-confidence-referral-form-staying-warm-and-well-in-devon-in-confidence-copy The Staying Warm and Well Service will work with you to develop a winter action plan and arrange the support you need. How can I help others? Be aware of vulnerable family, friends or neighbours who: ◾are living in a cold or damp home, particularly older people who live alone and people who have an existing health condition ◾have a winter warmth emergency such as their boiler breaks down or pipes burst or their home floods ◾are struggling to keep warm because their home is poorly insulated or their fuel costs are high. If you know someone in this situation give them a copy of this factsheet or contact the Staying Warm and Well Service on freephone 0800 046 7700. If you need more information or a different format phone 0845 155 1015, textphone 0845 155 1020

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

£700k consultant Bill Run up by Tory Police Commissioner

Devon and Cornwall's Conservative police commissioner is still spending vast amounts on consultants. At a time when frontline police have suffered cuts. The Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg has been spent nearly £700,000 on consultants and agency staff. The figure covers the period from November 2012, when Tony Hogg took office, until March 2014. Back in June Tony Hogg claimed that his consultant spending was very much about setting up his office. Not the case, it seems, as the spending has continued and grown. Now even the Police Federation have picked up on the scandal. As ever Mr Hogg has failed to answer the questions himself, and has left it to one of his staff to make his excuses. It's not as if this is the only example of wasteful spending by Mr Hogg. His overall office costs are higher than the Police Authority he replaced, despite the promise by the Home Secretary that the new offices would be a saving on the previous system. Mr Hogg's excuse is that he isn't as bad as some. Don't forget that Mr Hogg demands that we pay his accommodation costs even though he could stay at Police HQ at Middlemoor Exeter for free. http://cllrdavidcox.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/hogging-limelight.html

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Teign Estuary Cycle Route - Where's the Money

Almost 200 cyclists staged a pedal protest on Remembrance Sunday; riding between from Broadmeadow to Kingsteiognton, in protest at the delay of the Teign Estuary Cyclepath. Rumours abounded that the project had been shelved, only for Devon County Council to claim it was committed to the project. However Teignmouth County Councillor, Richard Younger-Ross has questioned the Conservatives on the lack of planned funding for the proposed Teign Estuary Cyclepath. At the Highways and Traffic Orders Committee it was reviled that no funds have been allocated for the Scheme for 2014/15. Richard said: ”We were given a presentation on capital projects in Teignbridge showing the proposed spend for this year and next year. Most Schemes showed the projected costs for both years but the Teign Estuary Cycle Route only showed £40,000 for this year and next year was “to be confirmed”. We have been given assurances by the Conservative led Council that they are going to progress the scheme. Those assurances would sit better if we could see some progress and some anticipated expenditure.”

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Shepherd’s Lane

The Waddington Park planning applications for Shepherd’s Lane was received at Teignbridge on Monday - they will be on the website next week, the numbers are 13/02613MAJ (the houses) and 13/02612FUL (the turning circle). The planning officers are aiming to determine the applications by November. The housing application is technically in the civil parish of Bishopsteignton. I attended Bishopsteignton Parish Council's meeting on Monday, and at Tuesday's Teignmouth Town Council meeting it was agreed to work together to on these applications. Councillors from both councils along with the county councillors will be meeting in the next few days. There may be a public meeting in the near future.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Housing development off Shepherds Lane

Tim Baker of Waddeton Park Ltd has written to Bishopsteignton Parish Council to inform them that they intend to put forward a Planning Application. Advertisements in the Teignmouth News claiming this could not happen are sadly totally wrong. There are good planning reasons why this planning permission should be refused. The Letter says- Following the public meeting and the responses to the web site and newspaper articles we have been carefully considering our next steps. Teignbridge DC have had further confirmation of their lack of a 5 year land supply by way of the Inspector's comments on the Bradley Bends Bovey Tracey planning appeal. Teignbridge have lodged their Local Plan and the Examination in Public is scheduled to start of 5th September 2013. Amongst the many questions posed by the Inspector for the Examination is whether the Shepherds Lane site should be put back into the plan.National policy is to encourage house building in sustainable locations such as this. We have decided to proceed with a planning application and that will be submitted within the next week or so. In preparing the planning application we have carefully considered the comments we received and in particular those about the impact of the development on the landscape setting and visibility from Bishopsteignton, surface water drainage from the site, access from Shepherds Lane into the proposed development site and the proposals to alter Mill Lane. Our scheme has been amended to address these and other issues.We shall be doing a leaflet drop to the Moorview Drive occupiers and the residents of Bishopsteignton and there will be an advert in the Teignmouth Post and the rest of the Mid Devon Advertiser series. T J Baker FRICS Waddeton Park Ltd

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Teignbridge Hands Back Benefits Money

Money that could have been used to help hard-up households pay their rent and council tax has been handed back to the Government by Teignbridge Council. The Conservative-run authority failed to allocate all the £120,005 it was givenand sent back £9,683 which could have gone to families in need, says Lib Dem opposition leader on the council, Alan Connett. This year, Teignbridge has been given even more by the Government to help local families with their housing and council tax through the Discretionary Housing Payment system. A total of £186,222 has been awarded to Teignbridge, says Cllr Connett. He is concerned the council does all it can to help local people with their housing, rather than see money handed back to the Government. Last year, 181 cases were helped by the council with rent top-ups, advance payments and deposits, explained Cllr Connett. "The council really does need to make sure it uses all the money it has been given to help local people who are facing hardship. Average grants are around £25-£30 a week I am told, and the money sent back could have helped locally. It would have meant that money was used and benefitting the economy in Teignbridge." Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity, says the Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP) may be claimed if people get housing benefit or council tax benefit, but are having difficulty paying the rest of the rent themselves. Residents may also be able to get the payments if their housing benefit has been cut because of the 'bedroom tax' or spare room subsidy. The council decides who should be given the payments. When the money for the year runs out, no more payments can be made. Discretionary housing payments (DHP) may be paid weekly, or can be a lump sum. They can also be backdated.A discretionary housing payment (DHP) may be used to pay for: •rent deposits •rent in advance •rent arrears (but not if you were receiving enough housing benefit to pay all of your rent at the time the arrears built up) •a shortfall between housing benefit and rent •reductions in housing benefit, after changes in April 2013 known as the 'bedroom tax' •reductions in local housing allowance resulting from changes from April 2011. Cllr Connett added: "There are rules and conditions about the discretionary housing payments, but my message is that people who think they need help or may qualify, should contact Teignbridge Council and not leave it. Last year money that could have helped local people was sent back to the Government."

Monday, 8 July 2013

A Teignmouth community group is celebrating KRA received a welcome boost for its Summer Playscheme after receiving a cheque from the St James Place Foundation for £1420. Pictured are Left to Right – Karen Ryder (KRA) , David Cox and Morgan Holmes (KRA volunteer) with children from the KRA Saturday Club.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Time to Cap CAP

Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, has teamed up with Germany, to effectively stop a proposal to limit the amount of public money a landowner can capture under the Common Agricultural Policy. The Single Farm Payment – is paid out by the hectare, so the more farmland you own, the more money you get. The Single Farm Payment is one of the reasons foreign millionaires own vast areas of farmland in the UK. They probably pay little or no tax in the UK, yet they receive millions in CAP farm subsidies - they are super-rich benefit scroungers. I strongly support our farmers, as food is vital to life it is quite right that public money be used to subsidise agriculture; however an unlimited subsidy system damages the interests of small, medium and family farms. It reinforces the economies of scale enjoyed by the biggest landlords, helping them to drive the small producers out of business. A maximum payment would help small farmers compete with the big boys. “CAP is Crap” slogan of the LYMEC (European Liberal Youth) campaign on the Common Agricultural Policy.

Quantitative Easing The Canadian Way

QE Quantitative Easing - using the Bank of England's ability to create money - continues to be the policy. Why is the BoE putting it into banks!- bypassing the parts of the economy that desperately need it. The question for the new Canadian Governor of the BoE is if we are going to print money, shouldn't we do something useful with it - like use it to build green infrastructure or for low interest loans for social enterprises, and small business. Just as Canadan Liberals did in the 1940s very successfully. Josh Ryan-Collins of the New Economics Foundation has written an open letter to the Governor http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/using-qe-to-rebuild-the-uk-economy-the-canadian-way

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Hogging the Limelight

It seems that our Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Hogg has decided to help himself to £650 per month of our money as a housing allowance, on top of his £85,000 salary. Mr Hogg says he needs the cash to be able to stay near Police HQ in Exeter, because he lives in Helston; only problem with this, is that he police HQ at Middlemoor has ensuite accommodation. However this accommodation is not 'appropriate' for a person of Mr Hogg's standing; instead, he wants the money to be able to stay with chums at the local Royal Navy base. Mr Hogg has already taken on more staff than under the old Police Authority and has spent a further quarter of a million on consultants and agency staff. This latest news really adds insult to injury. How can Mr Hogg be taken seriously when he asks government for more frontline police, whilst he is diverting money which could be used for bobbies on the beat and using it to pad out his £85,000 salary with unnecessary expenses.

Friday, 28 June 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Credit Union in Teignmouth

Councillor Donald Baldy and I will be calling on Teignmouth Town Council to support the Devon credit union - Plough & Share. The rise in living costs and the pressure on family finances mean some people are turning to high interest (pay-day) loans and loan sharks to make ends meet. Credit Unions offer fair and affordable financial services, which are regulated. Plough and Share Credit Union is a co-operative, owned and controlled by its members. It promotes savings, provides credit at reasonable rates, and provides financial services to its members. It's authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and is a member of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme - so investors' money is safe. Donald and I want the town council to support Plough and Share Credit Union, by getting Bitton House to be a Service Point, and to work with Teign Estuary Transition to promote the credit union. www.ploughandshare.co.uk

Monday, 24 June 2013

Stop whining Tories -It's Your Policy

Local Tories have asserted that Liberal Democrats have changed our policy on an in-out referendum. So let’s look at the facts the Liberal Democrat position in 2008 (when our MPs walked out the Commons after being refused a debate on an in-out referendum) was that we wanted a referendum to decide whether the UK should stay in the EU in the light of the Lisbon Treaty. The Conservative position was that a referendum should decide the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty itself. The 2010 manifesto said: “Liberal Democrats … remain committed to an in/out referendum the next time a British government signs up for fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and the EU – so no change there; the manifesto still committed us to an in-out referendum; however because the Lisbon Treaty had already been ratified by 2010, the Conservative referendum had become impossible, but the Liberal Democrat referendum was still entirely possible. The European Union Act 2011 says that when there is fundamental change in the EU-UK relationship there must be a referendum about such changes themselves – not an IN/OUT referendum as per the Liberal Democrat manifesto. So what happened? It’s very easy to explain the Coalition Agreement says: ”We will amend the 1972 European Communities Act so that any proposed future treaty that transferred areas of power, or competences, would be subject to a referendum on that treaty – a ‘referendum lock’.” No mention there of any in-out referendum. The Coalition Agreement adopted the Conservatives’ position lock, stock and barrel. We need to ask the Conservatives why they are attacking Liberal Democrats for standing by a the Coalition Agreement which on EU referenda accepted Conservative policy, not Liberal Democrat.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Councillor Quits Conservative Group

I have heard on the grapevine that Cllr Kelvyn Shantry has resigned the Conservative whip at Teignbridge council and will sit as an Independent. Kelvyn has been a vocal critic of the ruling Conservative groups plans to build thousands of houses on the countryside. The link below suggest this is true as it list him as an Independent.http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=13978

Friday, 17 May 2013

Illegal Parking Tickets

Today's Teignmouth Post front page, adds to my concern that parking enforcement is used for money raising by Conservative controlled Teignbridge District Council and Devon County Council. As John Ware reports in the Post "Dozens of parking tickets have been dished out illegally to motorists in Teignmouth. They were issued in two streets where there were no restrictions and now red-faced Teignbridge and county council officials have agreed to reimburse the drivers – if they can be traced."

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Will Councillors Lose Right to Vote?

Teignbridge District Council’s Annual meeting is 14th May , there are plans to change the council’s constitution. Most of the proposed changes won’t be controversial, however items that cause me concern are: Stopping planning committee members voting on items in their ward. Councillors are obligated to consider all the issues and come to a properly balanced decision. Stripping them of their vote is yet another assault on local democracy and further strains the link between councillors and their community. Reducing the size of the planning committee to 15. Whilst in the past I’ve supported a reduction in size of the committee, I can’t help thinking this is a ploy to remove the more independent-minded Conservative councillors. Reducing the quorum of the Executive from five to four — in effect this means just four councillors could make a key and expensive decision for the council. In essence, this is legislating for councillors to be absent, rather than giving the priority to their Executive duties (for which they receive a good level of payment through Special Responsibility Allowances). Scraping ‘shadow portfolio holders’ is an assault on the opposition. Teignbridge recognised ‘shadows’ so that the opposition could keep up to date with current council issues and, of course, if the administration changes the incoming councillors have a better understanding of council issues. The current Conservative administration had ‘shadows’ and no doubt benefitted from it when they began controlling the council in May 2011. Giving the Chairman discretion to disallow public questions – I can’t see any reason to not allow a question from a member of the public. The Council needs to be more open, not less, and complaining to the Ombudsman is long winded and the LGO is already under a high workload.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Planning Pickle

Proposed Pickethead Hill development was unanimously defeated at planning committee yesterday. I’ve asked about the reasons I gave for refusal. It was obvious that the planning committee would refuse; however there is always the danger that the applicant will appeal to the Planning Inspector. The reasons I proposed for refusal were, I believe robust enough to bare scrutiny at a planning appeal. Why didn’t I object on highway grounds? There were good highways reasons to refuse this application, but experience told me Planning Inspectors take a dim view of councillors second guessing the highway authority, and it can prejudice the case. Why didn’t I use the Eric Pickles letter to the Daily Telegraph? I’m sorry but it was simply a piece of political sophistry, telling people what the want to hear and in reality changing nothing. The current administration was elected on five points – number two being to build lots of houses – the Conservative leader of the council, has been quite candid about this fact in speeches and literature. This is a very inconvenient fact for some Conservative councillors, when faced with the consequences of their own policy. We don’t need our countryside concreted over to make a few people very rich; we do need homes for local families. I succeeded in getting the former Inverteign Infants School site s used for social housing – what is today Inverteign Heights. The county had wanted to dispose of it for private housing. We have brownfield sites around the town that could be used for housing for local families.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Planning and Countryside

What we are witnessing in planning is deeply disturbing. Despite all the rhetoric about localism, planning policy is being used to impose unnecessary greenfield developments. We urgently need to have real local control, minimising the loss of countryside. According to the Telegraph big property developers have been privately promised by Conservative Planning Minister Nick Boles MP, that planning laws will be relaxed yet again within weeks to allow them to begin a house-building boom. Nick Boles has called for building on open land and attacked ‘hysterical scaremongering of latter-day Luddites’ (ie people like me) who oppose it. Earlier, The Daily Telegraph disclosed that the Conservative Party has received millions of pounds in donations from big developers who stand to benefit from controversial planning changes.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Where is the Plan?

Swathes of pristine countryside and vital green fields around Teignmouth and the Teign Estuary villages are in jeopardy, because of delays in the local plan - Plan Teignbridge. Our planning system must seem insane to the casual observer. ...A vineyard owner is refused permission to build a modest house just yards outside the village development boundary (known as the village envelope), yet big developers seem to be able to build just about anywhere they want- even areas designated as countryside by the public through consultation, alllbecause Plan Teignbridge has not been adopted. So why has the plan been delayed, giving developers carte blanche to build anywhere?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Pantomime

The Morrisons missing millions leaflet was published by Richard Younger Ross and myself because we believe teignmouth shoukd get its fair share of the Morrisons cash. The ruling Conservatives are rattled, at the eleventh-hour they changed the budget to include £2.5 million for the Carlton Theatre, I believe in the hope of deflecting attention. It is becoming even less clear what is going on, at the budget meeting we discovered that the £2.5million is in fact for the whole seafront not just the Carlton, and then over three years. Thursday night at the Courtney, it was quite clear even some Conservative councillors don't know what is going on. The Morrisons’ deal was done under the Liberal Democrat/Independent administration; I was involved with that process. Conservatives opportunistic opposition to Michael Fields could have de-railing the whole Morrison project with dire financial consequences. Thanks to the Liberal Democrats administration, we have the playing-fields we need, the contaminated land sorted out at no expense to council-tax payers and over £9million windfall. Clearly pressure from Teignmouth residents has forced Teignbridge Council into a last minute budget change. We should keep up the pressure, it’s clearly working!

Building on the Countryside

I understand Waddeton Park Ltd are about to enter into formal pre-application discussions with Teignbridge District Council Planning Department in connection with a planning application for residential development on land adjacent to Shepherds Lane together with alterations to Mill Lane. The proposals are for a sustainable residential development on green fields, rejected by residents in Plan Teignbridge.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Eastleigh

Liberal Democrats have won the seat with 13352 votes. The Conservatives have been knocked into third place by UKIP. Lib Dem 13342 UKIP 11571 Con 10559 Lab 4088 Others 2056 The main loser in this election is the right-wing press, which has tried shamelessly to exploit the allegations against Lord Rennard for their own political ends. Channel 4′s Cathy Newman original investigation was fair; however the idea the Liberals have anything to learn about how to treat women with respect from the Daily Mail is ludicrous. Their onslaught in the past week has been nakedly politically motivated – and so transparently so that the public appears to have ignored it.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Teignbridge Budget

Liberal Democrat councillor supported the Teignbridge budget today (Friday. We voted for the budget, because it was freezing council tax. However, we voted with a number of concerns and caveats.we have pointed out a number of areas where TDC under the Tories are storing up problems.... car park income has fallen but costs of running car parks have gone up. The council is spending over £27,000 a year on mobile phone contracts!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Crime Down Again

Just heard that criminal damage and anti social behaviour is down again in West Teignmouth, well done to Saul and Phil. These are crimes that have a major impact on people’s quality of life, so the reduction in these types of crimes is very welcome. What is noticeable it this drop in crime comes after a substantial drop over the last three years. Fact is we've got some very dedicated PCs and PSCOs in the Teignmouth Police Team.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Town Pressure Wins Carlton Cash Promise

£2.5 milllion promised towards Theatre rebuild - £7.2 million still held by district council. Pressure from Teignmouth residents has forced Teignbridge Council into a last minute budget change. Teignbridge which has benefitted from a windfall of £9.8 million from the Morrisons development had put all the money into it’s general capital fund. After Richard Younger-Ross and I published our “Morrisons Missing Millions” leaflet, angry residents have demanded that Teignmouth should get it’s fair share of the cash. Now Teignbridge Council have made a u turn and said £2.5 million may be used towards the rebuilding of the Carlton Theatre.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

20% RISE FOR DISABLED

Disabled parking permits will rise by 20% from April disability campaigners and opposition members of Teignbridge Council have discovered - while at the same time charges for some car parks and time bands are being cut! The surprise proposals are part of a package of measures to bring-in an extra £160,000 a year from car parking across the district. Disability campaigners and councillors learned of the planned hike in parking permit charges after Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Teignbridge, asked for the full list of fees and charges planned from April. "Most councillors on Teignbridge have not seen the detail of what the council is planning. Indeed, when I asked for the full list, I was sent an email link. The details have not been sent to each councillor with their budget papers. All we've had is a broad overview," explained Cllr Connett. The 20% hike in parking permits fees, rising from £10 to £12 a year, was a surprise as well for members of Teignbridge Access Group which campaigns for the interests of people with disabilities in the district. Chairman Bob Newton said they had not been consulted about the proposals although a council officer is due to attend a meeting on Tuesday (12 February) just two days before the Executive decision-making councillors at Teignbridge are due to approve their final budget proposals. Mr Newton added:" This increase may be only £2 a year, but it is another cost among the many other pressures faced by people with disabilities. They are already struggling with many issues and the chaos being created by ATOS in determining fitness for work. "Hard pressed families, whether disabled or not, are facing some difficult choices and a 20% increase in annual parking permits is another burden, especially as there has been no warning about this. It has almost leaked out without us having a real opportunity to engage with the council and perhaps look to see if there were alternatives. "The council may say the increase is only £2 a year but at the same time they are cutting some other parking charges. It looks like disabled drivers are being penalised and indeed, I worry that if this goes ahead it will impinge on some of the most vulnerable in our community." Teignbridge is also offering a three-year disabled parking permit for £30 (£10 a year) but Mr Newton says that it may also be a struggle for disabled drivers to find £30 in one go. "Not everyone is going to be able to find £30 from their household budget. It seems Teignbridge just haven't thought this through and if they had consulted with us in the first place we may have avoided a lot of the difficulties they seem to be creating for themselves and the disabled." Teignbridge Council is due to meet on 22 February when councillors will make the final decision on the budget, which takes effect from April.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Bedroom Tax

In April, an ‘under-occupation penalty’(the Bedroom Tax - but it isn't really a tax) will be served on people on housing benefit (HB)with a spare room or rooms. Tenants of pension age are exempt, as are those living in shared-ownership social housing. The idea is to withdraw some housing benefit from those families whose children have left home which means are still living in three and four bedroom social/council houses. It’s designed to get these people to downsize thus freeing up housing stock, as well as save about £500 million in the HB budget. One spare room will result in a 14% reduction in HB. Two or more spare rooms will see a 25% reduction in HB. This is a rather blunt instrument with little flexibility and rules that singularly don’t take account of individual circumstances. TA soldiers and other reservists who can be called up for full operational tours, could see thir parents HB cut, whilst the parents of students are not hit. By far the biggest problem it is just not that easy to downsize or to move. There just aren’t the smaller properties available - so even if these families agree to move they can’t. Nevertheless they could be losing up to £30 a week. 660,000 households(around 20%) are affected and there is the danger some could end up homeless. There’s simply no way to reverse the measure which starts in April; however increasing the discretionary housing allowance, would allow councils to take individual circumstances into account, and help ameliorate some of the unforeseen consequences.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Self-Build on the Teign

Very impressed with the Land Society’s presentation at Bitton House; a Community Land Trust (CLT), is to be set up so people who live in Teignmouth, Bishopsteignton and Shaldon will be able to afford to live and bring up their own family in the area. For a £5,000 deposit and around £600 a month people can own their own 3 bedroom detached house locally. Sounds too good to be true, well the self-builders will have to put in a lot of very hard work. However to if to get a home for life, means giving up your free-time for a year, it is well worth it. I hope the whole community will back the project,
it is in all our interests to help young people stay and live locally, to keep our town and neighbouring villages living vibrant places.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Green Deal

Millions of homes do not have full double-glazing. More than half do not have enough insulation or an efficient condensing boiler. Most do not even have proper heating controls. Homes and businesses across Britain are wasting energy and money, yet demand for energy efficiency measures remains low. The Green Deal will let people transform their homes by allowing them to pay for energy efficient home improvements with the savings on their energy bills. And hundreds of pounds in “cash back” is currently available to householders in England and Wales as well. Households quick off the mark could get over £1,000 cash back. The Green Deal empowers consumers by providing more options for making home improvements. One of the many advantages of the Green Deal is that consumers can benefit from an impartial assessment, and they can decide which company they want to use for the installation. They can pay for the cost of the work in a way which suits them. This is not a centralised restrictive scheme with huge administration costs and baffling bureaucracy. All Green Deals will have to pass the ‘Golden Rule’. This limits the amount of Green Deal finance you can get to the estimated energy bill savings from the new measures. Hence, the Green Deal charge on future electricity bills will include both the cost of the measures and the finance, and that will be less than the energy savings. So people get warmer homes and pay less – and the Golden Rule means consumers can be confident of a great green deal! With expensive measures such as solid wall insulation you can get extra help with the costs from the Energy Company Obligation that mandates the companies to subsidise those more expensive green deal measures. The Creen Deal has set up a robust set of rules to protect consumers including warranties for work done, a system of redress, sanctions for sub standard providers and a independent adjudicator. All Green Deal providers must be approved and identified with the Green Deal ‘kite mark’. And it’s not just good for homeowners and tenants, it’s good for business too. There are currently 24 registered Green Deal providers including Kingfisher (owners of B&Q and Screwfix), British Gas, NPower, Carillion and Wolsey (owners of PlumbCentre) and the number is set to increase. This means new green jobs – tens of thousands across the country – in energy efficiency and in the supply chain. And by switching some of our subsidies away from loft insulation and easy to treat cavity walls – most of which have been done – to solid walls and hard to treat cavity walls – which past governments largely ignored – there will be more green jobs, more carbon saved and less fuel poverty. You can find out more about the Green Deal at www.gov.uk/greendeal

Big Society

The Big Society offered the idea of replacing the bureaucratic monoliths of the private and public sectors with a variety of small voluntary and community groups. As a fan of Fritz Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful, it’s an idea that appeals to me ; however I have to ask is the Big Society suffocating the very dynamism of the voluntary and community organisations, and getting them to emulate the bureaucracy of the big private and public organisations. With the exception of some farsighted individuals, when councillors, civil servants and council officers come across small voluntary and community organisations, they are horrified. They see weak management, weak finance, accountability and evaluation. They see constant turnover of staff and volunteers, weak balance sheets and the lack of codified practice. They rush to “increase capacity” of voluntary and community organisations “to deal with this contractual environment”, in other words they seek to make them in the image of private or public organisations. Huge, national, regional or county contracts, mean that the only non-public organisations able to bid are the big, profit-driven companies and not the smaller, more innovative voluntary and community organisations that could make the real breakthroughs. Many big companies win these huge contracts, only to subcontract the frontline work to smaller voluntary and community organisations, tying them in to rigid contracts. Thus pushing the risk down the food chain and keeping the profits at the top. A ‘consortium’, which brings small organisations together in a joint venture, can challenge the big boys. However the result can be endless infighting and multiple rigid controls and reporting procedures. We shouldn’t be changing voluntary and community organization to fit the contractual environment, we should be changing the contracts to fit the voluntary and community sector.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Small Business Rate Relief

If you own a small Business which has a ratable value of below £18,000 a year you could be able to claim some of your business rates back. This is called Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR). The council may backdate SBRR if you qualify. You can download the form here: http://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=26382&p=0

Monday, 21 January 2013

Staying Warm and Well this Winter

With this cold spell, I know people will be looking out for neighbours and relatives. If needed there is practical support for vulnerable and older people to deal with the adverse effects of winter. This support includes advice and help with heating and insulation, benefits advice and help with changing energy suppliers. We can also help with emergency shopping, collecting prescriptions and essential heating repairs during the winter.Please contact me if you know anyone who needs this help.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Transport Minister

It was good to meet and talk to Transport Minister Norman Baker last night (Tuesday). Norman has supported 20 limits for residential streets and changed the rules to make easier to get bring in a speed limit. Norman introduced changes that reduce the costs for councils wanting to use 20 mph schemes, allowing them to act faster in response to the needs of local res
idents while still ensuring that drivers know what speed they should drive at. If local communities want to put in place 20 mph schemes on residential roads or use common-sense measures such as variable speed limits outside schools, then the county council should be able to do so without spending time and money satisfying unnecessary Whitehall diktats; but Devon County Council seems to want stay in the past and do nothing. Whilst Shaldon has a number of streets with 20 limits, the people of Kingsway and Inverteign Heights were denied a 20 limit last year when I tried to get the Highways Committee to support a 20 limit in West Teignmouth. http://cllrdavidcox.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/devon-county-council-area-highways.html

Want to Buy Your First Home

There is a new equity loan scheme to help first-time buyers in Teignbridge buy a home. People who want to own their own home in Teignbridge but have struggled to raise the deposit can apply for a loan under the Open Market HomeBuy scheme, which is being run by Teignbridge District Council and Sovereign Housing Association. Interested buyers must register with South West Homes, and be on the Teignbridge District Council housing list. To do so visit: www.southwesthomes.org.uk/ or contact 0300 100 0021