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

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:

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.

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: or contact 0300 100 0021