E&E Letters | Arts at the centre of the our communities?

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14 April 2016

Shame about lack of arts plan

I note that Ed Vaisey [Minister for Culture – Channel 4 News, 05 April] wants to “put the arts at the centre of our communities.”

What a shame that Exeter City Council does not want to do the same.

S. Broom
Exeter

E&E Letters | University is a benefit for us all

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07 March 2016

University is a benefit for us all

I refer to Alan Jones recent letters on students and purpose-built student accommodation.

In his most recent letter, he comments on full-time students having exemption from council tax, implying that this is granted by Exeter City Council.

Since he is a declared candidate for the ward of Pennsylvania in the forthcoming elections, I hope he knows that this exemption is granted by central government rather than an individual local authority.

It used to be the case that Revenue Support Grant from central Government more than compensated Exeter City Council for the cost of student exemption, but as this central funding is being cut year on year by the Chancellor this is no longer the case.

So it is not the City Council that is short-changing the residents of Exeter, but Mr Jones own Tory Government.

Mr Jones suggests a 5 year moratorium on purpose-built student accommodation. Once again, this seems to go against his party’s own policies.

When they came to power, the Conservative-led Coalition introduced the National Planning Policy Framework which has at its heart the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

The result of this policy is that developers appear to have the upperhand in planning decisions as planning committees can only refuse applications on purely planning grounds…and any local refusal is often overturned by the Planning Inspectorate, with the possibilty of costs awarded against the City Council.

That said, in recent months, we’ve seen the ECC Planning Committee refuse new student accommodation attached to Renslade House, and a reduced scheme come forward on the site of Radmore & Tucker after an initial refusal.

To me , it seems that Mr Jones sees the University only in terms of students – I know from my time on campus that the University of Exeter is a major employer for the city, and that’s a benefit for us all.

Luke Sills
Labour Candidate for St Davids

E&E Community News | St Thomas – Spring [Deep] Clean

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10 March 2016

E&E Community News | St Thomas – Spring [Deep] Clean

A part of St Thomas is due to have an early spring clean.

In response to local concerns from residents, local councillors have been able to confirm areas that are to get a deep  by the City Council this year.

The areas currently on the list are Old Vicarage Road, Tin Lane , Powderham Road, Shaftesbury Road , Duckworth Road , Barton Road through to the Cowick Street entrance, Church Path Road, Holland Road, Parkhouse Road, Coleridge Road, Churchill Road , and the rear of Cowick Lane that backs on to the terraced areas.

The clean up time will run from Monday the 14th March to Thursday 24th March 2016 and focus primarily on those roads that have been so far identified.

Local councillor Paul Bull said: “This was one of the main issues that we picked up locally after listening to local people in this part of St Thomas, so we wanted to get these areas on the list for action , especially as many of the back alleys are getting very grubby , weeds need pulling , and there is some general dumping and litter, and we are regularly getting complaints.

“We will look to putting out a local street letter to the effected properties ahead of the allotted time to help raise awareness.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “it will be really good to get some spring cleaning done at these locations.

“It’s been a rough old wet winter and the mild weather has meant that many of the weeds have not died back as usual so, with all the high winds and storms, they will have been a magnet for litter blowing around.

“Also many people in these terraced areas actually use their back alleys a lot for access, for example taking the dogs for a walk, so it’s really important they are kept clear nd clean”

If residents would like more information , or suggest other areas in St Thomas that need attention, please email cllr.paul.bull@exeter.gov.uk , rob.hannaford@devon.gov.uk  and cllr.hannah.packham@exeter.gov.uk.

E&E Community News | St Thomas – Local Grants

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10 March 2016

E&E Community News | St Thomas – Local Grants

During the current financial year , St Thomas Cllrs Hannah Packham and Rob Hannaford have agreed the following community grants for local groups and residents.

St Thomas Methodist Church: £300 for raised beds.

St Thomas Bowling Club: £200 for a new hot water urn .

Pinces Garden: £300 for a Garden Party this coming May.

Pinces Gardens Bowling Club: £300 for new crockery and folding tables.

Age UK: £225 towards a Dementia allotment project.

The Bloom’In St Thomas Group: £300 for new wildflower plantings.

St Thomas Allotment Association: £100 towards new notice boards

Cllr Packham said: “ It’s been great to use these local grants in St Thomas for a range of very worthwhile projects.

“It often means that when an issue arises , or a piece of equipment goes wrong , we can be proactive straight away.

“For many small organisations relying on volunteers, grants up to three hundred pounds can make a big difference.

“Where some local projects serve more than one ward , we can on occasions agree cluster funding from several ward budgets. Please keep coming forward to us with your ideas , projects and suggestions”

Fellow St Thomas Cllr Rob Hannaford , who originally set up these grants when he was the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, added: “These delegated ward grants that all City Councillors have each year do a huge amount of good positive work across the whole city , that often add value to the grass roots fund raising efforts by volunteers.

“Over many years we have always made full use of them in and around St Thomas.

“This includes supporting all sorts of charities , church groups , community organisations , and sports clubs.”

Cllr Hannaford added: “Another important element to the grants is providing local ward members with an important tool in fulfilling their leadership role of local community champions.

“This work is very important at the moment , with public sector cuts and reducing central government funding , in that we work with local people to achieve sustainable projects  and generally promote resilience.“

The recent budget setting meeting at the City Council confirmed that each of the new three member wards will have £3,000 each.

If people would like information , guidance , or to make an application. they are encouraged to make contact with their local councillors , or Dawn Rivers, the Community Involvement and Inclusion Officer at the City Council, who can be emailed at  dawn.rivers@exeter.gov.uk .

E&E Letters | Kerbside glass collection

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29 February 2016 

I notice that the local Tory election literature promises to introduce at the earliest opportunity kernside glass recycling.

Has this been costed?

Exeter City Council’s present system of recycling involves  a forthnightly collection of a range of materials (such as paper, card, aluminium and steel cans, aerosols and all types of plastic household packaging). This is delivered to the Council’s Material Reclamation Facility [MRF] at Exton Road where it is sorted and resold to help cover the costs.

Glass is not, and cannot, be included in the mix as the MRF is not designed to process it – the equipment would be damaged, the glass would contaminate other recyclates and , most importantly, some of the separation involves manual picking.

So the introduction of  a kerbside glass collection from each household would mean the introduction of a completely separate collection service.

I can see the benefits of this plan – there is the possibility that more glass might be recycled but at what cost?

Back in 2011 the City Council looked at this when the price of glass was high.

Costs for kerbside glass collection [September 2011]

They found to introduce a kerbside collection, they found that even the cheapest option of a monthly mixed glass collection would cost an additional £367,241 per year., In addition there would be capital costs of over £600,000 in the first year.

Can someone from the local Conservative team tell me how they could fund this grand plan, or is it a case of talk is cheap?

Richard Brimble
Alphington, Exeter

Further reading:
ECC Scrutiny Committee – Community: Economic and environmental impact of introducing a separate kerbside collection of glass in Exeter [06 September 2011]

E&E | Last-ditch attempt to save patrols

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25 February 2016

Last-ditch attempt to save patrols

By Anita Merritt

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Lollipop protest outside County Hall

An 11th hour bid to save Devon’s school crossing patrollers has been launched.

Parents, grandparents and anyone who wants to see the continuation of what is regarded as a vital and life-saving service in Devon, is being asked to contact councillor John Hart, the leader of Devon County Council, by phone or email before it is too late.

The Heart to Hart campaign has been launched by school crossing patroller campaigners and is being backed by Cllr Alan Connett, Liberal Democrat group leader on Devon County Council.

He said: “My call would be for every parent, grandma and grandad in Devon to email Cllr Hart and say they want to keep our school crossing patrollers.

“They can also contact their local conservative councillors as they are the ones who voted to cut the service.

“This is our 11th hour chance to save school crossing patrollers. When they’re gone they’re gone.”

Cllr Connett said he was concerned not much money would be saved if the council has to spend out on traffic islands or alternative safety management outside schools. He added he was also worried parents would no longer feel it was safe for their older children to walk to school which would increase traffic on Devon’s roads and impact on children’s health by being driven to school instead of walking.

“The decision is a false economy,” he said. “Labour put forward a different proposal, as did the Independents and Liberal Democrats. We could have found the money for it.”

At last week’s meeting, the majority of councillors voted in favour of Cllr Hart’s recommendation to approve the budget for 2016/17, which excluded funding for school lollipop patrollers. A further debate of the service will take place at the council’s scrutiny committee meeting on Monday, 07 March.

Overwhelming opposition from schools, councillors and the public – along with three petitions with one signed by more than 1,000 people – failed to sway the mind of Devon County Council in its mission to save £250,000 a year from its budget.

Under the new proposals, school patrollers will be employed by a third party that would deliver the service on a full-cost recovery or commercial basis.

If schools decide not to fund the cost of their patrol, the alternatives are for it to be run by volunteers or to lose the service.

To make sure the service continues to be delivered safely, the council says it is prepared to continue a degree of support such as establishing and monitoring quality standards, providing training and doing risk assessments.

Save our school lollipop patrollers campaigner Marie Leverett, a mum from Stoke Hill, Exeter, said: “I sincerely hope the County Council will reconsider it’s position at the scrutiny committee on 07 March, and take some time to think through the ramifications of this ludicrous budget cut in the short, medium and long term.”

At last week’s full council meeting, Cllr Hart said: “It’s not an easy decision to make but I think it’s the right decision for us to take.”

To join the Heart to Hart campaign, send an email to Cllr Hart asking to save Devon’s school lollipop patrollers at john.hart@devon.gov.uk or call him on 01752 403554.

E&E | Demonstrators plan protest ahead of final decision over future of Devon’s school lollipop patrollers

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15 February 2016

Demonstrators plan protest ahead of final decision over future of Devon’s school lollipop patrollers

A demonstration is being organised outside Exeter’s County Hall this week to coincide with when Devon County Council decide the fate of Devon’s school lollipop patrollers.

A group of parents, children and possibly lollipop patrollers are planning to stage a protest at 1.45pm on the steps outside the main entrance of County Hall ahead of a full council meeting this Thursday. Protestors will be wearing visibility jackets and holding lollipops.

It is being organised by mum-of-two Stella Cahill, from Stoke Hill, Exeter, who has been among a group of parents involved in the Save our School Lollipop Patrollers campaign.

Stella said: “The plan is to be there as the councillors go in for their meeting at 2.15pm.

“I have one child a Stoke Hill Junior School and my other goes to Stoke Hill Infant School. We did have two school crossing patrollers – one at a crossing between the schools and one down the roundabout near the schools. We now just have one by the schools. If that patroller is taken away too I think someone will get hurt because cars speed down the road and visibility is not good. You also get children from the juniors crossing by themselves to come over the infants to meet their parents and siblings.

“I don’t know how our school will fund it if the council decide not to. There is not a vast amount of money spare in anyone’s budget.”

Despite overwhelming opposition from the public, schools and councillors to cease funding school lollipop patrollers, the council’s cabinet approved the proposal at its meeting last week and it is now up to full council to give it the final go ahead.

The reason behind the cost cutting plans is to save £250,000 a year from the county council budget. Instead the cost will transfer to schools, with the patrollers themselves employed by a third party that would deliver the service on a full-cost recovery or commercial basis.

If schools decide not to fund the cost of their patrol, the alternatives are for it to be run by volunteers or to lose the service.

To make sure the service continues to be delivered safely, the council says it is prepared to continue a degree of support such as establishing and monitoring quality standards, providing training and doing risk assessments.

Andy Hannan, Devon County Councillor for Priory and St Leonard’s, said: “Labour councillors are proposing an amendment to the council budget to transfer £250,000 from members’ locality budgets, reducing them all from £10,000 to £6,000 each, in order to maintain DCC’s provision of school crossing patrols.

“In other words, we’re giving all councillors a chance to make a contribution from funds they have to support good causes in their own communities.”

For details of joining the protest on Thursday visit ‘save our crossing patrols protest’ on Facebook.

E&E | Exeter aims to bring more rough sleepers in from the cold

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21 November 2015

Exeter aims to bring more rough sleepers in from the cold

New steps are being taken to help bring Exeter’s rough sleepers in from the cold.

Exeter City Council is gearing up to the winter with an action plan to which will see 26 spaces to accommodate rough sleepers from December 1 to February 28 – , including specific provision for women.

The City Council is working in partnership with a number of groups including the police and St Petrock’s to offer a safe place to sleep for those with no other options available.

Since 2010 there has been a yearly increase in the numbers of people rough sleeping in England. In Exeter last year there was an increase of 48per cent.

City Council Leader, Pete Edwards, said: “‘We are committed to reversing this trend by tackling the causes of homelessness and rough sleeping, although it will be an ongoing challenge.

“We recognise that many people who are homeless have complex issues. We are trying to work creatively with partner agencies to offer a safe place to sleep and the right support to get people through the winter.”

Agencies will work together with the homeless, focussing on longer term plans, and in a specific place rather than trying to meet up on the street.

It is hoped that this will help those who may have refused to ‘come inside’ and help manage anti-social behaviour within the city. Clients with no local connection will be offered reconnection services so that the provision is linked to local demand.

The project includes support alongside a place to sleep with the intention of being able to offer as many ongoing accommodation placements as possible by the end of February.

Confusion over consultation on Exeter boundary changes

Express and Echo

Thursday 07 May 2015

COMMUNITY NEWS | Cowick

 

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AT noon on Monday, the public consultation on the draft recommendations for the new electoral arrangements for Devon County Council closed.

However, the public consultation on the draft recommendations on electoral arrangements for Exeter City Council continues for another month, closing on August 10.

The final recommendations from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE)for both reviews are due to be published on September 29.

Cowick councillor Paul Bull has represented the ward for the past four years and said: “The two reviews, running almost concurrently, are causing confusion, and that isn’t helped by the fact that Devon County Council’s electoral boundaries will no longer relate to Exeter’s ward boundaries; at present, a county council electoral division is made up of two complete city council wards – as we go forward, that won’t be the case. To use the technical term, they will no longer be co-terminous.

“I – but more importantly, the general public – would have thought that the building blocks for divisions of upper-tier authorities would be the ward boundaries of lower-tier councils and the review of Exeter’s boundaries should have taken place before the Devon electoral review.”

Cllr Bull has also pointed out a drafting error to LGBCE.

He said: “If you look at a street map, there seems to be a close affinity between Nadder Park Road and Wheatley Close and the apparently nearby Branscombe Close and High Meadows.

“However, the actual layout on the ground means it is impossible to cut through from one to the other – there is no direct route to get from Nadder Park Road to Branscombe Close – the journey involves travelling along Barley Lane, Barley Farm Road, Charley Avenue and High Meadows.

“In addition, the stretch of Barley Lane from Redhills to the junction with Nadder Park Road is a narrow country lane – the two main approaches to Nadder Park Road are via either Barley Lane from Dunsford Road or Barley Farm Road.

“For these reasons, I suggested moving Nadder Park Road and Wheatley Close from the proposed Redhills/Exwick division to the new Alphington/St Thomas one.

“It is worth noting that this suggested boundary line is reflected in the new St Thomas ward in the draft recommendations on the new electoral arrangements for Exeter City Council.”