Saturday, 17 February 2018

Knowle relocation project: moving into a 'modern, flexible working environment to save on running costs' - which a cash-strapped council then has to sell

This reasoning sounds rather familiar:
"The initial move to the new headquarters was made to save on running costs..." and to "get the benefits from this modern, flexible working environment."

But it actually does not come from East Devon, but from Northampton:

Northamptonshire plans sale of HQ to generate cash

Dominic Brady 16 Feb 18

Northamptonshire County Council will sell its £53m headquarters to free up cash following after it issued a section 114 notice earlier this month. The notice, issued on 2 February 2018, was the first of its kind for nearly 20 years and meant the council stopped spending on all non-statutory services.

Since these severe spending restrictions were implemented, Northamptonshire has been scrambling to secure more funds to provide important services in the face of a predicted overspend of £21.1m. Consequently, the council has decided to sell its headquarters, which it only moved into in October 2017, in order to use the capital receipts to fund the delivery of services. However, it will continue to occupy the property, leasing the office back from the new owners.

The initial move to the new headquarters was made to save on running costs caused by the council being split between 12 different sites and the council claims that this move “is already saving £53,000 a week”.

A spokesperson for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Under a sale and leaseback arrangement the office complex would be sold as freehold with the council leasing it back for a period of 25 years or more. The council will remain in One Angel Square so will still get the benefits from this modern, flexible working environment at the heart of the town centre.”

Concerns over Northamptonshire’s financial management began in January 2018 when communities secretary Sajid Javid sent in an inspector to investigate whether the county was failing to comply with its best value duty.  The county council’s financial problems have come as a result of reduced funding from central government as well as a increased pressure on adult social care services, caused by an ageing population.

Northampton’s misfortune has sparked fears that more councils may also suffer from section 114 orders in the future. At the time of the section 114 notice, a CIPFA spokesperson said: “We are likely to see other councils reach this point in two or three years if the government does not provide a more sustainable framework for local government finances.”

Northamptonshire plans sale of HQ to generate cash | Public Finance

This has been covered here before:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "a cash-strapped local authority is considering selling its new headquarters"

And it's a story that isn't going to go away, with things developing over the past week and further reports:
Northamptonshire County Council to sell new £53m HQ - BBC News
Northamptonshire council boss resists resignation calls - BBC News
Northamptonshire council faces up to cost of effective bankruptcy | UK news | The Guardian

With a particularly interesting piece from the Architects Journal: 
Cash-strapped Northamptonshire Council to sell its new BDP-designed HQ | News | Architects Journal

Knowle relocation project: a serious shortage of care workers in the Sid Valley area will mean that the new residents 'may experience problems' finding care provision

Local MP Hugo Swire has welcomed the integration of health and social services:

A View From Westminster: Social Care

Wednesday, 24 January, 2018

A political consensus is emerging here at Westminster about what has to be done to save the NHS which we all know is in crisis. The main cause that has been targeted is social care, which has been created by an ageing population and yes, cuts to local Government. Jeremy Hunt has now persuaded the Prime Minister to bring social care into the NHS, which is a good thing, but in my books the budget, which currently sits at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government also needs to be transferred. The NHS rather than councils should be in charge of commissioning social care.

A View From Westminster: Social Care | Hugo Swire

This was also reported in the Herald recently:
How can we save the NHS? | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

And these concerns about social care and an ageing population have been echoed across the board:
Futures Forum: "The loss of community hospital beds was intended to be offset by increasing the capacity of community care... Unfortunately there is not sufficient capacity in the home care services to do this job."

In the latest Herald, these issues are reiterated:

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

The lead letter in the Herald makes the point:

Problems for even the wealthy

According to the National Audit Office quoted in The Times newspaper this week “more than a third of care workers give up their job within a year because of low pay”. Carers' pay is the equivalent of £7.50 an hour and many have to work unsocial hours and travel widely. In addition, there are currently vacancy rates of 16 per cent for registered nurses and this figure is likely to rise rapidly during Brexit.

Local Social Services organisers will confirm that there is already a serious shortage of care workers in the Sid Valley area. In a year or so, when the 113 Knowle apartments (all of whose main residents will require care) and Green Close are up and running, an extra 150 to 200 people will need care in this area, with the result that even the wealthy may experience problems.

Michael Temple 

Sidmouth and Ottery breaking news and sport - Sidmouth Herald

Dramatic show of how far the cliffs at Pennington Point have retreated over a 10-year period from 2008 to 2018 >>> "the erosion was caused by the construction of the rock islands that were intended to protect the cliffs"

The Beach Management Plan trundles on, promising something:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: report from 10th January meeting
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: “These investigations are an essential part of our studies to move forwards a scheme to maintain and improve the town’s protection from flooding and I’m pleased to see East Devon continuing to make good use of local expertise.”

Or maybe not:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: and whatever happened to the Beach Management Plan...

There won't exactly be very much in the coffers:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: and asking the public to fund a public project >>> nine months on and £165 richer

There are cheaper options - not on offer for East Devon, though:
Futures Forum: Rock armouring to protect South Devon coast

Meanwhile, the cliffs continue to collapse:
Futures Forum: Dramatic show of how far the cliffs at Pennington Point have retreated over a 10-year period from 2006 to 2016 >>> "Sidmouth’s cliffs to the east of the seafront are constantly under attack from coastal erosion."

And things are looking very bad, as reported on the front page of the Herald:

Photos of Sidmouth cliffs reveal ‘alarming’ rate of erosion

16 February 2018 Stephen Sumner

Charles Lodge took these photos from his apartment. He said using the lamp posts as markers shows how the cliffs have eroded. 

A business owner with a viewpoint over Sidmouth’s crumbling cliffs is calling for an end to talking and the start of some preventative action. Charles Lodge played on East Beach as a child in the 1960s, but over the last decade has witnessed an ‘alarming’ rate of erosion. Mr Lodge has documented the receding coastline over the last decade by taking photos from the same spot.

He thinks East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) idea to ask the community for contributions to the beach management plan (BMP) is a ‘non-starter’ – but the authority says it is essential to unlock government funding. “The lack of any action from EDDC is alarming,” said Mr Lodge, who owns Libra Court. “All that seems to happen is talking. When will some preventative action be taken? Monitoring is no solution to the problem of Pennington Point gradually disappearing.”

Mr Lodge claims the erosion was caused by the construction of the rock islands that were intended to protect the cliffs. He added: “As a youngster in the 1960s there was a substantial pebble beach. Nowadays, the beach has gone and there is nothing to break the force of the waves, particularly in a south-westerly storm.”

Consultants are drafting a business plan so EDDC can secure £5.7million in government funding. The authority needs a further £3.3million in partnership funding to deliver the scheme and plans to write to businesses and residents to ask for contributions.

Mr Lodge said the idea is a ‘non-starter’ and argued the costs should be borne by ‘EDDC and the various agencies’.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “While we appreciate it took longer than some people may wish to get to this stage, the council felt it was important to take on the views of community representatives and to undertake additional research using more local sources of information as part of the BMP. The outline business case includes the outline design, and environmental impact assessment, which are prerequisites for any construction scheme on this scale to progress. Without completing these we would be unable to access DEFRA funding for the scheme.”

The spokeswoman said partnership funding was introduced to allow projects like the BMP to proceed – on the understanding that the communities that benefit would contribute. She added that Sidmouth’s reliance on tourism means there is an ‘excellent case’ for local contributions to come in. The spokeswoman said studies showed the erosion is not related to the breakwaters, and sediment recycling is proposed in the BMP to protect the cliffs.

Photos of Sidmouth cliffs reveal ‘alarming’ rate of erosion | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald
Cliff inspections to take place in Sidmouth | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

The Express & Echo also carries the story on its front page:

Sidmouth cliff top homes creeping towards destruction as 'a metre a year' lost to the sea

A row of 12 houses, perched on cliffs at Sidmouth, have all lost large parts of their gardens, and it is a year to the day that Paul Griew's shed collapsed onto the beach

Daniel Clark 7 FEB 2018

Sidmouth cliff top homes creeping towards destruction as 'a metre a year' lost to the sea - Devon Live

Video shows aftermath of yet another massive cliff fall in Sidmouth

Council is asking the public to help fund a multi-million pound plan to protect the beach

Richard Booth 7 AUG 2017

There has been yet another cliff fall in Sidmouth. More of the cliffs overhanging Sidmouth's East Beach on the area near to Pennington Point collapsed on Saturday. The cliff fall happened just yards away from where three metres of the garden of Paul Griew – including his beloved shed – collapsed in a landslide months ago – and where 1,000 tons of soil and dirt landed on the beach in May in what was one of the biggest cliff falls for years.

Sidmouth's cliffs have been collapsing into the sea for a while and the latest cliff fall happened at around 9.30am on Saturday morning.

East Devon District Council is asking the public to help fund a multi-million pound plan to protect the beach in Sidmouth. The council is appealing to residents and visitors to Sidmouth to help contribute financially to the town's beach management scheme via a donation box on the seafront. A £5.7million grant from central government will go towards delivering a scheme to protect the coastline. But a further £3.3million of partnership funding is required for the scheme.

East Devon District Council's cabinet also gave the approval to award contracts for investigation, modelling, design and business case for Sidmouth's Beach Management Scheme.

The next phase of the project will be undertaken by Royal HaskoningDHV, who successfully tendered for the work. Royal HaskoningDHV will carry out the outline design, which will include surveys of the seabed, sampling of the sediment, monitoring of currents and modelling. The information they accrue will help them produce an outline design for the scheme that will then need to be approved by the Environment Agency.

Video shows aftermath of yet another massive cliff fall in Sidmouth - Devon Live

And it's now hit the national news:
Sidmouth cliff homes losing "a metre a year" to sea - BBC News
Is this Britain's most endangered road? Incredible £6MILLION of houses at risk of falling into the sea - Mirror Online

Is this Britain's most endangered road? Homeowners are losing three feet of their gardens every year as cliffs gradually fall into the sea - and £6MILLION of houses are at risk

Cliff-top houses in Sidmouth, in Devon, are losing three feet of their garden every year to coastal erosion
Cliff Road is in danger of becoming Britain's most expensive property collapse with over £6m worth of homes
Martin McInerney, 82, has lost 65ft of his in 20 years - with his home expected to be on the edge in 60 years
The Environment Agency said it was 'supporting East Devon District Council' and the local community

7 February 2018

Cliff-top houses are losing over three feet of their garden every year to erosion on one of Britain's most endangered roads. A row of 12 houses perched on Cliff Road at Sidmouth, Devon, have all lost large parts of their gardens. Cliff Road is in danger of becoming Britain's most expensive property collapse with over £6million worth of cliff top houses creeping towards destruction.

Cliff-top houses are losing over three feet of their garden every year to erosion on one of Britain's most endangered roads

Devon homeowners lose three feet of their garden yearly | Daily Mail Online

"We should fight the glib grin of contemporary optimism"

Things can only get  better:
Futures Forum: Are things actually getting better?

Or maybe not - as simply 'hoping' is going to get us nowhere:
Futures Forum: Beyond Hope

And a dose of 'happy thinking' is clearly not going to get us anywhere:
Futures Forum: Good luck!

Last night's look at the joys of pessimism on Radio 4 put things right:

Optimism - Our Enemy

Journalist Bryan Appleyard presents a polemic that tilts at the current cult of optimism, of positive thinking and the relentlessly upbeat mantras of corporations.
Optimism is trumpeted in books, from the walls of yoga studios, the podiums of leadership conferences and in political life, especially in the United States. The optimistic cast of mind is key, apparently, to marital success, health and progress at work.
Pessimism is stigmatised. But if we could only dump our current and historical imperative to look on the bright side of life, Bryan argues, we'd all be a lot happier.
We weren't always so positive. Bryan points to post-war Britain, when we embraced a pessimism, a philosophy of endurance and amiably black humour. This was reflected in our cinema which, contrary to many Hollywood movies, embarked on a dark celebration of the fragilities exposed by the war, with films such as Brief Encounter.
We hear from the philosophers Roger Scruton and John Gray on the pleasures of pessimism. Writer Barbara Ehrenreich traces the origins of the American positive thinking industry from Norman Vincent Peale's sermons to multimillion-selling books such as Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People and Rhonda Byrne's The Secret. Psychologist Tali Sharot explains how optimism and pessimism drive our economy and Dragons' Den's Deborah Meaden reveals the dangers of blind optimism in business.
Bryan, a committed pessimist, also considers how learning to be more optimistic could enhance his life. He meets sales, marketing and personal growth strategist Bruce King for a class in positive thinking.
With archive including Noel Coward, Tony Blair, Peter Cook and Frank Muir.

BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4, Optimism - Our Enemy

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Lent Plastic Challenge

Thinking of giving something up for Lent?
Lent Plastic Challenge
41 Conservative MPs pledge to give up plastic for Lent - Telegraph

With a little more from the BBC:

Church of England issues anti-plastic tips for Lent

An open Bible looking out into a church.Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionChurch of England worshippers have been issued with tips to cut plastic use

The Church of England is urging Christians to give up single-use plastics during Lent, in a bid to cut the environmental damage it can cause.
Worshippers have been offered tips to cut plastic use for each day up to Easter, such as choosing a fountain pen over a plastic ballpoint pen and buying music electronically rather than on CD.
The Church linked it to a Christian calling to "care for God's creation".
The calendar of tips has been sent to each of the Church's 42 dioceses. Each week of the Lent Plastic Challenge has a theme, for example food and drink, kitchen, clothing and travel.
Tips include giving up throwaway plastic cups, using a bamboo toothbrush and buying bread that is not pre-packaged.
Other suggestions are to carry a set of non-plastic cutlery, place a "no junk mail" sticker on your letterbox and take your own toiletries to hotels rather than using the free travel size bottles.
Ruth Knight, the Church's environmental policy officer, said: "The Lent challenge is about raising our awareness of how much we rely on single-use plastics and challenging ourselves to see where we can reduce that use.
"It ties in closely with our calling as Christians to care for God's creation."

Why is plastic a problem?

Plastic bottlesImage copyrightPA

According to data from Plastics Europe, more than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced globally each year.
Non-profit organisation Plastic Oceans says 50% of all plastic produced is for single-use.
A study published by scientists at the University of George in July last year estimated that 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been created since large-scale production started in the 1950s.
But the majority of man-made plastics are not bio-degradable, meaning they will not rot. In addition, not all plastic can be recycled.
For animals, the danger comes from being entangled in plastic bags and other debris, or mistaking plastic for food.
Larger pieces of plastic can also damage the digestive systems of animals and can be potentially fatal.

Blue Planet II effect

In a statement, the Diocese of London, added: "David Attenborough has recently brought to everyone's attention the hideous damage being caused by our throwaway society to life in the oceans - where so much of our waste eventually ends up.
"This Lent let's give ocean creatures a better chance to renew themselves, free of our trash!"
The Church of England, which counts 1.1 million people among its worshipping community, is the latest organisation to take action to reduce single-use plastics after the issue was thrown into the spotlight by the BBC's Blue Planet II series, which aired last year.
The Scottish Parliament also announced plans to ban plastic straws, following similar announcements by restaurants including Pizza Express, Wagamama and JD Wetherspoon.
Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday, which this year falls on 1 April - a period of 40 days plus six Sundays. It marks the time Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray.
Millions of Christians around the world mark Lent by fasting on certain days, giving up something that they enjoy or by making a new pledge.
On Wednesday, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Business Secretary Greg Clark were among 41 Conservative MPs who promised to use less single-use plastics during Lent.

Church of England issues anti-plastic tips for Lent - BBC News

Indonesia showing the way to deal with plastic pollution > the CLEAR campaign

Plastic pollution is a truly international problem:
Futures Forum: Campaign to eliminate plastics from the sea

With the devastation spoiling coastal areas in particular:
Futures Forum: "The golden shores of Bali are being lost under a mountain of garbage"

There are campaigns afoot in Indonesia to try and tackle the problem:

Indonesia is the 2nd largest polluter of plastic to oceans in the world, with up to 15% of all ocean plastic originating from the archipelago*.

An estimated 83% of Indonesia’s waste is mismanaged*, with much of this going into rivers and seas around the country’s 6000 inhabited islands**. Finding sustainable solutions for waste management infrastructure in Indonesia is critical if we are to protect our oceans globally. With plastic set to equal the weight of fish in our oceans by 2050, this is not an issue we can afford to ignore***.
Indonesia has an excellent opportunity to turn this situation around and develop a world-standard approach to dealing with waste management sustainably.

Creatively Linking Environment, Art & Resources

CLEAR offers a unique strategy to help Indonesia achieve this goal through empowering communities at a local level to self-mobilise. We are applying a low-cost, replicable measures which can be implemented by any village to achieve lasting and widespread change.


What is CLEAR? - YouTube


#TackleThePlastic with CLEAR - YouTube

CLEAR was conceived by a collection of local people in a coastal fishing village called Batukaras.

Batukaras is also a popular destination for Indonesian tourists, surfers and backpackers. CLEAR is now supporting Batukaras to become renowned as a ‘cleaner greener’ best-practice example to inspire other communities. Most of our activities involve voluntary action, driven by the passion of people who care. This approach is achieving significant shifts in public awareness and behaviour at very low costs.
Over 4000 volunteers have contributed to our events and activities, over 3000 of which have been assisting with ‘Beach Clean Ups‘ which are organised by CLEAR on a regular basis. We have established an environmental learning centre called ‘Bale Tau’ which is a mixed use community space and permaculture gardens where free learning activities take place to support sustainable development. As Indonesia does not have comprehensive waste management infrastructure, one of our key objectives is to support implementation of an exemplary waste management system working towards ‘zero waste’, managed at a local level.

CLEAR Community

Sidmouth Plastic Warriors > in action tomorrow Saturday 17th February > Clean up around Woolbrook

Next week sees a meeting of all groups interested in reducing plastic waste in the area - open to the public!
Futures Forum: Make Sidmouth plastic free > meeting Thursday 22nd February > reports
Public meeting to make Sidmouth plastic free | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald
'Plastic Free Sidmouth' meeting planned - Devon Live

A key group is the Sidmouth Plastic Warriors:

And they've got a petition going - which has now reached over 5000 signatures:
Petition · Join the Facebook Group · Change.org

And tomorrow it all lets rip again:


We Love Sidmouth - Clean Up Around Woolbrook

 · Hosted by Denise Bickley
10 Going · 18 Interested
Share this event with your friends
The second organised clear up for our group, and we've decided to go up river and try and clear up around Manstone area, Woolbrook Road, up to Stowford and down to Long Park. 
All rubbish dropped around there can end up on the beach via the drains and river so it will benefit the town. 
Remember to bring gloves, bags and litter pickers. 
All welcome - definitely including children. Drinks and biccies provided afterwards at the Youth Centre, thanks Angie.
We Love Sidmouth - Clean Up Around Woolbrook