Tory leaflets dodgy climate claims

I also question the commitment to climate change described in these Tory leaflets. Nationally progress towards the unambitious targets is off course. Energy companies make record profits, and the government minimises their taxes while accepting over £3 million party finding from fossil fuels and climate deniers. I see no Conservative ambition that compares with the Teignbridge comprehensive decarbonisation projects over the last 4 years.

Which brings us to…

Investment in the leisure centres

Tory leaflets claim a lack of investment in the leisure centres. This is simply not true. We have put in place decarbonisation projects included a huge overhaul of the leisure centres, increasing efficiency, and making it easier to keep them going in the energy crisis. Conservative leaflets claim leisure centre footfall has fallen, and Teignmouth lido was closed. It’s surely obvious that was because of the pandemic.

What do the Tories actually do?

Meanwhile what they actually do (as opposed to what they say) is undermine workers’ rights, the right to strike, to vote, to protest, to a fair trial (dismantling legal aid), the list goes on.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership that Anne Marie Morris is so pleased to be joining post Brexit includes “Investor state dispute settlement” (ISDS) allowing international companies to sue our government if we make laws which might damage their profits. For example, a tobacco company challenged Australia’s life-saving tobacco plain packaging legislation using this. Now THAT is selling out our sovereignty.

I am hugely proud of our achievements in TDC in the last 4 years. So let’s hear less false or misleading claims about the Lib Dems, and let’s hear from their candidates why they chose the Conservatives – after all – what were they thinking?

Errors in Tory leaflets.

As we approach the election, in Kenn Valley, We can see the leaflets circulated by the candidates.

The claims in the Conservative leaflet are horrendously misleading.

Support for employment and spending

They talk about Teignbridge Lib Dems failing to spend £2 million that we were supposed to have had to support employment. This sum was “Approved borrowing” subject to a robust business case. It is not money that we had. No suitable projects were identified to justify borrowing the money, so we did not borrow it.

In the same leaflet they talk about Teignbridge Lib Dems having a hole in the mid term financial projections. Decades of Conservative austerity have devastated funding for our Teignbridge services. The revenue support grant from central government once brought in many millions per year to supplement our council tax but has recently dwindled to zero. New homes bonus, once over £3 million a year is being phased out. There is no clear replacement that can be safely factored into future budgets. Inflation runs at 10% and council tax is capped centrally at 5%. All the same services must be provided, as the government continues to take away the funding.

Despite Conservative cuts, under Lib Dems, Teignbridge is still balancing the budget, while the conservative leaflets promise to spend more AND fix the shortfall. This is utter fantasy.

Kevin Lake Introduced plastic recycling.

This is clearly false. Teignbridge started plastic recycling back in 2004. We’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years,. It was launched under the Liberal Democrats.

Teignbridge is now the 29th best recycling council nationally – up from 33rd just a few years ago. Teignbridge recycles 55.9% of its waste and the best council nationally is at 64.2%!

It isn’t new that Kevin Lake didn’t know what was happening in his own department. Shortly after we were elected in his place, he wrote to the newspaper claiming we had broken our promise to freeze the green bin charges. After careful checking the rise in price he referred to was in the previous budget when Kevin Lake was in charge of waste. He voted for it in person. Did he not know about the price increase he oversaw, or was he deliberately lying in claiming it was us?

Attendance at Parish Councils

Kevin Lake claims that our Lib Dem group has a poor attendance record at Parish councils.

This is based on misleading evidence published by Kenn Parish Council. The clerk of Kenn Parish Council is John Goodey, former Conservative councillor, and former colleague of Kevin Lake. It implies all councillors are supposed to be at every meeting which is not true.

We responded to Kenn Parish Council robustly and our response is on page 3 of the minutes of the January meeting.

We work as a team and try to ensure that one of our members is at all Parish Council meetings.

When Whitestone was added to Kenn valley an additional councillor was appointed to share (not duplicate) the additional workload.

We note that there are occasions when members of our group did attend Kenn parish Council, but the Kenn Parish council meeting itself was inquorate. This are counted as non-attendance in their dodgy “evidence”.

There is at least one occasion when John Goodey’s attendance figures show none of us present, but Alan Connett is minuted as answering a question.

Some parish council meetings occur on the same night, for example Kenn and Shillingford.

We have really good relationships with most of our parish councils, and work hard to maintain the connection we have between the community and the district. We utterly reject these claims. I am very proud of the work we have done, and the relations we have built up.


There are 217 children in the care of Devon County Council in children’s homes, foster care or supported living outside of the county council area, figures published by County Hall in Exeter confirm.

One is in a Children’s home 277 miles away in Calderdale, Yorkshire, while another is in Northumberland and other children are placed in care in London, Herefordshire, Luton and Wales.

The concerning figures have been disclosed to councillors by the authority which also confirmed 54 ‘Devon’ children were in care in Torbay, further 22 in Plymouth and 27 in Somerset.

The news comes at a time when there is growing national concern about children and young people being placed hundreds of miles away from their home area, often making it impossible for family to stay in touch where that is appropriate.

National figures indicate one in five children in care is living over 200 miles from their home area with the concern that such distant placements leave children feeling isolated and on their own.

“And there is no certainty Devon County Council will help family members visit children who are in care to maintain contact”.

The County Council’s lead councillor for Children’s Services, Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, told a council meeting in February: “We do not advertise financial help. Financial help is considered by social workers through the assessment and placement panel. Financial assistance may be available to families who wish to visit children out of county from the placements budget. Any support offered is dependent on the situation and needs of each individual child and is decided on that basis.”

There is also concern about the growing financial crisis at Devon County Council could lead to County Hall having to declare effective bankruptcy.

For the first time that I can ever recall, the county’s Chief Officers have warned that a special Section 114 Notice is now a ‘material threat’. The S114 Notice is an Order which bans all new spending with the exception of protecting vulnerable people and statutory services, but the very fact it is now being openly talked about shows the dire situation Devon County Council has got itself into.

“For too long there has been a pretence at County Hall that everything is fine and there is no problem and yet, Children’s Services have been failing for 12 years and the Government is thought to be on the cusp of sending in special Commissioners to take over the management of these services.

“The County Council has built up a huge deficit of around £130 million on services for children with special needs. It’s failed to get to grips with this and has been abandoned by the Government which has helped other councils but Devon is, once again, short changed.

“We also now learn we have 217 children placed in care – whether that’s a children’s home or foster care, well away from the County Council area. The priority is clearly what’s in the best interests of the children. However, I suspect many people will be wondering why there is not good provision here in Devon or closer to Devon than Northumberland or Yorkshire.

“This week, the county council’s Procedures Committee is meeting to consider a new report on the way the council is run and the arrangements for committee meetings. My worry is that the Conservative led council will, once more, start looking at where the deckchairs are placed rather than fixing the very obvious problem which have created very real financial holes at the waterline!.

Alan Connett

Local election in May

There will be a local election on May 4th this year, you will need ID to vote. Sadly I (Andy Swain) will not be standing in Kenn Valley.

I am really sad to be handing over the role in Kenn Valley and I want to thank all those that I have worked with to support the community throughout the last 4 years, as individuals, within the parish councils, and in other groups. It has been a privilege to work with you all.

Charles Nuttall is standing again, and we have found a really good replacement for me. John Parrott is a parish councillor in Shillingford, and was recently part of a community group that has enabled high speed fibre broadband to be installed in the two villages at no additional cost to residents. I think he will carry on our good work, and finding him makes it a little easier to move on. I am really going to miss being one of our district councillors.

Thank you once again for all your help. It is much appreciated, and we have made a real difference. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in the upcoming election, or the ID requirements.

Andy Swain.

Markhams farm village meeting

There was a public meeting in Ide on Friday to discuss the proposal to allocate land at Markhams farm for housing development in the new Teignbridge local plan.

The meeting went well, I think. It was civilised, rational and helpful. TDC officers talked about the plan as a whole and the site in detail, People were able to ask sensible questions, and share views on the proposals.

Many agreed that traffic Is a big problem and we have been raising that as a primary concern throughout, along with the exceptional quality of the land being lost. We did try pretty hard to persuade Devon County Council to withdraw Markhams farm. Councillor Alison Foden’s petition gained over 2000 signatures and was presented to John Hart, leader of DCC but he is adamant he wants to sell the land and buy more land elsewhere for the county farms.

When I bought my first house, average house prices were 2-3 times average salaries, and there were huge stocks of council housing. Now average house prices are around 8-10 times average salaries. This is not sustainable and it’s not fair on young people and future generations. There is a real need for house building, and legal requirements on the council. If Teignbridge does not allocate enough sites, Developers can use this to appeal, and in effect build anything anywhere. We would lose the protection of the good policies in the local plan, and the quality would drop.

The objections from Exeter City Council are relevant. Ide and TDC will get all the CIL money, but Exeter will get all the traffic.

I think we should approach this realistically. Where we have concerns, we should raise them, but let’s also talk about how we want to influence the development if it does go ahead. If we identify the good things like the huge amount of publicly accessible green space, the walking and cycling connections, and the affordable housing. We can ensure that these don’t get removed or watered down later. That does not undermine any objections to the site as a whole.

The final consultation on the local plan is still open and runs until noon 13 March 2023.

Teignmouth Hospital and wild camping

There was a good meeting of Teignbridge full council on 21 Feb 23.

As well as agreeing the budget, I was happy to support a recommendation from the executive that TDC continue to oppose the closure of Teignmouth hospital. There is a crisis in care, with decades of austerity policies finally exposed for the asset stripping that they are.

I also supported a notice of motion which was successful is establishing that TDC Opposes the loss of the right to wild-camp on Dartmoor, and sets out the actions to be taken by TDC. It is a small step, but those steps each make a small difference to the direction we head in towards the future. As local councils, the National park authority, and the community all unite in our outrage that an private individual who owns a large portion of our national park, has been able to overturn this established and long recognised right.

Meeting to discuss the ombudsman’s report

On Tuesday 14 Feb 2023 TDC help an extraordinary council meeting to discuss the recent ombudsman report : which is highly critical of Teignbridge’s handling of a standards complaint. It raises 7 explicit failings about the handling of the case and this extraordinary meeting was called to consider it.

Alan Connett, leader of the council, apologised fully for the failings the ombudsman has identified and confirmed that we in our group fully accept the findings. He proposed that we reject the three recommendations suggested by officers, in favour of a much stronger set of 10 recommendations which fully implement the recommendations made by the ombudsman and put in place checks to ensure that the recommendations are carried out.

The ombudsman comments on the process that was followed, and not the actions leading to the investigation. It seems clear to me that the case was badly handled and that there have been significant failings at Teignbridge which was given bad legal advice by the monitoring officer at the time. One of these failings is that the actions of Cllr Richard Daws were conflated with actions of his colleague Cllr X. We must learn from this and be clear about what has actually been said and done. It was wrong that Cllr Daws’ standards hearing included issues related to the behaviour of Cllr X. Teignbridge must fully understand and accept the findings of the ombudsman. That means reading carefully what they have actually said, and not conflating it with what we would like them to have said. We must not dismiss the findings as unimportant, nor take the findings as justification for anything that they are not.

In today’s meeting it was suggested that Cllr Daws’ Human rights have been breached by the council. It was implied that the ombudsman confirmed this, but they did not. Human rights are very important. On a previous occasion when Daws’ group claimed this, I sought legal advice from the new monitoring officer, and had a comprehensive response, which is largely repeated by the ombudsman in Paragraph 21 of the report.

Elected politicians have an enhanced right to free expression but this is a qualified right. It must be weighed against the council’s very real legal duty to protect employees from bullying, harassment and intimidation, and the chair’s duty to ensure that the council is able to conduct its business in a fair transparent and effective manner. This is what we found after the last time we paused to consider Daws’ claim his rights were breached, and it is what the ombudsman has confirmed.

The ombudsman found as a failing, that during the standards procedure there was not explicit consideration given to this balance. The report specifically states in paragraph 19 that it does not comment on whether the Human Rights act has been breached.

The report mentions misfeasance, and in the meeting some Cllrs used this word linking it with malfeasance, maladministration, criminal offence, and imprisonment. The word misfeasance, however, refers to an accidental wrongdoing, these other phrases, refer to a deliberate wrongdoing and do not appear in the report. It is important to read the details, and not make up findings.

It was suggested that the apology recommended by the ombudsman and unreservedly given by the leader of the council should be extended to Cllr X. An amendment was tabled for this, and also that all standards findings for the last several years should be overturned. Equivalent to concluding that having identified one mistaken decision we should throw open the prison doors and overturn every decision. Neither of these actions were recommended by the ombudsman. It is important we accept the findings in full, as they are, and do not make up our own. I voted against this amendment.

Teignbridge faces challenges in dealing with deliberately disruptive behaviour. In my experience people do not like disruption if it means that essential services are not performing well. Teignbridge needs to do better at finding effective ways to keep services functioning well for our community.

We must start by actioning the recommendations of the ombudsman, and continue to make sure our procedures, and the constitution are robust, effective and followed.

Changes to the voting system.

At elections in 2018 there were 8 allegations of people claiming a false identity at a polling station, seven were dismissed and one resolved locally. There were no convictions.

In 2019 the government ran trials requiring photo ID to vote. In just ten trial areas, 1,968 people were turned away for not having the correct ID and 740 did not return to vote. In some areas over 0.5% of the voters were prevented from voting, that’s bigger than many majorities.

Despite the total lack of an actual problem, and the shocking numbers of people disenfranchised, the government is pressing ahead with voter ID. The Elections Act 2022 will apply to the Teignbridge local elections in May 2023. All voters at polling stations must show identification documents. If you don’t have a suitable ID, you can apply for a Voter Authority Certificate free of charge, or you can apply for a postal vote which will be sent to you in the two weeks before polling day.

Both these options need time to arrange, so don’t leave it till nearer the time, do it now. There is more information about both these options at or you can contact us for assistance.

Please do not let them take away your vote.

Your district and county councillors: 

Andy Swain, Alison Foden, Charles Nuttal and Alan Connett

The retained EU Law Bill

In her column in Mid Devon Advertiser, 26/1/23, Anne Marie Morris wrote of the retained EU Law Bill that it “It allows us to correct our statute book so that we no longer have laws which [came from our former] EU membership which we do not want to keep.”

Without this bill we can already “correct our statute book” if it was wrong. What this bill actually does is automatically remove laws and rights that we have simply because they came from the EU. Her words are misleading on this point. These will be lost regardless if they are good laws, regardless if an adequate replacement exists, regardless if the outcome is better or worse. Regardless of whether anyone has actually thought about it at all. They will all be lost except for any that get protected by a (Conservative) minister of this government in time.

This is utterly reckless and typical of this government’s deeply divisive “Get Brexit done at all costs” mentality. This is not a “correction” as she claims, it is a wholesale attack on our rights.

She goes on to say “The misconception around environmental or maternity rights simply vanishing at the end of 2023 is not true.” I re-checked my facts, and both unison and the Scottish Government confirm that Maternity rights are in this category and will be lost under this Bill unless they are specifically protected. She assures us that Maternity rights will be protected, but what about all the others?

In fact, over decades the EU has built up a whole raft of employment rights, and environmental protections that most of us don’t notice until they are gone.

Is Anne Marie Morris’s government committed to keeping Paternity rights? Are they committed to keeping the 48-hour maximum working week? (I have benefited from this EU right during my career) Flexible working rights for parents? This places no burden on employers, they can say no, but they must justify why. My children grew up closer to me directly because of this right, will their children have the same benefit? These are just examples, the list is huge. The right to paid leave? These are the sort of rights we are talking about. The EU has delivered a programme of GOOD rights that do not need “correction”.

It is like deliberately setting fire to a museum then saying “Look, It is fine, we saved this painting!”. What is wrong with choosing the laws to review, justifying the changes, debating and scrutinising them. That would be the action of any responsible government. Instead they pander to the most extremist thinking and scrap our rights just because the EU had a hand in forming them.

This government appears slavishly committed to the most extreme and damaging of all possible Brexit. The wholesale loss of so many precious rights was dismissed as “Project fear” by Brexit supporters saying “That will never happen”. Welcome to “Project Reality” and our MPs try to justify it with misleading weasel words about “allowing us to correct things we don’t want” or claiming they have a mandate.

This isn’t what people voted for, it is what the Conservatives have decided to do.

TDC Local Plan (short version)

There is a more detailed explanation of the local plan here :

The new Teignbridge local plan has been published. This is important and will shape development for the next 20 years.

There have been consultations on policies and on sites put forward by landowners, site inspections to understand local factors, to help officers assess the merits and constraints of sites and write a plan with the best policies and choices to meet the required numbers.

The current plan is out of date and allocated sites are running out. TDC must provide 741 houses per year. Without an updated plan developers will soon be able to appeal refusals and build where they like.

Gove recently said housing numbers are ‘advisory’, but he has not changed the law. TDC cannot afford to wait but we don’t want to lock-in these numbers, so we added a clause to review the plan if the law changes. The 741 houses include a 41% uplift over other areas, because Teignbridge prices are higher than salaries. This is supposed to bring down house prices, but it doesn’t work. There are better ways to make housing more affordable.

The plan also specifies sites including Markhams and Attwells farms. We opposed these large sites with concerns about the roads and green space. We campaigned to save the county farms and we are disappointed better sites could not be found.

There are good policies in the plan including carbon neutral housing, sooner than national legislation. Specific policies encourage renewable energy. There is a chapter on climate change replacing a policy. There are improvements on environment and biodiversity and public green space. A new cut and fill policy encourages developers to minimise waste soils by accommodating on site. This will reduce the need for sites like Lower Hare and Lower Brenton.

The plan will soon start the final consultation until 13th March. The link to post feedback will appear on the TDC website. There is more information there and on our Kenn Valley Councillors website.

Please feel free to email us and respond to the consultation. Thank you.

Andy Swain, Alison Foden, Charles Nuttall and Alan Connett