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East Devon Council's new plan

Friday, 23 August 2019 06:05

By Daniel Clark, Local Democracy Reporting Service

The council is being run by Independents.

A new council plan, covering the next four years, has been prepared and will go before the overview committee next week who will have the chance to provide feedback on their priorities and actions.

The plan outlines the ambition for the council to deliver an outstanding place and environment, outstanding homes and communities, outstanding level of economic growth, productivity and prosperity and outstanding council and council services.

It aims to address the key challenges for the district and the funding gap of at least £2.7 million over the next four years the council faces.

A series of objectives and successes for the next four years have been identified, which include reducing the carbon footprint for the council, providing 300 affordable council homes a year, building out Cranbrook Town Centre, completing the Exmouth Seafront Regeneration project, and increasing footfall in the nature reserves. There is also a focus on protecting key public services by generating income.

In the draft council plan, Cllr Ben Ingham, leader of the council, said: “The independent group has accepted the challenge of providing leadership at a time when our district is facing unprecedented challenges brought about by climate change, Brexit and reduced central government funding, which has a real impact on our services. This will continue and unless we act now, the Council faces a funding gap of at least £2.7 million over the next four years.

“Despite these challenges, we are committed to running an outstanding council. We must provide great services and create new opportunities for East Devon; now and for future generations.

“Our new council plan 2019-2023 is our top level strategy, which sets out how we will achieve our ambition. The plan addresses the key challenges for the district. It focuses on our resources and activities, encouraging us to capitalise on key opportunities that will serve the needs of all residents and our communities.

“Using common sense and common values we will work with our residents, communities and businesses to deliver the very best for everyone in East Devon.”


Outstanding place and environment

The commitment to addressing the climate change and ecological emergency is a key priority for the council, with a focus on achieving zero carbon emissions by 2040 and taking care of and enhancing the built and natural environment in towns and villages, now and for future generations.

Key Objectives include:

  • Deliver a coherent strategy towards zero carbon development
  • Start preparatory work on the next East Devon Local Plan immediately
  • Identify potential gypsy and traveller sites by April 2021
  • Commit to a climate change declaration to include the Council, and encouraging all our communities, businesses and visitors in a commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2040.
  • Publish a climate change action plan for East Devon to include challenging targets to achieve a carbon neutral council at the earliest opportunity.
  • Explore options for the financial sustainability of Seaton Wetlands, Clyst Valley Park and similar sites to help secure financial security and sustainability of sites
  • Progress Beach Management Plans for Exmouth, Seaton and Sidmouth including East Beach to maintain coastal defences and reduce the rate of beach and cliff erosion
  • Deliver new core outdoor learning package scheme that delivers 25 school visits to Seaton Wetlands and 20 outdoor learning experiences across the district to a variety of organisations (that achieves full-cost recovery) & work with 3000 young people and attract £10,000 of income
  • Countryside team to develop new income streams to meet transformation strategy objective to include higher level stewardship grants for Seaton Wetlands and Trinity Hill LNRs delivering £18K per annum.

What will success look like over the next four years?

  • Zero carbon development in the West End of the district
  • Gypsy and traveller sites established
  • Reduce carbon footprint for the council
  • Countryside team to implement measureable improvements in health and wellbeing with people staying healthier longer by delivering second phase of connecting actively to nature pilot project – wild swimming club for over-55s in Sidmouth and Exmouth, delivering with led health coaches opportunities for GP referral patients and further outdoor clubs across the district.
  • Increased footfall on our nature reserves achieve target of 70,000 visitor footfall per annum at the Seaton Wetlands, 15,000 footfall target for Holyford Woods LNR, 10,000 target for Trinity Hill LNR, 15,000 footfall target at Knapp Copse LNR all challenging but achievable.


Outstanding homes and communities

This means making the most of every opportunity to enhance the quality of life for residents by ensuring good, quality homes in good neighbourhoods and happy and healthy communities

Key objectives include:

  • Increase the supply of affordable, quality housing options for those in housing need
  • Work towards having no homeless individuals, households or rough sleepers
  • Lobby for the suspension/removal of the ‘right to buy’ as a way of protecting our social housing stock
  • Explore the feasibility of establishing a council letting agency
  • Use income from the Manor Pavilion car park to fund a refurbishment and upgrade Manor Pavilion as a key council asset.
  • Prepare a bid for the capital programme to improve facilities at Warren View.
  • Combine art, environment and social prescribing as part of the new Thelma Hulbert Gallery Business Plan to be written and adopted for 2020-2024

What success will look like over the next four years?

  • 300 new affordable homes provide per annum including an increase of Council housing stock.
  • East Devon Homes acquiring property in accordance with its adopted Business Plan.
  • A self- sufficient, income generating home safeguard service
  • A full events, arts and culture programme and financially sustainable theatre and gallery facilities
  • Delivery of the THG’s arts council funded outreach programme will deliver £49,900 for a 21 month project to deliver: learning programme with schools & community groups, community consultation to create cross-sector social engagement, part-fund exhibition programme Inc. guest curator and develop visual impairment accessibility


Outstanding economic growth, productivity and prosperity

This means working with local businesses, inward investors and partners to develop East Devon as a strong and competitive economy and a significant regional economic force while ensuring that the benefits of productivity and prosperity are shared with communities

 Key objectives include:

  • Identify the best strategic sites for future employment opportunities within East Devon’s towns.
  • Complete Exmouth seafront regeneration including delivery of a Phase 3 development which must appeal all year round and be attractive to tourists and visitors. The Exmouth seafront must include areas affordable to young working families and open community consultation will form a critical part of Phase 3
  • Build out Cranbrook Town Centre to deliver facilities needed for social cohesion and employment growth in the new town.
  • Examine the viability of extra East Devon Business Centre space and additional business centre locations in East Devon.
  • Develop a clear and agreed set of principles for commercialism and investment to ensure that we can be generate income to help protect key services and re-invest in further business growth and new jobs.

What success will look like over the next four years?

  • An increase in employment land development/
  • New business activity and an increase in job numbers
  • New town centre and high street investment generating new footfall and reduced retail and other shop front vacancy rates
  • Strengthened reputation of enterprise zone and wider district economy as places to invest and a council to do business with


Outstanding council and council services

This means operating as an outstanding organisation with the highest standards of organisational development, governance, statutory compliance and financial management. The focus will be on increasing the ability to be self-financing to support those services that matter to most to residents.

Key objectives include:

  • Explore the feasibility of extending and promoting the council’s in-house pest control service
  • Improve utilisation of new materials recovery facility opened at Greendale on A3052 East of Exeter
  • Use the residents’ viewpoint survey April 2020 to enable us deliver and action plan to listen carefully to what our residents need and use this information to improve our services

What success will look like over the next four years?

  • Investor in People high performing (platinum) award.
  • Continuous improvement in our residents’ survey.
  • 14,000 green waste customers.


The reduction in Government funding has resulted in the council having a funding gap of £2.1m by 2021, and the council plans to meet these challenges by:

  • Protecting key public services by generating income such as our new green waste service in reducing costs
  • Relocating to save £1.4m over 20 years
  • Going digital to deliver services cost effectively
  • Focusing on commercial property investment opportunities to generate income for new jobs and increased productivity in the district
  • Using our own land and property assets more efficiently
  • Finding innovative ways to help places change and meet our communities’ expectations

The priorities and actions have been drawn up by all councillors within the cabinet team, and they have had further oversight and input from the council’s strategic and service leads.

At next Thursday’s overview committee meeting, councillors will be able to consider the draft version of the plan and provide feedback on the priorities and actions.

The scrutiny committee on October 3 will also have the opportunity to consider the plan, before a final version of it will go before the cabinet on October 30. The full council will then be asked to agree and adopt the Plan at their meeting on December 11.

The full draft plan can be read online.

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