Monday, 17 November 2014

Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils... part nine: Heseltine speaks again..... "Devon County Council should become a unitary authority with both Devon and Cornwall having directly elected mayors."

Already two years ago, Michael Heseltine made it clear that the middle tier of local government should go:
Heseltine seeks to scrap dozens of councils - Telegraph
Matthew Barrett: Lord Heseltine’s most worthwhile recommendation was the creation of more unitary authorities | Conservative Home

... as referred to during the planning application for Knowle at the SOS blog:
EDDC Planning Officers approve EDDC Outline Plans for Knowle | Save Our Sidmouth

... and as mentioned in a recent entry for this blog:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils... part five... East Devon District Council "will imminently have no alternative whatsoever than to integrate anyway."

Whilst Heseltine has always been in favour of 'growth in the countryside':
NFB welcomes Heseltine’s plans for growth - news from The Construction Alliance

... he has always pushed for 'localism':
Lord Heseltine promotes local decision making for growth - news from The Construction Alliance

At the weekend, he addressed the Devon branch of the CPRE:
Our special guest speaker, Lord Heseltine, at our fundraising evening in Ivybridge 14th Nov 2014 | Protecting Devon & Planning Appplications

This is from yesterday's WMN:

Loss of countryside is price of growth

By Western Morning News | Posted: November 16, 2014

By Liz Parks

Economic growth in the South West would inevitably mean a loss of the region’s countryside, Tory grandee Lord Heseltine has said.

The former deputy Prime Minister and Tavistock MP said the area around his former constituency was now “unrecognisable” as a result of housing and infrastructure development and he warned that additional economic growth would see further incursion on greenfield sites.

“Growth means building, it means industrial estates and that means the countryside,” he said. “If you’re trying to get economic growth and you’re trying to get Plymouth growing as fast as it could, you will hit the constraints of public opinion.”

Lord Heseltine recalled a public meeting in Tavistock in 1965 when his would-be constituents urged him to lobby for investment in the road network around the town and he agreed to do so if elected but warned this would lead to an increased population – something which has now become a reality.

“As I drive from Tavistock to Plymouth or around Ivybridge now I remember that speech. We did what the people wanted. I was also junior (transport) minister when the A38 was dualled. That is the price of growth.”

Lord Heseltine, now aged 81, was speaking at a meeting of the Devon branch of the CPRE. The former Environment Secretary and Defence Secretary has long advocated decentralisation as a means of increasing wealth creation and he said that to further this goal Devon County Council should become a unitary authority with both Devon and Cornwall having directly elected mayors.

Asked for his views on Europe, Lord Heseltine drew a round of applause when he outlined his pro-European stance, saying: “The idea that we’re going to opt out of one of the three power structures in the world and leave Germany to dominate and dictate its standards I find utterly unacceptable.

“Britain has never turned its back on Europe. The idea that now, having created a framework of shared sovereignty that gives strength and stability we should turn our back on it in favour of offshore isolationism I find utterly repugnant.”

And he urged his party to stop trying to move to the right in order to stem the flow of voters to Ukip, saying: “You win in the centre ground because that’s where moderate people operate.”

Lord Heseltine also let those who attended the meeting in on something he described as ‘one of the secrets of my life’ which was that as a keen birdwatcher he had founded, at the age of eight, an ornithology club called the Tit Club, which required its members to take the names of various bird species.

“I was a Great Tit,” he revealed, to much laughter.

Michael Heseltine CPRE greenfield development | Western Morning News

The East Devon Alliance also reported from the meeting:


November 16th, 2014

EDA now regularly attends the excellent meetings organised by the Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.This of course gives us the opportunity to see East Devon issues in the context of the whole county, and beyond.

The guest speaker at last Friday’s CPRE Devon meeting was Lord Michael Heseltine, who made it very clear that whatever national or local government decides, the people will say, “They don’t listen to us”! As a Cabinet Minister, he had, naturally, ploughed carefully through thousands of representations from objectors to controversial schemes!!

His legacy as a former Environment Minister has of course changed the landscape. Amongst other things, he introduced Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs); established English Heritage; and did much work on urban-fringe renewal (especially around Liverpool).

When questioned on broader political issues, he told last Friday’s audience that he is convinced that leaving the European Union would slow the British economy. And although his own report on reforming local government had not been immediately adopted, he is sure that unitary authorities will come.

We’ll see what happens in Devon, before very long…..

Unitary authorities will come, Lord Heseltine tells CPRE Devon | East Devon Alliance

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