Monday, 26 June 2017

Dropping the Local Government Finance Bill

Is there any point in local government?
Futures Forum: The assault on Local Government: The Strange Death of Municipal England

If you think there isn't any - then starve it of cash:
Futures Forum: An uncertain future for local government finance

The concerns and reports continue:

Thursday, 22 June 2017 

No Finance Bill in Queen's Speech

Written by  Ruralcity Media
No Finance Bill in Queen's Speech
Huge concern has been voiced by council leaders after the Local Government Finance Bill was omitted from the Queen's Speech.
The Bill had set out a framework to allow local government in England to keep all of the £26 billion in business rates it raises locally each year. But its reintroduction was omitted from the Queen's Speech which instead focused largely on Brexit-related legislation as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.
Of 27 bills contained in the speech, eight relate to Brexit and its impact on immigration, trade and sectors such as agriculture.
The Local Government Association said: "It is hugely concerning that the Government has not reintroduced the Local Government Finance Bill in the Queen's Speech. This would close the funding gaps identified below, in children's and adults services."
The association, which represents local authorities, also called for government assurances that billions of pounds in EU regional funding would be protected post-Brexit. Brexit would have a significant impact on local government, it said, creating challenges that needed to be addressed but also opportunities to do things differently.
"Local government must play a central role in deciding whether to keep, amend or scrap the EU laws which impact on the council services that affect people's day-to-day lives."
Brexit should not simply mean a transfer of powers from Brussels to Westminster, Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff Bay, said the association. Instead, it should lead to new legislative freedoms and flexibilities for councils so that local communities and businesses could benefit.
The association added: "We are calling for clear guarantees to protect the £8.4 billion in local regeneration and regional funds. This funding is needed to protect local regeneration plans, flagship infrastructure projects, employment and skills schemes and local growth in our communities."
The association said such a commitment would be in line with a government pledge to provide stability to farmers as the UK left the EU, outlined in the government's Agriculture Bill.

No Finance Bill in Queen's Speech

Councils demand ‘clarity’ over funding after business rates devolution is dropped 

BY COLIN MARRS — 22 JUN, 2017 

A steering group which spent the last 15 months consulting on how 100% business rates retention would work has been disbanded after the exclusion of local government finance legislation in this week’s Queen’s Speech.

Parliamentary time to consider the Local Government Finance Bill in the last Parliament ran out before Theresa May called this month’s General Election. However, the sector was stunned this week when the government made it clear that it would not revive the process for at least two years.

Room151 has seen a letter sent to members of the steering group from Anne Stuart, the newly-installed civil servant leading the business rates retention process. It said: “I’m sorry this should be my first communication, but I am emailing because as you will have no doubt seen, the Queen’s Speech did not include a new Local Government Finance Bill and so it will not form part of the Parliamentary timetable for this session.”

In her letter, she thanked members of the steering group but said she would only be in touch “once we are in a position to resume working with you on the future of local government finance reform.” However, she said that ministers remain committed to local government taking greater control of its income. “We are engaging ministers on the options for future reform without an immediate Bill…,” she said.

Ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to a thorough, evidence-based review and that work will continue with local government on that issue, Stuart said.

One steering group member told Room151: “This is more than a year’s work down the drain. If the government is planning to introduce any reform by executive order, it needs to make sure they take the sector with them.”

Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, said that the failure to move on with business rates devolution was “hugely concerning”. He said: “While negotiating Brexit will be a huge challenge for the government, it cannot be a distraction from the challenges facing our public services. The day-to-day concerns of our communities go far beyond Brexit. Only with adequate funding and the right powers can local government help the government tackle the challenges facing our nation now and in the future.”

Jo Miller, Solace president and chief executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council, said: “I am disappointed that key legislation—absolutely fundamental to ensuring the future sustainability of local government—has now been dropped. Local government urgently needs clarity around our future funding—at present we simply face a cliff edge from 2020. This must urgently be resolved.”

A DCLG statement said: “The government is committed to delivering the manifesto pledge to help local authorities to control more of the money they raise and will work closely with local government to agree the best way to achieve this.”

The steering group to guide the process of business rates devolution was created in March last year after George Osborne announced that primary legislation would be introduced to allow councils to keep 100% of growth in business rates—up from the current 50%.

Neighbourhood Plan > Hello young adults: have your say!

Young people of school age have been heavily involved in the Neighbourhood Plan:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: survey for the Valley's youth >>> calling for more wide-ranging jobs and facilities for young people

The 'problem' is how to get young adults interested - a 'difficult demographic' to get involved - although this particular involvement can be crucial:
Futures Forum: "Young people, here's what no one is telling you about the general election: you could swing it."

It's certainly key for the future of the Sid Valley:
Futures Forum: Maintaining a balanced community in Sidmouth

Here is a plea from a member of the Neighbourhood Plan steering group:

YOUR help is needed in gathering the opinions of 
young adults

26 June 2017

The Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan is a very important document that will determine how Sidmouth Town Council and East Devon District Council approach planning decisions in the Sid Valley over the next 20 years or so.

ALL residents have a chance to offer their thoughts and opinions.

There is just one week left to have your say and while plenty of the older folk in the community have probably already made their feelings known, it would give greater balance to the findings if more households where the main bread winner are 20 – 40 years old would respond.

Since the survey is only open for one more week… young adults are digital savvy… and the survey is available for completion online then your help is needed in getting your neighbours / friends to…

Complete the online survey ASAP >>>

The Neighbourhood Plan folks have had over 1000 surveys completed so far and so it would be good to get many more completed by young adults to give the results more balance.

If you could spread the word to 2 or 3 young families you know I’m sure they’d be grateful.

Thank you.


YOUR help is needed in gathering the opinions of young adults – EX10 Sidmouth

Young people and the free market

The market over housing is pretty messed up - with fears that what's routine in the likes of London will become so in these parts:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> the 'viability' of affordable housing obligations

A couple of days ago, Eddie Mair on Radio 4's PM asked the Foreign Secretary: "What does this Queen's Speech do to help young people buy their own homes?"
That Boris Johnson train wreck interview with Eddie Mair in full - YouTube

Young people will 'appreciate' measures on housing

21 June 2017

The Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, has defended the Queen's Speech.

When asked what the speech will do to help young people buy their own homes, Mr Johnson told Eddie Mair the government was going forward with "a massive programme of house building" to increase "accessibility and affordability".

He said that young people who are currently renting their homes would "appreciate the measures announced" to ban landlords and agents charging letting fees.

Mr Johnson went on to suggest a "part-buy, part-rent scheme" that would enable young people to get on the property ladder without needing money for a large deposit.

BBC Radio 4 - PM, Young people will 'appreciate' measures on housing

Meanwhile, Corbyn has been stirring it up in Somerset:
Jeremy Corbyn gets rapturous reception at Glastonbury

Particularly over housing - something 'young people' are particularly concerned about:
Jeremy Corbyn says he's calling for people to 'campaign like never before' for housing justice following Grenfell Tower tragedy - NME

Some would say that they are just 'confused' - but others would say that it's actually others who are very confused about the terminology:

Who’s Confused About Capitalism?
A new Harvard poll shows 51 percent of Millennials do not support capitalism (compared to 42 percent who do). An older Reason-Rupe poll found “socialism” beat “capitalism” in popularity 58 to 56%, but the “free market” was overwhelmingly more popular than a “government-managed economy.” The spin-meisters are quick to frame this as Millennial confusion about what capitalism and socialism are. But it arguably reflects, rather, the obsolescence of the old definitions of “capitalism” and “socialism” themselves. For that matter, the conventional definitions used in the 20th century never made much sense.
Max Ehrenfreund, throughout the Washington Post article that reported on the poll (“A majority of millennials now reject capitalism, poll shows,” April 26), uses “free market” interchangeably with both “capitalism” and “the status quo.” Applying the basic principles of deductive logic, this means that the status quo is a free market — a conclusion so absurd as to suggest Ehrenfreund’s own confusion more than anybody else’s. He quotes an older 2011 Pew survey that similarly used “capitalism” as a synonym for “America’s free market system.”
John Della Volpe, the Harvard polling director responsible for the most recent findings, argued that “They’re not rejecting the concept. The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting.”
The problem is that people like Ehrenfreund, the Pew researchers and virtually all TV talking heads and mainstream politicians of both major parties explicitly use the term “free market system” to refer to what we have right now.
The other problem is that there’s never been a form of capitalism in practice that wasn’t at least as coercive and statist as what we have right now. Historical capitalism began five or six centuries ago, not with free markets, but with the conquest of the free towns by the absolute states and the mass expropriation of peasants from their traditional rights to the land by the landed oligarchy, and continued with the colonial conquest of most of the world outside Europe. Since then capital has continued to rely heavily on the state to socialize its operating costs, erect barriers to competition, and enforce illegitimate title to all the land and natural resources engrossed in previous centuries. This history of conquest, robbery and enslavement is in the basic genetic code of contemporary corporate capitalism.
At Reason (“Millennials Hate Capitalism Almost as Much as They Hate Socialism,” April 27), Elizabeth Nolan Brown recognized that what Millennials mean by “capitalism” isn’t some hypothetical “free market”:
Capitalism is Big Banks, Wall Street, “income inequality,” greed. It’s wealthy sociopaths screwing over the little guy, Bernie Madoff, and horrifying sweatshops in China. It’s Walmart putting mom-and-pop stores out of business, McDonald’s making people fat, BP oil spills, banks pushing sub-prime mortgages, and Pfizer driving up drug prices while cancer patients die. However incomplete or caricatured, these are the narratives of capitalism that millennials have grown up with.
But then, when you subtract all these aspects of contemporary capitalism, you’re left with something a lot like the Cheshire Cat when both the cat and the grin have disappeared.
In any case Brown does a lot better than Emily Ekins, who reported on the Reason-Rupe poll a year ago. Ekins simply reasserted the conventional dictionary definitions of “socialism” and “capitalism” as a matter of dogma, suggesting that the fact Millennials like socialism but don’t want a “government-managed economy” simply meant “young people don’t know what these words mean” (“Poll: Americans Like Free Markets More than Capitalism and Socialism More Than a Govt Managed Economy,” Feb. 12, 2015). And in another article (“64 Percent of Millennials Favor a Free Market Over a Government-Managed Economy,” Reason, July 10, 2014), she cited Millennial inability to “define socialism as government ownership” as a sign of ignorance of “what socialism means.”
But “capitalism” and “socialism” are terms with long, nuanced histories, and the conventional dictionary definitions are — at best — extremely time- and perspective-bound. And treating the dictionary definition of “socialism” as though it trumped the actual history of the socialist movement is — if you’ll excuse me — the very definition of “dumb.”
There have always been non-statist strands within the socialist movement, since its very beginning — one of them is known as “anarchism.” At times the non-statist forms of socialism were dominant. And there have always been self-identified socialists within the free market libertarian movement.
Even state socialists like Marx and Engels, who saw socialist control of the state as an essential step towards building socialism, didn’t equate “socialism” to state ownership and control of the economy as such. “Socialism” was a system in which all political and economic power was in the hands of the working class. Nationalization and state control of the economy might be part of the transition process to socialism — if the state came under working class control. On the other hand, increasing state control of the economy when the state was controlled by capitalists would simply be a new stage in the evolution of capitalism in which the capitalists managed the system through the state in their own interest.
Today the most interesting subcurrents in the socialist movement are those like the autonomism of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, which sees the path to post-capitalism as “Exodus” — the creation of a new society around counter-institutions like commons-based peer production.
Erik Olin Wright, for example (“How to Think About (And Win) Socialism,” Jacobin, April 2016), sees “socialism” as a system in which democratically organized social forces — as opposed to either states or corporations — are the dominant means of organizing activity. Societies throughout history have been a mixture of such institutional forms — but under capitalism the for-profit business firm became the hegemonic institution, or kernel of the entire society, with other institutions defined by their relations to capital. As capitalism evolves into socialism, new democratic social institutions will become the hegemonic form, and the state and business will be reduced to niches in a system characterized by the dominance of the new democratic institutions.
Things like local currencies, land trusts, cooperatives and commons-based peer production exist under capitalism today. But as capitalism reaches the limits of growth and confronts its terminal crises, these new socialist institutions will expand and knit together into a coherent whole that will form the basis of the successor system, and the remains of corporate and state institutions will be integrated into a system defined by its post-capitalist core.
…the possibility of socialism depends on the potential to enlarge and deepen the socialist component within the overall economic ecosystem and weaken the capitalist and statist components.
This would mean that in a socialist economy, the exercise of both economic power and [state] power would be effectively subordinated to social power; that is, both the state and economy would be democratized. This is why socialism is equivalent to the radical democratization of society.
And something like this, by the way — a vision of transformation based on prefigurative politics and counter-institution building — has been at the heart of many versions of socialism and anarchism since their first appearance as organized movements two hundred years ago.
So maybe when Millennials say they hate capitalism and like socialism, but oppose state control of the economy, it’s not they who are confused. Maybe they have a better idea of what “capitalism” and “socialism” mean than people like Frauenfelder and Ekins.

Center for a Stateless Society » Who’s Confused About Capitalism?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> the 'viability' of affordable housing obligations

Tomorrow sees an exhibition at Kennaway House by the consultants for the future development at Port Royal:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> Scoping Study consultation >> exhibition Mon 26th and Tues 27th June >> plus survey

The promise is for 'mixed development' - and there are some really inspiring ideas out there:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: ideas for 'mixed use' projects >>> Burlington's Lake Champlain
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: ideas for 'mixed use' projects >>> the Beddington Zero Energy Development

The outline plans in the Local Plan ask for 30 housing units - 50% of which should be 'affordable':
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> affordable housing at Eastern Town

Planning officers have pushed for similar levels in other developments in the Valley - but not in others:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and "sheer hypocrisy" >>> District Council planning officers reject the Green Close development over affordable housing and overage

The problem is that developers have a knack of bringing these numbers down - as has happened, with the agreement of planning officers, at Knowle:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: planning application to be considered by District Council: Tuesday 6th December >>> planning officers brush aside planning policies
Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: How to classify the proposed development: as C3 housing or as C2 care home?

It's all about 'viability' - as this consultancy points out:

This is not an adversarial process because every policy calling for Section 106 Affordable Housing is dependent on viability. 

A properly presented Section 106 viability report is welcomed by planners at any stage and will speed the decision making process

Section 106 Management : Section 106 | Frequently Asked Questions | Section 106 Agreements

It's a huge problem particularly in London to get any affordable housing agreed to:
Futures Forum: "Viability assessments conclusively prove that we cannot rely on developers to build affordable housing."
Futures Forum: "Some developers use viability reports to wriggle out of building more 'affordable' housing."

For example:
Developer offers one affordable home in 28-unit petrol station redevelopment in Brighton Road, Surbiton (From Times Series)

The explosive political issues round the Grenfell Tower tragedy has brought into sharp focus the 'problem' of having a 'mixed development' of very expensive flats alongside affordable housing:

Residents of the luxury development in Kensington, in which Grenfell families are due to be rehoused, have been criticised after voicing their anger and unease over the move.

Speaking to The Guardian, one woman said:
“We paid a lot of money to live here, and we worked hard for it. Now these people are going to come along, and they won’t even be paying the service charge.”

Another said: "I’m very sad that people have lost their homes, but there are a lot of people here who have bought flats and will now see the values drop. It will degrade things. And it opens up a can of worms in the housing market."

The private flats in the block start at £1.5m, however the apartments that will rehouse the families are part of the 120 affordable homes being built alongside them. Penthouses in the development are expected to go for £13m, and flats in the building are expected to be purchased to permanently house Grenfell families.

Luxury flat owners criticised for unease over Grenfell families moving into their development - Telegraph

Things are getting very political indeed:
Jeremy Corbyn says he's calling for people to 'campaign like never before' for housing justice following Grenfell Tower tragedy - NME

Making Sidmouth a festival town

Sidmouth has several festivals going now - the granddaddy being the Folk Fest:
Sidmouth Folk Week - Wikipedia
Sidmouth Folk Week – August 4th – 11th 2017
Sidmouth Folk Festival awarded prestigious blue plaque for contribution to music | Devon Live
About the Sidmouth Fringe
‘One of the best festivals on the planet!’ Mike Harding – starts tomorrow!! | Devon Farms Blog

There are several other festivals gaining in impact...

The Literary Festival in on over this weekend:

sidmouth literary festival
Blog — sidmouth literary festival
Sidmouth Literary Festival - Sun, Sea and Books - Home | Facebook
What's On This Week In Sidmouth - Visit Sidmouth
Sidmouth Literary Festival - Sun Sea Books Events | Eventbrite

We've just had the Sea Fest on the Ham:
Sidmouth Sea Fest

And at the height of the summer we will be enjoying the Regatta:
Sidmouth Regatta - Visit Sidmouth

The Science Fest will be with us later in the autumm:
Sidmouth Science Festival: 3 - 15 October 2017 | Sidmouth Science Festival

As will the walking festival:
Sidmouth Walking Festival - Home | Facebook

And Sidmouth is a very special place to hold these events - which are all about 'community':

'We all look forward to it': The social value of a festival in the town

Updated Thursday 14th May 2015
Does a festival have social value? Does it bring social bonding or does it cause social division? Dr Linda Wilks investigates. 
Image of young people at a music festivalCopyrighted image IconWondering about the ways in which a town’s spaces and the activities of its residents might be transformed by a festival inspired me to do some research last summer at Sidmouth Folk Week, down on the UK’s Devon coast. I was particularly interested in looking at the social value of the festival for the locals, including whether it encourages social bonding or social division and whether it helps to build local community spirit, all aspects of social capital.     
Although Sidmouth does attract holidaying visitors throughout the year, the numbers are nothing like the tens of thousands who descend on the small town during its August folk week. Virtually every possible space within the town centre, including church halls, rugby and cricket club pitches and pavilions, and the theatre and arts centre, is taken over by the festival so that people can make music, dance and chat. Green spaces see the construction of marquees for concerts, ceilidhs and musical instrument sales; the promenade becomes a medley of craft stalls, buskers and dance displays; while in every pub there is a corner overflowing with fiddle and melodeon players playing tunes together. ‘Everywhere you go there’s music’, commented one interviewee.
I conducted 37 interviews with local people out and about during festival week, asking them how the festival affects their lives. The buzz created by the festival’s conversion of the town’s spaces is approved of by most, with many comparing festival week to the rest of the year: ‘the atmosphere’s lovely, you know it brings the place to life’. Another highlighted the positive ways that the festival changes the town: ‘everything is different, you walk into the hotel and you wouldn’t know it was the same place’. The public gardens, which are free to enter and include a performance stage and food stalls, were a particular gathering point for locals to relax on the grass with their family and friends. Pubs, too, took the opportunity to create stages in their courtyards in order to pull in the punters. These also provided spaces for social interaction, as a local interviewee explained: ‘it’s a good excuse to see people that we wouldn’t normally see from month to month’. Another, in his early thirties, commented: ‘me and most of my friends have moved away and everyone seems to come back at this time of year, so you’ll always bump into people you know who have come back for the same reason, which is really good’.    
Revellers having fun at a music festival. Copyrighted image IconNot all of the locals are in favour of the festival’s effect on their town, of course, with reports that some who were not keen would go away for the week, perhaps even renting out their houses to the visitors. The problems of parking and crowds were mentioned by others, with one not being keen on the hippy style of some of the festival goers. Others like the increased diversity of the town during folk week, however. There seems to be little bonding between festival visitors and the locals, although some locals take the chance to invite friends from afar to stay so that they can all attend festival events together.
Another noticeable social effect of folk week is the way that it encourages local people to join together for the benefit of the festival and the town. Some become festival volunteers, offering their local knowledge and contacts and pre-festival on-the-spot availability to the festival team, or stewarding alongside the visiting volunteers during the week. Others volunteer for their local sports club or charity, on parking or bar duties for example, to enable the organisation to make the most of the visitors’ spending power. These boosts to finances are then used to maintain club facilities or to enhance charity funds and so provide further social benefit to local people.
The social value of a festival to a town can therefore be high, as I found at Sidmouth. Festivals are certainly about much more than the music and their effects on the locals linger long after the visitors have gone home.

'We all look forward to it': The social value of a festival in the town - OpenLearn - Open University

There is now a new initiative to create some synergies:

Joining forces to make Sidmouth a festival town

PUBLISHED: 14:00 25 June 2017

Sidmouth Sea Fest organisers Mary and Kay Bagwell, Coco Hodgkinson and Louise Cole, with Chris Woodruff from the Sid Vale Association. Ref shs 15-16SH 0420. Picture: Simon Horn

From walking and reading, to science and the sea – Sidmouth is fast establishing itself as a festival town.

Sidmouth and East Devon Walking Festival organisers Ted Swan and Norma Self. Ref shs 6142-40-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton
The events have all sprung up in the last few years, each pushed forward by handful of volunteers and facing similar challenges, as does the regatta.
Organisers came together on Monday to discuss how they can share resources and expertise – and one day become as big a draw as FolkWeek.
Ideas ranged from aggregating insurance costs and cross-promotion to giving a youngster work experience as a social media expert.
Now in its 27th year, Oliver Salter said the regatta is organised by himself, his wife Adele and Keith Knight.

Sidmouth Science Festival chairman Dave Bramley and Sidmouth Lifeboat's Phil Shepperd get ready to launch a 'message in a bottle' during the festival. Ref shs 7116-42-14AW. Picture: Alex Walton
“It’s always challenging,” he said. “We’ve said we want to retire but no one wants to take it on. We wouldn’t want Sidmouth to lose it.
“With the help of Sidmouth Town Council we’ve been able to expand with the Red Arrows and the Battle of Britain display. The chamber of commerce is also running a candlelit dinner, so it will run from Friday to Sunday evening (August 25 to 27).”
He said the regatta raises money for the RNLI rather than the Sidmouth Lifeboat to bring down insurance costs, but a local charity could benefit if a different arrangement was in place.
Dave Bramley said his committee collectively spends a year-and-a-half organising the science festival, which also covers technology, engineering and maths will run over 13 days this October.

Di Bowerman. Photo by Terry Ife.
He said ‘perfect place for this type of festival’ – last year it had the support of 190 volunteers, many of them influential and with contacts all over the country. Each year they get at least one Fellow of the Royal Society to speak.
He added: “We could scale it up or down. If we are struggling, we can cut back, or next year there’s a big grant we can apply for. Our costs are currently about £12,000 but the Welcome Trust would want us to spend £20-30,000. We are exploring that.”
Mr Bramley said the core costs are paying for venues and insurance, and aggregation of the latter would be ‘wonderful’.
He said the organisers hope to grab national media attention, plus interest from hard-to-reach teenagers with a drone race.

Oliver Salter, pictured with his wife Adele was presented with an award for his efforts fund raising for the RNLI after his years of involvement with the Sidmouth Regatta. Ref shs 8009-36-15KB. Picture: Kyle Baker
Councillor Louise Cole is one of the four organisers of Sea Fest, also in its fourth year.
“There are areas we could share resources, possibly with additional support from the council,” she said. “We don’t want to be competing for attention or funding – we can see what each event can do to promote other events.
“We don’t have someone just on social media. We just don’t have time to do it.”
She said it is a ‘crazy situation’ that the town council’s full £500 grant had to go on insurance and wondered if there was a more cost-effective alternative.

Town council candidate Louise Cole
Representing the Sidmouth and East Devon Walking Festival, Ted Swan said: “We started in 2014 but it wasn’t until last year that it really took off. It’s taken three years to come of age. We’re looking to do something even better this September.”
He said one of the challenges organisers face is letting walkers know early enough in advance so they can get booked in – shops have been reluctant to put up posters over the Easter holiday.
Mr Swan said there was no shortage of volunteers as they can tap into the 500-strong East Devon Ramblers, who lead all the walks.
Di Bowerman said that after several committee members stepped down, there are just seven people putting together this year’s literary festival. Another challenge is posters being removed from noticed that constantly have to be replaced.
Addressing the grant-giving town council, Mrs Bowerman added: “Thank you again for backing the festival, which we believe makes a great contribution to Sidmouth’s cultural scene and helps to bring the community together, as well as attract visitors to the town.”
Neighbourhood Plan steering group chairman Deirdre Hounsom said the issues have been raised in production of the blueprint – and that enthusiasm needs to be maintained after it is finalised.
The town council could form a sub-committee to look at ways it can support the various festivals.

Joining forces to make Sidmouth a festival town - Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

The TransCanada pipeline >> >> >> >> “No water, no beer. No beer, no fun”

Pipelines are political:
Futures Forum: Peak oil, climate change and pipeline geopolitics driving conflict
Futures Forum: Climate change: and the increased risks of global conflict ... the evidence ...

They are very political in North America:
Futures Forum: Fracking in Fort McMoney: a web documentary and strategy video game about Fort McMurray, the oil sands capital of Alberta, Canada

Rob Hopkins takes us to Canada - the home of a new brew with a purpose:

This beer kills pipelines

By rob hopkins 7th June 2017 FOOD & DRINK

Rob Hopkins finds out about an amazingly imaginative piece of campaigning in Canada that is using craft beer to fight a new oil pipeline.
The TransCanada pipeline (called Energy East) is intended to transport oil from the tar sands in Alberta to St. John in New Brunswick, a route of 6,400km across Canada.  Once built, 1.1 million barrels of oil are intended to flow through it every day.  Every day.  In the province of Quebec alone, the pipeline goes over more than 860 different rivers and at one point, goes underneath the St Lawrence River, which is 2km wide.  It passes through First Nations peoples’ land.  If built, it would be the biggest such project ever built in North America.  TransCanada, as you might imagine, say it would be “100% safe”, but as you might also imagine, no-one believes them.  Here is a short video that tells you more about the pipeline:
From a climate perspective, the pipeline would be a disaster.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected saying he would act on climate change, and who turned up at COP21 in Paris in December 2015 saying “how can we help?”, said initially he would only accept one pipeline.  He has already accepted three.  Part of the pipeline is intended to pass through the French-speaking state of Quebec, an independent-minded place, and although it still only at the planning stage, already in Quebec it has encountered a very unusual form of resistance.  Beer.
In Quebec there is a big movement to stop the pipeline.  There have already been two demonstrations, with over 25,000 people on each.  At the moment the pipeline is on hold.  The story of the citizen movement that has arisen in opposition to it is fascinating.  A while ago in Canada there was a massive student riot about tuition fees that lasted many months.  One of their leaders wrote a book about the experience which won a $25,000 prize from the government.
He declined to accept it, but instead he contacted the citizens behind the campaign Coule Pas Chez Nous, a campaigning organisation who had mobilised to oppose the pipeline.  Coule Pas Chez Nous means something like “Don’t Spill in My Home (as in my back yard, my country, my environment)”.  He said “I’d like to give this to you, but let’s see if we can ask the population to double it”.  He went on a mainstream TV programme to tell his story, and in one week, had raised more than $400,000 from more than 12,000 donors!
TransCanada are trying to push the pipeline through, but didn’t even translate their application into French, something they have to do by Canadian law.  Students, unions, First Nations peoples and many more have come together to resist the pipeline.  Marie-Eve Leclerc is one of the citizens involved in  Coule Pas Chez Nous (now an organisation).  One day she gave a talk about the story of the resistance movement and afterwards drank a beer whose label spoke about how it was designed to raise money for endangered species.  The idea came to her for a beer that opposed the pipeline, exposed the risks to drinking water, and brought together many of the craft brewers in the province.
She spent some time discussing the idea with friends, who all loved it, and then presented the project to the Coule Pas Chez Nous Foundation, who decided to make it happen.  It was designed to raise awareness about the pipeline, to show that, unlike the promotions being put out by TransCanada, actually not all businesses were pro-pipeline, as well as raising some money for the campaign.  Marie-Eve went to see a lot of different breweries, who were all very enthusiastic about the idea. A “beer for our rivers” was on it’s way! One of the brewers suggested the tag line “No water, no beer. No beer, no fun”, which was as silly as it was sending a powerful and clear message. To our knowledge, it was the first time in the world that breweries came together in opposition to a pipeline.
She went to meet one of the key microbreweries who loved the idea and who said “love it, let’s do 12,000 bottles”.  That was a fair bit more than Marie-Eve had been expecting to do!  The first batch of bottles and casks was launched in March, and the entire batch, both in bottles and in casks at bars, sold out in just 3 weeks.  The beer was launched in every one of the breweries who signed up to be part of it, and each launch was so popular that many sold out of beer half way through the launch event.
The recipe was created collaboratively by 5 breweries, each of which brewed its own version in different batches.  The launch was accompanied by posters, tshirts and beer mats.  Every bottle sold made $1 for the Foundation.  The launch was a huge hit.  The story went across Canada.  It was on the radio, and the launch date was chosen to co-incide with the month of St Patrick’s Day, River Day and Water Day, with organised events on each of those days.  By the time of the third brew, 26 breweries across Quebec, mostly along the proposed route of the pipeline, were involved.  Each of the 4 breweries who did bottled and cans did their own version created something which, in spite of using the same recipe, tasted different.  As Marie-Eve put it, “it’s like asking different people to make a chocolate cake.  Even with the same recipe, each cake will taste different.  Different oven, different baker.  It was the same with the beer”.
To change from being a campaigning organisation to being a beer promotion organisation took a lot of work for the Foundation.  But it was worth the (volunteer) work, as more than $15,000 was raised to keep up the fight!
The second and third batch were sold through stores and bars across Quebec.  The Foundation sent a slab (12 bottles) to each political party, and even tracked down the offices of TransCanada and paid them an unexpected visit to take them a bottle to enjoy, accompanied by a note to say “This is a beer for our rivers.  We hope you enjoy it.  The citizens don’t want your pipeline, they want clean water”.   They ended up meeting the CEO, who was already aware of their campaign, and who offered them coffee!
Their next project was similarly ingenious.  They printed 800,000 stickers showing a duck covered in oil, and distributed them inviting people to put them onto the $1 bank bills (emblem on the $1 is a duck) they spend, so they show up on more and more bank notes.  What an imaginative way to get a message out! All the breweries involved put them on the notes they give out in change.
For Marie-Eve, there is something very powerful about a lateral approach like this beer project.  “It’s not a project that talks about climate change”, she told me.  “It’s about water.  And fun.  It’s about having a beer for a cause, and it reaches into wider networks.  One old man I met (and he was not sensitive to environmental issues) said “they can’t touch my beer!”, which for me was a great sign that we were doing it right”.
I loved the April Fools joke that the Foundation did, which said that there were plans to build a beer pipeline across Canada, from Quebec to Alberta.  “This needs to be fun”, Marie-Eve told me.  “If I am going to dedicate my life to fighting climate change, it might as well be fun!”
This beer kills pipelines - Transition Network