letter head

[box title=”Cranbrook a year on.”]images (22)East Devon District Council leader Paul Diviani looks back on a pivotal 12 months for the new town near Exeter IT is safe to say that as far as visible progress on the ground goes, 2013 has been the “best so far” for the Exeter and East Devon Growth Point. The year started well with transport minister Norman Baker formally opening the upgrade to Junction 29 of the M5 in January. This £10.95m project has created a new link road to the old A30 at Blackhorse, new junctions to the Exeter Science Park and improvements for traffic heading south on the M5. This was followed in October by the opening of the £9m Clyst Honiton bypass complete with a new tunnel. Together these are two of the vital infrastructure improvements that form part of the strategy to support major growth in terms of new homes and jobs to the east of the M5 motorway. It has been amazing to watch Cranbrook grow over the course of the year. We are expecting more than 500 households in the town to be occupied by Christmas. One of three short films about Cranbrook went live on YouTube in April. Set on the day Cranbrook first opened to the public, the film takes a look inside some of the show homes, views Cranbrook from the air and celebrates the 15 years of planning. Elections for the Community Forum took place in September and the process of creating a new Cranbrook Town Council has also begun. It was particularly heartening to see the first community building, the Younghayes Centre, open its doors in October in time for the community’s Halloween Pumpkin Parade. One of the challenges has been to ensure that the creation of new jobs keeps pace with new homes. The award in March of £8m from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund was particularly welcome news in this respect. February saw the start of construction of the first building at the Science Park. In July we celebrated when international technology firm Blur Group announced that it was moving its new R&D Centre into part of this building, even likening the area to Silicon Valley! In September St Modwen and Devon County Council officially marked the start of works on the Ambulance Special Operations Centre (ASOC West) at the £210m Skypark development. Skypark will go on to eventually accommodate 6,000 jobs. Partnership working remains a strong theme in the area. It was nice to receive recognition of this through a commendation by the judges for the Public Private Partnership category in The MJ Local Government Achievement Awards 2013. The Growth Point also won the Most Proactive Public Sector Body at Regen SW’s annual awards ceremony at the end of 2012. This recognised the considerable work that is being done to minimise the carbon footprint of new development, including the roll out of district heating to serve both Cranbrook and Skypark. So what can we look forward to in 2014? The simple answer is lots! In January alone we are expecting the start of construction of both the Science Park Centre and the second primary school as well as the first secondary school at Cranbrook. Read more: [/box]

[box title=” winds reached up to 75 miles per hour in Torbay”]images (22)GUSTS of wind reached up to 75 miles per hour in Torbay on Monday morning, and South Devon rivers were expected to flood following the rainfall overnight. The strongest wind recorded by the Met Office was at Berry Head in Brixham at 8am. The wind brought down trees and branches, and a large branch crushed a car at the back of Torquay train station at 7.05am. The owner of the crushed Mini, Sally Tibbetts, from Torquay, said: “It was roaring with wind and rain and there was a 50mph gale. “I was taking my 23-year-old grand-daughter and her friend to the train station when there was a huge bang on the car. A branch had fallen and the back end of the sunroof came in. I just missed the main impact of the branch. “It was a shock. My grand-daughter screamed. She was in the back of the car and she was hit on the head. The glass came in. She was bleeding but she was well enough to catch her train. “Things could have been much worse.” A spokesman for Torbay Council said: “We were made aware at around 8am this morning of a large tree down on Solsbro Road, by Torquay station. A team is currently on site dealing with the situation.” Helen Chivers from the Met Office said in the 12 hours between 9pm on Sunday night and 9am on Monday morning, Exeter had 20.4mm of rain and Plymouth had 13mm. She said Torbay probably had between 15 and 20mm. She said: “There is a severe weather warning in place for Torbay but things are improving quite quickly. “The weather system that brought all the wind and rain is moving away quite rapidly and we should have a fair amount of sunshine by late morning. The rest of the day looks pretty good, with dry, sunny spells and temperatures getting up to 10 or 11 degrees. The wind will drop off.” However, she warned that there was more wind and rain to come over the next few days. She said: “There will be more rain early on Tuesday morning, until 9am or 10am, but the amounts won’t be as great as last night – probably five to 10mm. Then much of the day will be dry with sunshine. “There will be showers around at midnight and there will be a breezy start to the new year, with clear spells. New Year’s Day will be wet and windy, with 10 to 20mm of rain which could get up to 30mm on some hills.” The Environment Agency has issued flood warnings for South Devon rivers and the River Dart area. It issued a warning for the River Teign from Chudleigh to Kingsteignton. Flooding is expected for riverside properties and roads between Chudleigh and Kingsteignton including New Bridge, Ventiford, Preston, Teigngrace, Teign Bridge and Exeter Road. The agency said particular locations at risk include Ventiford Cottages and properties around Ventiford Bridge, School Cottages at Teigngrace, businesses at Teignbridge Level Crossing, Sandford Orleigh Farm and the Exeter Road. Flooding is also possible for the Rivers Avon, Erme and Harbourne, coastal streams from Bigbury to Dartmouth, and Kingsbridge, South Brent and Ivybridge areas on Monday morning. It is also possible for Totnes, Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Dartmouth and Torbay areas on Monday morning. The agency said up to 40mm of rain had fallen over Dartmoor overnight and rivers were rising in response to this rainfall. Rain was expected until 10am on Monday but the rivers would continue to rise for a while after this time. It called on people to take action to protect themselves and their property, by blocking doors with flood boards or sandbags and covering airbricks and other ventilation holes. It said people should stay away from flood water and not take risks; move family, pets and valuables to a safe place; and keep a flood kit ready including a torch, batteries, fully charged mobile phone, warm clothes, water, food and any necessary prescription medicines. People should turn off gas, electricity and water if their property is about to flood, and never touch an electrical switch when standing in water. Read more:[/box]

[box title=”No End In sight for Devon weather “]images (22)A fresh wave of “destructive” heavy rain, high winds and dangerously high tides hit the Westcountry today as forecasters warn the bad weather is likely to last for another month. Roads have been flooded, railway lines blocked and trees downed as the latest in a series of fast-moving Atlantic fronts sweeps across Devon and Cornwall. The Environment Agency issued five flood warnings and 25 flood alerts in the South West with around an inch (20-30mm) of rain during this morning. As much as two inches (40-50mm) was forecast on high ground, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor, in the space of just a few hours. The persistent rain that swept across Devon is set to return to drench New Year’s Eve revellers, with a warning of heavy rain issued for the region from 06:00 on January 1st until midnight. The Met Office said its 30 day forecasts suggest there could be a continuation of an “inexorable succession” of low pressure fronts in January, bringing with them more stormy conditions and heavy rain. Tonight starts dry and clear but 40mph winds and a band of potentially heavy rain is expected on New Year’s Eve morning but the rain is expected to clear with sunshine and showers to follow and maximum temperatures of 7°C. Then from New Year’s Day, storms and rain can be expected for the foreseeable future, forecasters warn. ‘There is no end in sight,’ said a Met Office spokesman. Adding: “For as far as we can see, the wet and windy weather is here to stay. ‘We are in the middle of winter, so this weather is not unusual, but there is no sign of it settling down as we go into January.’ The dire warnings prompted an intervention from David Cameron, the Prime Minister, who said he had asked the Department for Communities and Local Government to “ensure councils have robust plans in case of bad weather and flooding over New Year”. Read more:[/box]

[box title=”National aquarium: Moving 2,500 underwater creatures to a new home”]images (22)30 December 2013 Last updated at 01:01 GMT Moving house is always an exhausting and stressful experience – but imagine if the property is an aquarium and 2,500 underwater creatures need to be packed up. That was the task faced by staff at the National Aquarium in Washington DC when it closed to the public on 30 September after more than 80 years at the same site. During the past three months 1,700 animals – from sharks and an octopus to turtles and alligator – have been removed from tanks and transported to the aquarium almost 40 miles (64km) away in Baltimore. The rest have gone to a variety of other facilities in the US. Jay Bradley, the curator who helped build many of the exhibits, showed the BBC how hard it can be to catch a fish in a tank – and what protection you need to handle an electric eel. Produced by the BBC’s Thomas Sparrow, Markus Zeffler and Bill McKenna[/box]

[box title=”Labour plan 200,000 new homes”]images (22)Ed Miliband has this week pledged to build 200,000 homes a year if Labour win the next general election in what could be a real shot in the arm for property developers. Labour is looking to solve what it perceives as a housing crisis within the UK by substantially increasing the number of new developments built every year. Mr Miliband said the lack of affordable housing is a direct link to a cost of living crisis and stated that it now takes the average family up to 22 years to save a deposit on a house – that’s 19 years longer than the 3 years it took in 1997. Those forced to rent privately are paying as much as half their income to landlords. The chart below from the Government website shows a significant decline in housing starts and completions over the past 10 years. image-2 The 200,000 a year target is outlined to be reached by 2020 in the proposals and Mr Miliband said a Labour government would back building firms and provide them with all the incentives they need to reach the target. However one of the incentives muted is going to deliver an ultimatum to developers that may not be entirely welcome. Labour say that there is a large amount of land already available with building consent that would supply more than a million homes. To encourage developers holding onto land that has planning permission to get building, they will be given a clear choice – to build themselves or lose the land to the local council or another developer.[/box]