Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Smack the pony

The Dartmoor National Park Authority is one of those organisations that probably doesn't get the press it deserves - in that it hardly gets any press at all, which is probably how the authority likes it.

On Friday the authority's Development Management Committee has to consider, for the first time, a planning application by the Secretary of State for Defence to use more than 2,000 acres of Cramber Tor for military training for an indefinite period - the application is for "40,000 man-training days" in any one year.

The planning officer's report makes this interesting observation: "Following the removal of Crown Immunity for most planning purposes for the Ministry of Defence this application represents the first time that formal planning permission has been applied for the use of part of the National Park for military training purposes."  The land is question is "848ha of land located in the south west of the National Park, to the south of Princetown and immediately to the east of Burrator Reservoir."

Objectors include the Dartmoor Preservation Association, The Open Spaces Society and the Ramblers' Association.  English Heritage, English Nature and assorted archaeological professionals have some concerns, but stop short of outright objection.  The Duchy of Cornwall, without obvious irony, says: "We do not wish to make any comments. Thank you for keeping us informed."

Given that National Park status is supposed to afford the highest level of protection to any landscape, and "the need to ensure that the special qualities of the National Park are not prejudiced," you might think it odd that the officers' recommendation is that the planning application should be approved, subject to some conditions, eg "No training to take place on Sundays, public holidays and during the month of August."  Whizzbangs only on Saturdays, and not too many helicopters, please.  I'm not making this up.  You can read the report here.

Police commissioner election fall-out continues

Brian Greenslade's pre-Christmas press release about his decision to stand down as Lib Dem group leader on Devon County Council said nothing about the deep unhappiness in his party following his challenge to its official candidate in November's police commissioner election.

The Liberal Democrat party rule book is quite clear - Brian should have been expelled.  But then it turned out that he wasn't a member anyway, having not paid his subscriptions for more than a year.  "We can't expel someone who's not a member," one senior Lib Dem tells me, almost wishing that this were not true.

I suspect that Brian's official title as Lib Dem group leader on North Devon district council might soon be about to change, too, swelling further the ranks of the independents.

Meanwhile I have calls to make to the Information Commissioner, to check on the progress of inquiries into former Devon & Cornwall police authority chairman Mike Bull.  The issue is whether Mr Bull's campaigning in support of Brian Greenslade breached data protection rules.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

To sir, with love (2)

Response provided by Cornwall Council under: Freedom of Information Act 2000

Request and Response:

How many teachers had a salary in excess of (1) £75,000 (2) £100,000 in your area for each of the financial years 2010/11 and 2011/12 and what was the salary of the highest paid individual each year?

The Council employed sixteen headteachers in its maintained schools in the financial year 2010/11 on a salary of £75,000 or more. In the same year there was one headteacher on a salary in excess of £100,000. The salary in question was £102,734. In the financial year 2011/12 the Council employed fourteen headteachers in its maintained schools on a salary of £75,000 or more. In the same year there was one headteacher on a salary in excess of £100,000. The salary in question was £102,534.

I suspect that many of these schools are now academies - and the salaries, possibly, even higher.