Thanks to Gary and Kay, Eddie, Justine & everyone who stopped to share views in Galmpton
Thank you to everyone for sharing their views
A wonderful sunny day in Brixham!
Loris and Anne
John of The Bay Coffee Company
Brixham Marine Conservation Day 30th May 2017
Brixham Marine Conservation Day on 30th May 2017 is bringing together local, national and international organisations to raise awareness of marine conservation issues, to educate the next generation and to introduce children to research and survey work.
A day filled with interesting and informative talks, interactive stands showing the latest research techniques and results, demonstrations throughout the day – fun and informative for all the family ...
The talks being held at Brixham Yacht Club throughout the day will be given by: Ghost Fishing UK, Community Seagrass Initiative, Brixham Sea Watch, Devon Wildlife Trust, Marine Management Organisation, Seiche Training and British Divers Marine Life Rescue.
As well as the above organisations, the following will also have stands at the event Sea Watch Foundation, Fathoms Free, Plymouth University Marine Institute, South Devon College Marine Research , Devon Seals in the Wild, EdFest , Marine Conservation Society, Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust, The Shark Trust, Fishing For Litter, Fishtek Marine, RSPB, National Marine Aquarium, Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts.
Especially for children there will be a beach clean and survey, a marine monster construction from the retrieved litter, a crab competition and survey, an opportunity to adopt a dolphin and a reading by the author of The Magic Dolphin, Kirsten Hintner, together with many other interactive experiences.
British Divers Marine Life Rescue will also be putting on a marine mammal rescue demonstration on the day.
Since the beginning of March a photo competition has been running with a theme of marine conservation. The three best photos from each category will be showcased at the event, with a guest judge picking the overall winner. Entries are invited up until 10th May. Click the link for details.
The moving story of a Devon teenager who took illegal drugs and is paying the price.
Devon and Cornwall Police have released a heartfelt video showing the devastating effects of illegal drugs on a fifteen year old Devon teenager.
In the video, Harley tells how he took substances known as 'legal highs' when he was just fifteen. As a result, he suffered a near fatal stroke and is now struggling with life changing consequences. He was hospitalised for a number of months and he had to learn to talk, walk and feed himself again.
In a bid to prevent other young people from making the same mistakes, Harley is visiting schools in the South of Devon to speak face-to-face with the students and answer any questions they have. His honesty and frankness touch the hearts of those who meet him. He leaves the students with his emotive message "I paid the consequences, I wish I could turn back time".
If you have are aware of anyone who is supplying illegal drugs, contact the Police on 101, or you can give information anonymously to Crime Stoppers on Tel: 0800 555 111 or on line at www.crimestoppers-org.uk. Please quote Operation Venus.
The National Apprenticeship Show South West.
The National Apprenticeship Show takes place across the country and will bring together employers, colleges and providers with those wanting to find out more about what apprenticeships can offer. Over 70 exhibitors will be taking part at the next event on the 3rd – 4th May at the Westpoint Arena in Exeter. Wednesday 3 May – 9:30am-3pm & 4pm-6:30pm
The later slot being mainly for individuals, parents and carers, however they are welcome to come along in the day slots also. Thursday 4 May – 9:30am-3pm
The event is FREE to attend and schools are also offered a travel bursary. For more information click here
Lifetime ISA and Personal Tax Free Allowance
From 6th April 2017 savers can start paying into the Lifetime ISA and the increase in the Personal tax free allowance sets in – benefitting millions of ordinary working people right across the United Kingdom.
Millions of people will see their take home pay increase because of this action to raise the Personal Allowance and introduce the Lifetime ISA.
The Armed Forces Covenant
The Armed Forces Covenant promises that veterans, the Armed Forces and their families receive the support they deserve. Enshrined in law in 2011, it ensures that members of the Armed Forces community are not disadvantaged in accessing Government and commercial services. Based on the principles of the Covenant, members of the Armed Forces can access:
Specialist military and civilian doctors' services for issues such as mental health, trauma, and prosthetics, as well as the possibility of priority access to treatment if the condition is thought to be caused by time in service. These services can be accessed by notifying the GP that you are a military veteran
Veterans' Welfare Service for the small minority of veterans who find themselves in custody, which helps those in prison and provides support to improve their lives on return to their communities. They can be contacted on 02392 702232
High priority to social housing for seriously injured service personnel and veterans through local authorities, and there is a £200 million 'Forces Help to Buy Scheme'
Specific advice on compensation scheme claims and on where to get help on benefits, pensions, loans and grants, emergency accommodation, finding a job, re-training, health issues, welfare concerns, service records and medals through Veterans UK. They can be contacted on 0808 1914 218
A new service called Veterans Gateway will be launched on the 22 May and will offer a 24/7 service for advice on issues such as housing, employability and health.
Lastly, the Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club provides an opportunity for veterans and serving personnel to meet in an informal setting and reengage with former colleagues – there is one in Newton Abbot and one in Torbay. Further details can be accessed here
Environment Agency repairs at Torcross now completed.
Storms in February 2016 damaged the Torcross sea defence when beach levels were low. Waves hitting the wall caused cracks to appear along the promenade. The repaired wall is designed to withstand a severe storm, even when there are low beach levels. 12 metre sheets piles were installed directly in front of the existing line of piles with a new reinforced concrete capping beam. These double-length piles provide extra stability to the wall. The Environment Agency have scheduled a routine asset inspection to be carried out every 24 months to assess the condition of the defence and will continue to monitor the asset repair during periods of bad weather. South Hams District Council will undertake remedial surfacing work to the car park following the defence repairs and hope to have it open on Saturday 1 April 2017. For more information please click on the following link
Thank you so much to all those who have worked hard to restore the sea defences at Torcross and to the community and agencies which came together during the anxious weeks following last year's storms to get things done.
Share Shed Totnes Launches on Saturday 8th April
Share Shed Totnes will be officially launched at 10.00am Saturday 8th April at the Guild Hall Garage, on Guild Hall Yard (down the side of St. Mary's Church, Fore Street) in Totnes. I will be there along with Totnes Deputy Mayor Rosie Adams and the wonderful poet Matt Harvey.
This is a wonderful project coordinated by Network of Wellbeing - NOW, and will enable local people to borrow all sorts of useful things at nominal cost so that they don't have to buy them for themselves. The aim is to encourage the sharing economy locally, and to help people connect more while spending, consuming and wasting less.
Following the launch, Share Shed Totnes will then be open every Saturday, from 10.00am to 1.00pm. Do come along and find out more and get involved. All are welcome!
If you are able to donate any item or are interested in becoming a volunteer, please get in touch via email@example.com.
South West Trains
The Department for Transport recently announced that the South West Trains franchise, which runs services from stations such as Exeter to London, has been awarded to First MTR, the operator for Hong Kong's busy metro. The deal will last for seven years and will ensure new and faster trains, more seats and services, improved stations and more flexible fare options along the line.
The changes do not affect trains running to and from Totnes, but if you're travelling to a station like Exeter in order to catch a South West Train, you should get a better service in the near future.
A map of the network can be found here and more information about the Department for Transport's announcement here
Ofcom's proposals for companies to pay automatic compensation
Ofcom has set out new proposals to require phone and broadband companies to pay automatic compensation – either a cash payment, or a credit on a bill – to customers who suffer slow repairs, missed appointments or delays to starting new services.
When a customer's landline or broadband goes wrong, that is frustrating enough without having to fight to get fair compensation from the phone company. So Ofcom are proposing new rules to force providers to pay money back to customers automatically, whenever repairs or installations don't happen on time, or when people wait in for an engineer who doesn't turn up. This would mean customers are properly compensated, while providers will be incentivised to work harder to improve their service.
Compensation payments would be set by Ofcom, and designed to reflect the degree of harm suffered by consumers. Here is how Ofcom's automatic compensation scheme would work:
A landline or broadband customer would be entitled to compensation if...
Amount of compensation
Delayed repair following loss of service
Their service has stopped working and it is not fully fixed after 2 full working days
£10 for each calendar day the service is not repaired
An engineer does not turn up for a scheduled appointment, or it is cancelled with less than 24 hours' notice
£30 per missed appointment
Delays with the start of a new service
Their provider promises to start a new service on a particular date, but fails to do so
£6 for each calendar day of delay, including the missed start date
Ofcom are consulting until 5th June and plan to publish a statement at the end of the year. Details on how to contribute to the consultation can be found via the following link
Invasive Species Week 27th March – 2nd April 2017
Geographic barriers such as oceans, mountains, deserts and currents have through evolutionary history restricted the mixing of wildlife in different regions. This has allowed evolution to proceed independently in different parts of the world, resulting in different species in different regions. That's how we've ended up with, for example, tigers as forest cats in Asia, but jaguars as forest cats in South America. When people move any species beyond its native range and introduce it into the wild, whether deliberately (e.g. plants for horticulture, exotic pets) or accidentally (stowaways with transported goods) this breaks down these natural barriers and is a potential threat to the native wildlife.
Invasive non-native species (INNS) can cause problems for native wildlife in several ways:
Predation – introduced species may prey on native species, which have often evolved in the absence of predators and are not able to adapt quickly enough.
Competition – introduced species may outcompete native species for resources such as food and breeding sites.
Introduction of new diseases – non-native species may bring with them diseases that were not previously present in an area, which can have serious consequences in cases where the native species have not developed immunity.
Hybridisation – some species are capable of breeding with another related but distinct species, creating hybrids. Over time, the unique genetic diversity of one species can be lost and the species can become extinct.
There are currently around 2000 established non-native species in Great Britain, with roughly 10 new species arriving and establishing every year. About 15% of these become invasive. It is not possible to accurately predict which species will become invasive. Many INNS establish in the wild but take decades to become problematic. For this reason, the most effective action we can take to control INNS is to take a precautionary approach. We call behaviour that aims to prevent the spread of invasive species "biosecurity". Prevention of new invasions, as opposed to control once a species has established, is also the most cost effective approach. The British economy currently spends at least £1.7billion on invasive species action every year. A stronger focus on prevention is urgently required. The increasing impacts of invasive non-native species is a manmade problem - it is not the fault of the species and it is up to us to fix it where we can. With your help we can:-
Help raise awareness that invasive non-native species are impacting our wildlife and wild places
Help to make invasive non-native species relevant to people by highlighting the impact on places and species that they love
Help to inspire people to help wildlife and wild places by taking steps to prevent invasive species spread (for example by disposing of garden waste responsibly, reporting sightings of invasive species, or cleaning down water sports equipment after each use)
Encourage conversations about invasive non-native species.
For more information please look at the following website.
The Childcare Choices website has been launched
Millions of parents can pre-register for the government's new childcare offers, with the launch of a new website Childcare Choices. The government's Tax-Free Childcare scheme will begin on 28 April, for parents of the youngest children. It will be gradually rolled out over 2017 – cutting childcare costs for working families across the UK by up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children.
On top of this, from September this year parents of three and four year old children living in England will be able to apply for a new 30 hours free childcare offer, worth around £5,000 per child. The Childcare Choices website includes a Childcare Calculator for parents to compare all the government's childcare offers and check what works best for their families. Through the site parents can also pre-register for email alerts that will notify them when they can apply, as well as providing details of existing government childcare offers.
Suicide Prevention Report
The Health Select Committee, which I chair, released it's report in to suicide prevention today (16/03/17) and you may be interested to read it here.
I also spoke about this on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning and you may like to listen to this here. I spoke approximately 50 minutes in to the programme.
The Grove and Ball Copse at Churston
Work at woodlands in Churston in response to the Forestry Commission serving Statutory Plant Health Notices for the Grove and Ball Copse woodlands is currently taking place. For more information please click on the following link.
The Great Get Together
It's hard to believe but it will soon be a year since Jo Cox was murdered.
In the past year, a lot has happened, but nothing that has begun to ease the pain or fill the gap that Jo has left in our lives, and to mark the anniversary, it is hoped that communities and neighbours will get together, to share food and to celebrate what we hold in common. Jo's killing was aimed at dividing us and there is no better response to that, than a public showing of unity. It is hoped to show that no matter what party your vote for, where you come from or how you voted in a referendum - there is more that unites us than divides us.
As such you are invited to take part in 'The Great Get Together' by holding events on the 17 and 18th of June (the 16th is the actual anniversary) from street parties and picnics to shared barbecues and community bake offs with the aim of building one of the UK's biggest ever community events.
More information is available from the following website.
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England and UK government departments and other public organisations. This is done without taking sides and the service is free.
The PHSO have just launched a new website to make it easier for people to find and understand how the PHSO can assist. The website will help get answers to straightforward questions and encourage on line complaints. It also features a complaint checker to help people complain to the right organisation at the right time.
I know that the recent Supreme Court ruling on the need for Parliament to give approval to trigger Article 50 has concerned many. My view however, is that we all benefit from an independent judiciary, doing their job free from political control and that this judgement has upheld the supremacy of Parliament.
The European Union (notification of withdrawal) bill is now before Parliament and you can follow its progress and read its short text here
I will be respecting the decision of the majority in the referendum and voting to give the Prime Minister the power to trigger Article 50. I will be following the debate closely and as chair of the Health Select Committee, scrutinising the implications to health, including public health, of Brexit and the Article 50 process.
The Modern Industrial Strategy and the South West
This week the government announced plans for a Modern Industrial Strategy which recognises that, though our economy is strong, its benefits remain unevenly distributed across the UK. You can read more about this here
Rural areas such as the South West have long been seen to be missing out in comparison to the London metropolis and the Northern Powerhouse and I was glad to hear plans for the South West include investment in local transport infrastructure, more flood defences and support for research and innovation. The Green Paper on Building Our Industrial Strategy has now been published and you can view it here
The government is consulting on the plans included in the paper and you can share your views up until the 17th of April 2017. You can find out how to contribute here
Joint Surgery with the Dr Sarah Wollaston and Citizens Advice Bureau on Debt Matters
I recently met with the Citizens' Advice Bureau where we discussed that many people find January a particularly tough financial month and therefore I am teaming up with the Citizens' Advice Bureau to hold a debt advice surgery.
The surgery will be held on Tuesday the 14th of February from 11.00 am until 1.00 pm at the Totnes Library, which is fully accessible to all. For more information please call 03444 111 444 or 01803 868 378.
Exporting is Great Campaign: Support for International Trade
The PM has now given the most detailed speech we have heard yet on the government's plans for exiting the European Union. Those who were angling for a so called 'soft Brexit' will have been disappointed, but for all of us who wanted some more candid details about the government's post EU direction it was illuminating.
The PM unequivocally stated that we will not remain in the Single Market but provided reassurance that she will push for the greatest possible access to it. Nonetheless, I know many businesses will be now looking to see where future trading opportunities may lie outside of the EU.
Therefore I hope the many thriving enterprises we have in the constituency will be interested in the new government initiative that has been launched by the Department for International Trade. The department have instigated this following research indicating that many firms have the potential to export but do not and that those who do could significantly increase their exports with the right support.
Only 11% of UK businesses currently export and only around 6% of those target high growth economies such as India and China, so there is huge scope for growth in this area.
The initiative looks to support companies who are wishing to grow or secure international trade by connecting businesses with overseas suppliers, helping to search through export opportunities and providing preferential deals from a range of partners. There is also assistance available to help work out which e-marketplaces might be suitable for a business's goods and services.
As part of this campaign the Export Hub truck will be travelling the country and will be in the South West from the 13th until the 17th of March, more details about this will be available in due course via the following website.
To find out more information about the initiative in general please visit the following website.
Government's key objectives during the Brexit negotiations
The Prime Minister has today (17.01.17) clarified the Government's key objectives during the Brexit negotiations, and the principles which will guide it. Theresa May has confirmed that the Government will not seek to be in the single market. She has also been clear that no deal is better than a bad deal and she has called on the EU to approach these negotiations in the spirit of cooperation, to build a strong partnerships for the future. You can read the Prime Minister's full speech here. I have also set out the Government's guiding principles and main objectives in the Brexit section of my website.
Pothole Action Fund
Representing a constituency with rural roads and lanes I often receive correspondence from constituents exasperated by potholes. I do appreciate people's irritation on this, however I also recognise the tough job that Devon County Council has in maintaining the largest road network of any local authority in Britain. Nonetheless, decent roads are vital in the countryside where driving is a necessity rather than a luxury.
Therefore it is welcome news that Devon County Council will be receiving £3,192,000 and Torbay Council will get £ 117,000 from the Pothole Action Fund, from which all road users will benefit. This funding is part of a £1.2 billion fund for local roads that the government is distributing to councils to help repair our essential transport links.
To see how many potholes will be filled in your postcode visit the following website To see an interactive map of how many potholes are going to be filled in 2016/17 in your local authority area visit the following website
Lastly if you want to report a pothole you can do so online to Devon County Council via the following link and to Torbay Council via this link
South Hams District Council has secured £1.8m from the Community Housing Fund
In the 2016 Budget, the Government announced it would provide funding for communities affected by second home ownership. Often, second homes stand empty for a large proportion of the time which can affect communities, the demographics of an area and distort local housing markets. The South Hams has just under 4,000 second homes which makes up over 9% of the total households, therefore the impact of second homes is acute in the area.
The Council provided a very robust case requesting a good proportion of the identified fund. I worked closely with South Hams District Councillors, Parliament was lobbied and I tabled a Parliamentary Question on the matter.
We were therefore delighted that our efforts have been recognised and that South Hams District Council will receive a £1.8m boost for affected communities.
Once full details of the scheme have been released, the Council will be in a position to plan for the next steps.
Improvements in the pipeline for Kingsbridge
Work on a £250,000 scheme to improve Kingsbridge's sewer network starts again next week. South West Water has been renovating sewers in the town to improve the service to residents. Work started in October for five weeks, with a second phase of work taking place from January to March 2017. This was planned to avoid the busy festive season. SWW will be working in the following streets in 2017:
Western Backway – Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February – footpath closure Fore Street (lower) – Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February Plymouth Road – Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February – temporary traffic lights Bus Station – Monday 27 February for approximately two weeks – entrance closure Prince of Wales Road – Monday 13 March TBC for approximately two weeks – road closure
SWW's Project Manager Andy Young said: "This is a real investment in Kingsbridge's future. Without this necessary work the sewer network will continue to deteriorate. That can lead to collapses – which cause pollution, flooding and odour.
"Where possible we will be using innovative no-dig techniques but some excavations will be necessary. As well as upgrading over 700 metres of pipe, we will also be preventing sea water entering the network during high tides.
"We will be working hard to minimise disruption to the public and businesses as far as possible while completing these essential improvements."
Competition and Markets Authority launch a study into Care Homes
On 5 December, the Competition and Markets Authority launched a study examining care homes for the elderly across the UK. The study wants to hear about people's individual experiences when choosing a care home and whether or not there is enough protection under the current regulatory and complaints system. It will also look into whether cares homes are fulfilling their obligations under current consumer law. With 430,000 elderly people in care or nursing homes throughout the UK, it is important that the CMA has a wide range of evidence to draw on when examining any practices which may be unfair. This matters because there have been concerns that those paying for their own care may in some cases also be cross subsidising those whose care is paid by the State. You can find out more about this and how to submit evidence here.
Ritula Shah presented Any Questions from the Quarry Theatre at Bedford School with Labour MP Lisa Nandy, the SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, the Deputy Leader of UKIP and London assembly member Peter Whittle and myself in my role as Conservative MP and chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee.
Questions included: The Richmond by-election - should parties on the left form a liberal alliance? Will UKIP win the working class vote from Labour, "Cake and Eat it" plan for brexit? How much would you pay annually for access to the EU single market? animal fat in the new £5 note, Should taxes rise to fund the NHS and social care? (35 minutes into the broadcast) and schools places and immigration.
Cross Country Trains
The Managing Director of Cross Country trains, Andy Cooper, came to meet local MPs in response to our concerns about proposals to change the timetable which would involve axing important services. A number of trains which run directly from Newton Abbot, Paignton and Torbay to Birmingham, and on to Manchester, would be lost each weekday. A shortage of new train carriages for the network means Cross Country has chosen to reduce services for this region to relieve overcrowding elsewhere. Cross Country apologised unreservedly for the lack of publicity given to the consultation, which will impose such drastic cuts to services for us in the South West. The proposed changes will hit our tourism sector and other businesses, as well as cause increased overcrowding and inconvenience for an area of the country already disadvantaged by low investment in rail services. I am totally opposed to the company trying to relieve overcrowding elsewhere in the system at our expense. I urge all constituents to sign the Herald's 'Save our trains' petition, and I will continue to work with colleagues to call on the Department for Transport and the train operator to find a fairer way of tackling overcrowding and improving rolling stock.
Funding for the rail line at Dawlish
The collapse of the line at Dawlish had disastrous consequences for commuters and the South Devon economy. South West MPs have been working together to press upon the government that we are not prepared to see our region isolated and expect to see the investment to protect our vital rail and road network.
Therefore I welcome the Transport Secretary's announcement today of £10 million in funding for the next stage of development work at Dawlish. The money follows on from a further £5 million secured in the last budget in March. The money will go towards preparing a planning submission for the work on the Teignmouth cliffs. I am happy to see that the Government remains committed to strengthening and investing in the South West's infrastructure.
Funding for defibrillators in England
It is fantastic news that the BHF and the Department of Health are working together for a second year to provide £1 million investment to provide hundreds of defibrillators as well as training in CPR to communities across the country.
When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their heart stops pumping blood around their body and they will die within minutes without treatment. For every minute without defibrillation, a person's chance of survival decreases by around 10 percent. Learning CPR and an increase in publically accessible defibrillators will empower people in the constituency to know what to do in an emergency and save lives. I encourage all organisations to check if they are eligible to apply for the free community package including up to five public access defibrillators and a Call Push Rescue training kit, by visiting: bhf.org.uk/defibengland
SHDC's Local Plan
There is a lot of public interest in what is being proposed for Totnes as part of SHDC's Local Plan consultation, and a lot of rumours have been circulating around what the Council plans to do.
SHDC have issued some very clear statements on the situation in Totnes and have also now released the Youtube video which clearly sets out the process for public consultation that SHDC will be following.
Dartmoor National Park Authority
Dartmoor National Park Authority are taking the first step in reviewing Dartmoor's local plan. There is a current local plan for Dartmoor, but a lot has changed since it was produced.
This first consultation is an opportunity for residents, communities, visitors, businesses and other organisations to offer views on how the new local plan should guide future development on Dartmoor. The local plan will cover issues such as; house extensions, design, the environment, listed buildings, housing, business, farming, tourism, quarrying, and land for development.
The DNPA would like everyone interested in Dartmoor's future to tell them what is important about Dartmoor for them.
For more information and details of consultation events please click here
Your Future Care
The Your Future Care programme is now underway by the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commission Group.
The engagement exercise aims to bring about a consistent model of care across Northern, Eastern and Western Devon (NEW Devon).
Your Future Care proposes changes which will, if adopted, provide care and support in people's homes and in the community, preventing unnecessary admissions and supporting a faster return home for patients in NEW Devon.
The NHS Stay Well This Winter campaign launches this week with the biggest ever flu vaccination programme in England for children. This year the programme is being extended to those in school year 3, offering more than 4 million children protection against flu – around 600,000 more than last year. As well as offering protection to these children aged 2 to 7 years, it will help reduce the spread of this infection to the most vulnerable in the community, particularly younger children, the elderly and those with long-term conditions.
Children aged 2, 3 and 4 can now get the vaccination from their GP. The school vaccination programme gets underway later this week, with parents of children in years 1, 2 and 3 being asked permission for their child to get the free nasal spray vaccination at school.
The campaign is also encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated against flu. Pregnancy naturally weakens the body's immune system, and so flu can cause serious complications for the mother and her baby. The free vaccine is offered to other groups at particular risk of infection and complications, or liable to spread it to those at risk: anyone aged 65 and over; residents of long-stay care homes; and carers. Those eligible should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife, as appropriate, to arrange vaccination.
Nestling on the southern slopes of Dartmoor National Park in Devon is the delightful Holne Shop and Tearoom. In 2011 the community formed an Industrial Provident Society to raise the required funds to purchase the premises. Opening the shop and tearoom in August 2011, the committee then worked tirelessly until they were able to purchase in 2014. This not for profit organisation ploughs all profits back into the business (and in the future, the community).
The result is a friendly multi-purpose shop and tearoom of which they are justifiably proud. They have a wonderful band of volunteers who gain much from the social aspect of the venture. Local youngsters are employed to work in the tearoom, giving great work experience.
Volunteers have transformed the outside area into a lovely garden with amazing views over the moors, new furniture graces the lawns and the hedge down the side of the leat, laid by Tree Warden, Ross, won him first prize for hedge laying.
The shop stocks everyday groceries, locally-sourced specialist foods, maps and guide books for tourists, gifts for all and much, much more. They are an official Dartmoor National Park information centre. Walkers doing The Two Moors Way, can get their books officially stamped. They also have a stamp for those doing 'Letter Boxing' on the moor.
The airy tearoom is open 7 days a week, providing home cooked cream teas, cakes, light lunches, all day breakfast and more. Visitors, locals, cyclists, walkers with muddy boots, canoeists, all are welcome. Food intolerances eg gluten free, are catered for. It is used as a meeting place, coffee mornings with guest speakers and events eg annual McMillan coffee mornings.
New Constituency Boundaries
The independent Boundary Commission published its proposals for new constituency boundaries. The changes equalise constituent numbers across the country, ensuring that a vote in one constituency carries as much weight as one in another. I welcome the new proposals, which create a much more realistic constituency than the previous draft boundaries. The new constituency will include the wards of Ambrook and Ipplepen in the north east of the region. Constituents may examine the proposals in more detail, and submit their comments, on the Commission's website here. The Commission will also take local opinion on whether a new name should be proposed for the constituency, and I would be interested to hear whether local people feel 'Totnes' accurately represents the whole area, or whether a new name such as South Devon should be proposed.
Citizens Advice Launch GP Surgery Project
An exciting new project where social advice and information can be found at GP surgeries, has recently been launched. Citizens Advice South Hams are delighted to announce the new one year pilot project in South Hams which will be offering social support to patients.
This project aims to help tackle underlying factors affecting patient well-being. By intervening at this early stage, this service will help to reduce patients from reaching a more critical stage of crisis, therefore reducing the demand on GP and NHS services.
South Hams District Council have funded the project, which means that participating surgeries, Chillington Health Centre and Woolwell Medical Centre, can now offer patients an appointment with an advice specialist in the surgery.
Advice and information is also available by calling the Citizens Advice helpline on 03444 111 444 between 9.00am and 4pm, Monday - Friday
Citizens Advice South Hams is based at Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Totnes TQ9 7UY. They are open from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm Monday – Thursday and offer a drop in service in Kingsbridge and Dartmouth (Tuesdays 9.30-12.30pm)
Representing a rural constituency I receive a lot of queries from exasperated constituents about broadband in the area and many people highlight difficulties with Openreach, BT's infrastructure division. Indeed, BT have admitted themselves that their customer service is not yet good enough. It remains the case that too many people, and businesses, in counties like Devon continue to be hampered by slow speeds and poor connections and I am clear that connectivity in the countryside must be on a par with urban areas.
I believe we need to see services improve as ensuring high speed digital connectivity is a defining factor in our long term success, allowing us to create new opportunities and growth. However, unless we are better able to hold Openreach to account this is an uphill battle.
Therefore, I am delighted that BT is due to increase Openreach's independence after Ofcom raised concerns about the accountability and transparency of their operation. For a long time now Openreach have been accused of underinvesting in upgrading the network and installing high speed fibre, and Ofcom's insistence that it become a separate company within the BT group will help to provide more customer focus.
Their proposal includes Openreach having its own board with an independent chair and a majority of independent members. Ofcom are running a consultation on this and you can respond with your views via the following link up until the 4th of October.
I know BT have stated that, in line with government policy, they wish to provide every property in the UK with better broadband by 2020 and I do hope this will be the case.
You can read Ofcom's statement on this matter here
You can read BT's plan for these governance and operational changes here
Guide to the New Cabinet
The last week has seen a large political shake up so I thought it might be helpful to provide a guide to the faces on our frontbenches.
I am very pleased that Theresa May is our new PM, having seen her work over the past six years I have no doubt about her abilities. She has statesmanship, a track record for negotiating skills and an eye for detail. You can read more about Theresa here.
From the 9th May the penalties for fly-tipping were increased. It is now a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates' Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court.
There are also a range of other possible penalties including fixed penalty notices and local authorities can now issue fixed penalty notices between £150 to £400 for small-scale fly-tipping.
As well as spoiling the countryside, fly-tipping is illegal, bad for the environment and often a health hazard to people and animals. Household waste, including DIY material and electrical goods such as fridges, accounts for half of all fly tipped rubbish. Councils encourage householders to dispose of waste responsibly through reducing, reusing, recycling and composting waste, where possible.
You can dispose of your waste in a number of ways:
'Normal' household refuse and recycling should be placed out for collection the evening before, or by 7 a.m. on the morning of, your collection.
'Bulky' items and larger items of household waste can be disposed of in several ways:- Take these items to your closest household waste recycling centre. In the South Hams these are run by Devon County Council. For further information contact DCC on 0345 1551010; or look at the website Information about Torbay recycling centre can be found here
Arrange for a bulky household waste collection. This service is operated by the Councils and a small charge is made. Please visit the appropriate Council's website for further details. SHDC or Torbay
Take glass bottles and jars to your closest recycling bank. You can find recycling banks through the following links
I have received a number of emails about the amendment tabled by John Mann to the Serious Crime Act.
First and foremost, it is of the utmost importance that the government protects children from abuse and addresses concerns that public bodies and other institutions may have failed to act to protect children in the past or deliberately covered up abuse. These must be fully investigated without any fear that anyone could be deterred from giving evidence as a result of the Official Secrets Act
The government has made it clear that John Mann's amendment was not necessary as the Official Secrets Act does not prevent disclosures about abuse being made, this point being clarified by the Home Secretary in the Commons & by the following statement by the Home Office:
The Official Secrets Act is intended to protect certain classes of particularly sensitive information such as security and intelligence matters, and it provides for a number of offences that prevent current or former Crown servants or Government contractors from disclosing certain information without lawful authority. It does not prevent protected information from being disclosed to an officer of an official investigation or inquiry into historical child abuse. In particular, information may be disclosed where the disclosure is made in accordance with that person's official duty or is otherwise authorised. Departments and Ministers can permit current and former civil servants and Government contractors to share knowledge and documentation with an inquiry.
For example, in the case of the Kincora investigation - the Hart Inquiry in Northern Ireland - it has been made absolutely clear by the Attorney-General that prosecutions under the Official Secrets Act will not take place where people are giving evidence of child abuse to the inquiry. The Home Secretary has made it clear that official authorisation would be given for the Goddard Inquiry if a request were made, in a manner similar to that for the Hart Inquiry, and has written to Justice Goddard to suggest that she make such a request to the Attorney General.
Thank you to Mark, Tara and John for taking the time to meet with me today to discuss The Torbay End Street Homelessness Campaign's 'Connections week' which runs the week beginning April 24th 2017, where volunteers from the community will go out and survey people sleeping on the streets. They will be trained and supported by experienced...
Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how much her Department has paid in compensation for unlawful immigration detention since figures on such compensation payments were published in 2014-15.
Robert Goodwill The Minister for...
Sarah WollastonChair, Health Committee
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether procedures have changed as a result of recent successful prosecutions for unlawful immigration detention.
Robert GoodwillThe Minister for Immigration
The cross-system Detention...
Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans for the Immigration Enforcement Business Plan for 2016-17 to be published.
Robert Goodwill The Minister for Immigration
The Department's plans for immigration enforcement...
Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment was made prior to the implementation of the junior doctors' contract in 2016 of the additional financial and administrative cost associated with (a) pay protection, (b) additional...
Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, whether the Community Housing Fund will continue to be distributed through local authorities from 2017-18.
Gavin BarwellMinister of State (Department for Communities and...
Social Care is at a tipping point but increasing funding needed intergenerational fairness (Article also appeared in the Times 19.05.17)
One of the the most striking figures set out by the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, in his recent update to the NHS Forward View was that life expectancy is increasing by five hours a day. This extraordinary success has also driven an unprecedented rise in demand for health and social care to levels which can no longer be met from current spending. The Care Quality Commission is not alone in describing social care as being at a tipping point. In her manifesto, Theresa May has acknowledged that the elastic can stretch no further and promised to increase funding for social care as well as per capita spending on the NHS. The manifesto also includes a much needed boost for capital projects described as 'the most ambitious programme of investment in buildings and technology that the NHS has ever seen'. Funding promises have to be realistic and fair. The Prime Minister is right not to duck the issue of intergenerational fairness in meeting the challenge of funding social care and it would not be fair for the increasing costs of both the NHS and social care to fall entirely on the working age population. The options were never going to be easy but failure to increase spending risked the collapse of social care provision and a downward spiral of NHS performance. Hard choices on the means testing of winter fuel payments and downgrading a triple lock to a double lock on pensions after 2020 are fair if the money raised rescues social care from the brink for those who will need it the most.
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The 2017 Budget Needs to Provide a Lifeline for Social Care and a Plan for the Future (27.02.17)
As the Chancellor finalises his 2017 Budget he can no longer afford to ignore the stark warnings about the impact on individuals and the NHS from the crisis in adult social care. Last year the Care Quality Commission described the fragility of the system as approaching a 'tipping point'. The situation looks set to worsen without an immediate lifeline and one that goes beyond the uneven and inadequate sticking plaster of a 3% increase in council tax precepts. To put this in context, last year's uplift in the precept raised £382m but this was entirely swallowed by the £612m increase in costs from the National Living Wage. Precepts also entrench inequality as those areas least able to raise money also have a greater proportion of residents who are fully dependent on their local authority to fund their social care. The 2017 Budget needs to bring forward the so-called Better Care Fund already planned for later in the spending review and it needs to be 'new' money, not a smoke and mirrors device to transfer funding from an already overstretched NHS.
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Trump Trading on Prejudice (30.01.17)
Donald Trump made no secret of his deeply divisive instincts during his long campaign for the White House. Vile racial and religious stereotyping, misogyny, his support for torture, even parodying those with disabilities. All his prejudices were worn as a badge of honour, displayed from campaign platforms and television studios for months on end.
Locker room talk, we were told, of his boasts of 'grabbing women by the pussy' as voters were assured that the office of Presidency would surround him with wise counsel and bring out the statesman in him. Less than a month since his inauguration, the stark reality must be dawning on Americans, that their choice of President isn't 'draining the swamp' but dragging them into one of his own making. We don't have to join them.
It would be a mistake to dismiss Donald Trump as some oafish 'man baby' impulsively blurting whatever comes into his mind. His actions seem calculated to offend, bully and control.
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The global gag will hit the world's poorest women (26.01.17)
A few days into his Presidency, Donald Trump has signed an executive order dubbed the "global gag rule". It will have the effect of cutting off funding for overseas NGOs whose work is associated in any way with abortion services. This means that many international health workers and organisations, even those who receive part of their funding from other private sources for work or advice linked to abortion services, will have to decide whether or not to continue. These services risk losing crucial funding – meaning cuts to choice based contraception and other health services for the most disadvantaged women worldwide. Because the US is the largest health donor this will have an impact on unwanted pregnancies and could have a knock on effect on other areas of women's health care like screening programmes, prenatal check-ups and support for HIV sufferers.
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My response to the consultation on re-shaping community services (22.01.17)
Following their recent consultation, the South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group has now published its recommendations . These will be put to their governing board when it meets in public on 26.1.17.
The most controversial aspect is that the CCG continues to recommend that several local community hospitals will close as part of their plan to introduce a new model of care. In my constituency that would mean the closure of Dartmouth hospital. Many Paignton residents will also be affected by the closure of their community hospital in the neighbouring Torbay Constituency.
Reading the document I am deeply concerned at the statements on page 24 which imply a lack of support for Dartmouth hospital from local residents and their representatives. This is simply not the case. There is huge support for our local community hospital and gratitude for the dedicated work of the staff. There was however pragmatism that the consultation was likely to result in the closure of the hospital, if nothing else by further undermining the ability of the trust to recruit staff, and therefore a determination to work to make sure that we have a commitment to an effective alternative.
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The current pressures in the NHS can be traced back to 2009 and what became known as the Nicholson challenge. In the aftermath of the economic crash this ushered in an unprecedented period of efficiency savings against a headwind of rapidly rising demand and costs. The incoming coalition government then imposed a disruptive and demoralising reorganisation that distracted from the key challenges. Rather than seizing the opportunity to integrate health and social care and to design a sustainable long term financial settlement, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 led to greater fragmentation at a time when our demographic changes demanded a different approach.
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