Any Questions

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.

 

Flood Alerts 21.11.16

The Environment Agency has announced a series of flood risks caused by Storm Angus.

Heavy rain, combined with high water levels, can cause coastal streams and roads to become tide locked and create localised flooding. A number of schools and trains have already been cancelled in the Devon area because of localised flooding, and Police have today issued warnings about taking unnecessary risks and driving through flood water.

The dangers posed by coastal and localised flooding are extremely serious. In order to keep updated on flood warnings and alerts and also to sign up to receive warnings by text, email or phone, you can use the following website

 

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

Music Therapy at Rowcroft Hospice.

A campaign is under way to support and maintain the music therapy service at Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay.

There has been music therapy at Rowcroft since 1998, offering a space for people with a progressive life limiting illness, to explore creativity and use music as a resource to connect with and express their feelings, to look at what is happening and how to respond to it.

Due to shrinking budgets the hospice is no longer able to pay for this service and music along with art therapy had to be cut. A small Newton Abbot based charity, the Towersey Foundation, has agreed to take on the task of fund raising for the music therapy service, to keep it going for 2 years until Rowcroft is once again in a position to take over the funding. Towersey has worked since 1996 to raise funds for music therapy in palliative care and they will be using a variety of strategies to explore potential funding sources, including promoting local awareness with events and coverage in the media.

For more information and contact details please look at the Towersey website


Torbay Council budget proposals are now available

The Mayor's draft proposals for service change, income generation and efficiencies in 2017/18 have now been published by Torbay Council and can be found at www.torbay.gov.uk/budget-201718

A six week consultation will commence on Monday 7 November 2016. Members of the public and partner organisations are being encouraged to have their say before the consultation closes on Sunday 18 December. The consultation will be available at www.torbay.gov.uk/consultation or as paper copies in all Torbay Libraries and Harbour offices. Specific consultation will take place on proposals where individual service users or organisations are expected to be affected.

Feedback from the consultation will be considered and will inform the final proposals which will be presented to Council for approval in February 2017 when the Revenue and Capital Budgets for 2017/2018 will be agreed alongside the Council Tax.

Anyone who would like to hear more about these proposals, ask questions and make comments is being invited to come along to the Grand Hotel, Torquay on Thursday 1 December 2016. Two budget events are being hosted by the Mayor, one starting at 2pm and a repeated event at 7pm.

 

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.

Please view or download the consultation paper , where you will see a number of 'Talking Points' they would like you to comment on.

For more information and details of consultation events please click here

 

Love your Loo

Every year South West Water deals with over 8,500 blocked sewers which costs around £4.5 million. This can be caused by people inappropriately flushing baby wipes, hygiene wipes, moist toilet tissue, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products and has a big impact on our water bills.

To raise awareness about this issue, South West Water is launching the 'Love Your Loo' campaign to encourage everyone to only flush the 3Ps - pee, paper and poo. Over the next six months, the Love your Loo team will be talking to customers and spreading the 3Ps message to the Kingsbridge and Salcombe area.

For more details click here.

 

Disability Confident

Jobcentre Plus in conjunction with Plymouth University, Remploy and PLUSS are hosting a Disability Confident event on the 29th November from 9.00am -1.00pm at the Roland Levinsky Building, Plymouth University, called 'Make it your business' to inspire employers to think differently about people with health conditions and disabilities.

The myth-busting event will give attendees the opportunity to hear jobseekers with disabilities talk about their aspirations, goals, achievements, and the kind of work they look for.

This is part of the Disability Confident initiative put forward by the government to challenge attitudes and increase understanding of ability, remove the barriers to employment that disabled people face, and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfill their potential and realise their aspirations.

You can find out more about the event on Plymouth University's website

 

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.

For more details visit the CCG's website

 

The NHS Stay Well This Winter Campaign

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.

Find more information click here

Big Lottery backs Totnes Share Shop

The Big Lottery has awarded the Totnes Share Shop with a £5000 grant to enable it to open for a pilot period next Spring – using a garage donated by Totnes Town Council.

Local charity, Network of Wellbeing (NOW) has promoted the idea of a Share Shop in Totnes for over a year. Now, with support from the Big Lottery and Totnes Town Council, who are offering use the use of The Guild Hall garage on Guild Hall Yard, the project looks likely to go ahead. A steering group of volunteers has been set up and plans are being made to convert the disused garage into a thriving community facility.

The Share Shop 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; to help people connect more, spend less, consume less, and waste less.

NOW's Totnes Project Coordinator, Kate Reed explains:

'A Share shop is basically like a library of things, instead of books people can borrow all sorts of useful things ranging from ladders, drills, camping equipment, gardening equipment, dinner sets, fancy dress outfits, toys, musical instruments- the list is as big as your imagination!'

The Share Shop aims to build community, allow people to use things they may not be able to afford and help people de-clutter their garages and houses of what they no longer want without things going into landfill. By sharing we use less of the Earth's precious resources in creating more 'stuff' and the associated pollution this entails, reducing our impact on the environment.

Share shops are springing up throughout the country; there are currently Share Shops in Frome, London and Edinburgh.

If you are interested and would like to be involved in any way, please get in touch with Kate Reed kate.r@networkofwellbeing.org

 

Kingsbridge Carers Facebook Group

One of my constituents wrote to me to tell me there are very few things as life-altering as your partner being diagnosed with dementia. No amount of experience with the illness quite prepares you for becoming a 24/7 carer for your partner.

Sadly, like many carers he was told 'You are now a carer' but got no training nor even a road map of available help or where to start.

As he had to learn the ropes and discover all the groups he could rely upon to support him – the Elderly mental health team in Totnes, Saltstone Caring, the Devon Carers support organisation and many more – he realised that there was one overlooked resource he could draw upon: other carers.

This carer has taken to Facebook to reach out to others: 'Kingsbridge Carers', where new and experienced carers of all types, not just dementia, could discuss the problems and solutions.

While the support group is designed especially for local carers, the group is open to everyone to join in discussions and help others.

If you are a carer in or nearby Kingsbridge, please do give the Facebook group a look. Every carer has a wealth of experience that can be ploughed back into the community for the benefit of all. Getting involved could mean giving someone the support they need.

 

Holne Community Shop and Tearoom

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.

They are now advertising for another paid Tearoom Manager, Simon having moved on to pastures new.

 

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.

 

 

Re-shaping community-based health services Consultation

A consultation has now been given approval by NHSEngland and will run for 12 weeks starting from today (01.09.16 - 23.11.16) on the future of our Community Services and Community Hospitals

Whilst no one would argue with the need to strengthen community services that help people to remain independent in their own homes and avoid unnecessary admissions or delayed discharge from hospital, we need assurances about how the service would be improved. Building local services and teams will be welcome but the problem has long been the ability to recruit and retain this skilled workforce. There is no guarantee that we will be able to recruit and retain the staff for the community teams to replace existing services and the proposals need to include more detail about how we could put local training and development in place.

We need to use every opportunity to develop the workforce across several health and social care disciplines. Simply closing our hospitals will risk leaving communities with nothing in their place if we cannot recruit to community teams. Setting up training hubs would help to retain existing expert staff working alongside those keen to develop their skills and those starting out in their training. With new apprenticeship routes opening up into nursing and many new healthcare roles such as physician associates on the horizon, our area could and should play a key role in training.

It is important for as many people as possible to contribute directly to the consultation as decisions made at the end of this consultation will impact on NHS services for years to come, so it is important that all parts of the community get involved and you can do so through the following website

If you are unable to complete an online submission a paper copy is available on request by writing to South Devon and Torbay CCG, Pomona House, Torquay, TQ2 7FF, or calling 01803 652511.

 

Prescribing Advice

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 available from www.citizensadvice.org.uk
  • 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)
  • Information about Citizens Advice is available on www.citizensadvicesouthhhams.org.uk

More Independence for Openreach

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

 

Corporal Theodore Veale VC

On 20th July 1916, during the First World War, Corporal Theodore Veale was involved in the Battle of the Somme. For his bravery and heroic actions on that day, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. To commemorate Corporal Veale's gallantry, the Departments of Communities and Local Government created and provided a Victoria Cross paving stone, which was unveiled at a special ceremony in Dartmouth, Corporal Veale's home town, a hundred years to the day of those historic events. Corporal Veale's son in law and his grand-daughter, along with military guests and other local dignitaries attended a moving ceremony.

 

 

NHS Funding

Sarah speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on the 19th July 2016

 

 

 

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.

 

Chancellor
of the Exchequer

Philip Hammond

 

Home Secretary
Amber Rudd

Foreign Secretary
Boris Johnson

Lord Chancellor
&
Secretary of State
for Justice

Liz Truss

Secretary of State
for Defence

Michael Fallon

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
(New Ministry)
David Davis
Secretary of State
for
International Trade
(New Ministry)
Liam Fox

Secretary of State
for
Work and Pensions
Damian Green

Secretary of State
for Health

Jeremy Hunt
Leader of the
House of Commons,

Lord President of the Council
David Lidington
Secretary of State
for International Development

Priti Patel
Secretary of State
for Education & Minister for Women & Equalities
Justine Greening

Secretary of State for Transport
Chris Grayling
Secretary of State
for Business, Energy
& Industrial Strategy
(New Ministry)
Greg Clark

Secretary of State
for Northern Ireland

James Brokenshire
Secretary of State
for Environment,

Food & Rural Affairs
Andrea Leadsom
Secretary of State
for Communities & Local Government

Sajid Javid
Secretary of State
for Wales

Alun Cairns
Secretary of State
for Culture, Media & Sport Karen Bradley

 

 

The Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund are offering grants of between £300 and £10,000 for groups to hold one off events or activities which celebrate their local community.

It could be celebrating something from the community's history or a local hero. Or maybe it could a chance to bring people together to get to know their neighbours better!

There is total of £3.875m available for projects in England. Applications are assessed on a first come, first served basis until all funds are awarded

Applications for funding opened on 6 July 2016 and further information can be found on their website

 

EU Referendum

Read my blog on the outcome of the vote here.

 

Environment Agency repairs at Torcross

The Environment Agency have provided me with the following update (24.11.16) on Torcross:-

The Environment Agency is working to complete a repair to stabilise the existing flood defence in Torcross. Work is progressing as planned. Many thanks to the local residents for their continued support, kindness and patience.

How is the work progressing?

Work began on Monday 7 November 2016. Piling started at the corner adjacent to the existing slipway and is progressing from North to South, parallel to the existing structure.

Our first 11-day cycle started on 14 November and is due to finish today, 24 November 2016. Our next 11 day cycle begins on Monday 28 November 2016.

We have been able to work through the recent storms and the sheet piling works are 50% complete.

Will you be working over Christmas?

Our Christmas shutdown will be from the 21 December 2016 to 4 January 2017.

What hours will you work?

Standard working hours will be 07:30-18:00. Piling works will extend beyond these depending on the low tide, with the earliest start being 06:00 and latest finish 22:00. Working hours are displayed on the notice board by the public toilet.

Will the work cause disruption?

Piling will cause noise and vibration within permitted levels. Levels will be routinely monitored.

How can I contact the site to ask questions?

Contact the Site Manager Andrew Pointon-Bell on 07734 577883

When and how will I get further communications?

Further updates will be sent by email to those who are on our email circulation list. If you want to join this list please send your request to DCISenquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk

There will be notice boards on display on the fence by the public toilet in the beach car park before the start of each work cycle. These will give details of the expected working times.

We will also post notices through the door for people most directly affected.


Fly Tipping

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 South Hams District Council  or Torbay Council

Some residents call on contractors for removal of larger waste items. If you choose this option, please follow these simple checks to make sure your waste is disposed of correctly and not fly tipped out of sight.

  1. Check that the contractor has a waste carrier's licence. You can do this on the Environment Agency website
  2. Ask where they are going to take your waste.
  3. Pay on presentation of an invoice which shows the waste carrier's licence number and details where your waste was disposed.
  4. Ask for a receipt and keep it safe.

Unfortunately, if a fly tip includes items tracked back to yourself, you may be liable for legal action being taken against you and you could be fined. Make sure that doesn't happen with these simple checks.

Help us to protect the environment and to keep our beautiful district perfect.

 

Slow and Wide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met with a constituent who came to see me about Debbie Smith's petition and campaign that was started in September 2015 about the dangers horse riders face on the roads.

Riders have as much right to be on a pubic highway as anyone else, but they get verbal abuse, beeping of horns and revving of engines, cars speeding past so close their stirrups get hit.

The petition is seeking to change the law to make it a legal requirement to have to slow, and pass a horse wide, and abide rider's hand signals to stop and slow to reinforce this. Riders feel there is a need to be riding with head cameras to gather the evidence to give to the police. As it stands, action can only be taken if riders can prove careless driving but by that time it is generally too late and the accident between the car, horse and rider has already happened; riders need to be able to ask a car to stop to prevent an accident happening, if caught on camera they will get fined and charged. The statistics of accidents and deaths has risen highly in the last 10 years, this needs to decline.

If you would like to join the pass wide and slow campaign you can sign the petition via the following link

 

Totnes Community Development Society

Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS), has been awarded as runner-up in the Cabinet Office National Social Investment Awards run in partnership with Nat West. TCDS were jointly shortlisted with UK social investor CAF Venturesome that has invested finance in the pre-development process taking place at the community-led development facilitated by TCDS, Atmos Totnes.

Together TCDS and CAF Venturesome were shortlisted for the Institutional Social Investment Award, which show-cases institutional investment deals or products that have created demonstrable social impact at scale.

Marcelino Castrillo, Managing Director of Business Banking at NatWest, joined the Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson in congratulating all shortlisted organisations at a ceremony at RBS head office in London last week.

Atmos Totnes is currently one of the first developments in the UK progressing through a Community Right to Build Order. The scheme seeks to develop and bring into community ownership the former Dairy Crest milk processing plant next to Totnes train station. Sixty-two affordable residences are currently planned on the Atmos Totnes site as well as substantial amounts of community and enterprise space.

 

The House

I was interviewed by John Ashmore for The House Magazine and you may be interested to read the article

                                                                              Photo by Jack Lawson

Flooding in Totnes

The Environment Agency have announced a new initiative to reduce the risk of flooding in Totnes. Since the original flood defences were built in the 1980s there have been at least two separate occasions where some properties in Totnes have come close to flooding.

For more information you can contact the Environment Agency by email or write to them at The Environment Agency, Manley House, Kestrel Way, Exeter, Devon, EX2 7LQ. Or you can visit their website using the following link

In addition to the Environment Agency's new initiative, the government has recently launched FLOODre. This is a new national scheme designed to help provide better access to affordable home insurance. More about FLOODre can be found at www.floodre.co.uk or you can watch their informative video.

 

Petitions to Torbay Council

Torbay Council is encouraging people who wish to submit petitions to follow the correct procedure as this will ensure their voice is heard about subjects that matter to them.

Petitions are often used to allow communities to raise awareness and participate in local affairs. If a petition has 25 or more valid signatures it will be seen at Council and the petitioner will have the opportunity to speak on the matter. The petition will then be referred to the decision-maker for a decision.

Petitions with 1,000 or more valid signatures can be presented to Council for full debate and decision. However, for a petition to be approved it must follow Torbay Council's Petition Scheme or it will unfortunately be refused.

Recently a number of petitions have been refused for the following reasons:
• The petition did not have accompanying signatures with full addresses (including post codes).
• The petition did not clearly stating the action it wishes the council to take.
• The petition did not have clear headings on each page to inform the signatories what they are signing.

Addresses must be clear and include the correct post code to ensure they have been signed by people who live, work or study in Torbay.

If you are thinking of submitting a petition please contact the Governance Support Team on (01803) 207087 or email governance.support@torbay.gov.uk before you start so that they can assist you and ensure your petition meets the requirements of the scheme.

To help you decide what to include please find details of petitions received by the council and the outcomes on the website

The petition scheme and a template is available here

 

Together, We can tackle Child Abuse

The Department for Education is funding an important communications campaign to encourage members of the public to report child abuse and neglect. We all want to ensure children who are at risk of abuse or neglect are identified quickly to stop situations escalating.

In 2014/15 there were 632,400 referrals into children's social care, with 9.7% of these coming from members of the public. This figure can be improved upon and that is why this campaign aims to get as many people as possible to be more alert to the protection of children in their communities.

Campaigns have already been launched across the country with the government funding out-of-home advertising on billboards and bus stops along with digital and radio advertisements to get the message across.

We all have a role to play in protecting children and young people from child abuse and neglect and I am pleased that the campaign has received welcome support from local authorities, the police and health officials.

For more information on the campaign, and advice on how to protect children from abuse or neglect please visit the following links:

 

WW1 Commemoration Funding

2016 marks the centenary of some of the most bloody and significant battles of the First World War, including Verdun, Jutland, the Dublin Easter Rising and of course, the Somme. A number of sources of funding are available to help explore and commemorate the events of WW1. These are:

  • The Heritage Lottery Fund, which is providing grants of £3,000-£10,000 to mark the centenary of WW1. Details of this can be accessed here.
  • The War Memorial Trust, which provides grants of up to £30,000 to help conserve and restore local war memorials. Details can be found here.   
  • Historic England has launched a programme, financed by the Government, to add 2,500 war memorials to the National Heritage List. Details of this project, including how to register a war memorial, can be found here.

 

A first for community-led development in South Hams

South Hams District Council has received its first Community Right to Build Order for the proposed Atmos Totnes development on the former Diary Crest site. This is one of the first in the country to use this new route to planning which increases the amount of consultation and involvement by the local community within a planning process.

Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS) have been working with the community for the last 18 months to prepare plans for a mixed development on the site. Before Christmas TCDS held Pre-submission Consultation (Regulation 14 of Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012), which is a formal part of the Community Right to Build Order process.

Following the most recent consultation with both the community and statutory organisations, there have been some changes to the Order and associated plans. Please do have a look at the revised Order available through South Hams District Council, which includes all associated plans, designs, and supporting technical information for Atmos Totnes. This period of Consultation (Regulation 16 of the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012) will end on the 8th April.

You can submit comments and objections to the submission for Atmos Totnes via the South Hams District Council we</


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.


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03 DEC 2016

Small Business Saturday

Photo Courtesy Chris Slack Photography Today I was in Brixham and thank you to all who came out to support our small businesses.


02 DEC 2016

Any Questions

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...


01 DEC 2016

Community Healthcare in Paignton

Kevin Foster MP and I joined a meeting to discuss whether any other proposals could be explored to improve community healthcare in Paignton. The public consultation on the future of community services, including the proposal to close Paignton Community Hospital has now closed and the responses are...



29 DEC 2016

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...


29 NOV 2016

Health Select Committee

Today was the last evidence session on suicide prevention where we questioned Jeremy Hunt and others


29 NOV 2016

Second Homes

Written Answer Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, with reference to paragraph 6.6 of the Autumn Statement 2015, if he will publish the application process for applying for extra funding for local authorities in areas affected...


24 NOV 2016

Reducing Health Inequality

  Back Bench Debate: Reducing Health Inequality


23 NOV 2016

Nurses: Training

Written Answer Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if the Nursing and Midwifery Council will include mandatory bowel and bladder care training for pre- and post-registration nurses in the new revised curriculum. Philip Dunne The Minister of State,...





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Sarah's Personal Blog

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Celebrating the success of nature friendly Devon farmers. (15.11.16)

This Friday (18th November) I will be celebrating the great progress in saving a bird that was nearly lost and the great contribution of Devon's farmers in making this possible.

The bird is the lovely cirl bunting, for which I am delighted to be a 'species champion MP'

Often called 'Devon's Special Bird' because, while it was once much more common across southern Britain, by the 1980's its numbers had declined and range pulled back into a small zone in south Devon. At this stage then, this bird of mixed farmland was in real decline and it began to look as if we might lose it altogether in this country. Devon had a special role to play. With these signals something stirred, the nature organisations, especially the RSPB, got stuck in. What was the problem? What has happening on the farms? Could farmers help save the bird? From what I have heard about the work, something wonderful began to happen. (Photo courtesy of Matt Adam Williams)

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Public Health is in Crisis (01.09.16)

In her first speech as prime minister, Theresa May promised to tackle the nine-year gap in life expectancy between rich and poor, placing this at the top of her list of burning injustices. This yawning inequality has defeated successive governments, and the gap is even wider between rich and poor for years lived in good health. Closing it will require action across areas such as poverty, housing and education, as well as those more conventionally thought of as affecting health. May will need to start early and look far beyond the short-term political cycle for results.

Public health seldom makes headlines. We tend not to recognise, let alone thank it for preventing disease or life-changing accidents, despite public health measures transforming our life expectancy. We are more likely to focus on and appreciate the specialists who treat a condition than to complain about the absence of the expertise or policy that could have helped to prevent it.

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Childhood Obesity; A Plan for Inaction (21.08.16)

The childhood obesity strategy has been downgraded. The final paragraph sums up the tone that it will be 'respecting consumer choice, economic realities and, ultimately, our need to eat'. This crass statement entirely misses the point; of course children need to eat, but the childhood obesity strategy needed to make sure that they benefitted from a better diet.

Trying to capitalise on the feel good factor of the Olympics, the messaging has distorted the underlying evidence. Of course we need children to be more active but exercise matters whatever a child's age or weight. The key message on childhood obesity should have been front and centre about the importance of reducing junk calories with evidence-based action to match.

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What next following the Chilcot Report? (08.07.16)

The independent Chilcot Report was expected to report rapidly but such was the volume and detail of the evidence examined and the sensitivity of its conclusions that in the end it took seven years. It runs to 12 volumes and 2.6m words and the final summary should be compulsory reading for all who will in future be tasked with the heaviest decision for any government, to commit our forces to war. 179 British servicemen and women lost their lives alongside 24 British civilians and over 150,000 Iraqis. The consequences for their loved ones of our failures in Iraq have been appalling and the terrorism and violence continue to this day across the region and worldwide.

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EU Referendum (26.06.16)

Britain has spoken and now it is for Government and Parliament to respect the result of the referendum and carry forward the instruction to take us out of the European Union. It has been a long campaign which has divided families, communities and the nation. Almost three quarters of those under 24 voted to remain whilst their grandparents' generation voted decisively to leave. In Torbay the clear majority embraced Brexit whilst in the neighbouring South Hams most people did not. Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted in whilst England and Wales voted out. In the end, months of complex arguments seemed to boil down to a tug between immigration and sovereignty on the one hand versus the economy, stability and our links with Europe on the other. Now it is time to put the divisions behind us and move on.

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I will be respecting the outcome of the referendum, but my personal vote will now be to remain in the EU.(09.06.16)

My postal vote sits unopened in the kitchen. Far from tearing it open to do my bit for Brexit, I have been imagining how it would feel to wake up to that result on June 24th. It would not be elation or freedom but a profound sense that something had been lost and guilt too if my vote had contributed to the turmoil ahead.

It's far easier as a politician to stick immovably to a declared position but more honest to set out why I will now be voting for Britain to remain a member of the EU.

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Both sides should stop treating the public as fools in this ugly referendum campaign (23.05.16)

With a month to go until the EU referendum, the public deserve better from this campaign. I came into politics urging for better use of data and, like so many who are grappling with the questions at the heart of the debate, I'm dismayed by the disingenuous and at times downright misleading claims from both official campaigns.

We have seen a spiral in recent days, with both sides making ever more outlandish claims. Most recently Vote Leave has blamed EU migration for NHS pressures, brazenly hijacked their branding and continued to make the absurd claim that Brexit could divert £350million extra per week to the NHS.

There are many reasons for the pressures on the NHS, but largely because we are living longer and with multiple and complex conditions. As many have commented; if you meet a migrant in the NHS they are more likely to be caring for you than ahead of you in the queue. The NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, set out the stark dependence of the service, on overseas staff during his interview on the Marr Show and, whilst many health and care workers come from outside the EU, a vote to leave would have consequences if those from the EU were made to feel unwelcome. He also highlighted the dependence of the NHS on a strong economy and the knock on consequences for any uplift in funding of financial turbulence. In my view, it is an increase in the percentage of our national income that we spend on health and care that will save the NHS, not Brexit. After the rebate and funds already committed to support farmers, exporters, regional development projects and science, the leave campaign clearly does not have an extra £350m per week to promise the NHS and they should stop treating the public as fools.

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Community Hospitals; a precious community resource (17.04.16)

Our community hospitals are immensely valued and so any changes, especially those that could lead to bed closures are a serious concern. Community hospitals are about far more than their bricks and mortar, they are at the heart of delivering a service to local communities that allows people to be cared for closer to home, sometimes to be able to be cared for near loved ones at the end of their lives or to avoid having to be admitted to a larger hospital too far away for friends and family to be able to visit. Community hospitals provide personal, high quality and supportive care and are extraordinarily important to all the communities and individuals they serve.

To be clear, I do not want Paignton or Dartmouth hospitals to close. But our ageing population and the rising demand for services especially as a result of the growing number of people living with long term conditions mean that those planning services have to look at how we can care for as many people as possible close to home within the resources available. That means looking at the whole system of primary care, community nursing, social care, mental health services and voluntary services alongside community hospitals and Torbay hospital. We cannot look at them in isolation.

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In this junior doctors row, both sides have lost sight of the patient (04.04.16)

I have great respect for junior doctors; it has always been a demanding role. Alongside my clinical practice, I spent over a decade teaching them before changing my initials from GP to MP. I should also declare a personal interest as my daughter is one of them, albeit currently working in Australia.

There is a long tradition of juniors spending a year or two abroad early in their careers before settling down to specialist training back in the UK, but now there is a genuine concern about the balance between leavers and returners. Many of my daughter's colleagues are not planning to join her on the journey home next year and there has been a marked increase in the numbers applying for certificates to work overseas.

The toxic dispute between the government and our core medical workforce risks driving an exodus of skills that we cannot afford to lose.

The contract sits like a festering boil with neither side ready to agree a way forward, and the dispute looks set to erupt into a dangerous full walkout by junior doctors. The British Medical Association (BMA) claims that the contract will harm patients by stretching doctors too thinly across seven days while reducing their take-home pay. The government insists that patients are being put at risk by understaffing at the weekends and that the contract reduces doctors' maximum hours and consecutive shifts while increasing basic pay by 13.5%.

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Childhood Obesity

Almost one in five children are obese before they leave primary school. 85% will go on to become obese as adults with increased risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Do you feel that we should do more to help them?

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