With regret, I have decided to resign the Conservative Party whip. I am passionate about this constituency and proud to have been the first Conservative parliamentary candidate to be selected via a full open postal primary. This gave every registered voter in the Totnes constituency, regardless of party affiliation, the opportunity to decide which Conservative candidate they would prefer. From the outset, I have made the case for a centrist, moderate and outward looking approach to our politics.

I assure you that I will continue to take that approach but will now do so as an independent MP. I will carry on working constructively with the many hard-working Conservative councillors across this constituency, for whom I have the greatest respect. My decision is no reflection on them.

However, at a national level the Conservative Party appears to have abandoned attempts to modernise or to broaden its appeal and has instead become less tolerant and more inward-looking. I can no longer remain a member of a party whose leadership has become so driven by the demands of the ERG and the DUP. I do not share their right wing values or those of the UKIP supporters who have been urged to join the Conservative Party via aggressive and well-funded social media campaigns in order to deselect moderate MPs.

The final straw has been the Government's mishandling of Brexit. Despite the PM losing her majority, no meaningful attempt was made to reach out to heal the divisions left by the referendum or to seek a cross Party, or national consensus, on the way forward. The 48% who voted to remain are marginalised and alienated and many Leave voters have also been left exasperated by the PM's Deal. The trade-offs and compromises in the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework mean that the Deal is a long way from the unrealistic promises made during the referendum campaign.

Brexit has consumed and squandered the energy of Government, Parliament and our political parties. That together with a shift to the right by the Conservatives has undermined efforts to tackle the 'burning injustices' that the PM pledged to address on entering Downing Street.

We have reached a precarious moment in our national life. Nothing has divided us like Brexit and we now face the serious prospect of crashing out of the EU in less than 40 days' time with No Deal and no transition. This would not be a 'clean Brexit' as some have chosen to represent it. The serious real-world consequences would harm people not only in this constituency but across the whole of the UK and beyond. We are already seeing clear evidence of the consequences for people working in companies like Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan, Dyson, Fly BMI, Panasonic and for sectors like the pharmaceutical industry following the relocation of expertise and jobs with the European Medicines Agency. It is also starting to hit local businesses.

The truth is that No Deal Brexit would deal a body blow to our economy, putting jobs and livelihoods at risk as well as crushing the opportunity to reverse austerity. Having looked at the evidence of the damage it would inflict, I cannot support a No Deal Brexit and I wholly reject the PM's false binary choice between that grim option and her own deeply flawed Deal. I have for many weeks said that I would resign the whip if No Deal became the stated policy of the Government but also that I would do so if running down the clock amounted to the same.

I believe that everyone deserves the right to examine and weigh up the pros and cons of the Deal and to have the final say in a referendum. This would offer the opportunity to confirm Brexit and proceed rapidly with implementation or to remain. Without that valid consent, I believe there will be decades of acrimony about the consequences.

The Labour Party has also changed beyond repair. It is now permanently in the grip of the hard left and tainted by its failure to root out anti-Semitism, these are some of the reasons why several of its MPs have already decided that they too must resign the whip.

I will be sitting alongside them in a new centre grouping of independent MPs who share a common set of values, The Independent Group. We agree with the millions of people who feel that neither main political party represents them and that there needs to be a new offer at the heart of our politics.

I know that being an MP is an enormous privilege and I remain hugely grateful to everyone who has supported me. I know some will now call for me to stand in a by election but neither this nor a general election would answer the fundamental question that is dividing us... for that we need a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

I will be listening carefully to views about The Independent Group and how this could develop in the future. I remain absolutely committed to this constituency.


PLAY TORBAY EASTER *FREE* Holiday Activities Programme

Play Torbay's EASTER Play Activities Programme is here, with lots of activities for children and young people of all ages. Playground activities are FREE to anyone who would like to join in! There are three playgrounds:

Wildfox in Paignton
Indigos in Beixham
Fort Apache in Torquay

If your child requires the support of their Play Inclusion Team for any of the activities, do contact Play Torbay as soon as possible: please email sarahgoodman@playtorbay.org.uk or phone 01803 850157. They have team of highly trained workers skilled in playwork and youth work who are able to support young people on a one-to-one basis. There is a charge for this service so please do call to enquire.

You can also view the programme on their website.

 

The FAIR Project

I was so pleased to attend the launch of the FAIR project last year, the FAIR project is a service for people over 50 in Torbay. FAIR stands for Financial Advice, Information & Resilience and offers advice and information on benefits, local welfare provision, getting the best utility deals and help for those in debt. The project is a joint venture involving local community groups and specialist providers and is led by Citizens Advice Torbay.

They offer a drop-in service and people can self-refer at community access points across Torbay:

Brixham Does Care, Old Market House, Town Hall, 1 New Road, Brixham,TQ5 8TA.
01803 857727 www.brixhamdoescare.co.uk
Open Monday – Friday 9.45 am – 4 pm.

Brixham Youth Enquiry Service (YES), The Edge, Bolton Street, Brixham,TQ5 95H.
01803 851414 www.bxyes.org.uk
Open Monday – Friday 11 am – 5 pm.

Crafty Fox Café 'n' Hub, 103 Foxhole Road, Paignton, TQ3 3SU.
01803 669005 www.craftyfoxcafe.com
Open Monday – Friday 10 am– 3 pm.

They are always looking for more volunteers to join FAIR at various community settings across Torbay. For more information on becoming a volunteer, or any aspect of FAIR, please contact FAIR co-ordinator Susan Bottomley:

Email: susan.bottomley@torbaycitizensadvice.org.uk or Tel: 07706 714366

CDS now offering Better Broadband scheme vouchers

The Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) broadband programme has today announced that it is now offering vouchers through the national BDUK Better Broadband Scheme.

All homes and businesses in the region with broadband speeds of less than two Megabits per second (Mbps), without a published delivery date for superfast broadband within the next 12 months, are now eligible to apply for an interim solution under the voucher scheme.

The Better Broadband Voucher Scheme, administered by BDUK, helps provide access to a broadband service offering download speeds of at least 10 Mbps.

Vouchers worth up to £350 would contribute towards the cost of equipment and installation of a 4G, Fixed Wireless or Satellite solution.

Applications need to be made through registered suppliers on the approved supplier list 

Any premises benefiting from a voucher will not be removed from future superfast delivery plans. This includes premises within current planned superfast delivery through our Airband and Gigaclear contracts.

The Better Broadband Scheme runs until the end of 2019 and is open to residential and business premises.

For more information, and to apply for a voucher, follow this link - Better Broadband Scheme website 

The Better Broadband Scheme is separate from the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which is already in operation nationally including, for qualifying premises, in the CDS region.


Dartmouth Nurslings

Dartmouth Nurslings officially launched on February 14th and will be based at the Flavel Church in Dartmouth.
The aim of Dartmouth Nurslings is to offer mother to mother breastfeeding support within the local community. Providing moral support, encouragement, and sharing of information for women and their families at every stage of their breastfeeding journey. Dartmouth Nurslings hope to normalise breastfeeding and spread the understanding of the benefits to mother & baby.
The group will run every Thursday 10.30am until 12pm as a relaxed drop in session. It will be run by volunteers and will be a free group with a donation of a £1 for teas and coffees. There will be toys available for older children. Dads and other family and friends will also be welcome.

For more information contact DartmouthNurslings@gmail.com or Facebook under Groups; Dartmouth Nurslings

 

Consultation on Protecting and Enhancing England's Trees and Woodlands

This consultation seeks views on the UK government's proposals to introduce four new measures designed to increase transparency and accountability in the process of felling street trees and to strengthen the Forestry Commission's power to tackle illegal tree felling.
Two of the measures introduce new duties on local authorities: a duty to consult on the felling of street trees; a duty to report on tree felling and replanting; while the third suggests the production of best practice guidance to support local authorities in drawing up, consulting on and publishing a Tree and Woodland Strategy.
The duty to consult is intended to ensure that members of the public are appropriately consulted on the felling of street trees, which can contribute positively to the quality of life for people in urban areas.
The duty to report would require local authorities to collate and report information on the felling and replanting of trees in a uniform way. This would increase transparency and allow the government to monitor tree felling at a national level, helping to make sure we maintain and enhance the natural capital benefits of trees.
Tree and Woodland strategies would help local authorities to set out the principles that support their tree management activities, thus both increasing transparency and accountability and improving stakeholder and public engagement.
The fourth measure is intended to give the Forestry Commission more powers to tackle illegal tree felling and strengthen protection of wooded landscapes.

All of these proposals could contribute to the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, and help deliver the government's ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan. This consultation seeks views on these measures and their implementation and you are able to submit to the consultation via the following link.

 

A Third Specialist Cardiology Lab is to Open in May

There was a welcome announcement today that waiting times for patients needing cardiology diagnosis and treatment will fall with the opening of a third specialist lab in the grounds of Derriford Hospital. You can find out more about this here.

 

£80 million Funding for a New Sea Wall at Dawlish

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has today (15 February 2019) announced further funding of up to £80 million in the south-west to deliver a new sea wall at Dawlish, providing better protection for the railway and homes behind it.

Upgrades to the sea wall will increase its height by 2.5 metres and include wave returns to reduce the impact of waves and the likelihood of the line being closed during adverse weather. This will help ensure the serious damage and disruption seen during storms in 2014 is not repeated.

The improvements at Dawlish are part of an extensive programme of investment in the south-west to transform connectivity throughout the region, outlined in the Investing in the South West report. This includes schemes totalling more than £2 billion, improving the strategic road network, high-speed direct bus connectivity, safe and continuous cycle routes and easier transfer between transport modes.

 

SEAFIT delivers on physiotherapy network for fishermen and their families in Devon and Cornwall

Working fishermen in Devon and Cornwall are being offered free physiotherapy as part of the SeaFit initiative. SeaFit is funding the creation of a network of physiotherapists to work with fishermen on or near the harbourside, and the Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) is funding the treatment. SeaFit is a health and wellbeing development programme run in partnership by SHS and the Fishermen's Mission with funding from Seafarers UK.

So far there are ten clinics in 8 fishing ports working together to provide free physiotherapy to local fishermen, supported by Harbourside Physiotherapy in Newlyn. Harbourside has been funded by SHS to provide free physiotherapy to fishermen since 2007 and has developed considerable knowledge and expertise about the impact of fishing on physical health. They are now using their experience to create a network of physiotherapists to work with fishermen in their local ports.

Some of the physiotherapists involved in the network have been down by the harbour talking to fishermen and spreading the word.

For information about a clinic near you, call Harbourside Physiotherapy on 01736 366 224 or email: network@harboursidephysiotherapy.co.uk

If you are an active seafarer in the Brixham area, call Tidal Physiotherapy on 07983 313 344

Energy Advice in the South Hams

Two local Energy Advisors have been recognised for their energy advice work with vulnerable residents across the South Hams at an award ceremony in the House of Commons.

Lin Etherden from Citizens Advice South Hams and Sophie Phillips from South Dartmoor Community Energy (SDCE) were nominated by their colleagues and received a national Heat Hero Award at the House of Commons.

The awards are organised by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and recognise people for going above and beyond in helping their clients to reduce their fuel bills and to stay warm and healthy at home.

Lin and Sophie are both qualified Domestic Energy Assessors and help householders to sort out their fuel bills, reduce fuel debt, apply for grants for home improvements and link up with other support services.

Citizens Advice and SDCE both deliver fuel poverty projects across the South Hams and often work together to ensure residents receive all the support that's available to them. They run regular drop in advice sessions in community venues, can attend community groups and can undertake home visits for more vulnerable clients. Their energy advice is all free and impartial and is funded through small grants that they have to apply for every year. SDCE are delighted to have recently secured £2000 through the Tesco Bags of Help scheme towards their work.

To find out more about the energy advice offered in the South Hams please visit their websites https://southhamscab.org.uk/ or www.southdartmoorcommunityenergy.org or call them on:-
CAB:01803 659733
SDCE:0800 112 3044.

 

BBC's Consultation on the Future of Age Related TV Licence Fee Concessions

At the moment all households with someone aged over 75 are entitled to receive free TV licences. The cost of this scheme has been funded by the UK Government since it was introduced in 2000. In 2020 the current scheme is set to come to an end, along with the Government funding for it. Any new scheme from June 2020 to provide concessions relating to TV licences for older age groups is for the BBC to consult on, decide and then pay for.

This decision is the responsibility of the BBC's Board but the responses the BBC receives to the consultation they are running will help them decide what to do next.

Should you wish to have your say, the BBC's consultation is now open until Tuesday the 12th of February 2019. To find out more, and to take part, go to bbc.co.uk/yoursay.

If you require alternative formats (e.g. Braille and audio) the consultation can be accessed by calling 0800 232 1382.

 

Totnes Gives You XXtra

Totnes XX is a brand-new boutique festival combining music, film, comedy, art, debate and workshops, and taking place in multiple venues across the town over the weekend of 7th-10th March to coincide with International Women's Day 2019.

Event co-ordinator Lee Friese-Greene was frustrated by routinely seeing mostly male performers at local venues, and at one festival he attended last summer, fewer than 10% of the performers on stage were women. Lee knew there were plenty of amazingly-talented female artists and bands out there and began to think about ways to get their voices heard. At first it was just going to be a gig, but after talking to some of the many inspiring local business women there are in Totnes, there is now a 4-day, multi-arts event!

However, Lee is keen to stress that Totnes XX isn't just by or for women. The theme for this year's International Women's Day is #BalanceforBetter, and 'balance' was a key factor in assembling this programme; it is not about men v women, it is about tipping the scales more in favour of female artists, creating events that are more inclusive, and that have more gender-equal participation.

Further programme details and links to all events can be found via the Totnes XX Facebook

Also checkout the 'Totnes XX Radio Show' on SoundArt Radio on alternate Monday evenings from 28th January between 7-8pm where Lee will be making further programme announcements as the date get nearer.

 

Dartmouth Hospital

Following my request on 27th November to meet with the Minister , the Minister sent this letter to the CCG

Here is the response from the CCG and I hope this will help to clarify the situation.

I would also like to add the following personal statement.

It has been brought to my attention that messages are being circulated which are making entirely false allegations that I have a personal financial interest in the new development. I would like to make in clear that I have no income over and above my salary as an MP and Select Committee Chair, and that I do not own any shares or investments in any business or property developments. The following is a link to the register of MP's interests

 

Torbay Waste Collection and TOR2

Torbay Council apologise for the current issues with waste collection across Torbay. TOR2 have been experiencing problems with the amount of recycling that has been left for collection following Christmas, particularly the amount of cardboard and glass. This has resulted in delays to collections in some areas. TOR2 have informed the Council that this week they expect the majority of collections to take place on their scheduled day. Torbay will continue to monitor TOR2's progress and work with them to return collections to their usual days, as soon as possible.

In the meantime please leave your bins out for collection on the normal day and should a collection be missed please report it online via https://forms.torbay.gov.uk/missedCollection

 

Torbay Community Governance Review

Torbay Council is carrying out a review to decide if changes should be made to existing local governance arrangements, including whether or not new town or parish councils should be set up in those parts of Torbay where they don't currently exist.

Full information about the review including the terms of reference and a timetable, are on the main Community Governance Review page here

All local residents, business owners and organisations are invited to give their views.

Torbay Council will consider all feedback before making draft recommendations. These will then be published for further public consultation before any final decisions are made.

This first stage of this consultation will close on Friday 15th March 2019 and you can access the consultation here.


Have your say on police numbers in Devon and Cornwall

This week the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner launched its poll to find out whether people were supportive of a rise in the police precept, if the additional revenue generated from that rise were reinvested in frontline policing across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

More information on the proposals, and a link to the online poll, can be found here. Essentially the force would be able to provide an extra 85 officers, who would be stationed across the force area, if the precept were raised by the maximum permissible amount (£24 for a band D household). Such a rise would also enable additional commitments, such as the pension fund deficit and annual pay rise, to be met.

Do take part in the poll so that your views can be taken into account.

 

WHAT IS BREW MONDAY?

'Blue Monday' (the third Monday in January) is known as one of the most difficult days of the year.
But it doesn't have to be.

Help beat the January blues by getting together with your friends, family or colleagues over a brew and raise vital funds for Samaritans.
Over the last 64 years, Samaritans volunteers have helped save countless lives, but as demand for their services grow, your support is needed now more than ever.
Support Samaritans on Monday 21 January or any day throughout January!

Have a brew. Raise money. Save lives.

 

Recycling of Physiotherapy Equipment.

Physionet South West volunteers collect adult and children's mobility and disability equipment specifically in the South Hams and also elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall.
They collect from recycling centres (Totnes, Kingsbridge and Newton Abbot) and from hospitals, retirement homes and other institutions.
Collections from private homes can be arranged where there are a number of items or one or two expensive items such as wheelchairs or mobility scooters. The equipment, after checking, repair and cleaning, is sent in container loads to charities and poor communities around the world.
Physionet UK received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2017. Please contact Harry Franks 01803 833316 or email physionetsw@gmail.com.

 

Lady Astor 100 Statue Campaign

Of the more than nine hundred statues and monuments in the UK, only 27 are of non-royal, non-mythical women. I am supporting the campaign to raise a statue to Devon's Nancy Astor, to celebrate one hundred years since she was elected as the first female MP to take her seat in Parliament. It was the people of Plymouth who voted her in just one year after some women were finally given the vote. She served the city as MP for Plymouth Sutton for another 26 years and fought for the rights and safety of women and children, education, the people of the city, and equality throughout that time.

You can find out more about the campaign and donate at the following website.

 

Friends of Brixham Library

To mark the 25th anniversary since the opening of Brixham Library in its present location and as part of their regular 'first Friday of the month ' coffee mornings, the Friends of Brixham Library are holding a special coffee morning on Friday 7 December between 10.00 - 12.00 noon. They will be commemorating the opening with a special cake; singing by children from one of the local Primary Schools and a number of stalls to buy items for Christmas from. Everyone is welcome, come and join your local Library!

Action for Education Fundraising Drive

Action for Education is a charity currently doing work on the island of Chios in Greece, they run a youth and education project which provides much needed services to young people living in the refugee camp on the island.

They provide a school for people over the age of 14, who otherwise have no access to education and a youth centre, which offers a nurturing safe space where people can develop friendships and undertake projects.

Action for Education have just launched a fundraising campaign to help ensure they can continue to offer their services. You can find out more about the charity's work and how to donate to their campaign here.

Letter to Santa

Santa would like to hear from children about what they would like for Christmas. The Royal Mail "Letters To Santa" service runs every year. Children can write to Santa and get a free personalised reply all the way from the North Pole! It only costs the price of one stamp.

Write a letter to Santa telling him what you want for Christmas.
Include your full name and address in so Santa can write back.
Stick a stamp on the letter that you send to Santa.
Post it no later than Friday 7th December 2018 to:-

Santa/Father Christmas,
Santa's Grotto,
Reindeerland
XM4 5HQ

Father Christmas is very busy at this time of year so he can't guarantee that he'll send a reply, but he'll do his best if you include your full name and address.

'The Shadows' marks the 100th Anniversary of end of WW1.

Brixham Future Community Interest Company commissioned a new artwork to mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918.

Designed by local artist Lynne Peets, the metalwork and placement work was carried out by local firm Western Engineering in Castor Road, Brixham.

The 216 individual poppies adorn the artwork. Each poppy represent a life that was lost as recorded on the towns War Memorial. All the poppies are individual and were hand-made by Izzie Lomas. The 'Shadows' artwork is secured to the wall in the garden opposite the Brixham bus station, adjacent the main taxi rank. The profile figures represent the 'shadows' of that departed generation as a tribute to them from the town. The figures depict a soldier, airman, woman, sailor, mother and child.

 

Macmillan Mobile Information and Support Service

The Macmillan mobile information and support service will be visiting Totnes on Monday 19th November. The bus will be at Morrisons Supermarket, Coronation Road.

Everyone is welcome to use the service, whether they have a cancer diagnosis, have a friend or relative affected by cancer, or are worried about cancer in any way at all. The service aims to promote awareness that there are lots of ways that Macmillan can support - medically, financially, emotionally and practically. A dedicated mobile team of highly-qualified Macmillan professionals travel across the UK and wherever the mobile service is, the team of trained radiographers, dietitians and financial experts are there to talk in confidence and to open up all the Macmillan services on offer. Further information is available here:

Devon School Admissions and Transport Consultation

A public consultation is being held by Devon County Council between now and 4 January 2019. This covers the following:

  • 2020-21 Normal Round Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme
  • 2019-20 In-Year Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme
  • 2020-21 Education Transport Policy Pre-16 and post-16
  • 2020-21 individual schools admissions policies for state-funded schools and academies in Devon County Council's area and including some academies in Plymouth and Torbay's council areas.

This is the annual opportunity for parents, other schools, Early Years settings and the local communities to review the admissions arrangements that are proposed and to comment on them, making suggestions for change.

The consultation is hosted here and ends on 4 January 2019 and all polices must then be determined by the end of February.

 

Protect yourself and others by having the flu jab

Flu season is nearly upon us and the best way to help protect yourself is to get vaccinated. Children aged 2 or 3, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions and over 65s are all eligible for a FREE flu vaccination.

Speak to your GP or pharmacist about getting vaccinated - it's free because you need it.

 

Giving Back

Do you see people in need and want to help? Do you face the dilemma of not wanting to give cash directly in case it is misused? The vision of Totnes Connection Hub is to fund and run projects that have the capacity to transform people's lives. Donation Boxes are at the following premises in Totnes:-

 Brioche  Community Bookshop Eva & Dot
Green Café
 Green Life  Paperworks Pet Nature  Pure Hairdressing
 Seeds 2  TV & Electrical Shop Zero Waste  

All of their staff and support workers are volunteers, giving you the assurance that every penny donated goes towards the Totnes Connection Hub

Envelopes are provided at the sites for you to place your donation in the collection box. If you are a taxpayer, they are permitted to claim the tax back on your gift so, should you wish them to do so, please complete all the details on the front of the envelope. If you would like to give on a regular basis, please set up a standing order to the following account:

Sort Code: 30-98-69
Account No: 43052260
For more information visit: www.totnesconnectionhub.co.uk or telephone 01803 840354
Giving Back is run by Totnes Connection Hub, a division of Marketplace Ministries Ltd

 

Benefit to Society

The Benefit to Society campaign aims to address the common misrepresentations of social housing tenants in the local and national media, which often include inaccurate perceptions such as tenants being associated with exploiting the benefit system and living in run down estates. These misrepresentations are damaging and drive the public to have a typically negative stereotypical view of social housing tenants, and can have a major impact on the wellbeing and lives of those living in the social housing sector. The campaign that will challenge the way the public think and tackle the stigma associated with social housing tenants. Have a look at the Benefit to Society campaign - there is also the opportunity to join up.

 

Change of advice day for Citizens Advice in central Totnes

The Citizens Advice drop in advice sessions held in Caring Town Information Exchange (CTIE) at the Mansion on Fore Street will be moving from Fridays to every Wednesday from October 3rd.

Teena Barrett, Advice Services Manager at Citizens Advice South Hams says "The service will be the same as before, open on a drop- in basis for people to come along with their problems and talk to an adviser although the hours have changed slightly and will now be 9.30am – 12.30pm.

CTIE have made the CAB very welcome and working from the Mansion in Totnes has helped clients who live centrally and find it difficult to travel to Follaton House. The move to a Wednesday is because the CAB have more advisers on hand to help residents with problems such as housing, debt, benefit and disability entitlement.

All information and advice given by Citizens Advice South Hams is free, independent, impartial and confidential. Advice is also quality assured and meets the Advice Quality Standard (AQS), all debt advice is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. CTIE at the Mansion also has a public access computer available.

Totnes residents can access advice from Citizens Advice South Hams, on line by visiting southhamscab.org.uk and typing their problem into the "How can we help" box, by ringing 03 444 111 444 or by dropping into their offices at Follaton House Mon – Thurs 10am – 4pm or CTIE at the Mansion Weds 9.30am-12.30pm

 

South West Water champions ReFill revolution to reduce litter from single-use plastic bottles

South West Water is behind a national campaign by water companies to make tap water more freely available, helping to reduce litter from single-use plastic bottles and keeping people healthy and hydrated when out and about.

To mark the launch of National ReFill Day (27 September), South West Water is supplying 3,000 stainless steel refillable bottles, free of charge, to Keep Britain Tidy to distribute to community groups in Devon and Cornwall. The ReFill bottles can be sold by communities to plough the proceeds back into good causes in their areas.

More than 1,100 locations, such as cafes, hotels, restaurants and shops, are now registered with ReFill in Devon and Cornwall, allowing the public to top-up their water bottles for free – more than double the total last year. People can use an app on their phone to find out where the nearest ReFill point is, or look out for special signs in shop windows.

The sites are part of a growing network of participating premises and businesses across the UK, co-ordinated by trade body Water UK, which aims to offer ReFill in every major town and city in the UK by 2021.

I would encourage businesses to sign up for this project to ensure that the South West is leading on the issue of tackling the amount of single use plastic bottles ending up in landfill (estimated to be 16 million everyday)

You can sign up via this link, either to register your business or to see where there is a Refill site near you.

 

Drugs & Alcohol Survey

Healthwatch Torbay is working with Public Health Torbay to identify what works well and what does not work well, for people in Torbay that may have a problems with drug and alcohol use. If you would be interested in helping Healthwatch Torbay please do look at the following survey which aims to gather feedback on the types of support people need to make positive changes to their problematic use of drugs and/ or alcohol.

Centenary of the End of the First World War

We are approaching the centenary of the end of the First World War and many events will take place to mark this special occasion.

Pageant Master Bruno Peek is the man responsible for the detailed organisation behind many of the events that bring our country together to remember the past. Bruno has prepared a tribute of remembrance on 11th November called the Battle's Over. The national commemorations will include the lighting of over 1,000 beacons of light symbolising an end to the darkness of war and a return to the light of peace. And cathedrals and churches across the country will ring their bells in celebration of peace.

There will be many events taking place across the country recognising the importance of this centenary, giving us all an opportunity to remember those sacrifices that were made, both on the battlefields and on the home front, so that we can continue to enjoy freedom. You can find out more about the events planned on the Pageant Master website


Great Western Railway

After discussions with GWR about the lack of easement on the 17.57 (retimed18.03) during the temporary period of electrification works at Newbury, GWR have agreed to allow lower priced tickets on this service for Newton Abbot and Totnes customers. They are looking at an easement for the remaining line closures on Tuesday 28 to Thursday 30 August, Monday 8 to Thursday 11 October and Monday 19 to Thursday 22 November.


Consultation for Planning for Shale Gas Extraction: Share Your Views

I know that shale gas extraction, or fracking, remains contentious and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government is currently seeking views on the principle of granting planning permission for non-hydraulic shale gas exploration development through a permitted development right.

In practice this would mean early exploratory work could proceed without requiring planning applications, although planning applications would still be required for fracking.

The consultation will run until the 25th of October and you can find out how to contribute via the following website

Voice & Vote: Women's Place in Parliament.

Come and see the excellent free Exhibition in Westminster Hall this summer. Exploring the history of women in Parliament - the campaigns, the protests, the achievements. The Exhibition tells the 'her-story' of Parliament over the last 200 years, and the many brave people who fought for democratic equality.  Book your free tickets now! www.parliament.uk/vote100/voice-and-vote

 

Rural Crime Reporting Line

Rural crime is a serious issue for farmers, rural businesses and those who live in the countryside, and it can have significant impacts on a farm or another rural business.

A new service for farmers and the public to give information anonymously about rural crime has been launched by the National Farmers' Union, in partnership with the charity Crimestoppers. Farmers, rural businesses and the public can ring 0800 783 0137 or visit www.ruralcrimereportingline.uk to anonymously give information about crime relating to:

  • large-scale, industrial fly-tipping
  • hare coursing
  • machinery theft; or
  • livestock theft

The latest position with the A379 at Slapton.

Work is underway to reconnect the A379 between Slapton and Strete Gate, which has been closed since being washed away by Storm Emma in early March.

Over the past few months, Devon County Council has been carrying out site inspections and drawing up a scheme to reinstate the road. Detailed work has also been undertaken to minimise the environmental impacts of the scheme and to address the risk from unexploded ordnance.

Contractor Alun Griffiths Ltd  started work on Monday 16 July on the southern section of the reinstatement, near the junction to Slapton village, which has an existing planning permission.

A second section of the route towards Strete Gate will also be realigned as the scheme progresses. The County Council is awaiting planning approval to update the permission for this northern realignment of the route, to move it further north and west than in the approved scheme plans.

For more updates please click on the Slapton Line Partnership website

 

World-leading 'Blue Belt' Expands as New Marine Protections Revealed

The consultation on the third tranche of Marine Conservation Zones has now opened and you can share your views on this until the 20th of July. Defra Minister, Michael Gove, has set out plans to create more than 40 new Marine Conservation Zones across the UK – safeguarding almost 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitats and marking the most significant expansion of the UK's 'Blue Belt' of protected areas to date.

You can read more about the announcement here

The consultation can be accessed here:

 

 

The Royal Forestry Society Excellence in Forestry Award 2018

The Hillyfield woodland farm on Dartmoor, is a 46 acre woodland restoration project managed for community and environmental benefit on Dartmoor National Park, and has been shortlisted for the Royal Forestry Societies prestigious Excellence in Forestry Award 2018 for Small and Farm woodlands.

 

 


Slapton Line

I recognise how vital the Slapton Line is to everyone in this area and following the damage by Storm Emma, I immediately went to see the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP to ask for assistance with the cost of rebuilding the A379 which is damaged beyond repair in two long sections. I then also raised this with Theresa May at PMQs and welcome the confirmation from the government that the rebuild will be funded in full with £2.5m, I hope this news is of some comfort to those local communities still dealing with the aftermath of Storm Emma.

I am very grateful to all those who have been working hard as part of the Slapton Line Partnership, and our District and County Councils, to prepare for this by putting the necessary planning permissions and ecological preparations in place in advance. Hopefully this means that repair works can proceed as soon as possible.

Lastly, thank you to all the emergency services, South Hams District Council, Devon County Council and The Slapton Line Partnership for their rapid and professional responses both to the issues with the Slapton Line and the terrible conditions last week.

The Department for Transport have provided the following information on this matter:

SOUTH WEST ROAD DAMAGED BY BEAST FROM THE EAST GETS £2.5 MILLION REPAIR FUND FROM GOVERNMENT

A Devon community has been handed a boost by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today (Wednesday, March 7) as he announced £2.5 million to repair a vital road severely storm damaged last week.
The A379, between Slapton and Strete Gate, was partially destroyed by Storm Emma and has been closed since the beginning of March.
The road is a key route in the area and is essential for the local economy, as it provides access to tourist hotspots including the beach and Slapton Ley nature reserve.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

"Good roads are vital for keeping communities connected so people can get to work or see friends and family.
"The recent winter storms caused significant disruption right across the nation, but now we need to ensure we repair this road is repaired as quickly as possible.
"We are giving Devon County Council funds to repair the A379 so there is no long-lasting impact from Storm Emma on the vitality and prosperity of this area."
Devon County Council will be allocated £2.5million to ensure the repairs to this damaged road, previously damaged by storms in 2001, are undertaken as quickly as possible.
This funding is in addition to over £270 million we are providing for local highways maintenance and repairing potholes to Devon between 2015/16 and 2020/21.
The Department for Transport will continue to work with the council to see whether it can help improve resilience on this road to help protect it from future damage.

Updates on the road can be found on the Slapton Line website

 

Kingsbridge and Saltstone Caring

The wonderful local charity formerly known as Saltstone Caring will now be known as Kingsbridge and Saltstone Caring to ensure that everyone knows those in Kingsbridge can access their services.

Kingsbridge and Saltstone Caring aim to promote the independence, physical and mental well-being of older, isolated or vulnerable people living in Kingsbridge, Salcombe and the surrounding area. They do so by providing services not normally available through statutory agencies.

I know that the charity is always on the lookout for more volunteers and you can find out more about the work they do on their new website.

 

Share Your Views on The future for Food, Farming and the Environment

Agriculture is a key industry in a rural area such as this one and a consultation is now open on the future for food, farming and the environment. The consultation will run until the 8th of May and I encourage everyone to share their views on the government's proposals.

Ideas include redirecting money from direct payments under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), which are based on the amount of land farmed, to a new system of paying farmers "public money for public goods" - principally their work to enhance the environment and invest in sustainable food production.

Leaving the European Union and the Common Agricultural Policy means that we have the chance to reform our agricultural and environmental policy and I hope everyone takes this once in a generation chance to help shape a new vision for our countryside.

You can view the consultation here.

 

The Advanced Maths Premium

I am delighted that schools and colleges in England will receive a funding boost to help increase the number of 16 to 18 year-olds studying advanced maths, helping young people get the skills they need for the future so they can go as far as their talents will take them.

Maths skills are so important for those who wish to pursue careers in engineering, computing, accountancy and design and educational establishments will now receive a £600 premium for every additional young person aged 16-18 who takes an advanced maths qualification. The premium will also support schools and colleges to increase the number of girls and those from disadvantaged backgrounds taking advanced maths qualifications.

You can find out more about this here

 

Great Western Improvement Work

Electrification work between Newbury and Reading starts on Monday 12 March. This impacts the West of England services as the line is closed from Monday to Thursday and trains will be diverted through Swindon. This will add between 20 to 50 minutes to journeys and will mean some trains are retimed.

Great Western are asking everyone to double check their journey before they set out.

This is a major piece of work by Network Rail which will mean the new Intercity Express trains will run on electric power as far as Newbury on their journeys to the South West. This will enable GW to operate a new faster timetable from January 2019.

The work will take over 1200 hours to complete, and there will be several weekday line closures between March and November, including a three week closure in July. Dates are on the dedicated webpage www.gwr.com/travel-updates/planned-engineering/newbury2018

 

Severe Weather

West Devon Borough Council is committed to preventing people from needing to rough sleep, particularly during the winter months where the risk of harm from exposure is more significant. In response to this risk they have activated their Severe Weather Emergency Protocol to ensure that no one has to sleep rough during the coldest nights of the year. The recent significant weather warnings for the area have highlighted the importance of encouraging rough sleepers to access accommodation. Offers of accommodation have been made to all those they know to be sleeping rough and they are working proactively with local support groups to encourage people to accept these offers.

If you know of anyone at risk of rough sleeping please contact SW-Housing.Advice@swdevon.gov.uk in normal working hours or call the office on 01822 813600. There is also a dedicated Streetlink operated hotline on 0300 5000914 which is in operation 24 hours a day.

 

Sky Ocean Rescue

Launched in January 2017, Sky Ocean Rescue aims to shine a spotlight on the issues of ocean health, particularly single-use plastic, and inspire people to make small changes.
Sky Ocean Rescue's whale, Plasticus, which is made up of a quarter of a ton of plastic – the amount that enters our oceans every second, came to Parliament, to bring to life the scale of the problem.
Here are the top tips on how you can #PassOnPlastic

  • Drink out of a refillable water bottle
  • Use a bag for life
  • Avoid products that contain microbeads
  • Buy cotton buds with cardboard rather than plastic stems
  • Swop your wet wipe for a flannel
  • Use a metal or glass straw
  • Buy fruit and veg loose rather than in plastic packaging
  • Give up plastic cutlery
  • Bring your own travel mug to your favourite coffee shop

We all have a role to play in saving our oceans. Small changes = big difference!

 

Centenary of Voting Rights for Women (6th February 2018)

Truly wonderful to see all the Acts of Parliament that made it possible for women to vote and to take their seats. It is thanks to the sacrifice, courage and determination of so many suffragettes and suffragists that there are now over 200 female MPs - our democracy is stronger as a result.

 

UK Parliament Week (12th-18th November 2018)

UK Parliament Week is an annual festival that engages people from across the UK with Parliament, explores what it means to them and empowers them to get involved.
There is something for everyone: whether you attend or organise an event.
Organisations across the UK run events and activities throughout UK Parliament Week which explore what the UK Parliament means to them and their community.
Your event or activity can be as big or as small as you like! It can be aimed at the public, or it can be a private event aimed specifically at your staff or service users.
As long as your event helps your audience to engage with the work of Parliament, explore its history, and empowers them to get involved, there is no limit to how you can take part in UK Parliament Week. For more information please click here

 

Stalking Protection Bill

Thank you to everyone for their support for the 2nd Reading of my Private Members Bill.

The Stalking Protection Bill can be found here

 

 

 

 

Vote 100 Programme

The Vote 100 programme will celebrate the anniversary of the 1918 Representation of the People Act which gave all men and some women the vote for the first time, as well as other important democratic milestones. You can find out more about this at the following website

EqualiTeas, are running between the 18th of June and the 2nd of July and they will be a UK-wide celebration of the 1928 Equal Franchise Act. The hope is that schools and community groups will get together over a cup of tea to share, debate and celebrate this important anniversary. You can find out more about this here

UK Parliament Week this year takes place from the 12th to the 18th of November and how you take part in this is entirely up to you. If you want to register an event or activity you can do so here

You will need to register before the 30th of September and when you do you will receive a free kit including activities, ideas and all the materials you'll need to take part.

 

Government Childcare Support

I am pleased the government has taken action on the issues surrounding childcare provision as making sure that childcare is affordable, accessible and high quality is one of the best ways to help parents into the work place and also ensures our children receive top notch early years education.

New childcare support measures are being rolled out and to find out more about what you and your children could benefit from please do go to the following website: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/

Support for parents includes 30 hours of childcare for the working parents of 3 and 4 year olds, up from the 15 hours a week that were being provided previously. Parents claiming Universal Credit (UC) are also supported with up to 85% of their childcare costs for children under 16.

For those on higher incomes there is Tax-Free Childcare (TFC) which provides up to £2,000 of support for childcare costs for children under 12 (or under 17 and up to a higher maximum of £4000 for those with disabilities); is paid per child; and, crucially, is available to self-employed parents, as well as to employed parents (though earnings eligibility criteria apply). The TFC rollout will complete on 14 February.

In addition, the government will continue to provide all 3 and 4 year olds with 15 hours a week of early education and this was extended to provide the most disadvantaged 2 year olds with 15 hours a week in 2013.

 

South West Rail

Following pressure from SW Conservative MPs, I was pleased to receive the following letter from Chris Grayling today. I welcome this positive first step.

I am writing to you today to update you on work on Rail in the South West and the progress we are making on our ambitions for your constituents. I appreciate all the work that colleagues are continuing to do on prioritising transport schemes and the DfT will set out our strategy, following the PRTF report, by the end of February.

Dawlish remains our number one national priority and ensuring we find a permanent solution for this vital connection, is never out of mind. As you will recall, shortly after the publication of the PRTF report and my appointment as Secretary of State, the Department moved quickly to the next stage of the work commissioning Network Rail to look at the engineering options. Additionally, I visited the work last year to see for myself this vital rail corridor.

The Department has continued to take forward work to develop solutions for the line through Dawlish and Teignmouth. The £15m funding that has been provided to Network Rail for this purpose is focused on the three most urgent elements identified within their resilience study, in order of magnitude.

This is a complex project which has required extens

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.


Click here to see me being interviewed by Women2Win

 

Click  to listen to BBC Radio 4 Today programme interviewing Sarah and discussing "Do Westminster Primaries Work?"

 

 

 


01 MAR 2019

Scope Communications, Totnes

I visited to see the range and role of paging and alert systems produced by Scope Communications UK Ltd, a great Totnes based company. Thank you to Malcolm Shaw for showing me around.


01 MAR 2019

Totnes Wine Company

It was good to meet with Roger Handley of Totnes Wine Company, a traditional wine merchant and one of our local independent shops where they have just introduced a Deli. Customers can now buy local cheese and other delicious deli goodies to accompany their...


01 MAR 2019

CAB Stall at Totnes Market

Today at the vibrant Totnes Market, the Citizens Advice Bureau had a stall to raise funds for the CAB. Although their stall will not be weekly event, there may be opportunities to buy their delicious cakes later in the year! The CAB is a charity that provides independent advice on debt, benefits,...



20 MAR 2019

Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (Eligibility): Article 50 Extension

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee The Secretary of State will know that this House has rejected the Prime Minister's deal twice by historic margins now—it is neither the will of the House nor the will of the...


20 MAR 2019

No-Deal EU Exit Preparations

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee There is a good reason why this House has resoundingly objected to and rejected a no-deal Brexit: because Members here have looked at the evidence of the real-world harms. Just one...


19 MAR 2019

Exiting the European Union (Agriculture): Foreign Affairs Committee

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee I thank my hon. Friend and neighbour for giving way on this point. I will, if I may, try to persuade him. Does he agree that Select Committees are at their best and acting on...


18 MAR 2019

Integrated Care Regulations: Exiting the European Union

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee My hon. Friend rightly makes the point that we can unilaterally decide to be freer about letting goods come across our border. However, surely one issue is that a free-for-all and...


18 MAR 2019

Integrated Care Regulations

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee As my Committee has already been quoted, I think that it might assist the House if I were also to quote from the conclusions that we came to on this issue. The Committee said: "We...





Please register here if you would like to receive regular newsletters.


Sarah's Personal Blog

Click here for Sarah's blogs and to leave comments.

What next for Brexit? 15.03.19

One of the few things that everyone agrees on when it comes to Brexit is that it is all a complete mess. No one voted for this divisive shambles undermining our economy and trashing our international reputation. But the undeliverable promises made during the campaign have collided with reality and a hung Parliament. It's like being locked in a car with a broken handbrake and an incompetent driver, rolling towards the edge of a cliff.

The Prime Minister has twice put her Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework, to a meaningful vote claiming it to be the 'will of the people'. It certainly isn't the will of Parliament which has rejected it on both occasions by historic margins.

Brexit reality turns out to please almost nobody, neither the 48% who voted remain nor the majority of Leave voters. The Deal is deeply flawed and looks nothing like the sunlit uplands promised during the 2016 referendum campaign. The problem is that the Prime Minister's alternative, to leave with No Deal, is even worse.

To read the full blog and leave a comment, please click here.

Brexit. What Happens Next 03.02.19

The grim news from Sunderland that Nissan have pulled out from a major future investment, should come as no surprise. Even Patrick Minford, one of the very few economists who Mr Rees Mogg and other hard Brexiteers can rely on to support their views, told a Parliamentary committee that WTO would all but destroy the UK car industry, but inferred this would be a price worth paying. Not for the tens of thousands of people and their families who depend on Nissan for their livelihoods across the North East.

It is not just the steady drum beat of warnings from firms like Jaguar Land Rover, Honda, Airbus and the pharmaceuticals sector that should worry us but the deep concerns of small and medium size companies the length and breadth of the UK about the consequences of No Deal.

It's easy to talk glibly about 'clean Brexit' but there is nothing clean or appealing about the reality of No Deal. I've seen the slogans 'Let's go WTO' outside Parliament, but there is a good reason why no country chooses to trade exclusively on those 4th division terms. All nations prefer trade deals but these are complex and time consuming to negotiate. At a stroke, if we exit with No Deal, we lose the trade deals we enjoy covering nearly 80 countries which extend to us because we are members of the EU. These deals cover around two thirds of all our goods exports and, as with the car industry, it is likely that other countries would prefer to import from nations with whom there are deals in place.

For our part, simply removing tariffs unilaterally on imports from one country, would oblige us under WTO rules to remove them from all which would mean kissing goodbye to major sectors of our own industries. How would our own farmers compete with a flood of cheap imports of lamb, beef and vegetables? The simple answer is that they would not cope with a rush to the bottom on pricing and the inevitable trade offs on welfare standards.

Far from being the 'easiest deal in human history', to quote the International Trade Secretary, Brexit reality does involve difficult trade offs and compromises. We were promised that scores of deals would be ready on the stroke of midnight as we left the EU, that 'Britain would hold all the cards' and that we would retain the 'exact same benefits'.

The reality is that the Prime Minister is  presenting us with a choice between a bad deal that leaves us with no future certainty and No Deal.

To read the full blog and leave a comment, please click here.

Brexit Amendment 09.01.19

Over the past couple of days I have supported a series of amendments to try to reduce the risk of the U.K. crashing out of the EU on March 29th with No Deal. The Government must stop introducing deliberate delays and instead make serious plans for what happens if the Prime Minister's Deal is rejected. As there have been no changes to the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement, rejection looks to be near certain and we do not have the luxury of time on our side with just 79 days to go until Brexit.

Yesterday I voted for an amendment that will prevent the Government implementing the "no deal" provisions of The Withdrawal Act without the explicit consent of Parliament.

In essence, this was about Parliament making it clear to Government that there is no majority for No Deal. That message was highlighted further during a cross Party meeting between the Prime Minister and over 200 MPs after we had written to set out our deep concerns about the damaging effect of No Deal on individuals, businesses and communities.

Today I supported a further amendment in order to reduce the timeframe for Government to return with its proposals about what should happen next if the Deal is voted down next week. The Government will now have 3 days rather than 21 days to respond.

This matters because of the very serious consequences that would follow if we left the EU in a chaotic manner and the increasing risk of that happening as a result of running out of time for any alternatives.

A majority of MPs won't support No Deal because of both the immediate and longer term damage this would inflict on our economy. The government's own forecasts predict that growth over the next 15 years without a deal would be 9.3% lower than it would otherwise have been on current terms.

To read the full blog and leave a comment, please click here.

The NHS Long Term Plan 07.01.19

I welcome the NHS Long Term Plan, which is wide ranging and ambitious. It rightly celebrates the successes of the NHS but is realistic about the scale of the challenge to meet relentlessly rising demand and to improve services. It acknowledges the pressure on staff as a result of the workforce shortfall and the urgent need to upgrade facilities including digital resources.

It is one of the greatest triumphs of our age that we are living longer but more of us are living with complex and long term conditions and there are widening inequalities in the degree to which both young and old are living in poorer health. There also remains an unacceptable variation in outcomes and experiences for patients from one area to the next even where that cannot be accounted for by resources or local challenges.

The Plan sets a number of priorities such as making sure that a greater share of NHS resource goes to mental health, especially for children and young people as well as to GP and wider community services. It lays out a number of proposed improvements to major areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory disease as well as a welcome focus on children and young people.

To read the article in full and leave comments, click here.

Brexit Update 10.12.18 12.38pm

The Parliamentary vote on Tuesday has now been delayed and we are awaiting a Statement from the Prime Minister in the Commons at 3.30 today to set out what happens next. I hope that there will be an acknowledgement of the gridlock in Parliament and a pledge to return the decision on the final deal to the British people, with an option to remain with the deal we already have.

The European Court of Justice has this morning ruled that the UK can unilaterally withdraw Article 50 if that follows a democratic process and that if it did so we would remain on current terms. This matters because there has been some false speculation that Britain might face a penalty for remaining and this puts beyond doubt that this would not be the case.

Brexit Update 10.12.18 11.30 am

Thank you to everyone who has written to me about Brexit and the Parliamentary votes due to take place on Tuesday. It used to be said that 'a week is a long time in politics', but the situation appears to be evolving far more rapidly than that.

As things stand, it looks certain that the Approval Motion for the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework will fail to pass the Commons. This defeat would then come on the heels of three avoidable defeats last week where the government was found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to abide by its own promise to publish its legal advice, and on the issue of Parliament's demand to be able to amend future motions on Brexit.

In 'normal' times, the official opposition would then move to a vote of no confidence in order to try to trigger a general election. That Labour now say that they will delay, this reflects their ongoing reluctance to come off the fence on the issue of a People's Vote, as they have long promised their members that they would move to back such a vote if their bid to trigger an election failed.

The simple reality of the situation we face is that both the main political parties are divided on Brexit. The same is true of our country, this constituency, communities and even within families.

Parliament has reached gridlock, with no majority in support of any of the options, not for the Prime Minister's compromise, not for the softest 'Norway' style Brexit, with or without a customs union, not for a Canada style free trade agreement and least of all, because of the scale of the consequences, for No Deal without any transition.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article.

It's time for a People's Vote. Without informed consent to the final version of Brexit there is no valid consent

The message from clinicians and scientists is clear; Brexit is bad for our health. It will be harmful for people who rely on the NHS, research, social care and public health as well as for the workforce on which these depend. Having listened to the evidence presented to the Health and Social Care Committee in Parliament over the past couple of years, I cannot remain silent about the impact this will have on the communities I was elected to represent, especially in the event of a chaotic exit with no deal and no transition. Hard Brexit in particular would knowingly, and avoidably, inflict reckless damage to the close partnerships, built up over decades, in place at every stage from research and development to medicines and devices arriving on the community pharmacy or hospital shelf.

There is no version of Brexit which will benefit the NHS, social care, public health or our life sciences sector, only varying degrees of harm. This, together with the wider economic fallout from Brexit, will have the hardest impact on the most disadvantaged in society. We would not be insulated from the economic damage here in Devon.

Brexit reality is vastly different to the fantasy Brexit miss-sold to the public during the referendum campaign. The promise on the side of the bus of an extra £350m per week has crashed into the inconvenient truth that there is no Brexit bonanza for the NHS, only a Brexit penalty. A new report, Brexit and the Health and Social Care Workforce in the UK - by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) - also highlights the vital role of EEA nationals across social care as well as the NHS, and the scale of the threat to recruitment and retention as a result of Brexit.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article.

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?

Your email address:

Your postal address:

Your postcode: