After very careful thought, I have come to the conclusion that I can best serve the interests of this constituency by joining the Liberal Democrats.

Brexit has not only sucked all the political oxygen from government over the past three years, but it has also consumed the funding and energy that should have been invested in local communities, tackling climate change and supporting the workforce and infrastructure of our NHS, schools and transport. Just as we could and should have been benefitting from economic recovery after years of austerity, that has been put into reverse because of the march to No Deal.

As many of you know, after the referendum I committed myself to delivering the political result of that vote although I had personally voted Remain. I did so, because I respect the majority of those who voted that wanted us to take a different path.

However, what most of us did not know at the time was the extent of the economic fall out of that decision, or the form Brexit would take. There is still no agreement either in Parliament, or across the country, about what Brexit should look like, and we now know far more about the trade-offs and compromises that will be necessary if we are to reduce the harms.

As a doctor for over twenty-four years, I try to base my decisions on evidence, and as that emerges, to be open to changing course. As the economic facts unfolded, I found myself unable to support a version of Brexit with consequences that I know would hurt so many individuals, businesses, families and communities. Brexit does not just affect the 17 million who voted to Leave but all the 67 million people living in the UK.

I cannot remember a more turbulent or divisive time in our politics. There is a deep and growing sense of unease about our country's future, our place in the world and the kind of environment and society we are leaving for the next generation.

People want something better and fairer for our communities. They care deeply about rising homelessness, climate change, crime and the widening gulf in health between rich and poor. Many are asking the obvious question about why, if hard Brexit is such a great policy, are we having to spend billions preparing to mitigate the negative consequences?

Good ideas rarely require planning for mass bailouts of collapsing businesses including farming or the emergency air-freighting of vital medicines and food supplies. This is money that could, and should have been spent tackling poverty, improving life chances and genuinely providing new resources for priorities like education, policing, social care and the NHS.

Britain deserves better, and my fellow MPs need to read the evidence and act in the national interest rather than Party interest, and they need to act now before it is too late.

Earlier this year I left the Conservative Party because I felt that the government had abandoned its promise to tackle the burning injustices across our society. It had moved to the right and become obsessed with a damaging form of Brexit.

Several MPs from both main parties felt we could not passively watch our country slide towards economic ruin and the potential breakup of the United Kingdom, so we moved to set up a new grouping in the centre ground. We sought to maximise the total Remain vote in the EU election. The clear evidence following the result was this risked a serious fragmentation of the Remain vote in any future general election fought under our system of First Past The Post.

I will be more effective in campaigning for positive change as part of an established team of MPs committed to working together in the national interest. That is why I am joining Jo Swinson and the Liberal Democrats who are speaking out on social justice, health and the environment and making the unequivocal case for the United Kingdom's place at the heart of the European Union where we can help shape it for all our futures.

We are now entering the final weeks to prevent the dire consequences of the PM's 'do or die' approach to Brexit. Preventing that harm will take unprecedented cross-party working and my in-box has been full of messages urging me to be part of a Remain Alliance which I will be doing through joining the Liberal Democrats.

My in-box also has messages from some who ask if I am calling a by-election in Totnes. The answer is straightforward; I will be backing an election in Totnes by voting no confidence in the government at the earliest opportunity. 99.86% of the population had no choice whatsoever about our current Prime Minister and I believe the whole electorate deserves a say. It is a general election that is needed, not just a by-election, and it needs to take place before we leave the EU.

The Liberal Democrats under the new leadership of Jo Swinson are outward looking and unequivocally committed to remaining at the heart of an evolving Europe. In this new political landscape, I feel this is the best political party from which to stand up for the communities I am privileged to represent. I hope that you will join me.

Brixham Library to undergo full refurbishment

Brixham Library, run by Devon-based charity Libraries Unlimited, will be closing its doors from Monday 28 October for four weeks over November to allow for refurbishment.

Thanks to funding from Torbay Council and a donation of more than £4,000 from the Friends of Brixham Library, the library will undergo an exciting renovation. The building will be newly decorated throughout with new carpets, new shelving and furniture on the ground floor and a newly decorated and refreshed meeting room.

Library customers will be welcomed back to the library on Monday 25 November, when they will be able to browse the light, spacious and welcoming new library, complete with new signage and some additional seating.

Brixham Library is one of four libraries in Torbay run by Libraries Unlimited, who are also responsible for the running of Devon's 50 libraries and the mobile library service on behalf of Devon County Council.

Since taking over the running of Torbay Libraries just 18 months ago, Libraries Unlimited have been able to secure funding to improve Torquay's teen library in collaboration with young people in the area.

Brixham Library customers are encouraged to use Churston, Paignton and Torquay libraries whilst the work is being carried out. All library customers can also access their accounts to reserve and renew items or browse the catalogue online at

For more information visit, follow @TorbayLibraries on Twitter and or visit your local library


Response from Dr Sarah Wollaston MP For Totnes to the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Safer Together Consultation:

I am writing on behalf of the people I represent to express the concerns that have been raised with me in response to the fire service cuts presented in the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority's Safer Together consultation. I have met with firefighters and concerned residents from across the communities affected by these proposals. I have also met with Torbay councillor Lee Howgate to discuss the concerns raised from across Torbay as changes to one area affect all surrounding areas. We agree that all 6 options as proposed by the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority in their consultation document Safer Together should be rejected. In short, we feel that any steps taken must not undermine the existing level of protection in the Bay and we are keen to explore through further discussions with the Fire Service how this can be maintained within the current context as set by national government.

Our main concerns are:

1. The proposals do not provide adequate detail for the improvements claimed, for example there is an absence of information on how terms and conditions for operating a revised on-call system would be improved, or how extra prevention and protection will be achieved. There needs to be greater clarity and detail about how the new pay structures would operate because significant concerns have been raised about the unintended consequences of reducing recruitment and retention rather than supporting them .

2. The selection of data in the consultation is flawed and has an unrealistic assumption that all assets will be available at all times, giving a false impression of improved outcomes that could not be obtained in a real world context. Firefighters have also highlighted that the data does not reflect the full scope of their work responding to non-fire incidents for example flood incidents, farm machinery or animal rescues and neither does it reflect the many occasions on which they are lending support to neighbouring areas. It is also of concern that there is no data around the occasions on which an additional appliance would have been sent but no staffing was available or where crews are not being sent to situations where that would previously have been the case.

3. It was made clear at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board in Torbay that emergency response times in the Bay would deteriorate and that the ten minute target for response to incidents would not be met should these proposals succeed. We believe this reduction in the level of emergency response is unacceptable, and undermines the Fire Authority's case that the proposals are merely a reallocation of resources to provide more efficient levels of service. We believe missing the ten minute target will mean an increased threat to life and property in Torbay and across South Devon. Over 600,000 people will see a slower response from the Fire and Rescue service at certain times of the day. We are also concerned about the pressure on crews. We must make sure that firefighters are not at additional risk whilst trying to protect the public as a result of those pressures.

4. We welcome the desire of the Fire and Rescue Authority to undertake more preventative work and more enforcement action with businesses who are non-compliant with the appropriate fire regulations. We are not convinced, however, that this needs to be an either/or situation. Such work can and indeed is occurring within existing frameworks. Concerns have also been raised about breaking the links with local teams for prevention advice.

Given the level of concern about the proposals I would be grateful for a meeting with the Chief Fire Officer alongside Cllr Howgate to discuss what steps can be taken given the difficult financial constraints the Authority finds itself in as a result of the need to make £8.4m of savings due to continuing underfunding by national government. I recognise the challenges this poses to the Authority and will be pressing for a fairer funding package that would give adequate scope for maintaining a first-class service of fire prevention and emergency rescue.

Any Questions?

I joined the political debate on Radio 4's Any Questions yesterday (13.09.19). You can listen to the discussion via the following link





Love Water

Love Water is a major campaign involving more than 40 environmental groups, charities, water companies and regulators, aimed at getting the British public involved in safeguarding water resources for future generations.

The campaign will raise awareness of the importance of water and the role everyone plays in protecting it. It will feature events and initiatives, such as beach and river cleans-ups and water-saving projects, designed to engage the public and encourage them to enjoy water and the environment.

Love Water is also inviting businesses and other companies to get involved by supporting the campaign through promotional activity while pledging to do their bit to save water and protect the environment by reducing pollution and waste.

The long-term campaign, led by bodies including the Environment Agency, Water UK, Ofwat, National Farmers Union, and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust as well as English water companies among others, is being launched as part of the government's Year of Green Action which aims to help people to connect with, protect and enhance nature.

Many people are not aware that actions like tipping waste liquids down roadside drains, flushing wet wipes or washing up greasy pans in the sink harm wildlife and affect water quality by causing pollution in local rivers, lakes and the sea. The campaign will let people know about the small changes they can make to achieve a big difference.

To find out more or to get involved in the campaign please get in contact by email or via the campaign Twitter page.


South Hams District Council's Review of Polling Districs/Polling Places

Under the Electoral Administration Acts 2006 and 2013, the South Hams District Council is carrying out a review of Parliamentary polling districts and places over the next few months. The first consultation stage is open and ends on Friday 20 September.

SHDC would like to hear positive comments as well as negative ones in order to have a balanced view to consider. Any comments you wish to make should be made in writing to the following address by 20 September 2019.

The Electoral Services Office, South Hams District Council, Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Totnes TQ9 5NE or E-mail: There will be a further period of consultation in October.

All proposals and comments will be published at the conclusion of the review.

Further information is available at the following link



This is an invitation to writers to extend their writing into new fields and an opportunity to showcase their talent in the Totnes Library Writers Group.
WRITE NOW TOTNES is the first writing Festival in Totnes. There are workshops to encourage writers to try something new. You are invited to try these workshops ...

  • Writing for magazines – Nick Fletcher
  • Writing for Children – Fiona Barker
  • Music and poetry – Helen Ashley and Gillian Langton
  • Inspiration from some ancient Chinese poets – Chris Waters
  • Blogging is citizen publishing – Caroline Lodge
  • Researching and writing local history – Peter Wade
  • ... and let other writers hear your work at these sessions:
  • Performing your work – open mic session
  • Poetry Slam

And there are more activities on offer!

Writers are invited to join the festival to try something new and be inspired by the guidance and company of other writers.
You can join up to four workshops (£5 each, £3 concessions).
Some tickets already on sale through Eventbrite, with the full programme of events available here.
More information is available on their facebook page


The Breeze Local Heroes

The Breeze Local Heroes recognises inspirational and influential people who make South Devon great. These annual awards  say a huge thank you to the ordinary people in our community who do extraordinary things every day.

Breeze are asking you to nominate someone you think deserves recognition as a Breeze Local Hero. There are ten categories to choose from and two finalists will be chosen from each category to attend their glittering awards later this year where they can celebrate them in style.

Nominations close on Sunday August 11th 2019.

Slapton Line

The Slapton Line Partnership has organised three further community events to discuss the future of the A379.
To allow maximum input from local residents and visitors, the Partnership have decided to hold a further drop-in event in Strete, along with two exhibitions, one in Dartmouth and the other in Kingsbridge.
The events will share information about the series of damaging storms over the past few years and what steps have been taken to date.
The main goal is to understand and address the challenge for the future road strategy and what this means to the community. There are important positive steps that will be taken to make sure the future long term resilience of the area.

Come along to the community drop-in session, with members of the SLP, on:

  • Wednesday 28 August at Strete Village Hall between 5pm – 7:30pm

Exhibitions will also be held at:

  • Kingsbridge library between Saturday 10 August to Saturday 17 August
  • Dartmouth library between Monday 2 September to Saturday 7 September
  • Stoke Fleming Village Hall, 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm Thursday 19th September

If you would like to speak to a member of the SLP, and you can't attend the drop in at Strete Village Hall, Slapton Line Partnership members will be attending at the library on each of the Saturday mornings.

The exhibition explains what has been happening in the past few years, the current situation and what is likely to happen next. There is a questionnaire available at the exhibitions to find out what residents and visitors think.


Consultation begins - easier parking for care workers

What do you think? Devon County Council is proposing to allow care and health professionals to park where there are yellow lines restrictions when visiting clients at home.

DCC have got exemption permits that currently allow care workers and other health care staff to use on-street pay and display, limited waiting and residents parking for no charge if they are delivering essential services to residents in their own homes.

But DCC are advertising a Traffic Regulation Order that proposes extending this exemption to include parking on single and double yellow lines – but only when alternative parking isn't available.

It's because parking in some communities is limited, and that just adds to the stress of what's already a demanding job.

For more information and to comment on the consultation click on the following link.


Do you know any businesses who deserve an FSB award?

The FSB launched its annual business awards on August 1st. These awards are designed to recognise, celebrate and encourage SMEs from throughout the South West. There are 12 different categories on offer, in what is, a free-to-enter competition, so if you know of any businesses that you think would benefit from winning a prestigious award like this (and you don't need to be FSB members)  Please look at the following website for more information


The Best Small Shops Competition

The Best Small Shops Competition is open to any small shop* operating in the UK. The competition is free to enter and all shops who enter will also be promoted to consumers through an online Indie Retail Directory.

Shopkeepers can nominate their businesses until Monday 9th September via A shortlist of 25 of the most impressive applications will be shortlisted by a panel made up of established representatives from the independent retail industry.

The judges will be looking for evidence of a small shops' entrepreneurial spirit, ways that they have been innovative in their business and what they have done to have a lasting positive impact on their community.

The shortlisted small shops will be invited to a Parliamentary Reception on 5th November 2019 to meet their Member of Parliament and find out who will be crowned the Best Small Shop for 2019.

Submit your entry

The entries for 2019's Best Small Shop competition are now open. Submit your entry at

Entries close on Monday 9th September 2019.

*For the purposes of the competition, a small shop is defined as a non-corporate business selling goods or services to the public for use or consumption rather than for resale, from a business rated premises in the UK.


Frogmore Post Office TQ7 2NT

The Post Office are proposing to move the above Post Office service to a new location – Co-op Store and Filling Station, East Charleton, Kingsbridge, TQ7 2AP where it will be known as East Charleton Post Office and will change to one of their new local style Post Office branches.

They are proposing this move as part of the ongoing modernisation of their branch network. The Post Office feel that introducing a local style branch alongside a successful retail store is the most effective way to safeguard sustainable Post Office services in the local community into the future.

They are carrying out a local public consultation and would like your views on the proposal. They welcome feedback and comments that can help inform their plans.

Please visit their Consultation Hub via the following link
The consultation closes on 13th September 2019

Customer information materials will also be available in branch.


GWR invite applications for Customer and Communities Improvement funding

Great Western Railway are delighted to have just opened bidding for a further round of Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF). This will be for projects that can be delivered between April 2020 and March 2021.

If all goes well, subject to Department for Transport (DFT) approvals, they should have over £750,000 to support schemes proposed by customers and stakeholders. The current GWR franchise finishes on 31 March 2020. In November 2017, the DfT announced their intention to award a further franchise to GWR, and the 2021/21 CCIF programme is dependent on this being concluded.

Over the last four years GWR have awarded over £3m supporting 133 schemes and projects. They want to keep that record of achievement going, and to do that they need your bids. The application form very simple, and you can find it along with guidance on

GWR want to encourage a variety of bids for projects of all shapes and sizes. It would be great if the fund could help close the gap on projects where some existing funding has already been secured or where funding is available from other sources, but this is not an essential.

In the past, they have supported schemes that have included station and car park infrastructure, information including connections to other public transport, cycling and walking, railway history and heritage, play equipment, outreach and familiarisation, destination marketing, training for employment, school safety and career education, accessibility and diversity initiatives. They are looking for the sort of schemes that would not be eligible for traditional railway funding.

Schemes must be delivered in the 2020/21 financial year, so you will need to be sure you can start and finish within that time frame. So that schemes can start in April 2020, they are asking for proposals for this first round of bids by 17:00 8 September 2019. This will give them time to review and seek all necessary approvals.

For more information and to discuss any ideas you have ahead of submission please contact the dedicated CCIF email on where they will be happy to talk about any suggestions and to clarify any part of the process.


Importance of Vaccination

Well worth reading this letter from Dr Julie Yates, who leads for immunisation in the South West. Vaccination prevents death and serious harm from diseases that should be consigned to history. Our communities are being put at risk by the myths propagated by the antivaxxers.

Whilst it might not seem important that 4 or 5 children in each eligible group do not receive their immunisations when they should do this is a serious concern, not just for these children but also for the wider population in Totnes. 4 or 5 children not being immunised per quarter means 16 to 20 per year. If these children continue to remain unimmunised that equates to 100 over 5 years, 200 over 10 years and so on. Over time this builds a substantial group of children and young people who are not protected and therefore risk becoming ill themselves but who are then also able to spread infections such as measles within nurseries, schools and colleges and on to other vulnerable individuals, such as babies or those with immune deficiencies, who are not able to have the immunisations themselves.

We already have a legacy of a large group of young people aged 16 – 25 years who, following the publication of now discredited reports, did not receive MMR in the 1990s. These young people remain vulnerable and may not be aware that their parents made the decision for them not to have routine immunisations such as MMR. We have experienced large outbreaks within the south west in recent years as a result of the drop in uptake of immunisations that occurred back then. In 2015/16, for example, more than 240 people developed measles in the South West with the outbreak starting and being centred in South Devon. We experienced a similar large outbreak last year, this time centred on Bristol which is an area that has similar low uptake of immunisations. These young people are not only at greater risk themselves as they grow up, leave home and mix with new people in new communities, but they also potentially risk the health of their unborn children if they remain vulnerable to disease as they reach childbearing age and become pregnant themselves.

Unfortunately, partly because immunisation is so effective at protecting against these diseases, people do not now often see the devastating effect that they can have on individuals and families. In last year's measles outbreak at least 22 people were hospitalised and 2 adults were left with long term life changing consequences after suffering complications including measles encephalitis and pneumonitis. A child was seriously harmed because its parents mistakenly believed the myth that often goes along with anti-vax / 'natural health' theories that fever is good and should be encouraged by wrapping the child up and keeping them hot. That child had to be admitted to intensive care. This was all completely preventable.

Measles, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, meningitis (A,C,W,Y, HiB, Pneumococcal) and even flu can kill – we know that some people think that these diseases are not really serious, but 3 children died from complications of flu in the south west in 2017/18 alone. Rubella can cause totally preventable congenital abnormalities and rotavirus is a major cause of hospitalisation of children.

Nothing we do in life is without risk, but immunisation is the safest and most effective option which is why more than 9 out of 10 parents make this choice for their children. I am a strong advocate of parental choice, but that choice needs to be based on accurate information not unsubstantiated hearsay. We respect the right of anyone to express their opinions, but would ask that those who are involved in organising and supporting anti-vaccination talks consider very carefully the implications of doing so. The implications of children not receiving vaccines is that they risk becoming ill, or of passing on disease, or at worse dying from diseases that are almost completely preventable. 100 years ago families sadly took it for granted that some of their children would die in childhood, fortunately the tragedy of losing a child is a now very rare occurrence – that difference has a great deal to do with developments in healthcare, including our world class immunisation programmes, which mean we no longer have to fear infections in the way our grandparents and great grandparents did. We would ask that those involved please think about what you are doing and take responsibility for the harm you may cause by creating unnecessary fear and doubt amongst parents. Please don't be part of sending us back to those bad old times when children died from these infections - vaccines are valuable, they work and vaccines save lives.

For more information please see #value of vaccines or


Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the proposals for the Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. I have spoken with staff on the ground and the Chief Fire Officer as well as to people with concerns.

Contained within the proposals is a significant investment in prevention, protection and additional response capability but understandably, local media coverage has focussed on the possible loss of a number of low activity fire stations and fire engines.

I have no powers as an MP to direct the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service to stop their consultation, so the important next step is to look at the plans as a whole and contribute to it. You can do that via the following websites:

Any final decision will not be made by the Fire Authority until November after they have reflected on the public feedback, considered alternative options that have been presented and listened to the public and staff.


Missin' Tackle Brixham

Down on the Old Fish Quay, Brixham Harbour (by the Golden Hind) meet with the Missin Tackle to attend one of their Shanty evenings. They are held in aid of two local causes, Brixham Museum and The Friends of Brixham Library and are free events!

Tuesdays 30 July, 6 & 13 August

From 8.00 – 9.00pm

For a more comfortable evening, please bring your own seating with you.




Plans for the Slapton Line

Do you live near the A379 at Slapton, Strete, Torcross or the surrounding areas?

Then you should come along to find out the future plans for the Slapton Line.

The Slapton Line Partnership are holding a community drop in event on Tuesday the 16th of July at Stokenham Village Hall between 3.00 pm and 7.30 pm.


Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust runs the Churchill Fellowships, a unique programme of overseas research grants. These support UK citizens from all parts of society to travel the world in search of innovative solutions for today's most pressing problems.

Every year they award 150 Fellowships. These fund outstanding individuals to travel for 4-8 weeks, anywhere in the world, researching a topic of their choice among global leaders in their field. On their return, the Trust will help them to share their global learning with professions and communities across the UK.

These are not academic research grants. They are practical inquiries into real-world issues that the Fellows have encountered in their daily lives. They cover eight universal themes in society: Arts and culture, Community and citizenship, Economy and enterprise, Education and skills, Environment and resources, Health and wellbeing, Governance and public provision, Science and technology.

Any UK adult citizen can apply, regardless of qualifications, age or background. They are chosen not for their past achievements, but for the power of their ideas and their potential to be change-makers.

So if you are passionate about making a difference in your community or profession, and inspired by new ideas and projects from overseas, now is the time to apply for a Churchill Fellowship The closing date is 17th September 2019 for travels in 2020.


Brixham-based theatre company wins theatre award in New York

Many congratulations to the Brixham-based South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company who discovered on the 11th June that they had won a theatre award in the Long Island Theatre Awards ceremony for their production of Shakespeare's classic drama of ambition, power and fate; Macbeth.

The show, first performed by the Players at Brixham Theatre, the South Devon Players home performance venue, and then at Torquay Museum, attracted record positive feedback from audience and critics, with feedback that surpassed productions by the Globe in London, and the RSC.

Following their success came requests for a second larger show tour, including from Ireland and the USA, and a request from the Long Island Theatre Awards to enter the production for their 2019 awards. They were happy to accept a video submission of the show filmed at Brixham Theatre.

Months later the Players were advised they were among the award nominees, and received a request from the Theatre Awards administrators to send a representative to New York. Christophe Lombardi who played Macbeth, travelled to New York, collecting the award on behalf of the Players, which will be brought back to Devon during the next week or so, as he travels back from the USA.

Brixham Theatre was saved from closure in 2018 by a team of local volunteers, and it provides a critical base for local creativity, without which, successes like this, would not be possible for local people in their hometown. The Players owe this success to the continued existence of Brixham Theatre.

The South Devon Players, founded in 2005/6 on the proceeds of a car boot sale, and still funded in much the same way, are winners of the national Epic Award 2017 for England, a national arts award celebrating creativity and innovation in grassroots arts, and international nominations for past productions. Based in Brixham, the Players primarily specialise in researched historical theatre productions and old "Classics".


Brixham 75th Anniversary of D-Day


There are a total of 43 war graves in St Mary's Churchyard, from both World Wars 1 and 2. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, each one is recognised by a poppy band around the headstone, and can be seen from both sides. Take a walk around the churchyard and reflect on those who paid the ultimate price in these wars, many of whom were so very young.

The graveyard display is only part of what Brixham will be doing between the 1st -9th June to mark D-Day; there will be commemorations, displays, exhibitions and some celebrations.

A full list of events can be found in the Brixham brochure.



SWW "Stop the Block" Campaign

Every year South West Water deals with around 8,500 blocked sewers which costs about £4.5 million to clear. Blockages and flooding can be caused by people inappropriately flushing baby wipes, hygiene wipes, moist toilet tissue, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products. Don't be confused by products labelled biodegradable or flushable, such as moist toilet tissues and hygiene wipes. They still cause blockages and should not be flushed. Nor should sanitary products.

Hot fat, oil and grease when poured down sinks, cool and forms a solid mass which can block pipes and cause flooding. SWW are seeking to enlist the help of the communities they serve. To help "stop the block" in your neighbourhood and for more information about their campaigns please look at the following websites: -


Ordinary / Extraordinary 2019

In 2018 a small group of learning-disabled young people with a creative streak enabled by artists working with Daisi, Dance in Devon and Soundart and supported by Lifeworks and Play Torbay mounted Ordinary Art, a 2-day inclusive art festival at Dartington. Together they created a "wholly inclusive space" and provided a range of activities to satisfy a diverse range of interests; from a Big Band in the Great Hall to a Vintage Gaming installation in the Soundart Radio Studios.

This spring, a small group of learning-disabled young people came together at The Mansion in the heart of Totnes to work out how to use the arts to tackle loneliness in Devon and Torbay - Together they decided an inclusive 2-day art festival could be just the thing to connect local people; they want to use drama, dance, music and animation as ways to connect people, celebrate difference and make new friends in an extended festival offer called ORDINARY/EXTRAORDINARY 2019.

They feel Ordinary/Extraordinary could encourage social change; to help them go from: "Sometimes people don't want to be my friend" to "When you feel connected, you can be like friends". They want to "make animations that could talk to politicians" and use animation to "talk about coping with learning disabilities."

If they achieve commission the Festival will run at Dartington on the 25 and 25 October.

To get involved or to find out more, visit the following website


Tell us Totnes! We want to hear from you...

Caring Town is a network of over 80 local organisations and groups that care about our community and they are asking all residents of Totnes and the surrounding parishes to fill out on online survey in order to better understand the unmet needs of you and your loved ones - and then take action...

So please take just 10 minutes of your time and contribute your voice to this important piece of work - even if just to tell us you feel perfectly well and need nothing!

Please complete the survey, and then share this the link with everyone you know!

For those that are not online, some paper copies are available at Leatside Surgery, Catherine House Surgery, Totnes Town Council, The Mansion and through Totnes Caring,


Rural and Wildlife Crime

Rural and wildlife crime is one of those crimes that has a huge impact on our community.

If you witness a suspected wildlife crime in action call 999 immediately. In all other instances call the non-emergency number 101 or email the Wildlife Crimes Group More information can be found on the Devon and Cornwall Police website

People buying, selling, harming or disturbing wild animals or plants that are protected by law are committing a wildlife crime, similarly if you see agricultural equipment being stolen call 999 and you are also able to link to Devon and Cornwall Police Alert.  By signing up the recipient can tailor the type of messages they receive and can be aware of incidents in the area and be on the lookout for suspicious activity. The police are encouraging farmers and equestrians to sign up. If people sign up and also use their own social media groups it can be an effective way to get appeals, updates and messages out to various groups and communities.



Are you feeling low/ Anxious? No-one to talk to?

Come and join the DASH Men's Project and meet others feeling like you!

Meetings take place on the first Tuesday of every month, 7.00 – 8.00pm, starting 7th May 2019

Please call 01803 559006 for more details.

Know that you are NOT alone!







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
Open Monday – Friday 9.45 am – 4 pm.

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

Crafty Fox Café 'n' Hub, 103 Foxhole Road, Paignton, TQ3 3SU.
01803 669005
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: 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 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:

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 or or call them on:-
CAB:01803 659733
SDCE:0800 112 3044.

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


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

'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.


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: 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.


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.

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?"




12 OCT 2019

The Remain Chair

Thank you to Annie Bowie for giving me the opportunity to look after the wonderful Remain Chair. Created by Bundle Maclaren, the chair illustrates beautifully that we can be proud to be British and proud to be European. The best of both worlds. I'm delighted to look after it for a while on behalf of...

12 OCT 2019

Extinction Rebellion

I loved joining some Extinction Rebellion members walking up Totnes High St., singing together and marking the action of their friends in London. They are helping drive urgent and essential action.

12 OCT 2019

Climate Change Meeting in Totnes

Thank you to all those who came along to share their view on tackling Climate Change, especially those who joined in from the terrace after the hall capacity was reached. Thanks also to Wera Hobhouse and Caroline Voaden for making the time to come and discuss this important issue with members of the...

19 OCT 2019

Prime Minister's Statement

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee Evidence matters, Prime Minister. How can he possibly assure our constituents that this is a good deal if he has not carried out an economic impact assessment of what it will cost...

17 OCT 2019

Business of the House

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee Could the Leader of the House please let us have an urgent debate on the serious issues facing shellfisheries? They are highly dependent on EU markets, and I am afraid that no-deal...

16 OCT 2019

Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee As the Minister knows, Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where women do not have access to safe abortion in the place where they live, and they are really...

14 OCT 2019

Debate on the Address: [1st Day]

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is also a desperately anxious time for British citizens living elsewhere in the European Union who face not knowing whether they will be...

08 OCT 2019

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: 5G

Written Answers Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to introduce safety tests on the proposed 5G pilot projects. Matt...

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Sarah's Personal Blog

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

We need a Statesman as PM, not this showman 20.10.19

Whatever happens next, we are in dangerous and uncharted waters when a Prime Minister chooses to ignore the clear purpose of an Act of Parliament. Sending a photocopy and a side letter to the EU shows the Prime Minister has abandoned Statesmanship for cheap showmanship.

I joined the majority of MPs in voting to protect against No Deal in the immediate future. The debate on Saturday also made it clear that the Government's current proposals risk No Deal once the transition period comes to an end and I will continue to oppose this unless the people have given their consent to the actual Brexit deal as opposed to the false promises of the referendum campaign. The Deal will put a permanent border down the Irish Sea that will inevitably lead to the breakup of our United Kingdom starting with Northern Ireland and then Scotland. It will deliver an economic downturn of the same order as the banking crash and it will remove the protection of workers rights and environmental standards from the internationally binding treaty and switch these to the wish list of the non-binding political declaration. The Deal does not "get Brexit done", it is merely the start of long and acrimonious wrangling over the future of our relationship with Europe in which we will be the junior and relatively powerless partner.

At the weekend hundreds of thousands of people marched to demand the final say and I was delighted to meet so many of those who travelled from this constituency to join them. I will continue to press for everyone to have the opportunity to decide if the Deal delivers the kind of Brexit they want or to ditch Brexit for good.

To leave a comment please click here

Brexit 12.09.19

Like so many people, I'm deeply worried about the violence of language and behaviour that has become so common in our politics. As this becomes ever more divisive and with both main parties drifting to their extremes, I'm very glad to have joined the growing band of Liberal Democrats in the moderate, progressive centre ground.

I gave a clear commitment at the time of joining the Lib Dems that I would vote for a general election so that you can decide if you would rather be represented by an MP from a different political party. I have kept that promise but the government did not reach the two thirds majority required to trigger an election. It is very likely that this will only mean a short delay as the PM has lost his majority and excluded 21 of his moderate Conservative colleagues.

Following the vote, the Prime Minister decided to shut down Parliament for five weeks, cutting off all the opportunities for MPs to hold him to account. I deeply regret the fact that he is running from scrutiny and we are even hearing that he may decide not to obey the law.

I have tried to do everything I can to flag up the serious risks of a No Deal Brexit. I think it is really important to make sure that everyone can have a say on the final arrangements. I think it would best for that to be through a People's Vote, but if that is ruled out by the PM and we have a general election, the Liberal Democrats will be campaigning unequivocally to stop Brexit.

To leave a comment, please click here.


No Deal is a disaster for local farmers. I won't be voting to destroy local businesses 12.07.19

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has said that a No Deal Brexit is the worst possible deal for the farming industry.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has called it a "grisly prospect".

No Deal would lead to bankruptcies and shortages hitting local businesses and consumers alike. The UK has a trade deficit in food, drink and animal feed products with both the EU and with non-EU countries.

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

Brexit Update 03.04.19

I wish I could be responding with more positive news but the truth is that Brexit has left us deeply divided and that is reflected in our politics and Parliament. We have reached gridlock. The Prime Minister's deal failed to pass for the third time and none of the alternative options presented by backbench MPs reached a majority. The greatest number of votes was for a referendum on the final deal and the slimmest margin of defeat was for a customs union to be added to the deal.

The legal position is that, unless a deal is agreed by Parliament, we leave with No Deal in little over a week's time. This is I know the preferred option for many who have written to me but not for the majority. It would lead to such serious real-world harms both locally and nationally that I could never support it. It would mean knowingly and deliberately voting to make this community poorer and for many of my constituents to lose their jobs and livelihoods.

I won't don't that.

It could not be more obvious that the problem with the original referendum was that it never defined which of the many versions of Brexit was on offer. The risks, trade offs and benefits of No Deal, Canada Plus, Norway, Norway Plus and the Prime Minister's Deal are all very different but campaigners were able to talk up the benefits and downplay the risks. It turns out that we cannot have our cake and eat it and that countries are not queuing at our door to sign up to advantageous trade deals.

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

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.

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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