This morning I met with Sophia Christie, the interim CE of Devon STP to discuss children's mental health, funding, digital and integrated care. We spoke about my ongoing campaign to increase community beds across the South Hams and in particular, I raised my concerns about Dartmouth and the need for more community beds.
Today I met with Jan Forward, the Service Manager of the Devon Youth Intervention Team (YIT). This team works with young people to divert them away from offending and the criminal justice system at the earliest possible opportunity. Many of these young people have unidentified language and communication needs which make school and friendships difficult for them. I also met with a crucial member of the team, Dr Val Brooks, a Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. Val works with the young people to identify their communication needs in order that they can be supported to be successful in education and to improve their life chances. The team's figures for first time entrants into the youth justice system, are substanaily below both the national and local South West average. Also attending the meeting to learn more about the Devon team's successes was Derek Munn, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
Bercow: Ten Years On is a review of provision for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs published by I CAN, the children's communication charity, and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Communication is our most important life skill, but many children and young people have difficulties communicating. Left unidentified and unsupported, these needs can have a negative impact on many aspects of life. The report makes recommendations to improve support for children and young people with communication needs and their families. More details about the review are available here
I met with Jill Mahon, Headteacher of Dartington Primary, School Governor and a parent's representative to hear about parental concerns with regard to a mobile mast placed near the school. Tests undertaken this week showing the level is well below the set limits are being shared with parents.
Thank you to the Totnes WI for inviting me to join you to discuss voting, select committees, social care, prisons and Brexit
I met this morning with Richard Martin of The Egremont Trust (Salcombe), a registered charity with the aim of maintaining the ship MV Egremont as a facility for the advancement of the education and development of young people, as well as raising funds to utilise the facility for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Thank you to everyone who came to last night's public meeting in Totnes, especially to Rev Steve Jones for chairing and PC Geoff Foster for coming to discuss drugs and policing.
I was delighted to open Quayside in Totnes today. This kind of supported living changes lives and I am delighted to see Quayside open, accessible to the community and to hear so many compelling and positive stories from residents. Cutting the ribbon with me are Mr and Mrs Hindle.
L-R Paul Watson, MD Guinness Care, Catriona Simons, CEO The Guinness Partnership, and Neil Braithwaite, Chair of The Guinness Partnership Board.
I met with Fee Scott today, the Chief Executive of the Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services to discuss how they support women aged 13 and over and young men aged 13-25. They also offer limited support to the families, friends and partners of those affected by sexual violence.
Thank you to all the health care professionals for their hard work for the Totnes Community
Bob Alfordand the Totnes Caring Team
|Totnes Care Team|
|Social Care Team||Mental Care Team for older people|
|Bob Alford, Julian Ayrton, Matron Tracey Cunningham and Lee Baxter|
Thank you to everyone who attended my Advice Surgery today.
Amongst the subjects discussed was the availability of Orkambi and thank you to Jessica, Cathy, Jean and Sarah for their thoughts on this important issue.
Thank you to Ageing Well for all you are doing to make it easier for local communities across the Bay to access high quality advice and information. FAIR (Financial Advice, Information & Resilience) was launched today, and is a new advice and information project which will offer a wide range of support for local communities
Absolutely loved visiting Fishtek Marine today, an amazing business based in South Devon making a difference in marine conservation, reducing bycatch and plastic waste in our oceans
Tonight I was Quiz Master at the Manor Inn, Galmpton. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped to make this an enjoyable evening and for their kind donations to Rowcroft Hospice.
Thank you to everybody who attended today's Advice Surgery in Totnes.
Huge thanks to the great Dr James Mottram and an amazing team for all they are doing for the Kingsbridge community. Loved hearing about South Hams Area Wellbeing and agree social prescribing can make such a positive difference to people's lives.
Lovely to be back at Kingsbridge Community College for wide ranging Q&A session with year 13, College Council pupils and to meet Haseeba to share views on the NHS and public health. Thank you to Roger Pope for advice and thoughts on the national and local challenges, finance, mental health and education
I was delighted to visit the Share Shed in Totnes today and meet with Larch Maxey to hear all about their success. They are currently based at The Network of Wellbeing's office, 16 High Street, Totnes, TQ9 5RY. The Share Shed is a 'library of things' where people can borrow all sorts of useful things, ranging from ladders, drills, carpet cleaners, camping and gardening equipment, sewing machines, and much more! The project enables local people to borrow items at nominal cost so that they don't have to buy them for themselves. The aim is to build a more resourceful community, allowing people to connect with each other and share things they may need just once in a while.
I know that the Share Shed is looking for a new long term home and I would encourage anyone with any ideas about this to get in touch with the team by telephoning 07516 908237 or emailing email@example.com
Thank you to PC Geoff Foster and our local police team for taking the time to discuss the problems that affect the streets of Totnes.
I visited the South Brent Health Centre and a big thank you South Brent Community Energy Society and Sustainable South Brent for installing solar panels on the Health Centre and for a great meeting with the practice team to discuss taking forward other projects to benefit those at risk of hospital admission.
I loved my visit to Salcombe Primary School today, and huge congratulations to Francesca and Joey for their fabulous winning posters and to Anna and Ella for campaigning to be the first #PlasticClever school. Great to meet all the pupils, staff and head, Andy Pugsley to hear about their campaign.
|Today I visited Torcross, the Slapton Line
and Beesands to view the damage from Storm Emma.
This afternoon, I was in Brixham for a meeting with local stakeholders about suicide prevention.
Today I visited South Brent to discuss how best to retain Post Office services in the village. I was pleased to meet with members of the local community and from the Parish and District Councils.
This afternoon, I met with Torbay Councillor Mark King to present a petition about the removal of the 67 Bus Route that had been organised by Madge Forrester and assisted by Brixham Councillor David Giles. The Petition was presented to the House of Commons on Tuesday 7th November.
Thanks to Deputy Chief Officers Mat Mander and Sarah Clark of the Devon & Severn Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority for meeting with me today to talk of the work they undertake to manage local marine protected areas and the needs of small commercial fishing vessels.
A great day out at Brixham today at the Fishstock Festival where the new fish quay is transformed overnight for this unique 24-hour food and music festival. An army of volunteer helpers work long hours to turn the state-of-the-art fish market into a fantastic one-day festival venue. The event runs from 10am until midnight on the Saturday, when the volunteer army set about transforming it back into a working fish market as if by magic.... all to raise money for the Fishermen's Mission.
I recently met with Andy Moreman the new Chief Executive of Young Devon at my office in Totnes. I was really interested to hear about the work they do concerning the health and wellbeing of young people, especially in light of the issues of rural isolation we face in this area.
Andy also let me know about kooth.com which is an award winning online counselling and support service owned and managed by Xenzone. They provide free, safe and anonymous online support for young people.
I met with Angela Pedder (Lead Chief Executive – Devon STP) and Mairead McAlinden (Chief Executive – Torbay & South Devon Foundation Trust) at my Totnes office to catch up on health related matters.
I visited local business Ed Fagan Europe down in Kingsbridge to discuss the UK Space capability and participation in EU Space programs. Thank you to Chris Mahn for an illuminating chat.
I started the day with a visit to Torbay Hospital Emergency Department to hear about the great progress they are making. Thank you to all staff and volunteers.
It was good to hear that CQC has assessed Torbay Hospital Urgent and Eemergency Services and the medicine specialties as overall Good.
Another great Totnes Show!
This evening I held an open meeting at Kingsbridge Community College along with Ken Wenman, the Chief Executive of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to listen to the concerns of the community about ambulance response times
This afternoon I met with Dr Derval Harte and Dr Nadia Khatib to discuss sexual health services in Torbay.
This morning I visited the wonderful St John's community café in Bridgetown. Thanks to all the volunteers that make this possible
This morning I attended the stakeholder meeting down in Dartmouth. It was great to catch up with NHS staff and volunteers from across the community at Riverview to discuss progress and potential.
Today I met with Detective Chief Insp Stuart Cavin to discuss my Private Members Bill on stalking.
I met with some of the attendees and volunteers to celebrate the 7th anniversary of the Totnes Memory Cafe and to hear of that it offers to attendees with short term memory loss, and those who are diagnosed with dementia together with their carers.
My first half marathon! Thank you to everyone who supported my fund raising for Rowcroft Hospice. I managed to finish before the roads opened up again. Thank you also to all the marshalls for their support along the way.
I was delighted to attend the completion of the Follaton Oak development. Affordable homes are such a key issue in this constituency with has high house prices relative to average wages and it is great to see such a well thought out development providing affordable homes for the local community.
Thank you to Mark, Tara and John for taking the time to meet with me today to discuss The Torbay End Street Homelessness Campaign's 'Connections week' which runs the week beginning April 24th 2017, where volunteers from the community will go out and survey people sleeping on the streets. They will be trained and supported by experienced staff. The information that is gathered will help to prioritise who is housed first and to better understand what people need to help them move into, and sustain a home.
Alongside this they will be working hard to source accommodation for people to move into and recruiting a Volunteer Co-ordinator, who will support volunteers to visit people as they move into their new homes.
The Council are committed to the campaign, as are many agencies such as Shekinah, Westward Housing, the Street Pastors, Friends of Factory Row, the Police, and many others.
Thank you to Cllr Jacqui Hodgson, Anna Lunk and Kate Wilson for meeting with me today to discuss housing and the Neighbourhood Plans
Thank you to Cllr Simon Wright and David Parkes, Development Specialist at SHDC for taking the time to meet with me today to discuss community housing.
Thank you to SageTech Medical Innovations Ltd in Brixham for a fascinating visit to discuss innovation and the Health Select Committee's Inquiry into Brexit
This evening I met with constituents at an open meeting held at Brixham Theatre. Thank you to all who attended, where we discussed a wide range of topics. I hold open meetings in various parts of the constituency; to learn when my next meeting takes place do phone my office on 01803 868378
The NHS in Devon is working on a five-year plan for health and care services, known as the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). I visited Kingsbridge today to attend one of a series of events where the NHS heard views on the NHS Acute Services. More of these events are being held in the County and more information about further meetings can be found via the following link
I enjoyed catching up today with the volunteers and supporters of Saltstone Caring. Thank you to Elizabeth and the team for all you do to promote the independence, physical and mental well-being of older, isolated or vulnerable people living in Kingsbridge, Salcombe and the surrounding area.
I was pleased to meet with Ian Arrow, HM Coroner to discuss improving support for those using the coroner's system and how we improve the consistency for recording suicides around the country. It is currently difficult to assess the most effective ways of reducing suicide, because of the inconsistencies in the way this is recorded.
I met with Liz Davenport at Torbay Hospital today. As Chief Operating Officer, Liz is responsible for the delivery of health and social care through the Torbay and South Devon NHS.
This afternoon at the Grove School Totnes, I met with Matthew Shanks, Chair of DASH (Devon Association of Secondary Heads) to discuss education in the Totnes constituency. We talked about the recent government consultation around the schools national funding formula and about how this will particularly affect schools in the constituency.
It was a pleasure to visit Froward Point today, one of the National Coastwatch stations, to officially open the improved Visitor Centre and see all the other recent developments at the lookout.
As with other NCI stations, Froward Point is manned by unpaid volunteers who maintain a watch for emergencies at sea and act as a contact point for emergencies on shore.
The station is totally dependent on the generosity of individuals, companies, and other organisations for funding.
This evening, I appeared on BBC Spotlight to discuss the pressure facing our NHS in the South West. I spoke alongside Councillor Claire Wright, Chief Exec of Royal Cornwall Hospital Kathy Byrne, and the Chief Executive of the Success Regime, Angela Pedder.
Today I went to Plymouth to take part in a discussion on winter pressures in the NHS on BBC Radio Devon with David Halpin, Cathy Gardner and David Jenner. We discussed a variety of important health issues, including NHS management, Virgin Care, and administration costs in the NHS.
I met with Richard Westlake, Devon County Council's Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee and his team to discuss health and social care in Devon.
I really welcomed the opportunity to catch up with the Mayor of Torbay and the Executive Committee and other councillors to discuss health and social care in Torbay
I was delighted to meet with Jane English, Principal of Paignton Community and Sports Academy this morning. I know that Jane is retiring next March and that she will be sorely missed.
Jane has made an enormous difference to the lives and education of children across Torbay and I am so pleased this was recognised when she was announced as a Silver Teaching Award Winner in the category of The Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Pearson Teaching Awards 2016. Jane was successfully chosen from thousands of nominations and her outstanding work is most certainly a huge factor in the wonderful Ofsted report that the school has recently received, where it now rates Good in all areas.
Many congratulations to all the staff and students on this success. You can view the new Ofsted report when the website is updated.
This evening I took part in a debate with Will Self, Louise Mensch, Nigel Farage, and Richard Burgon MP. We discussed a large variety of issues from the funding of the NHS to what will happen once we leave the European Union.
Photo Courtesy Chris Slack Photography
Today I was in Brixham and thank you to all who came out to support our small businesses.
Ritula Shah presented Any Questions from the Quarry Theatre at Bedford School with Labour MP Lisa Nandy, the SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, the Deputy Leader of UKIP and London assembly member Peter Whittle and myself in my role as Conservative MP and chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee.
Questions included: The Richmond by-election - should parties on the left form a liberal alliance? Will UKIP win the working class vote from Labour, "Cake and Eat it" plan for brexit? How much would you pay annually for access to the EU single market? animal fat in the new £5 note, Should taxes rise to fund the NHS and social care? (35 minutes into the broadcast) and schools places and immigration.
Kevin Foster MP and I joined a meeting to discuss whether any other proposals could be explored to improve community healthcare in Paignton. The public consultation on the future of community services, including the proposal to close Paignton Community Hospital has now closed and the responses are being analysed by Healthwatch.
No decisions have been made and at the start of the meeting we both repeated our previously stated concerns about the future of services provided by Paignton Hospital. The meeting was held with representatives from across commissioners and providers of healthcare, the League of Friends, local GPs, Torbay Development Agency, Healthwatch and South Devon College to discuss the current and future challenges for primary and community care. The recent Care Quality Commission report and action to place Mears into special measures has highlighted the need to focus on recruiting, training and nurturing our health and care workforce and to make sure that all possible sites and opportunities are explored and considered.
It was wonderful to attend the unveiling of the 'Man and Boy' statue to celebrate our local fisherman and fishing heritage in Brixham.
Man & Boy' was created by local Brixham artist Elisabeth Hadley. Local men, including fellow artist Peter Stride, have modelled for the figures, and the design has been based on an etching called 'The Wheel' by Brixham artist Arthur Briscoe (1873-1943).
After almost a decade of fundraising, it is fantastic to see the project come to fruition.
It was great to be back at South Devon College with NHS Health Education England to discuss new opportunities for care, nursing, and assistant practitioners with students and teachers.
I met this evening with Dartmouth Town Council in an open meeting about the future of our community services and Dartmouth hospital. Thank you to everyone who attended.
I was honoured to join the remembrance parade and service in Dartmouth today. Every name and the scale of their sacrifice for our freedom is to be remembered.
Great to see so many Torbay hi-tech businesses at South Devon College and at Torbay Development Agency inspiring and supporting our future engineers at TechBay 2016
I met with Mark Stone, Devon LPC Project Pharmacist, and Michael Lennox, Chief Executive of Somerset Local Pharmaceutical Committee about community pharmacy and how to provide the best services we can in the area.
Official Community Launch of the Foxhole Community Hub
I was delighted to visit the Foxhole Community Hub today, and tomorrow (Saturday the 5th of November) is the official community launch for the hub. The event starts at 1.00 pm at the following address 103 Foxhole Road, Foxhole, Paignton, TQ1 3SU.
The event will include a free barbecue on the green, a 'Best Guy' competition, face painting, Play Torbay activities for younger guests, apple bobbing, stalls and lots of activities to provide fun for all the family.
Read more about the hub here:
This evening at Dartington, I chaired a discussion on the farming industry post-Brexit with the Chair of the EFRA select committee Neil Parish MP, with Riverford founder Guy Watson, and the NFU Devon County Advisor Andrew Butler. It was a fantastic night with great thought-provoking questions from the audience about what we want from the renegotiations with the European Union.
On October 27 1916, the Salcombe lifeboat, William and Emma, was launched, with fifteen men aboard, to go to the aid of Plymouth schooner, Western Lass that was aground at Lannacombe Bay. The weather was atrocious and the boat managed to cross the notorious Bar at the mouth of Salcombe Harbour. Unbeknownst to the lifeboat crew the Prawle Rocket Company had saved all of the crew and the lifeboat was not in fact needed. A massive wave hit the lifeboat and all the crew were thrown into the sea, only two men survived.
Today on the centenary, the community paid tribute to those brave men whose lives were lost and had an opportunity to thank all of the RNLI who still continue to save lives at sea.
Thank you to everyone for attending the meeting at Stokenham Village Hall.
The range of subjects discussed was wide ranging and it was good to have the opportunity to answer peoples' concerns.
Today I met with the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling to talk about Dawlish railway line and was pleased to hear him pledge that the future of the line is safeguarded.
This afternoon I had a wonderful time at KEVICC talking to students about being an MP and the European Referendum. It was good to meet so many politically engaged students at the college.
Thank you to the staff and the children of Kings Ash Academy for making me feel so welcome this morning at their assembly and for the tour of the school. Thank you also to the Foundation Stage for the wonderful tea and cake!
I attended the first meetings in Dartmouth today of the consultation on the future of our Community Services and Community Hospitals . Thank you to all who attended.
Other meetings will be held and to view the full list of locations and dates please use the following link
It is important for as many people as possible to contribute directly to the consultation as decisions made at the end of this consultation will impact on NHS services for years to come, so it is important that all parts of the community get involved and you can do so through the following website .The consultation ends on the 23rd November 2016.
If you are unable to complete an online submission a paper copy is available on request by writing to South Devon and Torbay CCG, Pomona House, Torquay, TQ2 7FF, or calling 01803 652511.
It was great to be in Kingswear today to share views on Brexit, trade, education and the NHS
Thank you to everyone who came to my open meeting at South Brent this evening and to John and the Parish Plan team
Thank you to Totnes Probus for inviting me to speak about life in Parliament and for sharing views on Brexit, NHS, local consultation on community services, junior doctors and much more.
Today I was delighted to attend the Passing Out ceremony at Britannia Royal Naval College.
This afternoon I visited Torbay Hospital to catch up with the Chief Executive, Mairead McAlinden and Chairman, Sir Richard Ibbotson.
This morning I was pleased to visit Brixham to meet with a group of local traders to discuss the impact of the local market on trade.
I was in Dartmouth this afternoon when I met with the community hospital team, Dartmouth surgery, ICO, Dartmouth Caring and Rowcroft for views on future of vital services.
I met with Doctors at Leatside Surgery today where we discussed the GP Forward View, training, sustainability and workforce challenges
Thanks to Dr Cathryn Edwards, the President Elect of British Society of Gastroenterology for coming to talk about gastroenterology and patient care.
After hearing views from constituents about their experiences of ESA assessments, I visited a Maximus Health and Disability Assessment Centre.
Great to be in Moreleigh today for a community barbecue and celebrating local affordable homes.
Thank you to everyone who came to the South Hams Community Hospital meeting today and for commitment to joint working and tackling boundary issues
This afternoon I held an open meeting at the Dartmouth Guild Hall to discuss issues of local and national importance.
Love Your Local Market!
It was good to catch up with Nigel this morning at Totnes Market to talk about everything coconuts!
Markets play a key role in the British High Street and both Totnes and Kingsbridge markets help to boost local economy, enterprise and confidence. Markets offer so much more than just a shopping experience. Make sure you visit your local market soon.
Thank you to Annabelle for the great presentation launching the domestic violence awareness project today.
Project DAVE (Domestic Abuse Victim Equality) is run independently by young people in Brixham. The project aims to create a series of posters that raise awareness of domestic abuse victims, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
To make an appointment to meet with me to discuss local or national concerns please telephone 01803 868378
Thank you to John Duffin for organising the Mencap Conference today and for the support of Healthwatch
I spent the rest of the day meeting with Dartmouth Medical Practice, Stakeholders and finished by visiting Dartmouth Hospital.
Today I attended South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group's Governing Body meeting which approved proposals to change NHS resources from bed-based hospital care to health and wellbeing teams that support people within their local communities, as close to their homes as possible.
NHS England, which leads the National Health Service, will consider the proposals next month. If it approves them, consultation will run for 12 weeks, giving people across South Devon and Torbay an opportunity to comment and the CCG will host a series of public meetings across South Devon and Torbay, where people will be able to hear the proposals in detail and feedback their views.
You may be interested to read my blog on community hospitals.
|Thank you to Bart Johnson
(Chief Executive of Virgin Care) and Jayne Carroll , Regional Director of Operations Devon Integrated Children's Services for taking the time to come and see me today and for giving me an update on their services.
Another Advice Surgery in Totnes. People come to see me for a variety of reasons; to speak on local or national interests or to seek advice on more personal issues. Please telephone 01803 868378 to make an appointment at my next surgery.
Thank you to everyone for attending my surgery at Brixham Conservative Club today.
If you would like to meet with me at one of my various surgeries please telephone 01803 868378 to make an appointment
I visited Brixham Theatre today to see for myself the progress that has been made over the last 4 years. Brixham Theatre is run by BATS, Brixham Arts & Theatre Society, which is a management company, fully registered and is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.
Their brief is to act as the planners, developers and operators of Brixham Theatre and to foster the arts and culture through the Brixham peninsula and beyond. They are all volunteers, with the exception of a skilled theatre technician. Several volunteers have come as widows and widowers and have found solace and companionship within the theatre's non-threatening environment.
For more information please check out their website
|I met today with Dr Nick Roberts (CCO, South Devon & Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group) and Mairead McAlinden (CEO at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust)|
|Thank you to David for taking the time to show me round his farm today.|
Thank you to the Federation of Small Businesses that came to meet me today to discuss government policies and how they affect small businesses.
I met today with Sue White, Chair Healthwatch Devon and Nick Pennell Chair of Healthwatch Plymouth to discuss their working partnership.
I visited Dartmouth Hospital today and caught up with with the hard working staff.
I was very pleased to cut the ribbon at the RNLI Visitor Centre in Dartmouth today.
It was good to catch up today with Sophie Hosking, Executive Director for the Service Delivery and Commercial Development and Steve Jorden, Head of Paid Service and Executive Director for the Strategy and Commissioning at South Hams District Council.
A packed Advice Surgery today. Should you wish to meet to discuss local or national concerns, please call 01803 868378 to arrange an appointment.
This evening I spoke on mental health and policing at a meeting held by Alison Hernandez, the Conservative Candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall.
Thank you to Councillors and the team at South Hams District Council, Devon County Council, the Environment Agency and the Slapton Line Partnership for meeting today to discuss the work in and around Torcross. The organisations are working together to bring about a resolution. Updates on their progress can be found on the Slapton Line Partnership website.
Thank you to everyone who attended my open meeting at Dartmouth Guildhall this evening; I was just sorry that we ran out of chairs!
I met with Kate Reed from Network of Wellbeing to discuss the plans to organise a Share Shop in Totnes. Instead of books this would be a library of things, which people can borrow and could be garden tools, a sewing machine, camping or leisure equipment or even a chocolate fountain. Things not needed every day, which we could share. This would allow people to use things they may not be able to afford, helping people de-clutter their garages of what they no longer want to keep and reducing the impact on the environment by sharing.
This afternoon I met with the Environment Agency, Devon County Council, South Hams District Council, Councillors and home owners to discuss what can be done to protect our local coastline after the recent storm damage.
Photograph by kind permission of Pat Nettleton
RISE Recovery, is a partnership between Addaction and EDP Drug & Alcohol Services, was launched in April 2014, to provide drug and alcohol support across Devon. Today it was good to meet the fantastic team at Newton Abbot and thank them for helping people struggling with addiction across the County
On my visit to Torcross and Slapton today it was worrying to see these breaches in the sea defences.
I visited Slapton Ley Field Centre today and met with Andy Pratt and MaryAnn where I heard about The Year of Fieldwork and how out-of-classroom learning experiences are increasingly being recognised across the curriculum as a tool in raising standards and skills in participants of all ages.
I joined South Brent Primary for their lunch today and saw the role school food plays in health and nutrition. The children are also learning how to grow their own vegetables.
Thank you to Jim Nye, Holly Woodford and Matt Evans for coming to see me to discuss Active Devon the County Sports Partnership (CSP) for Devon, one of a network of 43 CSPs across England. As a CSP, Active Devon provides a set of core services for Sport England to the sports sector, including over 46 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport, and plays a key role in the delivery of Sport England and other governmental initiatives and programmes.
Today I attended the Christmas Market at the Manor Inn Galmpton. Thank you to Chris and Jonathan for organising this event and thank you to Lynsey and all the fundraisers who made this day so successful.
|I met today with Dr Nick Roberts, the Chief Clinical Officer for Torbay and Southern Devon CCG and Mairead McAlinden the Chief Executive of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust|
I was at Marldon Primary School this morning where I saw some of the posters designed by the children to make people speed aware.
Congratulations to all the prize winners on their "20 is plenty" campaign for road safety.
Thank you to Jennifer for her wonderful snail poster!
Thank you to residents, Sue Gooding and all of the team at St Kildas for making me so welcome and for your great work.
Thanks to Tony Rose and Beshlie from South Devon and Channel Shellfishermen for coming to share views on Bass fishing and more prior to the Fishing Debate on Thursday.
Thanks to Anna and Dave for coming to update me on the Totnes Community Development Society' project at the Dairy Crest site. Details are now on display along with all the documents associated with the draft Community Right to Build Order submission at the Atmos Totnes Hub until the 20th December.
Do look at these plans and have your say before the consultation closes on the 20th December.
|Today was the official opening of the South Brent Community Fitness Centre. After a year of planning and fund raising this project "Fit for the Future" with partners, South Dartmoor Academy has come to fruition. There is an amazing community gym and Bike Bank. Thanks to Ross, Mike, volunteers and donors for making this happen.|
Thanks Norton Brook surgery, Kingsbridge for sharing views today from the front line in primary care.
Lovely to catch up with the team at South Hams Hospital and League of Friends; their work is so valued by the community
So many people have been helped by Rowcroft Hospice which serves the people of South Devon by providing specialist care to patients with progressive, life limiting illnesses. Today I met with their amazing lymphoedema team. Thank you for inviting me and giving me a lovely tour of the site.
Thank you to all the farming community and to David and Helen for hosting an informative farm visit on the issues which currently face our farming industry.
As ever it was both an honour and a humbling experience to be part of the parade from Kings Quay, Brixham today. Thank you to Izzie Lomas for making the wonderful poppies.
Thank you to David Whitton, the Head of Devon Highways for taking the time to meet with me to discuss our roads; here is a link to their FAQ web page. Highways are responsible blocked and flooded drains, they maintain fences, barriers and streetlights and deal with broken manhole covers and trip hazards. With winter weather on the horizon, we also discussed the subject of potholes and these can now be reported to DCC via the following link.
Wonderful day at Dartmouth Food Festival, this is an annual festival celebrating all things food and wine. There is the added benefit is that it is free to enjoy, a day out for all the family!
I was in Totnes today where I managed to enjoy a wonderful sugar fee beetroot cake at Amalie's Deli, thank you Sally for fundraising for Macmillan.
I met up with Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Hogg to discuss police funding.
This morning I was pleased to attend the Giving Back Launch in Totnes, thank you to everyone who helps those in need in the town. The Giving Back Scheme is run by volunteers and so 100% of any donation goes directly to support the homeless and those in need in Totnes. You can donate the price of a cup of coffee or meal at several of the Totnes cafes and restaurants.
I had a wonderful time at the Malborough Show today, thank you to everyone who came along to support this annual community event. It was good to hear so many views about the latest political news, but of special interest were some of the entries, especially in the children's and monster vegetable section!
Thank you to Dr Andy Smith, Executive Medical Director of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust for meeting with me today. It was good to catch up and hear about their work.
I held an open meeting at St John's Church in Bridgetown to discuss issues of local and national importance. Thank you to everyone who came along.
This morning I held a constituency surgery at my office in Totnes. In order to make an appointment please call 01803 868 378.
Today was another surgery in Totnes. Please call my office on 01803 868 378 to make an appointment if you would like to discuss concerns of local or national importance.
This morning I was pleased to catch up with Asst Chief Constable Sharon Taylor of the Devon and Cornwall Police to discuss mental health issues.
This afternoon there was another busy surgery at my Totnes office. Please call 01803 868 378 to make an appointment.
This morning I was pleased to meet with Chris Garcia Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership to discuss their strategic economic plan for the region.
I was delighted to visit Lupton House in Brixham today to celebrate the award the South Devon Dementia Learning Community have received from the British Medical Journal for their work. Many congratulations to everyone involved.
Thank you to Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Devon's Public Health and Sarah Jennings to discuss Natural Devon's Naturally Healthy work.
I met today with Stephen Waite, the Chief Executive of Plymouth Community Healthcare CIC when we discussed a wide range of topics
Thank you to Brixham Conservative Club for hosting my Advice Surgery this afternoon.
Please telephone 01803 868378 for details of my next Advice Surgery
This morning I held an Advice Surgery at Totnes, If you would like an appointment to discuss local or national concerns please telephone 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Today I made a return visit to King's Ash Academy, Paignton to meet with Head Teacher Suzie Franklin and Governor Wendy Burridge
I met today with the inspirational charity,
The Daisy Garland, started by Sara and David Garland in memory of their daughter Daisy who died in her sleep at the age of 6 from SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy patients). The Daisy Garland work tirelessly, offering help and support some of the 18,000 children in the UK who suffer from drug resistant epilepsy.
In the last 11 years they have funded 13 specialist Daisy Garland ketogenic dietitians to work within NHS hospitals countrywide, successfully treating children with difficult to control epilepsy. Each full-time dietitian costs c.£46,000 p.a. to fund.
In the addition to the above they also provide grants for night-time breathing (SATs/epilepsy) monitors for use in the home, reducing the risk of SUDEP. Each SATs monitor retails at £880 and they have provided over 243 monitors, keeping children safe at night while they sleep.
For further information about The Daisy Garland and the important work they do for children with drug resistant epilepsy, please contact Sara Garland on 01803 847999 or via email email@example.com
There is a simple way to support this charity without it costing you an extra penny, simply use their website to shop on Amazon as they will earn a commission on your purchase; just visit their website www.thedaisygarland.org.uk for more details of this wonderful charity.
Wonderful day at Hope Cove and thank you to everyone who turned out to support the fundraising lunch in aid of Macmillan Support.
Thank you to everyone for attending todays's Advice Surgery at Quay House, Kingsbridge. If you would like an appointment to meet with me to discuss local or national issues or personal concerns, please telephone 01803 868378.
It was lovely to visit two great surgeries in Brixham today, to discuss NHS workforce challenges, community hospitals and 7 day NHS.
The new term started with a busy surgery in Totnes. If you would like to meet please contact 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
Last day on the campaign trail
Judith and Laura
Sandy Brixham Sewing Box
|Debbie and Judith Buccaneer Boutique||
President of Brixham Rugby Club
Catching up with Brixham's famous Mr Brown
Geoff at Hillhead
|View over Brixham Harbour||
Rosemary & Jonathan at Hillhead
Mandy and Paul
Thanks to Chris for the feedback
With the one and only Paignton Poet!
Wonderful Rattery Plant Sale at the Village Hall today; thanks to Alison Rachel & Angela for a great community fundraising plant sale.
Thanks Alexis for joining the canvassing team in Paignton today
It was good to see so many people at the Manor Inn, Galmpton today and congratulations to Chris and the team for raising over £1700 for Children's Hospice Southwest!
In Brixham with the team!
John of the Bay Coffee Company
Barry & the Brixham Angels
With Adam Billings
Keith of KabaBaboo
About in Brixham
A well attended hustings at the Scala Hall, Brixham tonight, thank you to everyone for their contribution.
Thank you to The Bolton, Brixham for hosting a drop in meeting venue.
|Thank you to everone who attended the "speed dating" hustings this evening at the South Devon Arts Centre.|
Thank you to Jonny Waller for hosting a drop in surgery at the Old Bakery, Totnes
Happy Birthday Jack!
With Julian at Julian Crowe Upholstery
Good to catch up with Sean of Annies, Totnes
Back at Fat Lemons
Allan Evans first Devonian to gain a diploma in butchery. Luscombes
Mike at Harberton
|John Tucker and Rupert Hancock|
I was at Townstal Community Hall today. Thank you to everyone for an interesting discussion.
Gary and team at the Avon Inn Avonwick
Ramblers at Avonwick
Out and about in South Brent
|On the campaign trail with Robert Steer and Peter Smerdon|
Lovely to catch up with Carl from the Oak, South Brent and thanks to everyone who came to share views
Donna and team and Crumbs & Cuppa South Brent
With David Thomas, Vicky & residents to discuss the problems with the proposed access at Old Horsefield
Tramp & Bill will need to move in September when the Horsefield is no more, can anyone offer grazing nr Torbay? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
|Amazing breakfast thanks to the team at Foxhole Community Centre||
Good to catch up with Wendy at FCC
Please come and join the teams at Foxhole & Great Parks. Great free training opportunities for volunteers. Book via Sophie on 07713453861
Great way to end the day at the Church House Inn Stoke Gabriel
Great coffee and decor at the Curator Cafe
Arabella of Beaumont & Brown
Bob with Harvey "head of security"
With Bob outside the Church House Inn Marldon
Mrs Greenalgh volunteers & cares for Marldon's wonderful
Stopping by at Torcross on the way to Sherford for the hustings; good to see so much shingle still in the right place
Slapton Sands by the Memorial Tank
|Community Club||Food Club in the kitchen|
Thank you to Nigel Way
George Hardy & David Shaw
Sarah's banner on the Dart! Thank you Teddy!
Dan Simpson, Dartmouth Market
Sarah and Sarah at Danielli Boutique
Rob Giles, Harbour Master
Eddie in Brixham!
Many thanks to those who joined me at the Brixham Conservative Club.
This evening I attended the Leading Women UK's Political Special 2015. The event was held at the Venus Cafe, Blackpool Sands.
Michael & Louise Smith
Owners of the Venus Cafe
Thank you to all who attended
Happy 5th Birthday to Coasters Coffee
Kingsbridge in Bloom with Rufus Gilbert
Mr & Mrs Forbes of the Meeting Room Cafe
Sheena Ford of Bella Borsa Handbags
Herring Shoes with Emma, Suzanne and Claire
Jayne & Kevin Brooking of Occasional Cards
Mayne Gallery with Jayne and sculpture by James Portsmouth
David Hanmer of Toad Hall Cottages
Emily of Bocchinelli Kitchen Shop
Club Secretary Emma Peacock
Val King, Chair
Today I was at ASDA in Paignton with Kevin Foster the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Torbay and Dave Thomas where I met with ASDA staff and constituents from around the area.
Stephen Little, ASDA & Kevin Foster the PCC for Torbay
Dave Thomas, Dan and Nyssa
Michelle at Phab, Brixham
Thanks to everyone who dropped by today to meet with me, Rosemary Rowe, Jonathan Hawkins and Hilary Bastone.
Thank you to the Holne Village Shop and Tea Rooms for allowing me to use their wonderful premises today.
|Holne Village Shop and Tea Rooms||Great to catch up with Simon & volunteers at Holne tea rooms & village shop|
Discussing the value of science with Prof Des Sheridan in Holne
Wonderful moorland views from Holne today
In the Gazebo at Brixham
|Stefan and the catch of the day!|
|A political grilling at Brixham Rugby Club|
|Cycling matters to first time voter Ashley||Political & gardening tips from Colin|
Sarah & Amy Stoke Fleming Primary School
Wonderful new playhouse!
Unexpected prickly visitor to the playhouse
|King Billy presiding over Brixham||Barbara in Brixham||
All aboard the Golden Hind!
I was at the Over 60's Centre, Victoria Quay, Salcombe today
Thank you to the Island Street Bar & Grill for the use of their premises
Rowcroft Tea Rooms
Rowcroft Tea Rooms
Leigh and Polly
Rowcroft Tea Rooms
|Thanks to Jon at the Manor Inn for the use of the premises to meet the local community||Thank you to Gary & Kay at the heart of Galmpton since 1993 at Galleon Stores & Post Office|
Campaigning in Blatchcombe
Great to meet Chris and his team at S Devon's CAMRA pub of the year 2014, Queens Arms
Discussing the challenges facing carers especially in rural areas
Thank you Reg for your gardening tips; wonderful view overlooking lovely Slapton Ley!
Michael and John
Thanks to the Canvassing Team
Out and about in Bridgetown
John Hall discussing recycling
Julian Dorey, Kingsbridge Dental Laboratory
Sam at the Information Centre
Lucy & Phil, Harbour House Cafe
Gill Dyson Dodbrooke Inn
Overlooking Kingsbridge with Rufus Gilbert
Learning to play Euchre!
Many congratulations to all of the Committee at the Tally Ho Inn, Littlehemston for their extraordinary achievement. They are now into their second year as a community pub. Well done!
This morning was my last surgery of this Parliament in my office at the Totnes Conservative Club!
Thank you to all who attended.
This morning I was delighted to visit South Devon College to celebrate their Employee Benefits Beacon Award for Health and Well-being. I was so pleased to be able to attend a say a few words in support of the college and about all the excellent work they do for young people in the area.
This morning I held a constituency surgery at my office above the Totnes Conservative Club. Thank you to everyone who took the time to come and meet with me.
Today I held a surgery at my office above the Totnes Conservative Club. Thank you to everyone who came along to discuss issues of both local and national importance.
This afternoon I held an Open Meeting at the Pavilion of the Brixham Cricket Club, many thanks to all who attended for making this a lively and packed discussion, where a wide range of subjects were discussed including pensions, continuing care, road and rail, overseas aid, immigration, English votes for English Laws etc.
Today I met with the RSPB and Devon Wildlife to hear a recent success story for South Devon. 25 years ago there were just 118 breeding pairs of the lovely cirl bunting left in England. Now, thanks to a recovery project led by the RSPB and local farmers, there are nearly 1000 and the species has been reintroduced to Cornwall. BBC Tweet of the Day
This morning I went to Torcross to review the recent works and hear about the long term plans to protect Slapton Line
I have received a copy of the Technical Briefing with regard to the Torcross Shingle Recycling and you can read this below:-
Why the need for Shingle Recycling?
The sea defence at Torcross is designed to withstand storm waves to protect homes, which it did successfully during the 1 in 60 year storms in early 2014. However, its design is based on waves breaking on to the revetment (the sloped retaining wall in the diagram) with the wave return wall acting as a barrier.
If the beach level drops significantly in front of the structure, the metal piling at the toe of the wall is forced to act as a wave return wall at low tide. Whilst this will not cause the structure to fail, we know that the wave action accelerates beach loss and the 'toe' piling suffers accelerated wear as a result of shingle "blasting". This has long term maintenance and life expectancy implications for the structure.
The objective of the shingle recycling1 programme, was to bring the beach level up so that the metal piling was covered and not exposed to wear from direct wave action.
It is not uncommon for the piling to become exposed at Torcross, as a result of storms changing the beach levels. Usually, the beach level will recover to some degree following storm events as is the way with this natural cycle.
After the storms in early 2014, the beach level was monitored regularly but after the summer period and heading into autumn, it was apparent that the beach levels had not recovered as much or as quickly as was hoped.
As a result of the continuing and prolonged low beach levels at Torcross and a surplus of beach material being available at the northern end of Slapton beach, a decision was made to replenish levels by transporting shingle. It was possible to fund this work from additional, one-off funding which central government made available to Risk Management Authorities for the repair of flood defences following the winter 2013/14 floods and storms. To ensure public money is spent in the best way, the outcome of the recycling project will be monitored but future beach recycling is dependent on funding being available if beach levels drop in the future
Why did the shingle move after it was placed?
As the beach is only accessible from one end it was decided that the best way to get the shingle down onto the beach was to run it along the top of the defences as high as possible on the sea defence to create a "haul road" (see picture 1) well above the tide.
Once that was complete and sufficient volume of material was placed along the length of the defence it needed to be spread to a more natural angle on the beach where it could fulfil its function of protecting the toe piling.
Rather than do this by machine, we simply let nature do it for us, and it did so very quickly! The result was a rise in beach levels of around 1.6m, completely protecting the toe piling (picture 2). Detailed topographical surveys at low tide show how the shingle has spread out beyond the low tide mark at the natural angle of repose of the beach. A volume check of this survey, revealed that after the shingle had spread, roughly the same volume that we imported was present on the beach.
Picture 1 – Haul road Picture 2 – Result of shingle recycling
We're now nearly ten years into the 30 years of further life predicted for the Slapton Line A379 road by the specialist engineering consultants' report (Scott Wilson) which recommended moving some sections of the road inland together with shingle movement in order to achieve this.
As recommended by the report, its recommendations are periodically revised to assess what has changed in the past ten years including beach recession rates, storm severity, as well as government policy and available funding. This review is planned to take place in early 2015.
Thank you to the residents of Salt Quay Moorings for inviting me to their homes to discuss their concerns.
I attended a Future Homes Conference today at Dartington Hall; thank you to the Town Council and Transition Town Totnes for such an interesting Meeting.
Today, I held an Advice Surgery at Quay House in Kingsbridge, if you would like to meet to discuss your concerns please telephone 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
I met with Rob Hopkins when the Totnes Community Development Society opened the doors of the Atmos Totnes Hub for 2 days of consultation. Over that time, 250 people passed through and shared their thoughts towards a site design for the former Dairy Crest site. It was an example of how communities can design something amazing.
Today I met with the Vaughan Lindsay the Chief Executive of the Dartington Trust; it was good to hear about their future plans.
Another busy surgery today ay my Totnes Office. If you would like to meet to discuss local or national issues or personal concerns please do contact my office on 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
It was great to see the Chancellor in Devon today supporting jobs in the South West; 52% fall in unemployment in Totnes since General Election
Today I met Paul Wragg at my Advice Surgery. Paul suffers from Sjogrens syndrome and he wrote the following piece for my website:-
I want others to know how hard it is to live with Sjogrens Syndrome day by day, hour by hour. Sjorgens is rare effecting only 3-4% of people in the UK and it is more common in the female population than the males. This debilitating disease is not picky about its victims. Sjogrens Syndrome is a Chronic Autoimmune Disease where the bodies white blood cells attack the moisture producing glands throughout the body, causing them to dry out these can be the saliva glands and the tear ducts as well as the lungs causing very dry mouth, eyes and lungs along with other parts of the body.
Symptoms range from extreme fatigue, joint pain, enlarged glands, muscle pain, irritation of the nerves in the arms, hands, legs and feet, Thyroid abnormalities, skin rashes, memory loss and confusion, numbness and tingling, gastrointestinal problems inflammation of body organs, along with increased risk of cancer in the lymphatic tissue's.
Education about Sjogrens Syndrome not only helps those effected but helps those around them understand what Sjogrens Syndrome patients are going through. Please help me in my mission to shine a light on Sjogrens Syndrome and raise awareness. If you would like to contact me to talk or if you have Sjogrens Syndrome and feel alone in suffering please email me at: Lfcmad64@hotmail.com
Here are a few links to websites with more information about Sjogrens Syndrome.
Thank you to everyone who attended Kingsbridge Leisure Centre to discuss the NHS. Thank you also to Rebecca Harriott of New Devon CCG and the many volunteers who helped to clarify some of the misconceptions that are being spoken about.
Following a constructive round table event today to discuss Galmpton Warborough (Churston) Common, where I met with community representatives, Council and the police, we are now seeking your views on how best to prevent or reduce the damage caused by annual encampments. Last year, the clear up costs were over £4,000, not including legal bills.
If you would like to discuss the options and voice your opinion, do join the Friends of Galmpton Common, representatives from the police and the Community Partnership who will be at the drop-in sessions on 7th and 8th February at Galmpton Village Hall between 10am and 2pm
This morning I held a surgery at my office above the Totnes Conservative Club. To make an appointment please call 01803 868378.
This afternoon I held an open meeting at Foxhole Community Centre. Thank you to everyone who came along and also to Alison Kenny, Head of Neighbourhood Partnerships at Sanctuary Housing for being there to answer some housing concerns.
Thank you to everyone who attended my Advice Surgery in Totnes today. If you would like to discuss local or national concerns, please telephone 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
Thirteen years ago the local community at Holne became involved with an affordable housing project, the houses have now been completed and it was a pleasure to meet up with Malcolm outside his new home.
Thank you to everyone who attended my open meeting at Holne Village Hall today, many subjects were discussed including issues with Broadband; thank you to Paul from BT who heard constituents' concerns.
Another busy surgery. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to attend my Advice Surgery. If you would like an appointment, please call 01803 868378 .
I was honoured to join Brixham in remembering the courage and service of our armed forces past and present
Thank you to Michelle Concannon and her team at the Dartmouth Yorkshire Building Society for their fundraising efforts for so many local charities. Here are just 5 of the charities receiving their cheques.
Dartmouth Sea Cadets
Food Bank Cookery Club
This afternoon I held an Open Meeting at Stokenham Village Hall, a variety of subjects were discussed from housing and transport through to immigration and health. Thank you to all for attending.
Thank you to everyone who attended my open meeting at Kingsbridge Market Hall today. My open meetings are an opportunity to discuss local and national concerns. Please do contact my office (01803 868378) for details of a meeting scheduled near you.
I hold Advice Surgeries throughout the year, today I held another surgery in Totnes. Please do contact my office on 01803 868378 for future dates.
This morning I attended an Open Church Day at St Michaels and All Angels Church in Loddiswell, this church is of the 14th century and today was part of their annual gift week. Thank you to the volunteers for all of their hard work.
Thank you to the teachers and children for making me feel so welcome today at Loddiswell Primary School!
Thank you to everyone for attending the Open Meeting today at Loddiswell. A variety of subjects were discussed including affordable housing, traffic and road signage.
I am having open meetings throughout the constituency, so please telephone my office 01803 868378 for dates and venues near you.
This morning another busy Advice Surgery. If you would like to meet to discuss concerns or local and national issues, please telephone my office to make an appointment 01803 868378
I visited South Hams Business Park today, I was so sorry to see the devastating effects of last night's fire on local businesses. Thank you to the firefighters for their hard work in getting this fire under control.
Thank you to all those who turned out for a buoyant Party Conference and for helping to lead and shape the political debate.
This morning I held a surgery at my offices at the Totnes Conservative Club. To make a surgery appointment call my office on 01803 868378.
At one of the appointments at my Advice Surgery today, I discussed the imminent launch of the electronic Totnes Pound; this will make it easier to help our local economy. If you would like to meet to discuss a local or national concern, please telephone my office on 01803 868378 to make a surgery appointment.
Today I held a surgery at my offices at the Totnes Conservative Club. To make a surgery appointment call my office on 01803 868378.
Thank you to Ian and Jennie Jones for their hospitality; it was good to catch up with some of the residents of Stoke Gabriel
My Totnes office was the venue for today's Advice Surgery; thank you to everyone who came to talk to me with their concerns. If you would like to meet with me, please telephone 01803 868378 to arrange an appointment
I was delighted to welcome the Chief Executive of NHS England, Mr Simon Stevens, to the constituency after inviting him to come to discuss the importance of community hospitals and the voluntary sector to the NHS.
I arranged for a number of meetings to be held at Dartmouth Community Hospital, hosted by Matron Nadine Brooks. The morning started with a tour of the hospital, followed by meetings with local Matrons, commissioners and representatives from Devon's Leagues of Friends about the value of community hospitals and how they could expand their role.
Mr Stevens heard how, in rural areas, community hospitals are key as long distances and weak transport links increase the need for people to be able to access excellent care as close to their own homes as possible.
Mr Stevens spoke about the need to use community hospitals fully and effectively and took away several concerns raised both locally and nationally around the issues of inpatient beds, increasing access to clinics and services such as investigations and minor injuries units, ownership and the difficulties with recruitment.
Powerful representations were made to Mr Stevens from voluntary groups representing a range of bodies supporting people across South Devon about the value they add to help keep vulnerable people living well at home. He also heard about the rising demand on their services and increasing complexity of issues at a time when access to long term funding is under great pressure.
This was an opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by local charities when applying for NHS and social care funding and the need for these processes to be simplified. For small local groups, Mr Stevens and local commissions from across health and social care heard that the pressure and complexity of repeated grant applications is becoming an intolerable burden with valuable volunteers' time taken up trying to compete with national organisations which may have no local presence in South Devon. The difficulty in quantifying the value added by volunteers was acknowledged as well as the impact that loss of voluntary sector partners would have not just on individuals but in adding costs to the wider NHS and social care.
Suggestions for different commissioning strategies for voluntary groups were discussed as well as the advantages of nurturing voluntary organisations and reducing bureaucracy and keeping them flexibility to meet local needs. Representatives from the Clinical Commissioning Groups stressed that they recognise the value of the voluntary sector and are trying to utilise their experience. Staff from the Care Trusts also noted that they could not do without the support from the various Leagues of Friends.
I am so pleased that Simon Stevens came to visit Dartmouth to hear about the importance of community hospitals and the voluntary sector to Devon. He heard a clear and consistent message about the importance of stable core funding for the work of the voluntary sector. NHS and social care commissioners need to make it easier for these vital groups to apply for grants so that the funds go to those who are actually delivering the services in our local communities. It is evident that a small amount of money in the voluntary sector goes a very long way. I would like to thank all our volunteers for the extraordinary service they give both to individuals and to our communities.
The following volunteers met with Mr Stevens and myself:
I was pleased to attend another packed meeting at Marldon Village Hall with people coming to see me to discuss their concerns over local and national issues. I will be holding open meetings at various locations in the future. Do phone my office 01803 868378 for details of a meeting near you.
Today I met with Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health and Jennie Stephens, Devon's Strategic Director for People Services, to discuss adult social care and health provision.
Thank you to everyone who came to today's packed open meeting at Malborough Village Hall (including Jack the Jack Russell)!
An Advice Surgery at my office in Totnes today. If you have concerns on a local and national issue and would like to meet to discuss in person, please telephone my constituency office on 01803 868378.
I met today with Dr John Lowes, the Interim Chief Executive of Torbay Hospital
A busy surgery in the centre of Brixham, thank you to the Brixham Conservative Club for providing the venue. For details of my next surgery please telephone 01803 868378.
I met with Chris Loughlin, the Chief Executive of SWW today at Brockenbury Water Treatment Works
Thank you to Sandy and Rufus Gilbert for hosting an event to meet the GB rowers where we got to hear about their incredible row around Great Britain.
Thank you to the organisers of the Thurlestone Buckland and Bantham Church Fete for arranging such a wonderful event!
Thank you to everyone for taking the time to attend the Open Meeting at South Milton Village Hall. Another well attended event with a wide range of topics addressed.
Wonderful weather for the Totnes Conservative Club's Annual Fete!
Another Advice Surgery in Totnes today. If you have concerns that you would like to discuss, please telephone 01803 868378 to make an appointment in a future surgery.
Thank you to everyone who turned up today to join me at Dartington Village Hall for an open meeting. It was an opportunity to discuss a wide range of subjects from the NHS, housing, roads, assisted dying, CAMHS, renewable energy, through to fracking and more.
A very busy Totnes Advice Surgery today. If you would like to make an appointment at a future surgery to discuss a matter that concerns you please telephone 01803 868378.
This afternoon another busy day meeting with constituents at one of my advice surgeries, this time in Totnes. If you would like an appointment to come and discuss an issue of concern, please telephone 01803 868378.
Thank you to all who attended my open meeting at Harberton Village Hall today. A wide range of issues were discussed and if you wish to attend one of my open meetings that I will be holding in and around the constituency in the future, please do contact my office 01803 868378 fo further details.
Thank you to all that attended the South West Energy Centre today where a meeting was held to discuss 21st Century Skills; this was an opportunity for employers to discuss the wide ranging issues on developing the skills needed to grow and sustain businesses across the region as well as receiving information on funding and grants. Thank you to Barclays Bank for their sponsorship of this event and to the Torbay Development Agency for their support and to Fiona Parsons of the National Apprenticeship Service who arranged and co-ordinated the meeting.
Another busy Advice Surgery in Totnes. To book an appointment please telephone 01803 868378. I am always interested to hear your concerns or to discuss local or national issues.
This morning I visited Blackawton Village. Thank you to Sue and Jo and their volunteers for their work in the Blackawton Community Shop. This local shop and Post office provides a wealth of goods, fair trade, organic and homemade produce, well worth a visit!
It was then on to an open meeting in the Village Hall. Thank you to the many people that turned out to discuss local and national issues.
Shoalstone Pool is one of a few outdoor seawater swimming pools remaining in the country and was built on the site of a natural rock pool that people used for bathing in 1896. In 1926 the Pool was altered to more or less the same shape as it is now. The Friends of Shoalstone Pool work tirelessly each year to ensure the pool is available for use during the summer months and today saw the pool reopening in all its glory. Thank you to Mark Portwood and all the volunteers who make this possible.
Thank you to all the volunteers who organise and run BrixFest; this is a true community event for the benefit of everyone in the town and for visitors too! There was something for everyone.
Keith very kindly showed me how to tie a bowline knot that never slips, comes loose or breaks under pressure; essential for politics!
Thank to everyone who visited my Advice Surgery today; if you would like an appointment to discuss your concerns on local or national issues please contact 01803 868378
Wonderful to see so many people at the Devon County Show today. Thank you to everyone, the organisers, volunteers and exhibitors for showcasing Devon at its finest! It was great to meet Nina Davey from the Community Service Volunteers, welcoming everyone who likes sociable walking
Thank you to all of the pupils for taking part in the "Postcard from Devon" competition. There were some wonderful pictures!
No one knows quite how old 'the Tally' is in Littlehempston, only that life just wasn't the same when she closed down. Wonderful news that the community came together to buy their pub, the Tally Ho and it was a great delight to be there to cut the ribbon. Congratulations and thanks to the many volunteers who made it happen
Our maritime heritage owes so much to the amateur archaeologists from SWMAG. Of just over 60 protected wrecks off our coast, three lie within a short distance of Gara Rock. One of the most spectacular vantage points on the coast path is from the Gara Rock Hotel which now hosts a plaque describing these wrecks. It was wonderful to meet Ron Howell and the team which retrieved an extraordinary haul of gold coins, now saved for the nation in the British museum. For anyone with an interest in maritime archaeology please click here.
It was wonderful to attend the opening of Totnes Museum's wonderfully restored Physic Garden.
A secret garden to explore down the alley next to the Museum and free for everyone to enjoy.
A real Totnes treasure and a tribute to all the volunteers who have created it.
This morning I was delighted to speak to the Brixham Ladies Forum about a range of issues. I just hope they enjoyed my quiz on the suffragettes!
Thank you to Nadhim Zahawi MP for taking the time to visit Totnes where he met with a range of local businesses at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel. One of Nadhim's responsibilities is to make sure businesses have the chance to feed back into the policy making process. He met with many representatives from the business sector, covering tourism, the hospitality trade and manufacturers producing parts for sectors as diverse as satellites to racing cars and lorries and vibrant small and micro businesses.
Thank you to Fisheries Minister George Eustice for interrupting his busy schedule to visit Brixham today. It was an early start at the Fish Market to see the variety of fish on sale. He was then able to meet with various groups of fishermen to hear of their concerns of various issues covering discards, kilowatt days, crabbing, Marine Conservation Areas and the Marine Management Organisation.
Another busy surgery, but in Totnes this afternoon. If you would like an appointment at a future surgery, please telephone 01803 868378.
This morning I held a surgery at Quay House, Kingsbridge, If you would like to discuss your concerns on local or national issues, please contact 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
This afternoon I was back in my office in Totnes to meet with South Hams District Councillors, Parish Councillors, the Environment Agency and Devon County Council officials from the highways and engineering departments to discuss the situations at North Hallsands and Beesands following the recent extreme weather.
Still at South Devon College I was thrilled to be there at the launch of Torbay Council's Apprenticeship Strategy and with their commitment that they will employ 4% of their workforce as apprentices over the coming five years. It was great to see so many organisations working together to promote the hard work of apprentices and I am grateful to South Devon College for hosting the event and for working with the council and the National Apprenticeship Service.
This morning I was delighted to address the South West National Women's Register at the Redcliffe Hotel in Paignton. It was a lovely morning and I was pleased to have such a lively discussion about a range of topics from the NHS to immigration to housing.
Thank you to Cllr John Tucker, the Leader of the South Hams District Council and to some of the local District Councillors for taking the time to discuss various issues affecting the constituency. It was an opportunity to review many subjects, from affordable housing through to the effect our recent bad weather has had on the community.
I went to Dartington to revisit the Landworks Project. It was wonderful to return to see the progress that is being made. I think the model of trainees working with volunteers in the local community, who are able to share their skills, is a brilliant way to help people feel part of their community, rather than risk being cut adrift when they leave prison. These are local people, from Devon, and it's in everyone's interests to reduce reoffending by provide the skills, support and means to help them in that crucial period after they leave prison. There were some compelling accounts of success in helping people to turn their lives around.
I visited the newly refurbished Dart Ward at Totnes Hospital at the invitation of Matron Tracey Cunningham. The £350,000 revamp has completely modernised the ward's facilities and I was impressed to hear that the Totnes Community Hospital has achieved 100% on the Friends & Family Test . Well done to Tracey and her team making it happen.
I was pleased to visit Totnes Image Bank. It was wonderful to see such historic images of the area and displays of ways of life that are now lost to us. The Totnes archive is based at the historic Town Mill and contains over 45.000 digital photographs of Totnes and the South Devon area including the South Hams. Early images date from the 1860's to the present day.
Today I held a morning and afternoon Advice Surgery at Totnes. Unfortunately I have broken my arm so am unable to drive, so my surgeries are having to be held at my Totnes Office for the moment.
This morning I was pleased to meet with Kate Mason the Principal of KEVICC at my Totnes office. I was saddened to hear that Kate is moving on from KEVICC but wish her all the best with the personal projects she is leaving to pursue. I was delighted to hear about last term's OFSTED inspection in which the college received a 'good' report in all areas.
Back to Brixham College today for the opening of their new sixth form , especially during the schools 50th anniversary celebrations. It was lovely to meet with so many staff and students, both past and present
It was a busy start to the New Year with the first packed advice surgery of the year. It was great to catch up withMark Portwood who campaigns tirelessly for Shoalstone Pool. If you would like an appointment to discuss matters that concern you please contact 01803 868378
Today I met up with JennyKumah of BBC Radio Devon to talk about e-cigarettes and to a look back on 2013.
Thanks to Natalie and her team at the Totnes Sorting Office where they are working flat out to deliver 250,000 items this week.
Thank you to Sandy and Rufus Gilbert for hosting a wonderful mulled wine event; it was great to catch up with everyone in Kingsbridge!
If you would like to meet to discuss a personal concern or issues of a local or national interest, please contact my constituency office on 01803 868378
I was honoured to open the 'Kingsbridge Celebrates Christmas' event. This has been running for some 5 years and the Rotary Club stood in last year to organise the event when the previous organisers could not. There was a Farmers Market in the morning and the Fore Street was lined with stalls and there were street entertainers.
I judged the Christmas tree competition and the winners were the 1st Kingsbridge Brownies led by Mandy Sarjeant.
Congratulations on their Brownie Bling!
I held an Advice Surgery this morning at Kingsbridge Food Bank. Thank you so much to Roger Tyler and all the volunteers at the Food Bank who give up their time to help others.
Kingsbridge Foodbank operates on Saturday mornings from 10am to midday at the town's Age Concern building.
Thank you to the Brixham Conservative Club for allowing me to hold an Advice Surgery today at their premises in the centre of Brixham.
This evening in the Totnes Civic Hall there was a listening event arranged by South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group, asking for peoples' views about the kind of community health and social care they want to see over the next five years. It was great to see so many people attending including GPs and the League of Friends. There will be further meetings in the community and for details of where they will be taking place follow this link
Thank you to Sainsburys at Paignton for allowing me to use their newly refurbished coffee shop to hold a drop-in advice surgery.
I was honoured to join the Kingsbridge Remembrance Parade today to remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
At Slapton the memorial to the US Servicemen where more died off the South Devon coast during Operation Tiger than on Utah Beach.
I set off from Wild Fox Playground in Paignton, cycled on the new Paignton cycle path and met up in Torquay with Adrian Sanders. A wonderful day was had by all!
Struan Coupar was one of the constituents that came to see me in my surgery today to discuss the saving of the Torbay Lass, one of Brixham's Heritage Trawlers. If you wish to see me to discuss a concern whether it be personal or on a local or national issue, please telephone 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
I met with Kate Legum at the launch of the Moor Pony Resources, a registered charity which provides support and personal development opportunities for young and vulnerable people through equine based activities. This charity, based at Dartington, came about as a result of the annual slaughter of hundreds of Dartmoor Hill Pony foals and Kate's interest in young people and community engagement.
People come to see me to discuss a very wide range of subjects from personal concerns through to government policies. If you would like to meet, please telephone my constituency office 01803 868378 to arrange an appointment.
Thank you to Insp Neil Ralph and Sgt Ian Stevens for taking the time to come and see me today to discuss the problems surrounding the sometimes inappropriate use of S136 and how to improve mental health assessments.
Thank you to everyone who attended my Advice Surgery today, some to talk about problems they are encountering and others to inform me of their views on policies. If you would like an appointment please contact my constituency office on 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This afternoon another very busy Advice Surgery; if you would like to meet me to discuss your concerns at a surgery around the constituency, please phone my office on 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
Thank you to the hill farmers and the National Park for discussing the Dartmoor Hill Farm Project. This project was set up to help ensure a viable future for Dartmoor farmers by supporting them through collaborative activities, facilitation in developing ideas, provision of advice, guidance on training opportunities and identifying sources of funding
I went to Dartington today where Chris Parsons opened the Landworks project that turns around lives for offenders. It is a new work-based training scheme designed to support current and ex-prisoners to help put crime behind them. It is based on the Dartington Hall Estate and the aim is that LandWorks will provide a supported route for offenders from prison back into the community and employment
A busy day for Advice Surgeries; one in the morning and one in the afternoon! If you have concerns that you would like to discuss with me, please telephone my constituency office 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
Wonderful to meet so many at the Kingsbridge Show this year including the South Hams League of Friends; I really enjoyed my time manning the gate!
I met with residents of Falcon Park along with local Cllrs Jeanette Richards, John Thomas and Dave Thomas
Play Torbay currently supports 3 communities across Torbay to develop their own adventure playgrounds so children and families can get outside and play. They are committed to the promotion and provision of play for ALL children and have a team of experienced inclusion workers to support disabled young people to be able to take part in adventure and play experiences of their choosing and this afternoon I had a wonderful time at the Wild Fox Play Area
This afternoon I went up to Follaton House to meet with the Chief Executive and Leader of South Hams District Council, as well as a representative from the Strategic Planning Team to discuss how the revised planning guidance for renewables will translate into greater confidence for the council to reject the inappropriate industrialisation of our countryside.
I was pleased to meet this morning with Dr Sam Barrell, Chief Clinical Officer of the Torbay and Southern Devon Clinical Commissioning Group alongside Dee Nutt and Alison Stocks from Dartmouth Caring and Nadine Brooks, Matron of Dartmouth Community Hospital to discuss the commissiong process and how charities can be better involved in it.
I was pleased to meet with Dr Graham Lockerbie, Regional Medical Director for NHS England down in Dartmouth this afternoon to discuss developments in health.
This morning I held a surgery at my offices above the Totnes Conservative Club. I heard about a range of issues both national and local. If you would like to make a surgery appointment please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378.
This afternoon I held a surgery at my offices above the Totnes Conservative Club. I heard about a range of issues both national and local. If you would like to make a surgery appointment please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378.
Today the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall visited the Pilgrim Preservation Project; they saw for themselves the high quality of the restoration and the commitment and expertise of the team which have achieved so much. For more information on this project click here.
Chris and James from the Littlehempton water treatment works show us exactly where solar panels belong. At South West Water, they consume a lot of electricity and so are acutely aware of the need to be energy efficient. South West Water currently own and operate 32 such solar PV installations.
Today I met with Vicky Booty, the project manager at Virtually S@fe. The aim of Virtually S@fe is to advise parents and guardians of the dangers of inappropriate online material whilst also teaching children of the dangers as well.
There is more about Virtually S@fe on another page of my website
I met with Inspector Neil Ralph who is the newly appointed Police Inspector for Ivybridge and Kingsbridge. I was interested to hear about his work in the area and look forward to working with him on local policing issues.
Back to Totnes to meet with the charity South Hams Lifestyles who offer vital help and assistance to people with disabilities all over the South Hams. We discussed their concerns about how some of the changes to benefits are affecting the people they help and I will making representation on their behalf to the Minister for Disabled People
This morning I was in Dittisham to hear about Tresoc's Anchor Stone Tidal Energy Research Project. It was a fascinating meeting as I think we need to focus more on tidal energy and this project just confirms the potential for diverse renewable energy in the area. You can find out more about the project here. The meeting was at the fabulous Anchor Stone Cafe, which is well worth a visit!
What a wonderful day on the water! I was very privileged to be on one of the trawlers during Brixham Trawler Race; so invigorating!
Photograph by kind permission of Simon Armstrong.
I met with Matron Nadine Brooks of Dartmouth Hospital along with The League of Friends who support the hospital so well and with with members of the Clinical Commissioning Group.
An opportunity for me to see first hand the"Ready Steady Read" programme the Rotary Club of Paignton is running at Kings Ash Primary School I met with Tracey Jones and Anne Furness to hear how this programme has increased literacy for the children
I walked with Jason Vasey and Gemma Finch our local PCSOs through Totnes this evening and see firsthand how well they are keeping in touch with the local community. They hold drop in surgeries every Wednesday from 10-12 noon at the Methodist Church in Totnes.
Thank you to the Broadsands and Hookhills Community Centre for letting me use their premises to hold an Advice Surgery. If you would like to meet to discuss your concerns, please telephone my constituency office on 01803 868378.
Neighbourhood Health Watch is the brain child of Dr Peter Aitken, who could see that communities already do a lot to help each other but that it would be a good idea to connect and share those ideas. I met today with Dr Aitken and Dr Sarah Robens for an update on this scheme that is now spreading to many communities,it just takes a few volunteers who are willing to work together to make a difference, a supportive GP and police community support officer.
Norman Lamb, Department of Health Minister is supportive of their work and wrote an article on this issue for the Guardian
This afternoon I met with Julian Ayrton Cluster Manager, and with Bernie Crean Practice Manager of the Health & Social Care for Torbay and Dartmouth.
This morning a very busy Advice Surgery at Totnes; if you would like to meet to discuss local or national issues or if you have concerns and you feel I may be able to assist, please telephone my constituency office 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
Salcombe outdoor swimming pool reopened today with the help of a great team of volunteers, heat is provided from solar panels, definitely worth a dip!
This morning I visited the Salcombe Maritime Museum it really is a veritable treasure trove of Salcombe's past. Well worth a visit! A big thank you to all the workers and volunteers of the RNLI for all the work they do.
This afternoon I met with a group of childminders and their charges! It was a lively discussion!
I met with various Care Home owners to discuss care for the older an vulnerable within the constituency and to hear about the approach they are developing to deliver improvements through a collaborative method of working together.
I met with many constituents and discussed a variety of concerns; if you would like an appointment please telephone 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
Today I met with a number of local business owners who are concerned that the footfall to their premises has significantly reduced since the reversal of traffic flow through the town. Four businesses reported that unless this improves they could be forced out of business altogether.
Trade had only picked up slightly since the end of the gas works. Further concerns were expressed at the speed of traffic, so whilst there were fewer cars, businesses reported they were travelling faster down Fore Street. This is a contentious issue as I also hear from people who would like me to join the campaign to make the town centre car-free.
There is no doubt that businesses benefit from income that comes via passing trade from people who drive and want to pop into the shops having parked. I may be a keen walker and cyclist myself but the reality is that some people simply will not shop unless they can park very close by and this is often because of restricted mobility. Rather than driving their custom elsewhere and reducing the income for local businesses, we should in my view, carefully review the impact on their trade and of course on pedestrian safety over the coming months.
There may be a period of adjustment whilst visitors get used to the new layout but it would be dreadful to lose more businesses from Fore Street by not responding to evidence at a time when conditions are already challenging. I will be meeting businesses again to monitor the effects and calling on Devon County Council to do likewise.
In the meantime I am backing the call from Transition Town Totnes to shop locally as much as possible to support our High Street and keep money within our local economy. I am also keen to hear the views of residents and visitors on this matter, however I must recommend businesses to contact the Chamber of Commerce also as they are best placed to help them be heard on this matter, they can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org .
You can also submit your views on this matter to Devon County Council via this link
Another busy Advice Surgery! If you would like to meet to discuss issues of local or national concern, please contact my constituency office 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
I was pleased to welcome Greg Barker, Minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, to the constituency. He toured the town to see the work of Transition Town Totnes and visit the Atmos site. You may be interested to see the short You Tube film he made about Transition Town Totnes
It was good to meet Heads & Governors from the Totnes Federation of village schools at Diptford Primary to discuss education funding.
I visited Follaton House today to discuss homelessness and then to meet with the South Hams District Councillors.
Brixham for Global Action is group of committed local people who meet regularly to tackle the root causes of global poverty and injustice and tonight there was a question and answer meeting ; it was good to hear support for our commitments for 0.7% of Gross National Income on international development. I joined the panel along with Cllr Andrew Baldrey, Laura MacAdam Christian Aid, Alison Jackson Church Action on Poverty.
It was great to meet Erin, Youth Parliament representative for Churston at a Brixham Surgery. To make an appointment to meet with me please telephone 01803 868378
Planning Minister, Nick Boles MP, visited Dartington on Thursday the 11th of April for an open meeting in the Great Hall. It was an opportunity to discuss the Localism Bill, Neighbourhood Plans, The National Planning Policy Framework, Housing and the conservation of our environment amongst other topics. It was a measure of just how important this issue is that so many people rearranged their diaries at short notice following the Parliamentary recall.
I was glad that representatives from a large number of local organisations were able to attend including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, Transition Town Totnes, The Dartington Trust, Totnes and District Society and the South Hams Society as well as representatives from a number of local planning campaign groups. Many councillors and those both for against wind turbines were able to put questions to the Minister.
The meeting was a lively but balanced event. Nick was honest that the expectations of localism were difficult to meet. He explained that it did not absolve communities from taking their share of the local housing need but could allow them to set out through neighbourhood planning where it went and how it looked.
He debated the competing priorities and the difficulty of balancing the need to grow food, house our young people and protect our natural environment as well as ensure nationally important infrastructure is not neglected.
Nick Boles heard a clear message that neighbourhood planning was an overly complex process that needed to be simplified and I am glad that he agreed that a review should be undertaken to make sure that this is the case.
If localism cannot work in Brixham and the South Hams where there is such a commitment to our communities it is hard to see how it could work anywhere. It will have been very clear to him that whilst people understand the need to meet the demand for more housing, we also want to see something more tangible from localism.
Photograph by kind permission of Andy Styles, Herald Express.
Extremely busy day today, with a Totnes Advice surgery this morning, followed by meetings with Nick Boles, the Planning Minister, a Brixham surgery and then a meeting with Brixham for Global Action.
If you wish to meet at an Advice Surgery to discuss any concerns, please telephone 01803 868378
It was good to meet today with Dr Vivienne McVey, director of Virgin Care, the company which now runs and manages integrated health and social care community services for children in the Devon County Council area, excluding Plymouth and Torbay.
Advice Surgeries are an opportunity to meet and discuss personal problems or concerns you may have; to make an appointment please telephone 01803 868378
This morning I met with Laurel & David; they are using local organic food that would otherwise be wasted for community benefit
Thanks to the enormous amount of support for the Hope Cove Lifeboat from very many areas, a new state of the art vessel has been bought and was today blessed the Bishop of Plymouth and vicar, The Reverend Faith Cully, and The Rural Dean and vicar of Salcombe, Father Daniel French
Today my Advice Surgery was held at Loddiswell Village Hall; if you wish to meet with me to discuss a concern, please contact my constituency office on 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
I visited South Devon College today to support National Apprentice Week. It was wonderful to hear the positive experiences of so many apprentices and to hear that South Devon College is one of the best colleges for apprentices nationally.
It was then on to the topping out ceremony of the new South West Energy Centre which will provide further opportunity for our renewable energy sector in South Devon.
Thank you to all the local groups who attended the Kingsbridge Forum to discuss the Care of the Elderly. The evening was well attended by local organisations, support groups and charities that were on hand to offer information and to Cllr Stuart Barker DCC , Emma Handley from the CAB and Elizabeth Bewley-Jones from Saltstone Caring who all spoke at length about the future of Social Care in the South Devon Area. It was also an opportunity to discuss the implications of the Dilnot Commission recommendations on funding Social Care.
Thank you to all who attended the Open meeting at Thurlestone Parish Hall. As always it was good to hear news on such a range of issues.
The need for a change in the wording of the Statutory Instrument 257 was brought home to me on a visit to the great local charity, Dartmouth Caring today. Putting all services out to tender puts small charities at a real disadvantage when they are pitted against large organisations which have the resources to fund professional bids. We need commissioners to have flexibility to consider the role of small locally based charities in continuing a valued community service.
I finished the day with a constituency surgery in my Totnes office. If you would like to book a surgery appointment please contact Nina Smith on 01802 868378 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I met with the Totnes Wellbeing Initiative and later with a delegation from the Marley Head Traveller's site to discuss what plans will be in place once the eviction notice comes into force at the end of March.
This morning I enjoyed meeting both new and established businesses in Totnes. At Chapel House Dance Studios, I met with Victoria Rogers to visit the new dance fitness studios complete with spring flooring and hear of the wonderful range of classes. It was an opportunity to talk about the potential facilities that places like Chapel House could have to help people lead more active lifestyles.
Thank you to Sainsbury's in Paignton for agreeing to let me hold an open surgery in their coffee shop; it was lovely to chat with so many different people on a variety of topics. If you wish to know about my future surgeries please contact Nina Smith in my constituency office on 01803 868378 or at email@example.com .
This morning I was at the Quay House in Kingsbridge for a constituency surgery to discuss issues at both local and national level. If you would like to arrange a surgery appointment please contact Nina Smith in my constituency office on 01803 868378 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I met with one of my constituents at my Totnes Office for a lengthy discussion about renewable energy and where the money behind many projects really goes. It was a fascinating talk and I do of course encourage people to let me know their views on renewables.
This morning I visited Devon Child Assault Prevention in Totnes. I was very pleased to meet with Kate Shillaker the Project Manager and Trustee Charlotte Watson to hear about the excellent work they are doing to protect children in the area from all forms of abuse. This charity works with the whole school community towards reducing children's vulnerability to abuse. CAP runs parent's workshops and work with schools staff prior to children's workshops to ensure that everyone is confident around child protection issues.
I met with many constituents today in Totnes to talk about their concerns, we discussed not only individual problems but also issues raised of local and national importance. If you would like an appointment to meet with me, please contact 01803 868378 or alternatively email email@example.com
I met with the South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group today who represent all of the local GP practices. Following a process of authorisation it will become a formal NHS body responsible for buying and developing services for local patients.
They are currently working closely with local councils and Public Health teams to establish a clear understanding of local demographics, including, the needs of the local population, the services required for meeting these needs and to discover any gaps that are present. Their aim is to make health care services even more effective and accessible.
I know that everyone will be saddened by the recent deaths in terrible conditions off the coast of Torbay. The loss of fisherman Andrew Westaway is another reminder of the risks facing all our fishermen at work in the most dangerous environment. I want to thank all the emergency services and of course those at Brixham Coastguard who coordinated the serach. The Prime Minister praised the work of the emergency services but it is frustrating that we have no reprieve for the coordination role for the Brixham Coastguard.
Sadly these incidents are not rare as several have lost their lives at sea during the past year. I would like to highlight the good work that the Fisherman's Mission do for fishermen and their families. I am glad that Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon was able to meet with John Anderson from the Brixham Fisherman's Mission today to discuss safety at sea and the work of the Mission in our communities.
This afternoon, another busy surgery this time at Brixham. If you would like to meet to discuss a problem or local and national issues please telephone 01803 868378 to arrange an appointment or email firstname.lastname@example.org
A meeting this morning with Torbay Council, Mayor Gordon Oliver and Adrian Sanders MP
Thank you to Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice for coming to the constituency, where he met with Emma Handley and Nick Dilworth from South Hams Citizens Advice Bureau to discuss tribunals & CAB funding.
Britain's loveliest 'Ring and Ride' has to be the crossing from Dittisham to Greenway. Turn up at the slipway, ring the bell by the wall and the Ferry will come to take you across the Dart. Tandem no problem! Then cycle home via Galmpton, Stoke Gabriel, Aish and Totnes. Take the beautiful cycle path above the Dart through the Sharpham Estate before emerging at Ashprington and then a stunning ride via Tuckenhay and Cornworthy back to Dittisham to complete a 17 mile loop of Devon Heaven. You will be spoilt for choice of places to stop for lunch and the snowdrops are just out to charm you along the way.
A change of shoes for a dash to Paignton Sainsbury's to support their 'Switch the Fish' campaign to help support sustainable British fishing. We waste perfectly good fish not just as a result of discards but because we are not adventurous enough with our cooking. Sainsbury's are trying to help change that by offering samples of alternative fish to try and by donating to the wonderful Fishermen's Mission when customers try something new. I tried delicious Cornish Mussels and Sardines.
It was a great pleasure to spend a morning with the Totnes branch of the Ramblers Association for a hike around the beautiful Harberton countryside and to finish up with a chat over a bowl of soup at the Church House Inn. A wonderful way to make friends, keep fit and enjoy the best of Devon
I am also grateful to all those who attended my constituency surgery in Totnes to discuss various subjects. I met with Charlotte who came to see me about her grave concerns of speeding traffic through Station Hill, Brixham.
If you would like an appointment, please contact 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
I visited Marley Head Traveller's site to hear first hand from those who have been living for some time at this site near South Brent. Whilst I am clear that landowners have a right not to have their taken over illegally it is also the case that we need provision for travellers. Many of those living at Marley Head have children in local schools and I hope that South Hams District Council will be able to move forward with plans to find them suitable long term sites once evicted. If landowners agreed and were adequately compensated and if properly developed and screened it seems that Marley Head could provide a base that could help ease the shortage of sites. What do you think?
A big thank you to the Royal Mail team at the Totnes Sorting Office who deliver our mail, especially at this time of the year when their work load increases dramatically, 52,000 items a day!
Spot the dog!
I had a wonderful visit to Brixham, opening a children's play area. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped to make this happen. What a great community, wonderful to see play areas bringing out the best in Brixham. This Adventure Playground is on a hillside in Brixham, right next to Chesnut Primary School's playing field in Summercombe, INDIGOs is a place to build dens, slide, swing, toast marsh mallows on a fire and generally 'hang out'. Definitely the place to visit with the children!
Today I met with Professor Steve Field, the Deputy National Medical Director of the NHS to Totnes and with those affected by homelessness and the people trying to help improve services.
We visited the Revival Life Ministry to talk with some of those who are sleeping rough in the area. We discussed how to improve access to healthcare and what can be done to ensure that the homeless are looked after in places they can easily access.
We then met with the Drug and Alcohol Team for Devon and Nicki Glassbrook – Health Inequalities Manager for the area. Our meeting focussed on what can be done to make sure the services and housing for those with drug and alcohol problems in Totnes are accessible and able to help people in the best possible way.
I do not wish to see another preventable death in Totnes and I am glad that all the relevant organisations are committed to working together to secure the right help for people needing accommodation, healthcare and a future that stretches beyond the winter months.
I realise that there is not a one size fits all solution to this problem and I will be working closely with others to offer those who are vulnerable in our community the help they want and need.
I was saddened to hear of the redundancies at the CAB. I would like to thank all the volunteers who will be working alongside the remaining staff to make sure that the CAB continue to offer support for people in Totnes. However, I deeply regret the reduction in services to those who would formerly have been able to access Legal Aid.
It was great to catch up with Supt Jim Nye.
77% of the public in South Devon believe their police do a good job; this is the highest figure in Devon and Cornwall
A busy day with two Advice Surgeries! Thank you to the Child Support Agency for attending one on the surgeries, this gave some constituents the opportunity to discuss problems directly with the CSA and they have agreed to attend further surgeries in the New Year. If you would like an appointment to discuss your concerns or local and national issues please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01803 868378
This afternoon I opened the community owned solar panels at Leatside Surgery, Totnes; now we have to hope for some sunshine!
I met today with group of concerned residents to listen to their call for noise limits & buffer zones for wind farms; they have written to the Royal Statistical Society to ask them to review the confusing use of data on noise from turbines.
I attended the launch of The Totnes Work Hub today; it was great to see so many faces from all parts of the workplace, those well established and those starting out.
I spoke to Rick Lawrence from Totnes based award winning, Graphic Design company Samskara Design about the true potential Work Hubs have for business. They have teamed up with the Totnes Work Hub to create special discounted design packages for business start ups, enabling entrepreneur's access to professional design services at minimal costs. www.samskara-design.com
I met with Sarah Hughes of Giraffe Marketing a company that can operate as sole marketing support or supplement an in-house team.
I also had a chance again to catch up with Jenni Gardner of Tor Ecology who has benefited from the professional support & connections at the Work Hub.
If you are starting a business do contact the Work Hub; they are able to provide you with business support
Today there was a meeting at Follaton House to discuss what can be done to help the 17 people who face sleeping rough as the weather deteriorates. In the past year three of the Totnes' homeless community have died.
Totnes is a very generous town and I am proud to represent a community that will not ignore those in need. However, for people's kindness to be most effective it would be a great help if donations could go directly to those helping the homeless to turn their lives around.
I truly believe that the best way to achieve these aims is not to give to the person on the street. It has been the case, that in the past, this has indirectly contributed to individuals not wanting to take up accommodation offered in neighbouring communities. I would ask instead that you direct your generosity towards the Revival Life Ministries who do everything they can to help the homeless in Totnes. Revival Life Ministries is based on the Industrial Estate at 15-20 Burke Road, Totnes,TQ9 5XL or if you are unable to visit their headquarters, donations for the homeless can be dropped into my Constituency Office at Station Road, Totnes, TQ9 5HW and I will ensure they are passed directly to Revival Life Ministries.
Our homeless community need our understanding and support and that includes provision of services to help in the right place, not located many miles away in Newton Abbot. I will be doing what I can over the coming months to campaign for a drug and alcohol outreach team in Town and I'm interested to hear from anyone who uses the service and would like to comment on their own experience.
I met with many constituents today at my Totnes Advice Surgery to discuss varying topics of local and national interest.
I had the opportunity to meet with Jessica Meredith a Children's Champion for UNICEF and we spoke about her thoughts for funding.
If you would like to meet with me at one of my surgeries around the constituency, please contact 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
I was at Dartmouth today, where I joined others to pay our respects to the members of our armed forces who have sacrificed their lives for us in past and current conflicts.
This afternoon I held a surgery at Brixham Conservative Club. Thank you to everyone who came to the advice surgery & for all your updates, issues, views & feedback. If you would like an appointment please ring 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I met today with the team at WEEEsortIT, this is a new local social enterprise providing employment and work based opportunities to disabled and disadvantaged people within the Torbay area. WEEEsortIT are able to data wipe & recycle your old computer. Their aim is to reduce the amount of electrical and electronic appliances going to landfill. For a small charge they will even arrange collection 01803 557408. I wish them every success in this venture.
Another very busy surgery, held at my constituency office above Totnes Conservative Club. If you are encountering problems or wish to discuss local or national problems please do telephone 01803 868378 or email email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
It was a pleasure to visit Blackawton Community Shop again to meet the volunteers that help make this such a vibrant place to shop. Do support this community enterprise!
Today I met people from the Victoria Inn and the Kings Arms in Salcombe, as well as the publican from the Ferry Boat Inn in Dittisham. Those are among the finest pubs in Britain, and we discussed the problems they are facing; I was told that they could employ more young people if they had lower overhead costs, which includes the beer duty escalator.
I spoke in Westminster on the issue of the Beer Duty Escalator on the 1st November. Click here to watch Parliament live
It was great to meet up with so many small family farmers, but I was saddened to hear again how many farms have been affected by Bovine TB. We discussed the need to rebalance Single Farm Payments to better support small family farms and recognise their important contribution to wild life, our rural economy and the community.
We spoke about the increasing cost and complexity of farm machinery and their need to have access to local abattoirs to reduce stressful animal movement and red tape.
Another busy advice surgery at Totnes. If you would like an appointment to see me to discuss a local or national issue or problems that you are encountering please telephone 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
My thanks to Mayor Gordon Oliver and his Town Hall Team for taking the time to discuss the financial future of the Bay
I have received many letters and met in person with a number of people who are concerned about the way that ATOS handles examinations during the work capability assessment. These are issues I regularly raise with colleagues in order to make sure that the examinations are conducted with dignity and respect with as few people as possible needing to appeal inappropriate decisions.
I was pleased therefore to be able to arrange a meeting between ATOS and people concerned about the future move to Personal Independence Payments PIP, from DLA. Clearly is is vital that ATOS understand those concerns. Some constituents wished to have those concerns raised anonymously. We met with Nick Barry, the PIP general manager and Dr Phil Seth from the ATOS transition team at the CAB offices at Follaton House.
PIP will be introduced for new claimants from June next year and those currently claiming DLA will have their claims reviewed from October 2013 onwards once the initial assessments have been reviewed to see if any changes need to be made.
I am grateful to CAB and Cool Recovery for attending the meeting and offering ongoing feedback as we must make sure that ATOS get this right and stress can be minimised for those having their claims assessed. I am always interested to hear of your own experiences if you have been assessed for out of work benefits.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron came to the passing out parade today at Britannia Royal Naval College to take the salute and award prizes. He praised our cadets, referring to them as the Pride of Britain. The role of our armed forces and their long history protecting our island nation were repeatedly highlighted in his speech. Dartmouth looked spectacular in the sunshine, showing off the town and college at their very best.
The management team of Costa Coffee came to Totnes today to see for themselves the vibrancy of our independent town. They toured the High Street before sitting down to a meeting with Mayor Pruw Boswell, Transition Town Totnes, local family run businesses and a NotoCosta campaigner as well as myself. Costa heard from us firsthand the impact that their arrival would have on the independent retailers in our town. We made it clear this is about the future of our High Street and the importance of keeping money within the local community, not about protectionism.
We now wait to hear from Costa whether they will respect the wishes of the 5700 petitioners who have sent a clear message that they feel the cloning of Totnes High Street would have a detrimental effect not only on the economy but on the character and ethos of the town.
World Health Organisation & World Mental Health Day I was invited to speak at the World Health Organisation to take part in the initial discussions about their draft mental health proposals and to discuss the work that has been done in the UK to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and spread a message about early diagnosis, prevention and recovery. Clearly there is much to be done to further reduce the tragedy of suicide and promote wellbeing and access to treatment. Britain is widely respected for our commitment to introduce parity of esteem for mental illness and to reduce stigma. It was also an opportunity to discuss the mental health discrimination bill and how governments can act to reduce statutory discrimination.
I always enjoy the Party Conference with the chance to speak at events on a range of public health and other issues and to catch up with many groups to discuss constituency, local and international issues. Conference is so much more than the big announcements and I would recommend anyone with a wish to debate any issue directly with ministers or leaders in their fields to consider attending one of the party conferences next year. For every area of interest there will be a debate and a welcome for anyone who wants to engage.
I was delighted to attend the turf cutting for the Kingskerswell Bypass this morning. This exciting project will bring much needed economic growth to the area.
The advance works are already underway as Devon County Council and Torbay Council ensure that everything is ready before the main construction work begins. Site clearance and utility diversions in the Penn Inn area are expected shortly, with work then progressing in the Penn Inn to Aller Quarries area. Construction is then due to increase between January and March 2013. The main works are due to be completed by December 2015. Congratulations to all those who have been involved in the long campaign to improve the vital road link toTorbay.
Surgeries today in Totnes and also a chance to catch up with Transition Town Totnes in their offices in the High Street. I am also grateful to the Child Support Agency for coming to my surgery this afternoon to meet directly with those who have concerns about the way their cases have been handled and to try to find a way forward. I am hopeful that we will be able to arrange further direct meetings in the future, so please get in touch if you would find this helpful. 01803 868378 or by emailing email@example.com
It was good to return to Tweenaway in Torbay to meet residents and hear their concerns about maintenance and about the staffing levels for wardens. Hanging gardens should be strictly for Babylon or baskets, not sprouting from gutters!
It was good to hear that previous concerns about recycling and waste had been resolved.
It was a pleasure to visit the Memory Cafe in Brixham last week to meet so many of those who benefit from the service as well as their carers and volunteers. It was also an opportunity to catch up with Ann Redmayne the Commissioner for dementia services in the Bay and Christine Delaney from the Alzheimers Society, who coordinates the cafes around Torbay. The memory cafe in Brixham offers a warm welcome on Wednesdays between 1.30 and 3.30 but they also operate in Paignton and Babbacombe. The cafes are open to anyone with memory difficulties and are not confined to those who have a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.
The good news is that the importance of early investigation and diagnosis has been recognised and anyone referred by their GP should be seen at the Chadwell Centre for an expert diagnosis within three weeks. People should no longer face having dementia medication withdrawn if they can benefit from it but do not fit into defined memory scores.
I was also pleased to hear that Torbay have applied to the South of England Dementia Challenge to pilot GPS tracking bracelets which could benefit the many people who go missing every year as a result of becoming disorientated, only of course if they wish to use them. I hope they will be successful in their bid.
Anyone interested in the memory cafes anywhere in Torbay can speak to Christine Delaney direct on 07803 115828 or would be welcome to just turn up.
I enjoyed my visit to the newly opened children's outpatients at Torbay Hospital and then the opportunity to meet with paediatricians, midwives and those working in child health from across the South West at the Horizon Centre. The meeting focused on the Troubled Families Initiative which will help those families stuck in a cycle of truancy and antisocial behaviour but was followed by questions and comments on a range of issues around the NHS.
Dartmouth looked stunning for the finish line of stage 7 of the Tour of Britain. Hard to imagine a better advert for South Devon than the scenes from across Dartmoor and the South Hams. Congratulations to Jonathan Tiernan Locke from Plymouth on his fantastic victory and of course to Yanto Barker from Totnes.
Visit to Totnes Recycling Centre with Mayor Pruw Boswell and Cllr Paula Black to renew calls for the centre to reinstate the re-use facility. Totnesians welcome the site being tidied up and the overall increase in recycling but want to see that increased with a re-use area on site.
This Saturday saw the return of the annual Kingsbridge Show; congratulations to the event organisers who put so much hard work into making this event such a success. I had the opportunity to meet with many constituents, to touch base with the NFU; it was a great disappointment that TB in the area prevented cattle being at the show, but this did not stop everyone's obvious enjoyment of the day. The photo was one of my favourite exhibits!
I returned to the Work Hub this afternoon to meet the volunteers of the Totnes Memory Cafe. This is base where people who are living with memory difficulties can visit and or for their carers; it enables people to share ideas and is also a chance for some respite. The cafe meets on the last Friday of the month between 2.00-4.00pm.
A new venue for my Totnes Surgery today. Thank you to South Devon Rural Housing Association for allowing me to use the Work Hub to hold my advice surgery. If you would like an appointment to discuss local or national concerns, please telephone 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This afternoon I met with fishermen to discuss the capping of fishing licenses.
I met with the Retired & Senior Volunteer Programme, a free standing programme within CSV encouraging those aged 50+ to volunteer. I met the volunteers who assist in various parts of the community, from helping in schools with slow readers and lifts to hospital appointments. There is a knitting group, making items for our troops in Afghanistan, for the neonatal department and their latest project is for people who have hair loss due to chemotherapy or illness, Heather's Hair. If you would like more details, please visit their website
Devon Rape Crisis Service now operates out of 5 locations, one of which is in Totnes, and are rapidly expanding their volunteer pool, DRCS offers face to face meetings and are able to signpost those in need of help to other agencies. You can contact Devon Rape Crisis Service on 01392 204174
It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Michael Drummond, an aspiring young local journalist.
It was good to welcome new matron Tracey Cunningham who is new to Totnes Community Hospital but bringing many years of expertise as former matron of Dartmouth and also to discuss the importance of the League of Friends with Val Austin. The League of Friends is particularly hoping to attract new volunteers so please get in touch if you would like to join and help support your local community hospital, please telephone Totnes Community Hospital on 01803 862622
Thank you to Fat Lemons Cafe in Totnes for hosting an interview with ITV about the ongoing campaign to protect Fore Street from becoming a clone High Street. The campaign is not about stifling competition, as there are already over 40 independent outlets in town but about recognising that where over 5700 people and the town council ask Costa to respect their wishes, that company should listen to their concerns.
A meeting with Peninsula Deanery; this was an opportunity to hear about the staffing problems facing Primary Care across Devon and Cornwall; a particular challenge at a time when GPs are at the forefront of designing services for patients. There is an increasing shortage of Primary Care doctors which will be made even more challenging as GPs make the necessary change from a 3 year training rotation to one that will last 4 years. It was good to hear that GP trainees are interested in getting further training in how to commission and design care pathways but it is clear that the focus for medical training will need to shift to training more doctors for the areas where their skills are needed rather than overtraining doctors in specialties for which there are no vacancies. Please click here to see this year's Health Select Committee Report into training the medical workforce.
It is always a pleasure to visit Dartmouth Hospital, which probably has the best view from any day room in the country. It is not just the therapeutic outlook which makes this so special but the personalised care for inpatients and the opportunity for residents and visitors alike to be seen without the long and difficult journey to Torbay or Exeter.
I met with Nick Hindmarsh, the Principal of Dartmouth Academy today and congratulations to all the students who collected A Level results last week. All the local schools have experienced amazing success! Dartmouth Academy is celebrating an excellent first year for their Sixth Form with a 100% pass rate.
Thank you to all those who came out on one of the last summer evenings without rain to let me know their views on everything from policing and education to foreign aid and planning
I enjoyed my tour of Brixham's outdoor activity centre, Grenville House. So popular it is fully booked for residential courses throughout next year and offering outdoor skills from the moor to the sea for schools, colleges and voluntary groups. Their 'leap of faith', which involves jumping from a high platform to a trapeze, overlooking the bay looks like one to cure any acrophobic. Anyone wanting to try it might still be able to attend one of their many non residential courses.
This was also a chance to present a cheque from Grenville House to Pride in Brixham towards their stunning new displays on the Harbourside
Brixham Fishermen's Mission to meet with local fishermen and to hear great concerns about the changes to the calculation of days at sea and other measures which will force scallop fishermen to tie up whilst leaving smaller vessels without comparable restrictions. There will also be implications for processing ashore with a risk of losing valuable markets. I am continuing to press for the Minister Richard Benyon to meet with Brixham fishermen to find a compromise that will allow fishermen to continue to reach agreement with European fishermen on quota swaps and to allow calculation of days at sea to be based on 24 hour periods.
Whether you are new to the South Hams or have lived here for years, joining a Walk and Talk group will be sure to make you new friends and improve your health. There is no need to book and walks are designed to suit every level of fitness from a gentle flat stroll to a challenging climb. I joined a group walking around Totnes and learnt something new; the spot where Cromwell stood to convert Totnes to the cause of Parliament. Groups are very welcoming and end with an optional social drink so don't wait to be invited just turn up or phone Kate Wright on 01822 813571 or 07920 786505
It was wonderful to return to Brixham Community Hospital to discuss what it means to local people with Matron, Carol Gilmour and her team. The support they receive is tremendous and of course not only does the hospital provide in-patient beds, minor injury, diagnostic services and clinics but it is also the community hub for the teams which help to keep people independent at home, avoiding the need for hospital admission in the first place.
My thanks to Brixham Conservative Club for the use of their premises to hold another busy surgery. I will be visiting them again on Tuesday August 21st when there will be an Open Meeting starting at 6.00pm. All are welcome to attend to discuss local and national issues. If you would like a one to one appointment to discuss your problems or concerns at a future advice surgey, please telephone 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
I visited Greenlife in Totnes. Thank you to Jamie Sermon for a fascinating tour of Greenlife, one of Totnes' thriving businesses providing advice and sales for complimentary medicines, specialty foods and supplements. An opportunity to exchange ideas and discuss issues ranging from the effects of the EU Herbal Medicines Directive to the consolidation of legislation covering the sales of complementary medicines.
Whilst coming from a conventional medical tradition with a strong belief in evidence based medicine, I have also worked as a GP in Chagford and know how many of my former patients used and reported benefit from integrated CAM approaches alongside conventional care. The changes to labelling do present challenges to stores like Greenlife and it was good to discuss the issues around protecting consumers whilst allowing choice.
I visited Barr and Paatz. I was so impressed by the scope of the design and manufacturing in Totnes on my tour with Stirling Paatz; production automation equipment, biogas microgeneration, flight simulation and training systems. It was encouraging to hear about the practical links with UK Trade and Industry in helping to develop export markets and the success of Research and Development Tax Credits.
I met with League of Friends and Dr Frank O'Kelly from Tiverton Community Hospital to hear about their work in consulting with their community and the challenges they have faced in maintaining clinics and services.
The Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley visited Torbay and it was interesting to join the team at Bay House to hear about the progress being made by the Clinical Commissioning Group in setting up 'pathways' of care and trying to improve on the joined up-care with community and hospital services for which Torbay is nationally renowned.
Thank you to the Citizen's Advice Bureau for allowing me to use their new premises at Follaton House to hold a surgery. If you wish to meet with me please telephone my constituency office on 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details of the next advice surgery.
Thank you to Anthony Farnsworth, Chief Executive of Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Care Trust for coming to discuss the community hospitals in the Totnes Constituency and the valuable contribution they make to the care of patients in South Devon.
A meeting with Mayor of Totnes, Pruw Boswell-Harper to discuss the disappointing decision to allow Costa to come to Totnes despite over 5700 people, mostly local, signing the petition to ask them to stay away. Whilst understanding the concern of SHDC that rejection could result in an expensive appeal, it remains my view and that of the Town Council, that Totnes' strong tradition of independents could be undermined by inappropriate and unnecessary chain outlets. Job displacement seems more likely than job creation.
TurnAround works with offenders after their release from custody to help them to return to normal life in the community. The shocking levels of repeat offending can be reduced through help to return to work and with housing and it was good to see the commitment of the team and to hear about the support from those who use their services.
Another surgery and this time at my constituency office at Totnes. To arrange an appointment please contact 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
I held a surgery today at Quay House in Kingsbridge. If you would like an appointment to discuss your concerns on local or national issues or if you are encountering a problem and feel that I may be able to assist, please contact my constituency office on 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to HMS Bulwark's Captain Alex Burton and the ship's company for a fascinating day meeting and thanking the LOGOG volunteers, police and naval personnel who have ensured the safety of our Olympic sailors and visitors at Weymouth. The professionalism, long hours and teamwork required were clear to see but all coordinated and delivered with the expertise of our Royal Navy.
I met with Iain Tulley from the Devon Partnership Trust to discuss Mental Health Provision. This was an opportunity to raise the concerns of constituents about how the Trust can increase partnerships with voluntary groups involved in helping those with mental health problems.
I met with Giles Charnaud CE of Rowcroft Hospice. It was especially helpful to hear how Rowcroft are extending services into the community across South Devon. The 'Hospice at Home' services now extend 24/7 and the team will now be able to support around 420 patients over 2012/13. They now hope to be increasing their involvement with Community Hospitals through inpatient, outpatient and out-reach services to provide the greatest possible choice for people needing palliative care.
Meeting with Profs Sneyd and Watkins from the Peninsula Medical School to discuss the changes at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry. From next year the medical schools will split into two separate bodies with Plymouth having a separate identity as the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and Exeter being renamed as the University of Exeter Medical School. This was a change initiated by Exeter University. The College has always had a strong track record in encouraging and supporting applicants from schools with fewer medical school entrants and from the Westcountry and it was reassuring to hear that this will continue to be prioritised by Plymouth University.
The Soroptimists are an international women's organisation with a thriving branch in Brixham. I was delighted to visit to talk about life at Westminster and discuss a range of local, national and international issues with women who care and contribute so much to Brixham and the wider community. A great organisation and thoroughly recommended
This evening I held a surgery at Brixham Conservative Club to meet with constituents and discuss their concerns. I will be holding an Open Meeting at the Club on Tuesday August 21st from 6.00pm. All are welcome.
Meeting with South Devon Rural Housing Association and an enjoyable visit to their newly extended and refurbished residential home in Dartington to join residents for coffee. It was also an opportunity to visit the new work hub due to open on August 3rd in Babbage Road, Totnes.
Meeting with Dr Jo Black from Devon Partnership Trust to discuss women's mental health both before and after childbirth and the measures that are being taken in Devon to improve services. We also discussed the need for a mother and baby unit for Devon and Cornwall for those women who need additional support.
Another opportunity to meet with constituents to hear their concerns on local and national issues. If you would like an appointment please contact my constituency office 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
Congratulations to the organisers and marshals who led such a show of support for the creation of a safe off road route between Totnes and Littlehempston. Two thirds of all deaths on our roads happen on rural rather than urban roads and the cycle along the main road was to highlight the dangers and barriers to children and adults wishing to cycle between communities north of Totnes. There is no excuse for access across the Dart not to be shared with all those who could benefit from it and the ride called on the SDR to work together to find a different solution to their security concerns. The river Dart is not a moat!
Picture courtesy of Herald Express
It was a pleasure to return to Ways with Words to chair a debate on whether there can be integrity in politics with Bernard Jenkin MP, Rushanara Ali MP and international lawyer Philippe Sands, who was able to share his experience of the international comparisons.
I also enjoyed meeting Mark Easton to chair his discussion about his new book 'Britain etc.'
I was invited to speak at the AGM in Liverpool of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and enjoyed debating a range of issues from the work of MPs and the Select Committee to the importance of reducing stigma in mental illness and how mental health should be fairly represented under the Health and Social Care Act.
An opportunity to catch up with news on the Atmos Project and also the campaign to protect Totnes' character and independents by resisting inappropriate and unwanted intrusion by Costa. I have also asked TTT to join the campaign to support our dairy farmers in their battle for fair treatment by supermarkets and the big dairy buyers.
Congratulations to Anthony Hogg who has been selected as the candidate for the Conservatives as Police and Crime Commissioner. The selection was through an open primary held over 3 days at different locations across Devon and .cornwall and open to everyone regardless of their Party Political affiliation.
Finally on to Stoke Gabriel and a further chance to hear views about government policy and answer questions on a wide range of national and local concerns. Thanks to everyone who came despite the torrential rain and competition with the tennis!
It was good to meet so many residents from South Brent to hear their concerns about the irrelevance of House of Lords reform. Given that it is on the agenda there was shared concern that we should protect the expertise of cross benchers and not have the entire parliamentary calendar dominated by discussion of Lords reform.
I started the day visiting yet another farm in South Devon which has been devastated by the impact of bovine TB. It was heartbreaking to see how a pedigree herd traced back over 100 years may be wiped out as a result of the repeated slaughter of these beautiful South Devon cattle.
A busy day with surgeries at Totnes and Brixham.
Please do telephone my constituency office on 01803 868378 if you wish to have an appointment
I was honoured to cut the ribbon for the opening of South Hams CAB and to meet so many of the volunteers who have given years of service to the community. South Hams CAB has had a particularly challenging year and is particularly grateful to South Hams District Council for support in moving to these larger and far more suitable premises. It also benefitted from a £60,000 grant from the Justice Ministry to help redress the loss or income from legal services payments in return for helping with benefits appeals.
The value of CAB is very clear to all those who benefit from the professionalism and advice of all their staff and volunteers.
Thank you to everyone who attended and helped to organise the meeting at Strete. What a beautiful setting to discuss local and national politics and enjoy one of the best views in South Devon
Thank you to all the organisers of this open public meeting to discuss the future shape of our local NHS. This was a packed meeting and gave everyone present an opportunity to quiz representatives from the new commissioning group, the Health and Wellbeing Board, Public Health and the local finance director as well as Lisa Houlihan and myself on how it will all work and how they can influence the shape of services in South Devon
I am grateful to Keith Makepeace for spending time updating me on the issues facing our hotels in South Devon and in particular his wish to see reduced VAT rates for our tourism sector.
It was such a pleasure to revisit South Hams Hospital in Kingsbridge and to meet the new matron Lisa Houlihan and catch up with the director for all the South Devon Community Hospitals, Pat McDonagh. South Hams offers so much but it is clear that it has the space and potential to offer even more services to help to keep people living independently and well at home. I am hosting a Parliamentary Event for Community hospitals so please let me know your own views.
Thank you to everyone who attended my surgery in Kingsbridge and particular thanks to those carers who attended during Carers' Week
I met today with Matin Pallett of Devon In Sight to discuss the proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments. Devon In Sight have a Resource Centre at Optima Low Vision Services Ltd, Dartside, Ford Road, Totnes, TQ9 5LQ where they sell a range of equipment designed to enable people with sight problems to live independently. Staff are able to provide information and advice and put people in touch with support services.
A simple eye test can be so important in picking up the early signs of treatable eye disease and I hope that everyone will make time for this essential check up. I am grateful to the Local Optical Committee and Richard Hoyland for taking the time to discuss how much more could be done to make further eye health services available closer to home.
It was great to meet with so many farmers from across South Devon to talk about the immense challenges facing family run farms. The problems with bovine TB continue to cause devastation and despair with many farmers having to repeatedly cull their herds despite strict bio security measures. I also heard about the problems with ear tagging for sheep, the problems in attracting young people due to the long and tough working conditions and low payments from supermarkets. We also discussed the impact of global food pricing, food security and of course enjoyed a gently cooling pasty!
Our heritage is also being kept alive and well in Dartmouth Museum by an enthusiastic team of volunteers. I can thoroughly recommend their twitter feed for up to date news and links on all our local museums. Thank you for a fascinating insight into Dartmouth's history. My favourite small exhibit; the love tokens.
Thank you to all the volunteers at the National Trust, Greenway and across South Devon; more than 400 volunteers help to keep our heritage alive. From the moment I entered the house to hear the Grand Piano filling the house with music it was clear that this was going to be an unforgettable visit. The enthusiasm and commitment of all those who love the house and its links with Agatha Christie shines through. Despite the driving wind and rain, I was able to enjoy the vegetable garden which has been recreated over 3 years and now supplies fresh produce for the cafe. It was an unusual way to raise the roof however, with the top of the Yurt flying away to dramatically end a fantastic Devon Cream Tea.
The volunteers were all clear that working with the National Trust is rewarding and fascinating work and that they are keen to welcome new members to their team.
Congratulations to Salcombe and all those who put on such a wonderful Jubilee weekend event also raising funds for Cliff House, which looks stunning after its restoration.
Holy Trinity Flower Festival
I met with Children's Services to look at their plans to improve the lives of the most vulnerable children and young people in our community. Torbay needs to attract the best social workers to help in this vital work.
I met at Torquay Town Hall with the sustainable transport team. I was impressed by their commitment to link up cycle routes around the Bay and beyond. I would love to see a green scenic route able to link up with the new fast ferry link as I feel this would be a great boost for green tourism.
Another busy surgery in Totnes where I had the opportunity to meet with constituents to discuss their concerns on local and national matters. Please telephone my constituency office on 01803 868378 if you would like an appointment.
I met Safer Communities Torbay at Paignton Police Station to hear about how our community safety partnership is offering services to support families in Torbay who need intensive help. It was clear from those who have used the scheme just how helpful the Family Intervention Project had been. Many are now in a position to help other families and felt very positive about how valuable this service can be.
I met with a group of District Councillors from across the South Hams to hear their feedback on the coalition and a range of local issues.
I visited the Totnes Recycling Centre and Refurnish with Totnes Mayor, Pru Boswell to see how the facilities have changed since the contract was moved to Sita. The re-use facility on site is greatly missed despite the welcome reduction of waste to landfill under the new arrangements.
It was helpful to follow up the site visit with a meeting in the constituency office with Cllr Black and Cllr Croad, Mayor Pru Boswell and many concerned residents to press home the level of support for a return of the re-use tabletop area at the site rather than down the road at Refurnish.
It was interesting to hear how important such a facility had been in retrieving items of historical interest for the museum like the recently salvaged 'throe'.
Does Integrated Healthcare Make Sense? I joined Andy Lewis from Quackometer.net, Simon Mills from college of Medicine and Becky Simpson, who has personal experience of both conventional and CAM approaches to treating her cancer, to debate the place of integrated healthcare. This will be available as a podcast from Totnes FM
If you would like to discuss local or national issues or personal concerns, please telephone 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment at one of my constituency advice surgeries.
I met with Dr Debbie Stark, Director of Public Health and Cllr Hernandez to discuss a range of topical health issues from the alcohol strategy for Torbay to encouraging cycling.
It was a great pleasure to visit the Gardening Club at Churston Ferrers to meet so many green fingered students and talk about green greenhouses made from recycled bottles and how to deal with slugs. Drowning in beer outvoted cutting in half at midnight. No supporters of slug pellets!
I also met with the 'learning to learn' group of year 8 students. If any junior doctors had been able to explain kinaesthetic learning so clearly when I was teaching I would have been impressed.
Finally onto the sixth form for a Q and A about everything from university and car insurance to international affairs.
It was a pleasure to meet Caren and volunteers at the British Heart Foundation shop in Fore Street Totnes. Choose Charity Shops week is a reminder that all our excellent charity shops are entirely dependent on people bringing donations as well as those of us who enjoy a browse and a bargain whilst giving something back to charity. Most of all thank you to all their volunteers.
This week saw the Totnes Independent Coffee Festival and a big thank you to Gareth Jones of Bistro 67 for allowing me to use his cafe to meet with constituents who were able to drop in, enjoy a wonderful cup of coffee and talk to me about such a wide variety of issues. Integrated Children's Services, the NHS, care of the elderly, CAM, cycling and recycling, markets, localism and of course the potential for job displacement if a coffee chain sets up in Totnes.
Congratulations to all the schools, colleges, scouts and cadets who took part in this year' Ten Tors and Jubilee Challenge across Dartmoor. I have witnessed the blisters, the sunstroke, the soaked kit and struggled to lift the packs that the teams carry across the moor over 2 gruelling days.
My special thanks to the many volunteers who give up countless weekends to make this such a life changing experience.
I attended the CHA annual conference to speak about the importance of community hospitals and the vital role they play not only in rural areas like the South Hams but also in Torbay. We all know how much communities value the opportunity to be treated closer to home and the role that these community hospitals can play in helping to avoid admissions to larger more distant hospitals. It is important that local people and clinicians champion their cause within commissioning groups but I will also be doing what I can at Westminster to make sure that they can develop and improve services for patients. If you would like to let me know about your experience of our local hospitals please get in touch.
These kilns are part of Brixham's industrial heritage and are unique in the South West, because they are built at right angles; most twin kilns were built side by side. Unfortunately proposed plans to widen the road have put the future of these kilns under threat.
Shoalstone Pool is a gem on Brixham's sea front, built in 1896 and the focal point for the community during the summer. It is also a much loved tourist attraction and manned by a dedicated team of volunteers. I hope Torbay Council will allow sufficient funds to keep it going for the summer season to allow the volunteers time to develop a more stable long term funding.
Today I met with Stephanie Bromley, Ted Leverton, and John Rickett, Information and Outreach volunteers for Action on Hearing Loss together with Karen Squire, Senior Community Support Officer to discuss the impact of hearing loss. There is a particular concern about inadequate training for care assistants working in residential and nursing homes. Residents and carers alike, desperately need better support for using and maintaining hearing aids and skills for lip reading. Volunteers from Action on Hearing Loss are keen to help, and on their website you are able to check your hearing
Thank you to everyone who came to the public meeting at the Berry Head Hotel in Brixham to discuss a range of local and national issues, in particular the concern of many people for Shoalstone Pool. I hope to be back to see the Pool on Tuesday 8th May at 10.30 am. Please join me there to show your support.
View from Berry Head Hotel
It was fascinating to visit Baltic Wharf and to see such a thriving boat yard employing between 150-200 people. I was shown the restoration work to the Lady Cable, Dunkirk war veteran and numerour other projects. During the redevelopment, it will be vital to retain this flourishing boat yard as part of Totnes's heritage and to maintain so many high skilled jobs for the town.
Another busy surgery in Totnes; if you would like an appointment to discuss your concerns, please ring 01803 868378
It was fascinating to meet Tasha, from Heron Valley Cider to learn about the organic natural alchemy that goes to producing real cider and of course to see how it is actually produced in this beautiful Devon valley near Loddiswell.
Photograph by kind permission of Simon Jenkinson of PanOpti
Thank you to Hookhills and Broadsands Park Community Centre for holding an Advice Surgery at their premises. If you would like to meet to discuss your concerns at one of my surgeries around the constituency please telephone 01803 868378.
The surgery was followed by an Open Meeting and some of the issues discussed were school dinners, VAT and the South Devon Link Road which is due to open in December 2015.
Thank you to Ann and Nigel Amherst for taking the time to demonstrate the changes that have so badly affected the beautiful Staverton Leat . I was very concerned to hear from local residents about the serious effects Environment Agency's decision to reduce the flow has had on plant and animal wildlife. I am relieved that Mr Brogden from the Environment Agency attended the meeting to listen to the concerns and I will be following this issue up on my return to Parliament.
I was delighted to join Paula Vasco-Knight, the Chief Executive of Torbay Hospital and Debbie Stark, Director of Public Health to open the new Women's Health Facility at Torbay Hospital. The enthusiasm of the staff for their new facilities was very clear. Congratulations to all the team for achieving such a transformation.
I was delighted to be able to catch up with Debbie Stark the Director of Public Health following the opening to discuss a range of public health issues within the Bay.
Thank you to Nick Dilworth from South Hams CAB for coming in to discuss the ongoing pressure on the Tribunal Service. The CAB is looking forward to moving to a larger site at Follaton House and has benefitted from extra funding from the Ministry of Justice, but I would like to see greater recognition of the work that the CAB contributes on behalf of clients attending tribunals as well as greater use of their skills within the work programme.
I was delighted to revisit Totnes Community Hospital with Steve Collings who is the joint Matron for Tavistock and Totnes Community Hospitals. It was good to see the hospital so well used and going from strength to strength.
I am grateful to Fiona Parsons for her update on the National Apprenticeship Service. 700 apprentices were taken on in 2010/11 in the Totnes constituency but the service is keen to attract new employers and increase the number of apprentices being taken up by those under 24 . Any employers interested in finding out how they can take advantage of this scheme and in particular those who have not previously employed an apprentice can contact Fiona direct at Fiona.email@example.com
I met with constituents today at Dartmouth Guildhall to discuss their concerns on local and national issues. If you would like an appointment please telephone 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I enjoyed catching up with Tracey Cunningham and the team at Dartmouth Hospital. I would challenge any hospital to have a better view from its day room!
What a pleasure to open the Hoodown workshops for Dart Harbour and to catch up with Rob Giles, Neil Hockaday and their exceptional team from the harbour board. Hoodown will now be able to maintain the 330 pontoons on the Dart as well as their many other maintenance tasks and provide more employment opportunities locally.
If you wish to make an appointment to see me at one of my surgeries, please ring 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
It was fascinating to hear about the range of services provided by the staff and volunteers at victim support. Not just to individuals who have been affected by crime but also in the witness service to courts. I heard that they would also like to be able to provide a more formal support to police witnesses, who may sometimes struggle especially when new to this aspect of their role.
Victim support are always keen to hear from anyone interested in becoming a volunteer; they provide full training and the opportunity to work with an enthusiastic committed team.
I met with Michelle Rowan, service director at the Devon Drugs Service to discuss the change from a maintenance to a recovery focused agenda and meet with service users to hear about their views and the long term stigma many face even after they have turned their lives around.
From the service perspective I heard the view that they would prefer funding to come from national rather than local budgets.
It is good to be back in Devon. I try to hold surgeries in a number of locations around the constituency but as Totnes is the most central more people opt to come here than anywhere else. If you would like me to hold a constituency surgery or an open meeting in your village hall or other local venue please get in touch; 01803 868378 or firstname.lastname@example.org
It is always a pleasure to visit South Devon College. Today I met students studying for level 2 and 3 courses on children and young people and levels 1 through to foundation degrees in health and social care for a discussion about the Health and Social Care Act, training and regulation for Health Care Assistants and expanding the Assistant Practitioner role.
I am grateful to Robin East for organising a meeting with South Devon Marine representatives from across Torbay and South Devon to discuss the challenges facing our marine industries.
In the South West alone there are more than 2700 marine dependent companies which turnover around £1.3bn per year.
Issues raised included the impact of high and unpredictable fuel costs, bureaucracy and additional costs relating to the need for an increasing number of licences.
I was delighted to open the new premises for Disability Focus at Dartington. This charity has grown to support 700 disabled people and their carers in managing their direct payments. I was able to meet Disability Focus' first client, still singing their praises and enthusiastic about the independence that managing her own budget had given her. The ability to employ a personal assistant can be greatly valued especially where charities like Disability Focus help to manage the complexities of becoming an employer.
Congratulations to Victoria Conway, Derek Knowles and all of the dedicated team of staff and volunteers
A wonderful start to the day to join parents & volunteers at St John's Primary School, Bridgetown for the opening of the new school library. Thanks to Rotary for their support for this project and to all the volunteers who do so much for the school.
On a beautiful day it was great to see the children enjoying their 'exciting writing' outside in the sunshine and to tour the school with their enthusiastic headmaster, Andrew Squire.
It was wonderful to see so many people from across the Bay at the Riviera Centre for the conference to discuss how local Healthwatch will shape the future of healthcare in Torbay. If you are a patient or carer and wish to get involved contact Pat on 01803 295277 or email email@example.com.
Healthwatch will be taking over from LINks and will be able to influence how services are designed and provided, they will also be able to inspect hospitals and care homes where concerns have been raised.
I met with many local sub postmasters at Galmpton to discuss the issues facing our vitally important Post Offices with the proposals for changing to post office locals. This model could make it very difficult to attract new people into the service of their communities once existing sub postmasters retire or resign.
Thanks to everyone who came to Galmpton for a wide ranging and fascinating discussion including localism, planning, the Health Bill, gay marriage and International Aid. It was great to see so many people prepared to turn out on a sunny afternoon to discuss National and local political issues.
Another busy surgery at Totnes. If you would like an appointment to discuss your concerns, please telephone 01803 868378 to arrange a suitable time.
Our Community hospitals are immensely valued and it was a great pleasure to speak at the AGM of the Leagues of Friends. Their volunteers raise hundreds of thousands for equipment, building work and improving comforts for patients.
We were able to discuss the Health & Social Care Bill and the issues facing community hospitals.
Meeting with head, Phillip Medway and ICT lead Richard Haysom after a tour of this lovely Church of England Primary School. To see both an 18th century bible on display and the children enjoying a 21st century bible cartoon brought home the way that faith can play a part in school life alongside an exciting curriculum in beautiful surroundings.
Schools like this are however under great pressure from the funding formula which disadvantages Devon's schools.
Meeting with headmaster, Roger Pope to discuss school funding and other issues then a Question and Answer session with the sixth form on a wide range of topical national and local issues.
It was then a great pleasure to be included in the cheques presentation by Sport England for improvements to the school's all weather facilities to allow greater use by local people and pupils alike.
A chance to meet and discuss a range of issues on a one to one basis at my Advice Surgery.
Thank you to all the staff and volunteers at Saltstone Caring for all that you do to support people in the South Hams, helping to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and reducing loneliness.
Saltstone would like to take on an even greater role and are looking to work with local health teams to see how they can do more to help maintain independence for people in their own homes.
An opportunity to discuss the NHS reforms and other topical issues in the lovely surroundings of Kingswear Village Hall
Meeting at Torbay Town Hall with the Torbay Care Trust to discuss the Health and Social Care Bill and the continuing goal to integrate services across Torbay. Torbay has achieved National acclaim for the way that it has joined up health and social care; this is now being rolled out to include other parts of South Devon.
I also attended a meeting for an update on the progress with the South Devon Link Road; we can look forward to work on the ground in October.
I met today with Brixham Does Care, a local charity that offers support to people of all ages; a befriending charity which attempts to combat loneliness, isolation and despair. This was an opportunity to meet many who have benefited from their support and to hear how they now have a sense of purpose and fulfilment.
Another busy surgery at Totnes; if you wish to meet me to discuss your concerns please telephone 01803 868378 for an appointment. I have surgeries at various locations throughout the constituency.
Thank you to Townstal Community Hall and Townstal Community Partnership for inviting me to attend an Open Meeting. I was joined by Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, Dr Greatorex from the NHS Primary Care Trust and PC Nick Hill from the Dartmouth Police and answered questions on a diverse number of subjects.
I am grateful to Caroline White, Chief Executive of the Youth Hostel Association and Ben Atwell, who manages the local area, for showing me around the stunning Youth Hostel at Salcombe. Located at Overbecks and with the best views in Salcombe, I was pleased to hear that you can book for bed and a meal for just £30 for a family of four per night. Gone are the days when staying at a youth hostel used to mean helping with the chores and cold showers but it still retains its community atmosphere. The YHA is now helping with accommodation for the National Citizen Service which will hopefully help to introduce another generation to the joys of youth hostelling. If you would like to book a stay at any youth hostel you can now do so online, well worth a look and definitely worth the climb. Now that I am 50 I was relieved to hear that you don't even have to be a youth, just young at heart.
I enjoyed my visit to Slapton Ley Field Studies Centre to hear about the challenges facing the Slapton Line. The Ley has been constantly changing over the centuries and at some point, perhaps not for decades, the line may again be breached. There are no easy answers and those who own the line, the Whitley Wildlife Conservation trust, would not agree to concrete barriers or other so called 'hard' engineering or even 'soft' off shore engineering projects even if these could be funded. Supporting communities around the Slapton line and committing to early repair of any future manageable breach is however essential and I recognise the devastating impact on communities if that did not take place. In the meantime, the threat of rising sea levels is clear to anyone walking the line.
Thank you to Rev Daniel French for allowing me to use the upper rooms at Holy Trinity Church for one of my Advice Surgeries. When possible I like to hold surgeries in various locations around the constituency, so please telephone 01803 868378 if you would like an appointment.
I visited Dartmouth Academy today and I was impressed with the quality of art work. It is clear that the school is valuing its strong arts background whilst now pulling out all the stops to improve core academic achievements. Nicola Perrott, Director of Creative Learning writes,
"Art and Design training at Dartmouth Academy is a broad based education encompassing critical thought, creative endeavour, skills mastery and personal investment. We have long achieved outstanding results not only in Art & Design but also in Photography and Textile Design at GCSE and A Level standard. Schemes of learning encourage and support a broad cross curricular experience where students explore the intersection of subject areas that are apparently diverse. The experience allows students to break down barriers to learning and bring strengths and knowledge from one discipline into another, thus making coherent links between various modes and styles of learning. Recent collaborations have seen a multi media interactive exhibition on World War 2 bringing together Art & Design, Photography, English, History and Media Studies. Other collaborations have included visual maths journals, animated algebra and a great scheme of learning for year 8 based on Shakespeare's Tempest, which the students are studying in English. Rather than maintaining high standards we are constantly seeking ways for further improvement and development of our learners."
I met Dean Bowden and many of the apprentices from a variety of exciting courses . The number of apprentices could be even greater if more employers realised the benefits of taking on an apprentice.
Dean Bowden from South Devon College would be happy to talk to any employers considering offering to share their skills with an apprentice. The Government is delivering unprecedented funding for new apprenticeships. In addition, the Prime Minister has announced that from 7 February 2012, businesses and training providers can bid for a share of £6 million from the Higher Apprenticeship Fund, which will support the development of thousands of new Higher Apprenticeships in sectors including aerospace, energy and renewable technologies. Small and medium-sized businesses without any apprentices who hire one aged 16-24 are eligible for a £1,500 bonus, with up to 40,000 payments available and businesses can bid for a share of a £250 million fund to boost skills in their workplace, giving employers rather than training providers direct access to funding for training.
It was humbling to meet Berek and Marie Obuchowski, holocaust survivors, to hear their remarkable stories of survival. To hear first hand of Berek's time in the Lodz Ghetto, Aushwitz-Birkenau and the death march to Buchenwald brings home the need to stop these hate crimes ever happening again. Despite the lifelong pain of remembering, Berek works tirelessly to help others to understand why and how this happened. A truly remarkable couple and thanks to Brixham Baptist Church for organising the memorial service.
I hold surgeries at a variety of venues across the constituency, today there were two surgeries, one in Totnes and one in Brixham. If you would like to meet to discuss local or national issues or need advice, please call 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
Thank you to Captain Alex Burton and all the ship's company for making me so welcome aboard the Royal Naval Flagship, HMS Bulwark. This was a fascinating insight into the workings of this warship described by Captain Burton as the 'Swiss Army Knife' of the fleet. She is able to deliver the power of the Royal Marines by air and sea carrying over 250 marines with their vehicles and supplies as well as commanding and coordinating operations from on board the ship. As an island nation with 600 ports, around 300 offshore installations and an important fishing industry, we are absolutely dependent on the security of our seas. UK-based shipping contributes £10bn per year to GDP and needs protection both at home and abroad.
The crew are on 48 hours notice to be available to spearhead operations anywhere in the world which places a heavy responsibility on the crew to be in a constant state of readiness. I was impressed by their rigorous training programme and conviction that every crew member is essential to the smooth running of the ship, often trained for several roles.
HMS Bulwark has already demonstrated her role in humanitarian assistance and conflict prevention as well as promoting partnerships through joint exercises with the French Navy. None of this would be possible without the professionalism and dedication of the ship's company.
As a former 'air force baby' I particularly enjoyed visiting the landing platform although being more used to runways it looked like an impossibly small ...and moving target for a landing!
It was a pleasure to visit Bowden Farm near South Brent to meet Russell and Sandy Ashford and members of the Dartmoor Preservation Society and Commoners Association to hear about the problems facing hill farmers in South Devon. It is vital that when the Common Agricultural Policy is reviewed, the particular challenges facing hill farmers are recognised. At present they receive less in the way of subsidies despite working in the most challenging terrain and looking after so much in the way of open access countryside.
Without maintaining the delicate balance of grazing stock our moorland would rapidly become inaccessible and we can already see where this is happening in some parts of Dartmoor. Farmers need to have their environmental work fairly rewarded be that for South West Water or on behalf of everyone that enjoys the freedom of the moors.
My regular advice surgeries are an opportunity for my constituents to come and see me in person to talk about any issues, political or personal, that you may be having difficulty with, please telephone 01803 868378 to make an appointment.
I was pleased to welcome fellow members of the Health Select Committee to Torbay to see for themselves the groundbreaking achievements of the Torbay Care Trust, Baywide and Torbay Council in pooling their budgets and putting in place integrated health and social care. The ethos of having a single point of contact and plans in place to avoid unnecessary admissions to hospital together with arrangements to make sure that people can return home as soon as possible, have put Torbay ahead of so many other areas.
The Health Select Committee report into adult social care will be published on 8th February.
I met Rob Hopkins and Frances Northrop from Transition Town Totnes to discuss their new book, The Transition Companion, and the extraordinary progress of the Transition Movement both locally and nationally. The introduction to the Transition Companion asks the question, 'what would it look like if the best responses to peak oil and climate change came not from committees and Acts of Parliament, but from you and me and the people around us'. The Transition movement is now working to put these ideas for increasing local resilience into practice
Today I met with Adam Dadeby and had the opportunity to look over a Passivhaus in Dartington. Passivhaus originated in Germany in 1991 but now countries around the world are adopting the standard and adapting it to their local architecture and climate. Since 2009, it has been taking off rapidly in the UK too. A Passivhaus with ultra low energy building standard needs 90% less energy than a typical UK home, protecting owners or tenants from fuel poverty for ever. Designed and built with proper care and attention to detail, they stay very comfortable in summer and winter, without relying on lots of complex technology. A very interesting project.
Meeting with Dr Samantha Barrell from Baywide to discuss the proposed new arrangements for 2 clinical commissioning groups to cover Devon.
The first surgery of the new year. If you would like to meet to discuss your concerns or local and national issues please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.
I attended an Open Public Meeting in Loddiswell and I also had the opportunity to meet with the Parish Council.
I had a meeting at Torquay Town Hall with Elizabeth Raikes and Cllrs Thomas and Richardson to discuss Park Homes and the problems faced by residents.
Visit to Brixham Police Station to celebrate the contribution of Special Constables to policing in Torbay.
There are over 14,000 special constables across the UK, all volunteers and it was a privilege to meet them to hear their contribution recognised by Inspector Nye and to hear about the challenging but fascinating teamwork involved.
Meeting with our local police to discuss the force reorganisation known as blueprint and how the teams area are coping with changes to their shift patterns and response teams. It was also good to meet the team which then takes over to investigate crimes after the response team.
Please get in contact should you wish to meet with me at one of my surgeries around the constituency. The contact for surgery appointments is 01803 86878 or by email email@example.com
Speciality Fasteners and Componets Ltd is a thriving business produces and exports fasteners for high end vehicles like racing cars and speed boats but are currently threatened by the uncontrolled growth of counterfeit products in the Far East. It was shocking to see how these poor quality imitations could be broken apart and yet how convincing the fake packaging looked. Such fakes are not only a threat to safety but are also damaging small British engineering firms.
Discussion about the achievements and challenges facing the Torbay Care Trust in the year ahead as they become a provider of services and hand over all their commissioning roles to Baywide. We are waiting to hear final news of how the commissioning groups will look in Devon. This meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities for developing our community hospitals and the work of the Leagues of Friends.
Today I held a surgery at Quay House in Kingsbridge, and I try to rotate my surgeries around the constituency. If you have any concerns or issues you would like to discuss with me please telephone Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange an appointment.
I held a surgery in Totnes today, if you would like to meet please telephone Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or email email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
My thanks to everyone for organising a successful Open Meeting at West Charleton Village Hall. It was good to meet with many local residents to discuss both local and national issues.
Today I spoke as Patron, at the launch of Devon's first Rape Crisis Centre. Devon has long been recognised as one of the areas of the Country with the worst access to support for victims of sexual violence and as a former police surgeon and GP I am proud that the Conservatives have honoured our manifesto commitment to improve this service. Thanks to three years of secure funding this will include education and prevention as well as a confidential telephone helpline and face-to-face support. There will also be support for partners, friends or relatives. I am sure that this new service will help those who have been victims of sexual violence and are struggling to move on from these deeply traumatic crimes. The new service will begin by running the helpline (01392 204174) on Mondays from 3pm to 6pm, Fridays from 2pm to 5pm and Saturdays from 11am and 2pm. The hours will increase to 20 a week once the next team of volunteers have finished training. The website is www.devonrapecrisis.org.uk
I held another busy surgery today at Brixham Conservative Club, if you would like an appointment to meet, please telephone Nina Smith on 01803 868378.
Congratulations to James Engwell. TQ9 is now up and running at their new premises at 16, High Street, Totnes.
Totnes is a thriving centre for the creative industries, music, arts & natural health. Home to acclaimed writers, poets & thinkers, as well as to a number of progressive organisations with global influence. However, while the area enjoys rich cultural diversity, interesting people, outstanding natural beauty & low crime, there is a huge disparity in incomes, high unemployment & a lack of opportunity.
The TQ9 project aims to respond to these challenges by;
Thank you to everyone who attended this open meeting. The subjects ranged from localism, draft National Planning Policy Framework , Europe, the economy, the importance of Britannia Royal Naval College , farming and Brixham coastguards to name but a few. I am grateful to all who attended for a lively and broad reaching discussion.
Today, my Advice Surgery was held at Dartmouth Guildhall, for details of further surgeries or to make an appointment, please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This was a meeting to discuss policing in Paignton and Brixham whilst Paignton and Brixham remain low crime areas there has been a blip in the downward trend of recent years. Unfortunately a significant number of burglaries are opportunistic, crimes where householders have left windows or doors open this was also a meeting to discuss individual concerns raised by constituents and how the force is coping with significant operational changes.
Another surgery in Totnes and if you require an appointment please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or by email email@example.com
This was a public meeting at the Royal Seven Stars, Totnes organised by Friends of the Earth to discuss the damaging impact at Buckfastleigh and surrounding areas that could result from incinerator bottom ash, not only are there likely to be age impacts on an important bat habitat but real concerns about heavy metals and other toxins leeching from the ash and finding their way into the Dart. All this on top of up to an extra 200 lorries a day adding to noise pollution. The meeting heard that reducing waste remains a top priority and that Devon County Council should be congratulated for the progress that they have made in this respect. Devon is now top of the league nationally with 55% of all waste being recycled, The meeting also heard from the Devon Alliance for Incineration alternatives who would prefer to see a state of the art materials recovery facility, better use of anaerobic digestion for food waste and gasification and pyrolysis for waste that cannot be recycled this would avoid the 70,000 tons of toxic or highly toxic ash produced per year additionally by incinerators. Concerns were also raised about the use of DFI to fund the incinerator project.
I joined the Mayor and Civic Party in Totnes today to remember those who have died in the service of our country. It was a very moving service and impressive parade.
Quay House in Kingsbridge was the venue for my Advice Surgery today, but I have surgeries at different location within the constituency. If you would like an appointment to discuss your concerns please ring 01803 868378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
I enjoyed my visit to Palladium Building Supplies, a thriving business covering South Hams and beyond, from their base in Kingsbridge. I toured the site with branch Manager Nick Cox and director Keith Olver and met Sylvain Bourdas who has received a national award for product knowledge and advice. It was reassuring to hear that builder's merchants welcome DIY enthusiasts as well as those with expert knowledge. This was an opportunity to discuss policies like the renewable heat incentive and the green deal as well as the difficulties that firms like Palladium will face if 3p per litre duty rise goes ahead in January.
It was good to welcome my colleague Charlotte Leslie to Thurlestone to hear her talking about the importance of volunteering and community involvement in her role as ambassador for the Big Society. Charlotte has a particular interest in sport as a means of bringing communities together.
I attended the NHS South West Top Leaders Development Programme Conference.I was speaking at this conference of future NHS clinical leaders about the interface between politics and the NHS.
Another full surgery at Quay House, Kingsbridge. If you would like to meet with me at one of my future surgeries please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or email email@example.com
In 1995, half an acre of scrub land was identified as a possible site for a community garden for Kingsbridge.
Over the years volunteers have been working on the site, creating a garden that this year won an 'Award of Outstanding Achievement' from the RHS South West in Bloom.
The aims of the garden are to provide educational and recreational amenities for the local community, to conserve materials and energy through composting and recycling and to work with local schools. They are a Citizenship partner of the Kingsbridge Community College.
The garden is a charity and is self-supporting through the sales of produce, open days and plant sales. Well worth a visit!
It was good to meet with those who would like to see trains stopping in South Brent rather than having to travel to Ivybridge or Totnes.
Today I held a surgery in South Brent and if you would like to meet at one of my future surgeries to discuss any issues or concerns, please phone my constituency office on 01803 868378
This was an opportunity to highlight local successes such as the Totnes Food Mapping project and integrated Health and Social Care in Torbay as well as meet with a number of medical charities and campaign groups.
A visit to Holne village stores and tearooms to hear the great news that grant funding has been approved for 6 affordable homes subject to planning permission. Congratulations to the housing committee who have worked for many years to try to get this project up and running. This vibrant community are now running their village stores and tea rooms with a team of enthusiastic volunteers and now need to raise funds to buy the premises. If you haven't visited, the cream teas and local walks are fabulous.
What a fantastic location for a constituency surgery in the sunshine on Dartmoor.
This was a public meeting to discuss the changes to the NHS. Everybody was welcome to hear and ask questions about the local and national picture from myself, David Radford, the chair of NHS Devon and Dr Stephen Harris, lead commissioner for our local pathfinder clinical commissioning group.
This was an open meeting with KARRD, a campaigning group opposed to the two storey building that has been erected, despite local opposition, within the conservation area in Kingswear. Within the grounds of a station, no planning permission is apparently required. This is a warning for the consequences of unrestricted development; a meaningful consultation with local people would have been a better way forward.
New Key, it was good to meet up again with Gary Kent to visit those who are now able to live with much greater control over their lives in New Key's accommodation and it was also good to visit Paignton and catch up with another great coffee morning for Macmillan Cancer Care.
Gary Kent, Shelley Batchelor and Sally Cairns
Jan Maddick and Simon Jordy
If you would like to meet with me at my next surgery please telephone Nina Smith on 01803 868378
Meeting with Paul Collings of PC Builders to discuss the issues for the building industry.
No one could fail to notice Bob the Bus in Totnes, our community bus run by a committed team of volunteers. Now with a fleet of 3 and hoping to expand. We met to discuss the real challenges facing rural bus services and how better support could be put in place for community buses. The team are always looking for more volunteers to join them so if you would like to get involved, do get in touch with Tanya Vickers, the Coordinator on 01803 867076 or 01803 868584
I visited the Devonshire Collection of Period Costume, at Bogan House, to view their current exhibition, which shows the impact of developments in new materials on dress over the years. I was briefed on the exciting plans for next year's exhibition, which will reflect the fact that 2012 is Olympic Year by Chairman of the Trustees, Justine Holmes.
The Collection had been able to greatly increase its attraction, over the last few years, thanks largely to the generosity of former Trustees, Priscilla Mitchell and Peter Clapham, who had provided substantial bequests. The Museum is, however, still very dependent upon the goodwill of its organisation of Friends and relies heavily on them to enable it to be constantly on the look out for ways of increasing the scope of the Collection and presenting it to the public.
It was a real pleasure to meet Julia Fox, the Collection's Honorary Curator and the team of volunteers at Totnes museum of costume at Bogan House. This remarkable collection is well worth a visit. My personal favourite was the mauveine dress, dyed in the revolutionary new colour said to "lure on foolish batchelors to sudden proposals".
I took part in the debate at Dartington about Health inequalities alongside Molly Mattingley from the Mental Health Foundation. Health inequalities are stark in the UK and despite being set as a priority by the last government, inequalities worsened over the last decade. The average life expectancy gap is 7 years between the north and south of England and the gap in living free from disease is 17 years. There are very many complex issues behind this and the Government's response to the Marmot review was published last year.
Here is the link to Healthy lives Healthy people
This debate was a good opportunity to discuss how difficult it is to close the gap in health.
If you would like to meet at one of my Advice Surgeries please telephone 01803 868378
This was a meeting to discuss a range of issues from the draft National Planning Policy Framework to the ongoing acute shortage of affordable housing either to buy or rent in South Devon.
I am absolutely committed to our South Devon countryside and it is clear that where local plans are in place, as is the case for the South Hams, this will not lead to large scale inappropriate developments as was the case under regional spatial strategies. The whole point of localism is for communities to have greater power over their housing needs.
Devon Rape Crisis Service has recently formed and is getting ready to deliver services to women across the county who have experienced rape, sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse or any form of sexual violence. To do so, we need to recruit volunteers to work on our telephone helpline and to offer face to face support and advocacy to women. Volunteers receive acredited training, support, supervision and expenses and the next course starts in February 2012. If you are interested please contact the Volunteer Co-ordinator, Anna Janota on 01392 208756 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Left to right seated; Yvonne Atkinson, Moira Macdonald, Sarah Wollaston, Linda Regan
Today I held another busy surgery at Totnes. If you would like an appointment to meet and discuss your concerns please telephone 01803 868378
It was good to catch up with Dr Kevin Bishop of the Dartmoor National Park Authority and Cllr Bill Morgan to discuss individual constituents' concerns as well as the proposed changes to the Governance of National Parks. Some have been concerned that the National Parks lack democratic accountability but 4 of the 22 members of DNPA are parish councillors and 12 are directly appointed from district or county councils. 6 are appointed by the Secretary of State. These are not salaried posts but members have a small annual allowance. If you would like to view the proposals to introduce elected representatives then click here
I hold surgeries in different locations throughout the constituency and if you would like an appointment please telephone 01803 868378
Thanks to all the volunteers at Brixham Heritage Museum for the extraordinary work that goes into keeping the museum flourishing. The museum is fortunate to have as its curator zooarchaeologist Dr Philip Armitage who also supervises archaeological digs at Berry Head as well as re-enactments of Napoleonic life and organising the new display of early Brixham fossils.
Well worth a visit.
Brixham Open Meeting in support of our Coastguards at the Riviera Centre, Torbay. This was an opportunity for the community to pay tribute to our Maritime Rescue Coordinators and to hear from the many groups who rely upon them. It was especially moving to hear the tribute from Sheryll Murray MP, whose own fisherman husband Neil lost his life at sea. There are some things that go beyond a price tag like the ability for fishing families to speak to someone on the end of a phone who knows their families boat. The cost savings from this modernisation do not in my opinion justify the imposition of another untested and centralised computer based response system.
Photo courtesy of Herald Express
Meeting with Brixham Coastguards in advance of the public meeting to discuss the campaign to retain our service in Brixham and to draft a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport
Congratulations to Richard Montgomery and all those who took part in the cycle ride from Bolton Cross to Churston to highlight the need for improvements to cycle routes around the Bay. This would not only help to reduce traffic but would, as in so many other towns, attract visitors interested in green tourism.
This was an opportunity to discuss the future of medical education, workforce planning and training with doctors' leaders from across the UK.
Following the NHS listening exercise, there was a commitment to introduce further protections to training for all NHS staff and the NHS Future Forum were given further time to develop proposals.
It was clear from the conference that there remain concerns about the number of EU area doctors practising in the UK without adequate English language skills. The General Medical Council are also deeply concerned about the EU directives that prevent language testing and I feel this is an area which needs further challenge.
To mark the completed restoration of the lovely 1610 Harris memorial in St Peter's Church with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the church held a photographic competition. If you haven't had the chance to explore one of Devon's truly remarkable Norman churches, this is well worth a visit.
Fridays are usually a constituency day but this was scheduled to be the second reading of my private members bill to prevent alcohol marketing to children. As is so often the case with private members bills, this ran out of time but has at least been able to contribute to the debate about the need for tighter controls on those marketing alcohol.
I continue to have surgeries around the constituency, please do contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378 if you would like to meet up with me
I am grateful to Devon and Cornwall Police officers for their time discussing local policing issues and concerns. Whilst on patrol with Paignton Police, it was clear that whilst Devon is one of the safest areas of the country, antisocial behaviour and in particular linked to alcohol, is the chief concern for local people.
The amount of time wasted by police, the courts and the nhs dealing with alcohol related illness, crime and antisocial behaviour is a disgrace and we are all picking up the bill..around £20billion per year.
I hold regular surgeries and if you would like an appointment to discuss issues or problems with me, do telephone Nina Smith on 01803 868378
I attended a meeting with the residents of Falcon Park.The treatment of Park Homes residents continues to cause great concern to MPs from across the political spectrum. A new scheme to try to give residents access to justice has just been set up this year, as part of the Residential Property Tribunal Service but many examples of poor treatment were raised at todays meeting with Park Homes Owners.
Watch this space for another locally developed idea to help bring businesses, mentors, volunteers and finance together.
This was a meeting about an inspiration local scheme to bring sustainable affordable housing to rural Devon. I met with the Land Society team to hear about the course that they are setting up at South Devon College to help people with strong local ties or commitment to both identify and build homes in their villages on land that has been bought through community land trusts. No one wants to see inappropriate large scale development but equally there is a desperate shortage of affordable housing and village communities are losing out as young people cannot afford to live here. House building fell in the last decade and there has to be a balance between the needs of local people for housing and jobs and a natural reluctance to see development. I think the Land Society has a great proposal. For more details do look at the "Housing" tab under "Issues"
Meeting with Cllr Ellery from Brixham to discuss the Brixham Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and the meeting at the Riviera Centre on September 17th at 7.00pm. All are welcome.
I met with Cllr John Tucker and Cllr Michael Hicks of South Hams District Council to discuss the Coalitions Draft National Planning Policy Framework. Have you read the document? Please let me know your views.
We discussed early years childcare grant and the issues around the age at which children transfer to schools. As ever there is the issue of duplication of admin and the time that small businesses spend completing paperwork and inspections. I look forward to keeping in touch with this enthusiastic team who invited me to visit through the Forum of Private Business and their business buddy scheme.
It was lovely to meet members of the South Hams Community & Voluntary Services based at Follaton House and to hear about the work which they do in the South Hams and to discuss some of the issues affecting the local voluntary & community sector.
(in picture from left to right: Claudia Benzies, David Trigger, Sarah Wollaston MP, Vic Rosati (Chair), Jill Davies (Chief Officer))
South Devon Rural Housing Association is a small community based, charitable, not -for -profit organisation, providing housing, support and care in South Devon. In April 2011 they moved into new offices in Totnes, just opposite Leatside Surgery. The premises are home to their Day Centre and also the main offices for the Association. They have other rooms which are available to rent at low cost or no cost, to local charities and other community organisations. These rooms are already being put to good use as the home of Totnes Memory Cafe.
Please contact them by their web site www.southdevonrural.com email email@example.com or ring 01803 863550.
LINk is the Local Involvement Network, shortly to become Local Healthwatch, an organisation that aims to report on and liaise about local healthcare provision. Under the Health and Social Care Bill, there will be an increase in the accountability of local healthcare. It is fair to say that local people had very little say in how health services were commissioned or provided in the past and as we move to the new arrangements with clinical commissioning, there should be much greater opportunity for people to get involved through local healthwatch.
It was a great pleasure to meet the residents of Home Meadow in Totnes and to discuss the importance of wardens in sheltered housing. I met Jill Monkton and Sarah Kingston who did so much to campaign to keep their warden when the service was under threat.
It was also an opportunity for an open forum meeting with residents.
I spent the morning with David Wilson, CE of Robert Owen Communities, which supports people with learning and physical disabilities in South Devon. Calling in on sports day in Paignton and ROC Creative as well as Laura House in Totnes and an opportunity to discuss how personal budgets for those with disabilities can be used to give real control back to service users.
Brixham Young volunteers are based at the old United Reform Church in Bolton Street supported by YES, the Youth Enquiry Service, a small local independent charity supporting young people in Brixham, whatever their circumstances. It was a great pleasure to visit the new premises and feel such a warm welcome from an inspiring group of people and to hear about their impressive programme of entertainment and community volunteering with a particular flair for linking across the generations in Brixham.
Today I held another surgery at Brixham Conservative Club, please do get in touch if you would like an appointment to see me, by telephoning Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to David Croney from the Brixham Buccaneers for setting up two walks around Brixham. Brixham Pirate Walks cover all of Brixham's hidden treasures and some fantastic views. Blackbeard's Trail and Buccaneers Way are both now marked and well worth a detour.
It was good to return to Brixham Hospital and to tour the wonderful new facilities at the site with Senior Nurse Manager Carol Gilmour. All 20 beds are open in Brixham. It was also an opportunity to catch up with doctors from St Lukes and Compass Rd as well as nursing staff.
It was good to visit the Flavel in Dartmouth and meet with Linda Hughes, Chair of New Devon Opera to hear about the work of the New Devon Opera, which successfully combines professional singers and musicians with a community chorus. It was also a chance to discuss how companies like NDO can be constrained by excessive bureaucracy; the community chorus cannot for example include children due to overly restrictive regulations and it is a shame to see that these rules can prevent children from having the chance to perform.
Devon continues to be amongst the safest areas in the country but there are always areas that can be improved. I was shocked to hear that for domestic violence in Devon, 60% of cases are directly related to alcohol. It seems that whilst in urban areas, alcohol and binge drinking are mostly associated with public violence, in rural areas it can so often lead to violence in the home.
It was helpful to catch up with Supt Mayhew to discuss the partnerships in the South Hams that are tackling this. If you have been affected and want to talk in confidence you can follow the link to South Devon Womens Aid or of course speak directly to the police.
Continuing the gardening theme, I met with some of the team from Totnes in Bloom and was able to tour Totnes to look at the sites that have been transformed already and those that the team have next in their sights including roundabouts, shady corners and abandoned planters. The group are always ready to welcome anyone with enthusiasm with a few hours to spare and no previous gardening experience is necessary.
I held a surgery at Great Parks Community Centre and also enjoyed a tour of the centre with the dedicated team of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to paint and renovate the centre.
It was a real pleasure to revisit the community Garden which has now been transformed by volunteers including a group from Dreamscheme. Last time I saw the 'garden' is was all concrete and overgrown with weeds but now bursting with colour and even with vegetables.
If you wish to meet with me to discuss any concerns, please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or email email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
A meeting with Rob Giles, Harbour Master, Neil Hockaday, Chair and several members of the Dart Harbour Team to hear about the challenges facing small ports and harbours around the country. It was a privilege to meet the dedicated team mostly of volunteers who safeguard Dartmouth's harbour for leisure users and professionals alike.
This was a meeting to discuss the ongoing problem of exorbitant rate increases in Salcombe, which is becoming even more of a problem now that transitional relief is phasing out. We discussed the proposal to 'repatriate' business rates to district and county councils and the opportunity this will present to allow councils to recognise the particular problems facing our town centre independent retailers. The underlying problem however still remains the way in which small businesses like bakeries are rated using the same criteria as national chain stores and according to rents that were charged before the recent economic challenges
If you wish to meet me at one of my surgeries, please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Today I held my surgery at The Quay in Kingsbridge.
I met with Dr Virginia Pearson, the Director of Public Health for Devon Primary Care Trust and Devon County Council and we discussed a recent outbreak of measles at a school in Ashburton which has highlighted the risk to communities where immunisation levels fall below the levels needed to prevent this highly contagious disease spreading amongst those who have not been protected through vaccination. Whilst some people dismiss measles as just a harmless childhood virus, the reality is that even in healthy children it is very unpleasant and in a minority of cases can lead to deafness, inflammation of the brain and long term damage. NHS Devon has launched a campaign, which I fully support, to encourage parents to take a few minutes at the start of the summer holidays to visit their surgery to talk about vaccination.
Many children missed out on the vital second dose of MMR and parents may be wrongly assuming that their children are protected by having had a single dose. I would urge them to think about having the booster to protect them against the increasing risk of measles.
I met with CE Paula Vasco-Knight, Chairman Peter Hildrew and Medical Director John Lowes at Torbay Hospital, the South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust. This was to discuss the success of integration of healthcare that has been achieved in South Devon and how to improve patients' experiences.
Whenever I write about successes at the Trust, I do know that not everyone is happy with the NHS service that they or a loved one has received. These meetings are also valuable opportunities to raise individual concerns as well as look to see how I can help feedback concerns from doctors and nurses working on the frontline.
Maria Miller, Under Secretary of State at the Dept of Work and Pensions came to the constituency at the invitation of the National Federation for the Blind, following my meeting with them in Paignton earlier this year. She met with many local people who are living with severe visual impairment.
It was an opportunity to discuss the change from Disability Living Allowance DLA, to Personal Independence Payments and exchange views on the proposals. Maria was able to allay some of the unfounded myths about the proposals but also to hear firsthand about ways that those coping with blindness felt the assessments could be improved or in some cases scrapped.
Ways with Words Literary Festival at Dartington celebrates the power of books, words and ideas in one of the Country's most beautiful settings.
I was delighted to be invited to a lively debate on 'The Big society' with Cole Moreton and Peter Stanford.
I am very clear about the 'Big Society', for me it is about trying to spread the example from communities across South Devon which have been delivering this for years. Government's role is to make sure that the barriers to volunteering and philanthropy is swept away wherever possible and that more power is given to neighbourhoods through localism.
A great day for Salcombe, the sun was shining and the Duke and Duchess were able to see Salcombe at its very best.
It was a great honour to be present for the service in Exeter Cathedral to mark the achievements of the 43rd Wessex Division and inaugurate the '43rd Wessex Heritage Trust'. The 'Fighting Wessex Wyverns' fought many epic battles over 10 months in Normandy, suffering the highest rate of casualties of all Divisions engaged in the North West Europe campaign.
I had a meeting with Stephen Otter Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police
Devon remains among the safest places to live in the country and confirmed by figures recently published by the Home Office.
Recorded crime in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly fell by 6% in the year up to March 2011, compared to the previous year. The Force area has the third lowest crime rate in the country.
Burglary fell by 8% in the 12 month period while offences against vehicles dropped by a substantial 15%; criminal damage decreased by 14% and other theft offences were down by 4%.
But the police have had a challenging couple of months with radical changes to the way that response teams operate and it was helpful to be able to discuss residents' concerns and I am pleased to hear that the Chief Constable will be visiting Dartmouth and reviewing the impact of changes on a regular basis.
Meeting at KEVICC to discuss the proposal for Co-operative Trust Status. Principal Kate Mason responded to concerns raised by some parents about the consultation and Trust schools. Becoming a Trust school will enable the land and assets to be secured in a Trust for the long term benefit of students and the community as freehold rather than as a long term lease. It does not prevent the school from becoming an academy or part of a federation if they wished to go down that route at a later stage.
It is wonderful to see new affordable housing in Totnes and great to see builders at work on the next phase of development.
Cllr Michael Saltern, Executive Member for Housing for South Hams District Council, Kerry Parnell (new tenant)-Graham Facks-Martin Chair Tor Homes-Dr Sarah Wollaston Totnes MP
Another busy surgery at Totnes, another surgery was arranged for the next day. If you would like an appointment please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378
Today I met with Paul Eells the South Hams District Council's Advice Manager and Darren Cole, Head of ICT Customer Services to discuss the ever present problem of housing in the South Hams. We talked at length about Devon Home Choice and their website.
I am including some useful links to South Hams District Council's Housing website
http://www.southhams.gov.uk/ksp_housing.htm (Main housing page)
http://www.southhams.gov.uk/index/residents_index/ksp_housing/ksp_housingadvice.htm (Housing advice page)
http://www.southhams.gov.uk/ben-homepage.htm (Housing benefits main page)
http://www.southhams.gov.uk/index/residents_index/ben-homepage/wbc-sp11.htm (Benefits calculator)
I met with Superintendant Nye and Sgt Bell in Paignton and with PC Foster in Totnes.
This was an opportunity to hear about changes to the work of response officers and the work of neighbourhood teams. In the face of great financial challenges Devon and Cornwall Police are doing all they can to continue their professional approach and maintain response times.
Congratulations to TOR2 on the new recycling facility opened on the Yalberton Industrial Estate. After the initial difficulties of the changes to recycling in Torbay, the results speak for themselves as Torbay has drastically reduced waste going to landfill. This fantastic new amenity should ensure that Torbay meets its targets well ahead of time and allows real savings to taxpayers.
I attended a public meeting at the Townstal Community Hall of the Townstal Community Partnership and took part in an open question session where we discussed matters affecting the local community. These issues included the proposed relocation of the Dartmouth Academy and also the loss of the bus service between Dartmouth and Torquay. This matter was discussed at great length with many of the attendees sharing their experiences. I explained that I had requested a debate in the Houses of Parliament about rural bus services and that I would take these experiences and present them to the Minister for Transport. Thank you to everyone for making me so welcome and I look forward to future meetings at Townstal.
Picture courtesy of Fred Pritchard
I met with Steve Parrock and Alan Denby from the TDA for an update on the Brixham Regeneration Project. Tesco remains conditionally signed up to the Town Centre Project for a supermarket, additional parking and affordable housing. This will involve an increase in parking spaces from 170 to 355, essential if we are to increase the footfall to neighbouring Fore Street especially if we see 1.5 hours free parking on site. A similar scheme in Newton Abbot helped to boost trade to a failing high street and of course is preferable to another out of town development. I accept that the construction period will present real challenges but my personal view is that the scheme will act as a catalyst for further investment in the town centre.
During Carers' week it was good to meet up with carers and service users at New Key in Dart Marine Park, Totnes. I was able to hear first hand from someone who had had dreadful experience of care in residential care. With the horrific abuse reported from Winterborne View very much in the public eye this was a good opportunity to stress the importance of widening access to individual supported accommodation. We all like to chose who we live with so it is only right that this freedom is extended to everyone. The point was made that personal budgets for those needing support are the way forward. This was a really helpful meeting to share ideas on how this needs to be introduced with support for Personal Advocates to help those with learning difficulties to negotiate the system.
A meeting to explain and debate the changes to the Health and Social Care Bill and the response to the Government's listening exercise 'The Future Forum'
It was a privilege to meet Pastor Mark Hatch, volunteers and those who are homeless in Totnes to hear about the challenges they face providing a vital lifeline to rough sleepers in town. They are shortly to lose their base at St John's Ambulance Hall and I hope will find a new base with support from South Hams District Council. Many homeless people come to Totnes because they feel safer in this community and I was struck by the level of support and friendship offered by Mark and his team at the Soup Kitchen. It is a tribute to the whole team that with support some of those they help are able to get their lives back on track but this takes time and cannot happen at all without a base from which to offer that help.
Congratulations to Glorious Chorus, the renowned a capella group led by Helen Yeomans, on their 'One World' premier at St John's Church. If you are interested in community singing, Helen runs an open workshop on market days in Totnes or to see the future programme clink on this link
This was an opportunity to catch up with residents in Stoke Fleming. Many thanks to the Newman family for hosting this event.
I held surgeries today at Brixham and Totnes, if you would like an appointment please telephone 01803 868378
This was a meeting to put forward the very strong case for relocating the Academy to the Community Hub adjacent to the leisure centre. Now that the Academy has been awarded over £8m towards redevelopment, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to locate the school at the heart of the community such that facilities can be shared and used far more effectively. Such a relocation is dependent on the County Council facilitating a land swap and I hope that all those concerned for the future of the redevelopment will contact their councillor to press the case for the school to be rebuilt in the best possible location. It would also mean that pupils would face minimal disruption during the redevelopment.
I am grateful to Nick Dilworth from the Citizens Advice Bureau for organising the Justice for All event at Follaton House to discuss the impact of changes to the funding of legal aid. Legal Aid was introduced in 1949 and has been a very important way for those on low incomes to access justice. Unfortunately the cost of legal aid has spiralled from around half a million pounds in 1982 to over £2 billion. Current proposals for reductions will affect an estimated half million cases and will also have an impact on the funding of our vital citizens advice bureau. I do accept that we need to look further at the impact of these proposals.
Today I opened the new showroom of XTR a leading brand in zero and low emission technology. I was able to test ride some of the economical an eco-friendly bikes and scooters on the Babbage Industrial Estate. This move towards energy efficient and cost effective transport will surely be one of the important features for the future. I was suitably impressed with my trial run on an electric bicycle. This new business will be creating employment opportunities as it also has an assembly plant at the premises www.x-ev.com
Today I met with Carole and Bob Hart-Fletcher who are behind the launch of www.LoveDartmouth.com This website has been launched in partnership with "By the Dart". The people of Dartmouth and surrounding towns and villages now have their own bespoke Social Network designed for residents - full and part-time, visitors, businesses and community groups. An online destination for all to connect and share experiences, exchange views and post creative ideas around the unique challenges that Dartmouth and areas of the South Hams face. "Love Dartmouth" contributes to the government's Big Society vision of communities feeling empowered to solve problems in their neighbourhood, having freedom to influence and discuss topics that matter to them and a more local approach to social action and responsibility. In "Love Dartmouth" there is a fun factor too, so if you want to meet your neighbours, contribute to debates, participate in polls and research about local issues click on the following link www.LoveDartmouth.com
The final event for the Devon Guild of Singers and Players started with a day with the remarkable John Railton, who since 2002 has been giving so many people the opportunity to perform, un-auditioned, in large scale works. On Saturday they held a workshop for the Durufle Requiem prior to a performance in Buckfast Abbey. It was a privilege to watch John in action as so many came together to celebrate his 8 years of inspirational musicianship.
I met with volunteers for the opening of the Community Composting Site in South Brent.
Sustainable South Brent has been working with the District Council and the National Park for many years on this fantastic project to reduce the wasteful miles that garden waste is transported in Devon. This is just one of many projects, including a renewable energy wind turbine scheme, energy conservation and local transport campaigns now being taken forward by Sustainable South Brent. Congratulations to Ross Kennerley, Richard Chapman and a dedicated team of volunteers not just for this scheme but for their ongoing commitment to man the site with volunteers on Sunday mornings as well as their work on the school garden and allotments.
I really enjoyed discussing the Health and Social Care Bill with local representatives from the Royal College of Nursing today, as well as sharing ideas about workforce training and nursing careers.
I held a surgery in Totnes today. If you would like an appointment please ring 01803 868378.
Thank you as always to all those who take the time to discuss a broad range of individual and national concerns.
Today was a great opportunity for the whole community to show their support for our local coastguard as we all await the outcome of the Select committee Report and the final response to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's proposals. There can be no doubt about the vital role played by Brixham in safeguarding all those who use our coastal waters and I would like to again play tribute to the professionalism of our Coastguard.
I visited the National Federation of the Blind in Paignton to hear their concerns about benefit changes and about the shocking problem faced by those with guide dogs in Torbay. In the past month, 2 guide dogs have been so traumatised by attacks by other dogs that they have had to be withdrawn. Guide dogs are trained not to be aggressive and it is shocking that a minority of dog owners allow their own animals to cause such unnecessary suffering.
I visited Totnes FM Radio today. Totnes FM provides the community of Totnes with its own radio station delivering news, views, and entertainment relevant to local people.
Congratulations to David Parsley for getting the Radio station set up. I'm sure it's going to be a great success.
I will be doing Question Time Totnes events live on the show and chaired by David Parsley. You can come and put your questions directly to me by contacting them on 01803 862 267 or at email@example.com, and putting Question Time Totnes in the subject line.
You can listen to Totnes FM radio on air at the Totnes FM Radio Website.
Below is a video of the launch, including an interview with myself.
I held a surgery in Brixham this morning and then a surgery in Totnes this afternoon. If you would like an appointment please ring 01803 868378.
I had a meeting with South West Trains to discuss the possibility of improving train services to the South West and improving facilities for cyclists both on trains and at stations.
It was a pleasure today to cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of Marldon Village Playing Field.
Picture courtesy of Karen Perrow
The final day!
The weather started dry, but finished rather wet!
We started at Berry Head and made our way to RNLI Brixham.
Onto the Fishermens Mission
Then it was Brixham Battery
And at Brixham Battery Museum we met Churchill!
Broadsands was in sight
Thank you so much to everyone who made this walk such an enjoyable event, from the organisers to the walkers who accompanied me. Thank you for the donations, they are going to the charities that help make our coastline safe!
This morning we started from Kingswear Village Hall and made our way to Froward Point, National Coastwatch Institution where we were given a fabulous welcome.
The National Trust at Coleton Fishacre, kindly allowed us to access to the beautiful grounds, beautiful surroundings!
We finished the day at Berry Head
Today we walked from Hallsands and finished at Dartmouth, another glorious day!
We stopped at Strete Village hall for more refreshments
Next pit stop was Blackpool Sands
The final leg of today's journey brought us into Dartmouth
In Dartmouth we were given the opportunity to see the RNLI Lifeboat
Today we assembled at East Portlemouth at the Venus Cafe and walked to the National Coastwatch Institution at Prawle Point where volunteers give up hours of their time to keep watch over our coastline and liaise with other rescue services; they are funded entirely by donations.
From Prawle Point we made our way to East Prawle and had wonderful crab sandwiches at the Piglet Cafe.
For the weary Tally Ho buses kindly arranged for a bus service!
We started from Bantham Beach with wonderful weather and thanks to David Grose of the Thurlestone Hotel some wonderful bacon butties cooked to perfection by Pat Ruse. The Bantham Surf Life SavingClub House is about fifteen years old and was built as a result of a Lottery grant for which members of the Club worked very hard to achieve particularly Peter Miles the Club Secretary. It was a pleasure to meet Esther Pearson the new Chief Executive of Surf Life Saving Great Britain.
The Bantham Surf Life Saving Club was formed in 1960 and David has had the honour of being its President since 1982. The Club has well over 100 members and is affiliated to Surf Life Saving Great Britain the National Governing Body of which he is currently Chairman. Bantham SLSC leases out part of its Club premises to the RNLI. in order to facilitate their operations there. All the RNLI Lifeguards are paid and all the Club members are volunteers who live locally, many within the constituency. The Club is a community initiative and it is a thriving and valuable community asset.
Last year the Club volunteers trained eleven life savers. Some of these trained life savers will be employed by the RNLI in other parts of the country as Lifeguards. Surf Life Saving Great Britain has 72 Clubs such as Bantham all round the coast of GB and we have helped the RNLI to establish its Lifeguarding operation in England and Wales. Although RNLI Lifeguards patrol the beach during the week the Bantham SLSC members patrol at the weekends under the supervision of the head RNLI Lifeguard. The sea conditions at the beach can be extremely dangerous with changing rips and moving sand banks. Over the years the Club members have carried out many rescues. Some of the people rescued would almost certainly have drowned but for the courageous action of our lifesavers.
Pictures courtesy of Rupert Hancock and David Cohen
Sarah on Hope Cove Lifeboat
Leaving North Sands
Today at Pennywell Farm, was the launch of a new support group for young people facing bereavement, Children and Families in Grief. This bereavement charity have a dedicated team who are committed to supporting families at this difficult time. The therapists are experienced, sensitive and intuitive individuals brought together by their desire to help families through the process of grief. Anyone suffering with a loss can call 01803 393917, or write to PO Box 425, Paignton, TQ4 9BF or visit www.childrenandfamiliesingrief.co.uk
I met with farmers and the Devon Wildlife Trust at Pennywell Farm, where we had the opportunity to discuss and share opinions about how we can tackle the Bovine TB epidemic which is apparently devastating our local farming industry. There were views from all sides of the debate and it was chaired in an open and constructive forum.
I had two surgeries today, in the morning at Brixham and in the afternoon at Totnes. Please do telephone 01803 868378 if you wish to make an appointment to see me.
Meeting with the Licensing Officer for the South Hams, Graham Munson at Follaton House to discuss licensing issues in the South Hams and the issues around binge drinking and antisocial behaviour in the South Hams.
Another busy day with a surgery at Totnes. Please call 01803 868378 if you wish to make an appointment to see me.
Visit to KEVICC to meet students to discuss the English Baccalaureate and their concerns that Religious Studies will not currently be counted towards this qualification. KEVICC has a particularly strong record in RS and I was impressed with the past papers and the strength of feeling that RS should not be considered a 'soft subject'. They made a powerful case.
It was a great pleasure to visit the Totnes division of the Devon Army Cadet Force with the lord Lieutenant Captain Eric Dancer. I was able to meet the volunteers, many with years of experience in our armed forces, who contribute so much to the Cadets and provide a wide range of opportunities from practical survival skills and camps to essential first aid skills. It was an honour to present the Cadets with their first aid certificates and see the (very realistic) scenarios that cadets learn to take in their stride.
During a visit to SaMS, Saturday Music School at KEVICC, I met with a team of committed professional music tutors and a volunteer group that run the 30 sessions a year every Saturday in term time. SaMS is a unique charity offering all children the opportunity to explore music and enjoy playing with others, no matter their ability or background.
I was greatly impressed by the fact that around 150 children, aged from 5 to 18 years old, are involved in a variety of musical styles, which are open to all young people that wish to attend. I saw a number of the group sessions including African drumming and singing for 6 – 9 year olds, the choir, wind band, folk group, Junior Jazz and percussion group. Students are able to try out different skills in a relaxed but purposeful environment. I chatted to students and tutors and was surprised that this was something quite special to Totnes, with a policy of including any children that want to take part.
Lewis Riley, the director, has worked with SaMS over the last ten years and has seen how the access to a musical education can influence children across all walks of life. Unfortunately KEVICC will no longer be able to subsidise SaMS to the extent that it has in the past. More funding or sponsorship needs be found, otherwise fees will have to rise.
Photo by kind permission of the South Hams Newspaper Group
Another busy surgery held at my Totnes constituency office. If you would like to make an appointment for one of my future surgeries, please telephone 01803 868378 and arrange an appointment.
Photo courtesy of South Hams Newspapers Ltd
On Saturday I attended the Sports Taster Day held by the Dartmouth and District Sports Association, where I met representatives of many of the clubs. It was a most enjoyable day.
You can see me here in the Dartmouth Yacht Club's Kayak with John Bretherton (Chair of the Dartmouth & District Sports Association) in a brand new Lottery Funded boat.
I also met with Sir Geoffrey Newman, Chair of Trustees of Dartmouths proposed Indoor Swimming Trust and Kathleen Heeley who is preparing for a sponsored sky-dive jump from 10,000 feet in aid of fundraising for the new pool.
I held another Brixham surgery at Brixham Conservative Club. If you would like to make an appointment for one of my future surgeries, please telephone 01803 868378 and arrange an appointment.
I held an open meeting at Churston Farm Shop Cafe by kind permission of Caroline and Richard Haddock . It was good to include local councillors in a discussion of issues ranging from the proposed redevelopments in Churston and the proposed closure of Chestnut Primary School.
If you would like to make an appointment for one of my future surgeries, please telephone 01803 868378 and arrange an appointment
This was a well attended meeting with residents and business tenants of the Trust to hear their concerns about changes imposed by the Trust. I then met with trustees at the Trust's offices in order to represent tenants' views and listen to the arguments put forward by the trustees in order to explore any areas for compromise. Concerns discussed were the scale and pace of rent increases, the impact of the change to annual tenancies and the change in the detail of the tenancy agreements. Many residents no longer felt 'at home' and many felt that they would no longer be able to make any improvements. There were concerns that Dartmouth Trust properties would no longer be within financial reach for local people and that a much valued route into affordable local housing would be lost. Businesses raised similar concerns and in addition wanted to be able to negotiate directly with the Trust about rent increases rather than with a commercial valuer. They also called for greater transparency regarding estimates arranged for repairs and redecoration for which tenants were partly liable. There was great concern that a change to full market value would lead to a loss of independent traders and that Dartmouth could become yet another clone town.
It was clear that the Trustees have a difficult task in trying to balance their legal duties to raise money for the beneficiaries of the Trust against the best interests of Dartmouth businesses and residential tenants. I hope that in interpreting their duty to obtain 'best rent' they will take advantage of the considerable flexibility allowed by the Charity Commission in terms of timing and consider whether best rent could also encompass what is 'best for Dartmouth' so that the character of the Town and its commitment to allow affordable rent for local people can be maintained. I understand that none of the Trust's beneficiaries are pressing for the current increases in rents.
Clearly this is a matter for the Trust and tenants to negotiate and I have no powers other than to represent constituents views. I am grateful to the trustees for taking the time to listen to concerns and their commitment to consider the points raised. Our meeting was very constructive.
I met the Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State of Energy and Climate Change, at a visit to Schumacher College to hear about their new MA in Economics for Transition. Schumacher College attracts students and visiting teachers from all over the world and provides a vigorous critique of the current economic growth models and alternative schools of economic thought. The Economics of Transition programme is collaboration between Schumacher College, the new Economics Foundation and Transition network and the University of Plymouth Business School.
Photo: Sarah and Charlie McConnell (Director, Schumacher)
I met with Guy Watson the founder of Riverford Farm and I toured the site. Riverford supports 400 jobs in the local economy but also supports a number of ethical organic producers in this country and beyond. Guy's passion for fresh locally produced food led to the formation of Riverford organic food boxes being delivered to households up and down the country. In addition to the undoubted benefits of their organic farming I was able to visit Riverford Farm Kitchen, where one can enjoy a veritable feast of freshly prepared vegetables. Guy spoke enthusiastically about the cooking of vegetables and said a diced celeriac with an onion and some vegetable stock, cooked for 15 minutes makes a wonderful soup. He was right!
Guy Watson holding celeriac.
It was a great pleasure to attend the opening of "The Lamb" Totnes. Congratulations to Ed Vidler and Sue Holmes of the Totnes Development Trust and to all the volunteers from Totnes Healthy Futures and horticulturists from School Farm. Totnes Healthy Futures project proposes a practical solution to integrating local food production, promoting well being and health, horticulture and re-skilling the community in order to increase food localisation and greater resilience. Totnes Development Trust is working in close partnership with Leatside Surgery, where the medical team will be able to prescribe a therapeutic opportunity through gardening. Yet again Totnes shows what can be done when communities come together to provide opportunities to improve the physical, mental and social well being.
After the opening of "The Lamb" it was a great pleasure to visit Leechwell Gardens with Sue Holmes and hear about exciting future projects from the Totnes Development Trust.
I met with a delegation from Brixham Coastguard and Transport Minister, Mike Penning MP in Westminster yesterday to discuss the future of the Coastguard services. We presented Mike Penning MP with over 2,000 petition forms from the local community that had been collected through a local newspaper campaign.
The meeting seemed very constructive and we were heartened that the Minster appeared open to suggestions for the consultation and that any alternative ideas that the Brixham Coastguards came up with would be viewed favourably.
I think the delegation from Brixham made a powerful and compelling case for the work of Brixham Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to continue. The Minister listened to their concerns and has committed to looking at their proposals. I hope that we can find a positive way forward to solve this issue.
Many thanks to Caroline Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive of Torbay Council and to Mark Richards, project manager for arranging visits to so many community groups working in partnership with Torbay:
DASS, (Domestic Abuse Support Service) and MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference)
Many thanks to those who took the time to talk about how the local support service has helped them to break free from abusive relationships and gain the confidence to move forward with their lives. It was encouraging to hear so many women saying that they would not change the service, only make sure that more people get to hear about it.
If you need to talk to someone or know someone who needs help, then call 01803 217614 to speak to the domestic abuse support service locally or National Women's Aid 24 hour helpline on 0808 2000 247
Jatis Project and Inside Out
These successful projects in Torbay are helping those battling with addiction or other issues to get back on their feet through safe housing and support. Meeting those that use their services it is clear how much they are valued. It is very hard to break the cycle of offending or drug use without a safe place to live and support to change long standing addictions. As a result offenders are less likely to reoffend and more likely to successfully come off drugs and many residents are able to return to voluntary work or employment.
SPOT and Quest
These are projects that enable those who use services in the Bay to train others to do their jobs more effectively. In order to be able to have a say in the future of how our health services are to be commissioned and run in the future, it will be especially important for those that use these services to be able to have the ability to take part in Healthwatch and Local Authorities.
Alcohol Services in Torbay
It was good to meet with all the groups who are working to deal with the problem of alcohol misuse in Torbay. Safer Nights Torbay, the Licensing team and the police as well as those involved in treatment for those with problem drinking. Torbay has a good record in trying to tackle alcohol related ill health and disorder from all angles but it is clear that action to stop the sale of ultra cheap alcohol is urgently needed.
Today I held surgeries in Totnes and Brixham to discuss a range of local and national issues. I am grateful to all those who take the time to come to see me.
I also visited Coombe Bank in Brixham to meet all the residents and hear their grave concerns at the prospect of moving to a 'floating warden' scheme. Although there has been no residential warden for some time, the residents have benefitted from 2 permanent members of staff.
Meeting with Devon LMC ( Local Medical Committee)
This was a meeting with doctors from across Devon to discuss the proposed changes in the Health and Social Care Bill. Devon has yet to finalise the shape of the groups of practices that will form into commissioning consortia. In Torbay, GPs have been commissioning care for some time as a nationally recognised pilot of 'integrated care', but they have done so with support from the PCT.
Devon is fortunate to have many committed clinicians who are keen to design services for their patients, my concern is about those parts of the country where this enthusiasm is not in place or where PCTs are no longer able to focus on helping them to become established.
On Saturday 7th January, I held an open surgery at Foxhole Community Centre which was a mixture of a round circle community discussion and some private meetings. I am grateful to Cllrs Jeannette Richards, David Thomas and John Thomas, who also attended.
On Friday there were two surgeries, the first was in Kingsbridge followed by a visit to Home Start where I learnt about the help they give families in the South Hams and I gained a better understanding of the pressures they are under and the impact that closure would have upon referrals for Social Services and Medical services.
The afternoon was spent at a surgery in Totnes and then the evening found me back in Kingsbridge where I was told the news that Devon County Council had decided to listen to the community and put a hold on Pay and Display. This came about as a result of the tireless campaign by the community who took the trouble to write and lobby on this issue. This was a welcome result for Kingsbridge and Dartmouth residents and I congratulate the Council on their change of heart.
In the evening I met with "Brixham for Global Action" where we discussed a range of subjects from Climate Change through to the cycle tracks across Torbay.
For more details about the campaign in Brixham, please contact Helen Barrett on 01803 859852.
It was then on to meet Will Ford of Greenway Ferries to discuss green tourism, which has been one of his many interests since he began working in conjunction with the National Trust and Agatha's Christie's house. Will has gone on to be a director of The English Riviera Tourism Company and we discussed how marketing of Torbay could be developed.
Today I was in Brixham at the Fishermen's Mission, catching up with the local fishermen and crabbers, to discuss the local EU directives that can have a devastating effect on their livelihoods. I was pleased to hear the trawler men are happy with the EU negotiations that took place in December, but I will continue to put their concerns to the Minister and lobby for an end to the indefensible requirement for them to discard dead but healthy fish that is above quota. Other means of preserving our fish stocks are urgently needed.
My final appointment for the day was with Sustainable South Brent where they brought me up to speed with local environmental projects as well as issues of National concern and to tell me about their community composting project, community renewable energy project and concerns about rural transport.
For more information www.sustainablesouthbrent.org.uk
I would like to thank Mr & Mrs Barclay for hosting a lunch where I was able to catch up with some of the residents of South Brent and it gave me an opportunity to discuss matters local matters.
In the afternoon I met with some residents who live in the centre of South Brent, originally a woollen and market centre that has now evolved into a thriving community just off the Devon Expressway. We discussed the difficulties of parking in a rural village and the lack of parking facilities for the town residents.
Later in the morning I met Cool Recovery Carers to talk about their experiences of caring for relatives affected by mental illness. We discussed the difficulties that carers experience when a member of the family has a mental health problem and how communication between mental health professionals could be improved, given that one in four people are affected by mental health issues. There is also the urgent need to stop the stigma and raise the status of mental health within the NHS to the same level as conditions such as diabetes and cancer – particularly where there are acute problems such as psychosis and schizophrenia. The meeting was co-ordinated by Cool Recovery, the local independent mental health charity which has been supporting mental health carers in South Devon since 1999. For more information www.coolrecovery.org.uk or telephone 01803 299511
I spent today in South Brent and my first meeting was with a group of people who were concerned that I would vote against the hunting ban being repealed. I made a promise prior to the election that I would canvas opinion and vote with the majority on this particular issue. I have not deviated from my promise, and will support, when the time comes, the majority view. I agreed that I would put on my website, a short article from both sides where they can express their views. In the meantime please contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to register your "vote".
In the evening I gave a talk to the Dartmouth and Kingswear Society where I gave a talk about my first nine months in Parliament, aptly titled "Swimming with Sharks!".
There was an audience of over 200 people and I would like to thank Liane and John Baldock for their hard work in organising such a well run event, there was even time for a shark-related quiz which raised £102 for the RNLI.
Picture by kind permission of South Hams Newspapers
I met with the team at Brixham Coastguard following the news that the centre has been earmarked for closure during the consultation on the future of the Coastguard. Brixham is an important Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, I believe the station to be very valued and I am concerned that the proposals will lead to an over reliance on IT. Local knowledge is very important for our leisure craft, inshore fisherman and water related tourism, so if anyone knows of an instance where local knowledge has been central in a rescue, please do contact me. Individual responses are a great help in a campaign, so if you have signed the petition, please do write to myself and the Minister, Mike Penning as well.
Picture courtesy of the Herald Express
I really enjoyed my visit to Froward Point where trained and qualified volunteer watch keepers share daylight watches operating every day of the year. Through close cooperation with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), NCI at Froward Point earned its "Declared Facility Status" in 2007, enabling them to become an integral part of the National Search and Rescue structure. They also keep a watch in case any walker using the coastal path should be involved in an emergency. During the Easter recess I am planning a charity walk along the coastal paths to raise money for several charities associated with the sea and coast, Froward Point being one of them as the Station is totally dependent on the generosity of individuals, companies, and other organisations for funding. I will keep you informed of my itinerary if anyone would like to join me on the walk for an hour or so, to help raise funds.
Best wishes for Christmas and a Happy New Year from Sarah, Nina, Catriona and Emily.
Thank you for all your support over the past year and we look forward to hearing from you in 2011.
I held an all day surgery in Totnes. If you would like to make an appointment to attend a surgery, please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378. At one of my surgeries, Simon came to see me as he had been fighting deportation after having lived in England for a total of 13 years and had been part of the Totnes community for 10 of those years. His friends in Totnes brought the case to my attention and eventually in September he was granted indefinite leave to remain. This is just one of many types of problems that are brought to me at my surgeries; I deal with subjects ranging from asylum through to zimmer frames. My post bag and surgeries cover many diverse problems and issues.
I am not always as successful as people would wish, as sometimes people's expectations are wrongly addressed. Planning for instance is dealt with by local government and your local councillors are your best point of contact, you will find the conservative councillors' details on my website under "Contact us"
It was good to return to the Dartmouth Apprentice to hold a Constituency Surgery. I also met with Dr Graham Lockerbie from Dartmouth Medical Centre to discuss medical services in Dartmouth and to discuss his views on the future of GP Commissioning as he has a longstanding expertise in this area.
Britannia has been delivering 'courageous leaders with the spirit to fight and win', since 1863. The importance of Britannia to the Royal Navy and to Dartmouth cannot be underestimated. OF course it is an enormous relief that the college did not suffer under the Strategic Defence and Security Review but that should not be a cause for complacency. It will be vital for the college to maximise its training opportunities. Currently Britannia welcomes trainee officers from 20 nations but there is capacity to broaden the scope to include Initial Naval Training to other naval recruits and to further partnerships with local colleges and the University of Plymouth.
To secure a long term future for Britannia as a training base, we will need to allow it to expand. Whilst recognising the architectural importance of the Naval College, the site must be allowed to develop in order for it to increase its capacity for training.
It was a great pleasure to open the new classroom at Kingswear Primary and to listen to a wonderful presentation from the children. Their snowman will now be visiting Parliament and I hope that children from both Chestnut and Kingswear will be able to visit me in Westminster.
I met with Head, Glen Paige and teacher, Bill Callaghan to see Chestnut Primary for myself, to listen to the concerns of teachers and to visit their newly opened playpod.
I am in no doubt that small schools are really valued by children and their parents and hope that the Council will act quickly to reassure families once the consultation on the future of schools in Brixham is complete. It is a sad reality that the number of primary school age children in Brixham is no longer sufficient to support the current number of schools and so all the options need to be considered. If you have a view, please let me know.
I usually return to Devon on Fridays to attend Constituency surgeries and visit community groups and it is always difficult to justify cancelling Constituency visits to attend so called 'sitting Fridays' unless there is an issue being debated that has local significance or has a great deal of local support.
This week I wanted to stay to support Adrian Sanders' Private Member's Bill on Fire Safety for the protection of tenants. Over 300 people die in fires every year, two thirds of these are in people's homes. A working smoke detector drastically reduces the risk of death in a house fire and I am disappointed that the safety measures proposed in the Bill were not passed as the Bill ran out of time. It is rare for Private Member's Bills to succeed but they do raise the profile of important issues and I am still hopeful that the Government will consider introducing at least some of the proposals.
It was a great pleasure to revisit the Kings Ash Community Centre and to hold a a surgery in Paignton. I hold regular surgeries rotating around this large constituency. My next surgeries will be in Dartmouth and Totnes, but if you would like me to come to your area, please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378
I held a further meeting with Anthony Farnsworth and Julie Dent from the Torbay Care Trust. Torbay is part of a national pilot looking at how to improve the way that care is delivered to our most vulnerable residents. They have been part of an innovative scheme where the health service and social care budgets are 'pooled' and staff work closely together with shared offices and a joint health and social care record.
As a result of this close working, the services are not in competition but can make sure that they design a better way of helping patients. The results of this pilot have been very impressive. In Torbay it is possible to have access to a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, district nurse or social worker within three and a half hours if this is urgently needed. As a result, patients are far less likely to be delayed in hospital waiting for home care facilities or to be admitted as an emergency.
I am very keen to hear your views of the services delivered by the Torbay Care Trust, so please write or email me if you would like to let me know your own experience.
It was good to catch up with Celia Atherton from the Dartington Trust to discuss their plans to host a series of "Great Debates". These will cover a range of political topics from the AV referendum to the future of the Non Proliferation Treaty.
I met with representatives from Devon Rape Crisis to hear about the lack of services for victims of rape and sexual assualt across Devon. Whilst there are nationally recognised services for those subject to domestic violence through ADVA, the same is sadly not true for sexual violence for which the only access to help is a free phone helpline staffed 7pm to 10pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
I will be campaigning for Devon Rape Crisis to be supported to set up similar facilities to those already available in Cornwall, with support available to all victims of these crimes.
Brian Dean from Paignton CAB and Nick Dilworth from Totnes came to discuss the changes to housing benefit and housing allowance. We also looked at the implications of the wider changes to a Universal Benefit and the fears that have been raised about the Work Capability Test. CAB now has a legal aid contract to help with housing benefits and debt advice. Their staff and volunteers do an extraordinary job.
There is no doubt that the changes have worried many people, particularly from those on ESA or on IB. I have visited an ATOS centre to see the system for myself and have met with Chris Grayling MP to discuss some of the concerns raised in my surgeries and in correspondence.
A simplification of the benefit rules will be a good move. For years I have witnessed people trapped in the benefits system; better off not taking a job. Often they realise that although it may only be a small amount on paper, as a result of losing other benefits or having to factor in travel costs, work just does not pay. This cannot be right. I accept there are areas of high unemployment and many examples of people trying repeatedly to find work without success, but it is also true that many vacancies, for example in care homes, have to be filled by those from Europe as it is impossible to fill the posts.
In 1996, in the USA, Bill Clinton drastically reformed welfare and within 5 years, the number on benefits halved and by 2007 the Congressional Budget Office found that the incomes of families pushed out of welfare had increased in real terms by 35%.
It is a tragedy that 1.4 million people have been on out of work benefits for at least 9 years in the past decade and benefit payments to out of work households now cost £85 billion per year. It is no longer affordable, but I have no doubt that the transition back to work will be difficult for those who have been abandoned for years by the previous system.
I met with Principal, Kate Mason to discuss the ongoing difficulty faced by Devon Schools in the F40 group. Devon schools are 4th from the bottom in the amount they receive per pupil, which leaves a significant gap in funding. Schools can access further support for pupils who qualify for free school meals, but many of those who might be eligible may not inform the school for a number of reasons. With KEVICC's new cashless system your children's privacy is guaranteed. Even if children do not wish to have a free meal, it is really important to register their eligibilty as there are often other benefits such as help with school trips.
Anyone in receipt of the following can register:-
Please follow this link to register for Free School Meals
For an application form or to make a general enquiry to Devon County Council about Free School Meals telephone 0845 155 1015 or email email@example.com
If you would like the school to help you register for Free School Meals please contact 01803 869200 ext 219.
Saturday 30th October was a chance to catch up with Constituents in my Totnes Surgery. I hold regular surgeries in Totnes, Brixham and Kingsbridge but hope to also hold surgeries in Dartmouth, Paignton and South Brent. If you would like an appointment please call Nina on 01803 868378
Another inspirational organisation is the Dartmouth Apprentice. It was a pleasure to meet Nina Stanesby and many of the Apprentices at St Barnabus in Newcomen Rd. If you have not yet visited this restaurant, expect to be stunned by the interior and by the achievements of the Apprentices and guest artists. 100% of the restaurant's profits are reinvested to help unemployed people. In addition to a training centre and superb restaurant the centre also provides housing in 11 self contained flats supporting people who are homeless and who need a temporary residence whilst they find work. Few of the apprentices have ever worked successfully, many have left school without qualifications, experienced homelessness or been trapped in long term unemployment. Their achievements speak for themselves and the restaurant deserves its success.
I met again with Dee Nutt and the team from Dartmouth Caring. 18% of Dartmouth residents are older than 85 and many do not have a social network or close family to help them to remain independent. I heard about the work of their Bridge worker in providing a vital link between the NHS and community and the way that this has reduced the need for hospital admissions. There is no CAB or Age UK presence in the town so Dartmouth Caring provides vital signposting and advice. Part funded by charity and part by the NHS, they would like to expand their role but recognise that having their core as a voluntary organisation is the key to being a community based organisation. Dartmouth Caring has been showcasing the ‘Big Society' for years.
Congratulations to David Jones and the organising committee for another fantastic year highlighting the best of South Devon. I can now prepare a crab, even if next time I hope not to shower the audience with flying shells. Thank you to all who contributed to my question and answer session on Food and Farming Issues at the Festival.
(A special plea to the lady who asked for a follow up surgery appointment, please could you ring Nina on 01803 868378 as I have the wrong number for you.)
I met with Emma Handley at the CAB offices at Follaton. They are providing an essential service but clearly need to have more space. Emma showed me their cramped consulting rooms and we were able to discuss their plans to expand for the future.
I met with Mrs Hill to discuss the many problems faced by residents of Park Homes, most notably issues relating to the fees that have to be paid to site owners upon the sale of pitches as these act as a perverse incentive for owners to aim for a rapid turnover in pitches. Park Home residents have insufficient protection and are in a very difficult position if the site owner does not maintain standards at a site or makes unreasonable demands for payment of utility bills.
This was a further meeting to look at how GP commissioning can provide real clinical leadership in the NHS and how we attract excellent doctors into commissioning groups.
International experience demonstrates that integrating health and social care delivers better care for vulnerable elderly patients. Torbay has been in the forefront of a nationwide series of pilots looking at how this can be done in the UK and I am keen to promote their success so that their work can continue when Health Services move towards GP commissioning. Torbay has drastically reduced the number of people over 65 years of age that need emergency hospital admission and has the lowest rate of hospital deaths of any local authority in England. I am hoping that the Care Trust will be able to give evidence to the Health Select Committee so that their excellent results will be taken into account when designing future services.
The Princess Royal visited Dartmouth for the official launch of the Grand Heritage voyage in memory of Operation Tiger. She was welcomed aboard the Fairmile by the Director of Greenway Ferries, Mr Will Ford, who set up his business five years ago with just one boat. The Fairmile is part of our heritage, being one of the last remaining Rescue Motor Launches (RML) still in service. Built in 1941, she saw active service during the war. During her visit, the Princess Royal heard about operation Tiger from local historian, John Risden before unveiling a plaque on the vessel. This was a great day to be in Dartmouth, especially following the news that the Royal Navy has no plans to close Britannia Royal Naval College. Immediately following the Strategic Defence Review I met with Liam Fox, the Secretary of State, who was able to confirm that Britannia is to stay open.
I then met with Student Representatives to discuss the Browne Report's proposals for University Funding and issues like EMA and transport costs. The variability in support received for travel was a serious issue encountered by students and especially the difference between funding for those living in different Local Authorities and again, many students would prefer free travel or more heavily subsidised travel to EMA.
I met with the executive team at Torbay council, including Elizabeth Raikes, Caroline Taylor and Charles Uzzel to discuss the many issues raised by Constituents, from individual issues like parking in Waterleat Road to broader concerns such as the new recycling scheme and the impact of proposed changes to the NHS and the spending review.
My abiding memory of my tour of the South Devon Steiner School will be walking around their beautiful vegetable gardens and seeing children high in the branches of an apple tree. They do have a tree policy, but it is not a prescriptive ‘do not climb them' but rather guidance on which ones are not safe to climb and how high it makes sense to stop. How refreshing. Whilst the philosophy behind Steiner Education may not suit those who seek a more conventional curriculum, there is much to commend and certainly room within our education system for more choice. Students in year 10 were keen to defend the benefits of their curriculum and I know many local parents as well as teachers at the school will welcome their bid for free school status so that Steiner Schooling is open to all, rather than restricted to those who can afford to pay.
I met with Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health in Devon and representatives from Devon and Cornwall County Councils, Police and Alcohol Services to discuss the possibilities for joint action on alcohol problems in the Peninsula. An estimated 23% of South West residents aged 16-24 are hazardous drinkers and 4% are dependent on alcohol. The statistics on violent crime, suicide, accidents and hospital admissions make depressing reading and I firmly believe that we are paying a very heavy price for cheap supermarket alcohol.
In Manchester, the councils are looking at introducing bye laws to regulate the cost of alcohol whilst in Middlesborough they are trying to change licensing laws to achieve the same result. It will be interesting to see the outcome of these projects which may yet fall foul of European Directives on competition law. There has been progress in Devon using alcohol banning orders and clearly the police need greater powers to restrict licensing in areas where there are problems with drunken violent behaviour. We desperately need an end to the madness of 24 hour drinking, which has benefitted no one.
This was an opportunity to discuss the importance of the South Devon Link Road with transport Minister Norman Baker and to present a further joint briefing on the subject with Anne Marie Morris MP and Mayor, Nick Bye. It was also an opportunity to discuss all the wider transport issues facing the Peninsula, especially the vital importance of the railway link and the vulnerability of the line at Dawlish, together with the importance of faster trains to London.
Over a cycle to the station we discussed the importance of safe cycling routes in promoting increased cycling; there is no point creating a route that no one will use. It was reassuring to know that bikeability will continue to be able to provide high quality cycle training for children and adults in Devon. At the ‘Cycle Demonstration Town' presentation, Exeter was able to show what can be achieved if there is a determination to prioritise cycling and provide good quality facilities for storage.
I travelled to Birmingham on Sunday for the Party Conference. If you have not been there before, it is a great opportunity to attend fringe meetings on just about any subject that interests you, and so much more than the set piece debates reported on television.
It was a great place to meet with as many groups as possible with an interest in the Health White Paper and of course to catch up with political friends and colleagues.
I presented at a fringe event for the 'Ovarian Cancer Action' to debate how we improve survival, early diagnosis and support for cancer sufferers and to promote their 'remember the symptoms' campaign. Follow the link for more information about their campaign.
I met with representatives from nursing, dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and charities and attended round table discussions with Stephen Dorrell, Chair of the Health Select Committee. I also attended a meeting with the GMC to discuss the problems caused by the Working Time Directive and the scandal of doctors from EU countries being able to work in the UK without any tests of either competence or language skills.
It was not all about Health and the NHS as I am also trying to arrange a series of political debates in conjunction with the Dartington Trust. This was an opportunity to try and get some ideas off the ground.
Next week I will be back in Westminster.
I have agreed to take forward their concern about the way that Health and Safety legislation is preventing students with coaching qualifications from providing voluntary coaching sessions out of school hours on school premises. Clear nonsense when these students are so keen to contribute to thier community.
This was an opportunity to tour one of Britain's busiest Coastguard Stations with the Rescue Co-ordination Centre Manager, Peter Davies and to hear about the work of the Coastguard and to learn how the traffic is monitored in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
Peter Davies, Mike Penning, and me!
Mike Penning and I visited the RNLI in Salcombe to meet with Adrian Carey, Divisional Inspector of Lifeboats and Graham Parker, Lifeboat Operations Manager and to tour the all weather boat with Chris Winzar, Station Coxain.
I would like to pay tribute to the service and dedication of the entire lifeboat crew and their support team, including Lynn Thurtle, Chair of Fundraising, David Grose and Andrew Arthur.
Transport Minister, Mike Penning, kept a promise to come and visit the Rescue Boat at Hope Cove and discuss some constructive proposals for keeping this much valued local rescue boat in service. He met with Ian Pedrick, crewmen, local supporters, Councillors and, of course, the boat.
Ian Pedrick, Mike Penning, John Carter
The New English Centre at Kingsbridge Community College was opened by the remarkable poet, playwright and novelist, Simon Armitage CBE.
Headmaster, Roger Pope paid tribute to the many people within the school and beyond who had made the project possible, but missed out one of the greatest contributors of all; himself
It was good to catch up with the team at Leatside Surgery, Totnes to discuss the Health White Paper and take note of questions raised about the details behind the proposals.
I met with the Regional Director of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, and with Lianne Corris, their Parliamenta Officer, to hear about the work of the IPCC. This was an opportunity to learn more about the changes to the way complaints are handled and to discuss individual concerns that have been raised by constituents
I enjoyed meeting with the children and Headteacher, Penny Millington at Collaton St Mary Primary School for the Record-breaking Roast Dinner Day. Wednesday is roast dinner day and the most popular meal of the week. Teachers have noticed that those children who have a good lunch have a more settled afternoon and are able to learn better. Staff volunteer for lunchtime duty to reinforce a quality lunchtime with a freshly prepared, locally sourced food.
It was wonderful to see a school committed to a return to sociable lunchtimes, complete with tablecloths, fresh flowers and a commitment to teach the children where their food comes from.
Today I met with doctors from across the South West region at the British Mediacl association's headquarters in Taunton.
We discussed the proposals under the White paper for radical changes in the way that the NHS is organised. Whilst recognising that the proposals raise many opportunities for greater local involvement in the NHS, the doctors , from a wide range of specialities, wished to share some of their concerns and give constructive feedback.
I met with Headmistress, Tracey Jones, Deputy Head, Lin Fenner and School Governor, Wendy Burridge for another tour of Kings Ash Primary School. It was a great pleasure to meet so many of the children and hear them talk about their work in Science, English, Maths and the Arts.
The School is looking forward to their next Ofsted visit to demonstrate the extraordinary improvements they are achieving within the school. Their take home message to me was that they would like to see a halt to constantly changing curriculums and an end to pointless data collection and undue replication. Like so many of their fellow Primary Schools, they find Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks overly cumbersome and a real barrier to taking on volunteers with waiting times at 8 weeks. The knock on effect of this are plain to see; although the school is making great strides in their efforts to improve attendance, their volunteers for their "walking bus" to school need to wait at least 8 weeks for their CRB checks to be processed
I had a meeting with the Met Office team at their new headquarters in Exeter to hear about the important work that they do do, both nationally and internationally. The Met Office employs 1,200 people in South Devon, many living within the Totnes constituency. Several issues were discussed, like the survival of the Slapton Line and flooding, a real risk to our community. It was also good to talk to Dr. Vicky Pope, the Head of Climate Change Advice to hear her views on the science behind climate change predictions.
Anyone interested in looking in greater detail at some of these important issues can follow the links below to the Met Office site.
Thank you to Karen Sewell for her kind invitation to Kingsbridge Community College. I enjoyed my visit, where I met Year 13 students for a discussion of issues, ranging from university funding and further education to Trident and fox hunting. A ballot of this Year 13 group showed 33 in favour of a repeal to the hunting ban and 31 in favour of retaining the ban. I hope to welcome the sixth form up to Parliament during the next year.
It was good to catch up with Jackie Parfett and Paul Westlake at Coasters Coffee in the centre of Kingsbridge during their Cancer Care Coffee Morning and to support the Macmillan's extraordinary work.
Congratulations to the children and families at Kingsbridge Community Primary School who are the winners of the "Big Wildlife Garden" School Competition organised by Natural England. I toured the Never Ending Nature Garden and heard about the transformation undertaken by Paul Brizio and Martin Langley together with Janice King, the science teacher. This was a well deserved award.
Thank you to Jenny Harriman and her team and all the members of ACL for all their remarkable work on behalf of the community.
Jenny Harriman, Karen, Susan, Sylvia and Tessa
It was a pleasure to catch up with the Perratons at Winslade Farm, to tour their new milking parlour and discuss the proposal for a cull of badgers in areas of high incidence of Bovine TB. This would not lead to the extinction of this much loved animal, but I do believe it would allow for the reduction in TB which would eventually benefit cattle and badges alike.
Farmers in the South Hams are also having to cope with low milk prices (receiving just 23 pence per litre from Dairy Crest), whilst themselves having to face a doubling in their feed costs. Having lost17 out of 30 in calf heifers to TB, it is not hard to see why so many dairy farms across the South Hams have closed in recent years.
It was an honour to be invited to West Alvington Parish Council to thank Gwen Doyle and David Dainty for their long standing work as Parish Councillors. Gwen having served 33 years and David, 26 years! Following a presentation to Gwen and David there was an opportunity to catch up with local concerns and in particular to discuss the consultation around the proposed badger cull.
I met with Alastair Campbell, Director of TOR2 to put some tough questions to him regarding Torbay's new recycling scheme. I should stress at the outset, that I do support the need to increase recycling in the Bay.
Torbay currently recycles 37% and if that can be increased to at least 50% by 2012, that can only be a good thing. Alastair explained that a similar scheme in South Wales led to a massive improvement in recycling over a 10 week period and halved the amount that had to go to landfill.
The main issues of people in Brixham and Paignton have been around the inflexibility of the current regime, particularly where people are short of space and have serious problems getting through to the Call Centre. Alastair explained to me that it normally takes 4 cycles of rubbish collections (8 weeks) for teething troubles to be ironed out. He has assured me that consultations will take place to look at solutions where space is at a premium, such as in flats and terraced houses. If you are having difficulties with lifting waste, TOR2 are keen to hear from you.
The following is a link to their website www.tor2.co.uk. They can be emailed on firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to TOR2 Customer Centre, Aspen Way, Yalberton Industrial Estate, Paignton, TQ4 7QR. The Call Centre telephone number is 01803 207900. If you have trouble resolving an issue with TOR2 please let me know.
South Devon Amnesty Group have been highlighting the international problem of forced evictions. Particularly the imminent demolition of 70 homes in Vidikovac, Serbia. It was good to meet with Wailim Wong, Sigrid Davidson, Matthew Pryn, Alison Forty and Brian Davidson. I also heard more about South Devon's other campaigns, focusing on prisoners of conscience, international women's health, abolition of the death penalty and campaigning against corporate abuses of Human Right's abroad.
Thank you to the Headmaster, Robert Owers and Keith Shephard for their invitation to Churston Grammar, another opportunity to answer questions from students about my work as an MP and to hear their views on EMA and university funding. The students were mostly in favour of some reforms to be made, but the greatest support was for a change in the funding of travel arrangements for younger people in the Bay. Increasingly, I hear from both young and older residents that perhaps a change to bus travel, which allows better access and fairness for both groups would be preferable, rather than expecting 17 year old students to pay adult fares to travel on local buses.
Thank you to Kate Mason and David Traoke for their invitation to meet sixth formers to discuss their views on a range of issues from EMA, Academies and the future of Further Education funding, through to wider issues such as Bovine TB, hunting with hounds and Trident. A poll taken from today's group showed 92 in favour of retaining the ban, and 8 in favour of a repeal on the issue of hunting with hounds. KEVICCs
If you have a view on this or other issues affecting the constituency, please do get in touch.
Congratulations to Jim Portus and all the organising committee of Fishstock 2010, which was organised to raise money for the Fisherman's Mission. There was a fantastic diversity of fish, cookery and local produce.
It was an opportunity for me to make good on a pre-election promise to eat a Bigbury Oyster if I was successful at the polls. Delicious, even if I do still prefer my food not to be alive when I am eating it!
Photograph by kind permission of Karen Perrow
I attended a meeting at Totnes Boat Association Club House to hear a talk by Admiral Sir Jonathan Tod on the history of Strategic Defence Reviews. He has considerable experience having been directly involved in previous reviews. It was a fascinating insight into how the reviews are carried out and his concerns about the future of defence funding.
I met with Dr Pearson to discuss her thoughts on the most important public health issues facing the County. We discussed the importance of early years development to long term health, diet and nutrition and in particular the devastating impact of alcohol. The knock on effects of binge drinking and dependent drinking are felt throughout society and have the greatest impact on those who are already the most disadvantaged.
We have agreed to work together where possible to look at ways of tackling problem drinking in Devon
Totnes is a wonderfully diverse constituency stretching from the hill farms of Dartmoor down to the coast. It was therefore a great pleasure to meet with Bill Hitchins, the Chairman of the Dartmoor National Park Authority to confirm my commitment to working with the National Park to preserve this beautiful amenity to both those who live and work there and those who use it for recreation.
Trying to strike a balance so that areas like Dartmoor do not become glorified theme parks but remain as living communities will be an important challenge for the future.
Congratulations to John Haddy, Peter Robson and team for an excellent Kingsbridge Show 2010.
Thank you to all those exhibitors and sponsors who put so much into making the Kingsbridge Show such a success.
It was a great opportunity to keep abreast with all the local concerns, ranging from the vital work of the Friends of South Hams Hospital through to catching up with important issues for the farming community with the NFU, farmers and local vets.
Another busy surgery held at The Royal Seven Stars in Totnes.
If any of you have a concern you wish to discuss with me, please contact Nina Smith on 01803 868378 to book an appointment.
I met with the Baywide Company who represent all 21 member practices in the Torbay area. The Board consists of 8 GPs, a Practice Manger as well as representatives from the Torbay Care Trust to discuss the proposals of the White Paper.
I listened to local concerns about how the White Paper will be implemented and as a member of the Health Select Committee, I was very keen to hear views from not only those who commission services but from anyone who uses NHS services.
I will be regularly attending debates on a series of topical issues arranged by Conservative Association Political Forum.
These events are being organised by Ian Bramble. If you are interested in finding out more or attending an event, Ian can be contacted on 01548 856664.
Over the next few months, I am hoping to take part in debates ranging from the "Big Society" to depoliticising Town and Parish Councils, voting and the House of Lords reform.
I met with the Director of Children's Services to discuss the progress they are making with Children's Services and to see how I can help in my role as an MP. There are huge challenges for the Bay with our high rates of unemployment and low GVA (Gross Value Added). Recent statistics on the level of binge drinking and hospital admissions in young people, as well as our high levels of teenage pregnancies, are of great worry. My own feeling is that we need to do more to tackle binge drinking if we are going to make any progress.
Please write to me if you have any thoughts as to how we should tackle this issue in Torbay
I met with Group Commander Ray Harris to hear about the scope of their work including their operational commitments to fire and rescue as well as their enforcing role of ensuring the safety of commercial and public buildings . Ray is passionate about their educational role and prevention activities. I am committed to supporting the efforts to ensure that all Housing Associations and landlords install smoke detectors in their properties.
We also discussed the issue of Regional Control Centres and delays over the implementation of the Centres, currently costing large amounts of public without being operational; another example of hardware and software issues costing the tax payer vast amounts of money.
It was good to meet with Ed Vidler, Dave Chapman and Sue Holmes to discuss how concept ideas could be put into practice. We talked about the success of Leechwell Gardens and the exciting proposals of The Lamb as part of Totnes Healthy Futures. It would be wonderful to see this beautiful spot at the top of Totnes restored and revitalised. As always, the challenge is translating good ideas into community action.
This was a helpful meeting with the Chairman of the Trust and an opportunity to discuss issues that are regularly raised in my post bag, such as parking and patient transport, as well as important clinical issues, like the availability of blockbusting therapy for those that have suffered from strokes and how the Trust feel about changes to the White Paper.
Parking charges at the Hospital raise between £500,000 and £600,000 a year, but for patients for whom these charges are causing difficulty, this can always be raised with the Ward Sister, who can if necessary arrange for a temporary parking permit to be issued. There are also special arrangements for those who need to attend repeatedly, such as patients with cancer or other serious long term conditions requiring frequent attendance at the Hospital. Parking is always under pressure and it appears that prior to having parking charges, the Hospital was frequently used a free 'Park and Ride' service which was in nobody's best interest. The Hospital aimed to keep their parking fees below those of other local council car parks. Clearly, if parking charges were completely waived, around half a million pounds would completely disappear from the Hospital budget. This will always be a thorny issue. I would be grateful for your thoughts.
Another area I raised with Peter Hildrew was the issue of Torbay Hospital's mobile phone policy. There is no evidence that mobile phones are a risk to patients; they may however be a nuisance. The current arrangements with patients having to pay very high charges to use the bedside phones are in my view completely unacceptable. Derriford Hospital have now lifted their mobile phone ban. Again, what do you think?
Thank you to Christopher Howell for all that he is doing to try and preserve the Bunker at Bolt Head as part of our national heritage.
Hope Cove was a World War II Radar Station and in the early 1950' was revamped as part of the RAF's Rotor Air Defence Scheme before the R6 Bunker was turned into a regional seat of Government during the Cold War era. Truly a chilling reminder of how close we came to Armageddon.
I do hope that Chris will succeed in his efforts to save this museum.
Photos by kind permission of Nicole Marie Polec.
Thank you to Cllr Richard Rendle, the Mayor of Dartmouth for his kind invitation to the Dartmouth Royal Regatta where I watched the West of England Rowing Day
Today I met with the Chief Executive of Riviera Housing Trust, Molly Holmes and was taken on a tour of their estate. We discussed the problems facing both tenants and the Trust. I heard about Dreamscheme which is a way of working with young people on estates to involve them in projects that benefit the community and saw the result of one of these schemes at Queen Elizabeth Drive.
Devon & Cornwall Housing Group is the largest social landlord in the South West. In the Totnes constituency their housing stock of 3,000 homes is managed by Tor Homes.
Paul Crawford the Chief Executive of Devon & Cornwall Housing Group wanted to stress the importance of Government subsidy providing affordable housing, as Housing Associations are currently raising only 40% of the necessary funding from private finance. With costs running at approximately £140,000 to build a home, capital funding for building projects will be vital in meeting the demands for affordable housing.
Paul also wanted to impress the importance of Supporting People grants in order for organisations such as Tor Homes to continue to support vulnerable people. He explained how "affordable rent" is structured, with 70% of the formula based on the average skilled wage in the County and 30% based on the market value of the property at 1999 values.
Housing Associations would like more flexibility around rent levels in order to be able to fund a higher level of building.
I was very glad to have the opportunity to meet Paul Roberts, the Chief Executive and to discuss issues ranging from MRSA, hospital parking and of course the White Paper. We also discussed the Working Time Directive and patient transport
It was good to meet with Martin Weiler, the Area Manager, particularly as I have a great deal of correspondence on the subject of South West Water bills, stemmed in large parts from the imposition of higher standards for our beaches in 2015. These standards are due to rise again and the thorny issue of combined sewer overflows will need to be addressed. A bathing water pilot has given "real time" public information at three beaches, so that people can see for themselves where overflows have led to problems. If you are aware of any problems with raw sewage being discharged into the environment, you can call the Environment Agency Hotline no. 0800 80 70 60.
The Environment Agency should be congratulated on the work that was carried out in Harbertonford, which has not flooded since the new flood defences were built.
It was also an opportunity to hear about the £1 million, Totnes Hydro-electric Power Plant at Totnes Weir which should produce up to 1.2 gigawatts from a 4.4 diameter installation if they are able to get the go-ahead.
It was a priviledge to meet with Vaughan Lindsay, the Chief Executive to hear about the diversity of work managed by the Dartington Hall Trust. www.dartington.org
Dartington has so much to offer and clearly organisations like the Dartington Trust, despite impressive fund raising, will need support from the Arts Council to be able to continue to offer all that they do.
We are hoping to put together a programme of political discussion evenings in the future, to allow challenging debates on issues, such as Trident and Parliamentary Voting Systems.
It was a pleasure to talk to Steve Prime, the Chief Executive of the South Devon Rural Housing Association which is now part of Partnership South West. We talked about the issues facing Housing Associations as they try to increase the provision of affordable rented housing in the South Hams.
SDRHA currently manages 200 homes but would like to expand to 250. To do so they would be helped by easier access to a dedicated fund for rural housing and the freedom that community land trusts may provide. Steve would like to see a reduction in the time that it takes for plans to be processed and a reduction in pre-planning costs. He is not the first to raise the issue of contaminated land surveys, which now have to be carried out pre-planning rather than post-planning, this is significantly adding to the costs for rural housing associations.
It was good to catch up with David Haxby, David Shephard, Delia Colegate and Malcolm Colegate of the Federation of Small Businesses.
Only 3% of businesses in the UK employ more than 20 people, so small businesses are vital to the UK economy; nowhere more so than in the South Hams. The keynote messages from the FSB are that we need to get back to retail banking with managers in the High Street with good local knowledge and that we need to take great care not to unnecessarily burden micro businesses with costs that are only manageable in larger settings.
The FSB stressed the importance of broadband, the lack of broadband is restricting growth in the South West. The final message was about improving access for small businesses to public sector contracts, by breaking them down to contracts of more manageable sizes to allow local procurement.
It was a great pleasure to join the Rotary Club at The Royal Seven Stars for a meeting of several local branches.
Many thanks to David Stevens for the opportunity to hear more about the work of the Totnes, Dartmouth and Kingsbridge Rotary Clubs and to give a talk reflecting on my first few months as an MP
This was another busy surgery to discuss a wide range of local concerns.
This was an opportunity to meet with local dentists to discuss the problems with the dental contract and how we address the barriers to providing better access to NHS dentistry in Brixham.
The current dental contract has many perverse incentives to provide substandard care and it was helpful to talk to Nick and Grahame about the changes that would be required in order to redress the situation that provides an incentive to remove a tooth rather than reward the time consuming work required to save it.
It was good to meet with local pharmacist, Paul Moloney, and Sue Taylor and Mark Stone of the Local Pharmaceutical Committee to discuss how the Health White Paper might impact on Pharmacies in Devon.
Pharmacists are keen to expand their role in the NHS. Pharmacies like Healeys already provide a range of services from contraceptive advice and health screening to advanced advice about medicines and a harm reduction service for drug users.
Many people are unaware of how detailed and lengthy a pharmacist's training is and with their accessibility and close ties with local GPs they are well placed to increase the range of services they can provide to communities.
We looked today at their easy to access Chlamydia Screening service and how this helps to provide confidential access to screening without needing to do any more than walk into a pharmacy and pick up a free testing kit, no appointment needed.
This was a great opportunity to work with Paula Black, Green Party County councillor and Robert Vint, Lib Dem District Councillor, towards a common goal; the opening up of a safe cycle route from Totnes to Littlehempston.
Whenever cycle routes are proposed there are those who fear that they will lead to vandalism or to overdevelopment. The reality is that cycle routes are used primarily by local people but also by visitors who bring great benefits to the local economy. It would be a shame for Totnes, the home of the Transition Towns Movement, to miss the opportunity to be on the NCN2 cycle route. Some businesses wish to restrict access across the river via a bridge largely funded by public money on the grounds that their properties might be vandalised.
My feeling is that the root of the problem lies with the derelict Dairy Crest site as such sites always tend to attract vandals. Surely the answer is to look at where protection can be added rather than seek to exclude an entire population. With careful hedging, fencing and CCTV much can be done to deter vandalism whilst encouraging walkers and cyclists to stick to the path.
The Rare Breeds Farm and the South Devon Railway declined our offer to meet with a delegation of cyclists. The offer of a private meeting later in the day was taken up by 2 local residents who were able to explain their concerns about increased traffic and the risk of inappropriate parking on the Littlehempston side of the bridge and cyclists' safety. This was a constructive meeting to look at alternative routes and how to address potential difficulties if the route does go ahead.
I would encourage businesses to look at the benefits that comparable cycle routes have brought to their local communities and see how pubs, attractions and village shops benefit from ‘green' tourism. You have only to look at the first Sustrans route from Bristol to Bath or smaller routes such as Malborough to Salcombe, to see how cycle paths open up safe links between communities that can be enjoyed by all.
The cycle surgery was enjoyed by well over 50 cyclists of all ages.
The Conservative Association are keen to welcome visitors to their political discussion evenings.
On this occasion I discussed my first impressions of Parliament and then took questions from the audience of about 50. These are always friendly and lively discussions and it was good to be able to also welcome 2 students from Kingsbridge sixth form.
If you would like to find out more about the Association Political Forum please contact the Totnes Office on 01803 868378.
Congratulations to Bernard Taylor, Michael Pedrick and the committee for all the hard work that goes into such a successful Show.
Another busy surgery to try to help with constituents' concerns.
Formerly Devon PCT, but now NHS Devon, this is the PCT that commissions services for half of the Totnes Constituency. Rather confusingly, anyone living in the area covered by Torbay council will come under a different Trust.
I met with Ann to discuss the White Paper and the current commissioning arrangements. With so much uncertainty ahead for PCTs the challenge will be in managing the transition from PCT to GP led commissioning. There will be a great need for experienced staff from PCTs to support GP commissioning and to help ensure that the teams in place to take over from PCTs have the expertise to manage complex budgets, demand and fairness of distribution. It would be a wasted opportunity and undermine the credibility of GP commissioning if GPs failed to engage with the process and merely handed over to private commissioners.
My concern is how we will manage to control demand fairly and within limited resources. Who and at what stage will someone, somewhere have to turn down a demand to be referred or treated?
There are many unanswered questions about the nature of GP commissioning and I am glad to have the opportunity to sit on the Health Select Committee to be able to press for answers to the many questions that need answering on this subject. If you have any thoughts on the White Paper and GP commissioning, please get in touch.
I met with Sue and Norma to discuss how the CSA manages cases and how to help where progress is slow or obstructed by those who seek to evade their responsibilities.
This was a fascinating insight into the Agency and the kinds of difficulties that can be encountered. This is always a large part of any MPs postbag.
It was good to meet Ann to discuss childrens' services in Devon and to be able to establish a link in order to understand the pathways of care for young people in Devon.
In the afternoon I caught up with Anthony Farnsworth, Chief Executive of the Torbay Care Trust to discuss the challenges facing the Trust and Anthony's views of the success of integrated health and social care.
We agreed to stay in touch over the coming months to discuss the impact of the Health White Paper on the Trust.
It was good to meet Robin Causley, director of Age Concern in Torbay at their Paignton headquarters.
Also an opportunity to hear about the work they do and tour the advice centre and shop to meet the many volunteers who do so much for the community in the Bay.
If you would like to arrange an appointment for a future surgery, please call Nina Smith on 01803 868378.
I was invited to meet with a group of national and local animal rights campaigners over a vegan supper in Moreleigh.
There were many areas of common ground and I am keen to promote a variety of animal welfare issues in association with the RSPCA. There were areas where we agreed to differ, most notably around the issue of whether we should allow a cull of diseased badgers, but we have made arrangements to keep in contact to maintain a dialogue over areas where we can work together in the interests of animal welfare.
I also had the opportunity to explain my position over the issue of hunting with hounds. I am not personally in favour of repealing the ban, but I have always committed to asking the electorate. So far the majority are in favour of maintaining a ban on hunting. If you would like to register your view, please email me but please include your address so that I can ensure that the poll is not biased by repeat voting and that all votes come from those living in the Totnes constituency.
On Friday I met with Paula Black, Green Party County Councillor, to discuss progress on creating a cycle path between Littlehempston and Totnes. We are both keen to promote the creation of a safe route and to complete a vital link in the NCN2 cycle network.
So many businesses could benefit from a safe route that would increase green tourism in the South Hams. We know that with families increasingly seeking to take holidays in the UK, this is a growth area and one that would benefit the whole of the local economy. I urge Devon County Council to actively seek the safest and most cycle friendly option in planning the route.
It was a pleasure to meet with so many local farmers and hear about the many difficulties facing the industry. Top of the list of concerns was the devastating effect of bovine TB. Farmers face high costs in terms of the time taken to meet the testing regime and many told of injuries to themselves and to livestock in trying to carry out the tests. Compensation often fails to adequately meet their costs if animal have to be culled and many told of their exasperation at having to cull cattle whilst badgers are highly protected under the current legislation.
Other issues causing concern are fears around tagging of sheep. I was told of the problems of ear tagging causing injuries to sheep and repeatedly falling out. Duplication of inspection regimes and bureaucracy are particular issues for farmers and need to be rationalised.
Finally, at the root of so many problems, we discussed the stranglehold on prices exerted by supermarkets. Farmers survive on very low incomes and cannot afford to take on the help they need. Farmers need fair prices for their produce.
For cycling, this means the provision of velodromes for training, but the nearest to Devon is currently in Wales which means it is unrealistic to train track cyclists in the South West. British Cycling is investigating a velodrome in South Devon and I will be discussing this with the head of British Cycling in the South West, Chris Yates, at the Dartmoor Classic this Weekend.
As an MP I will do my best to promote the interests of cycling in Torbay and the South Hams. If you would like to get involved please get in touch with your ideas of for safer cycling routes.
I can't do anything about the hills but there may be ways around them.
I would also like to thank Louise and Richard Newman of Strete for hosting their annual Strawberry Tea, which I attended in the afternoon.
A great spectacle, enormous fun and made the World Cup vuvuzela sound quite quiet. Congratulations to Pam and the team of organisers for another great day.
On Friday I met with the Town Council, many stakeholders and concerned members of the public at Batson Creek to discuss their concern at the decision by South Hams District Council to invest £160,000 in a boat hoist.
Whilst SHDC are understandably concerned by the possible risks posed by the existing boat crane operating in a public car park, the current operators argue that they have passed all safety checks.
It is a real problem that with our current compensation culture, the owners of a car park can find themselves liable for injury to people who put themselves at risk by climbing on cranes even though it is patently their own actions and stupidity that will have caused the injury in the first place.
It is a shame that such concerns have led to this situation and I hope that SHDC will delay their decision to allow further consultation with Winters, the current operators to see if a compromise regarding liability can be reached. There have been no recorded injuries from the existing crane and many of those I met at the Creek Car Park argued that the £160,000 would be better invested in other local projects.
Inspirational 19 year old Henry Bomby, set sail on Saturday at the start of his project to sail single handed around Britain, climbing the Three Peaks and taking part in the Round the island Race on the way.
Having met Henry before the election whilst he was preparing for his voyage, in aid of ‘Toe in the Water', it was a great pleasure to join the massive turnout of well wishers on the quayside to wave him off from Dartmouth.
Pilgrim is the last Brixham built, wooden trawler to have worked amongst the fleet of around 300 that operated out of Brixham in the 1900s. They are very rare and this is a unique opportunity to watch as she is restored and see her extraordinary construction.
An unmissable part of South Devon's Heritage, I urge you to look at their website and consider sponsoring a plank so that the project can reach completion and she can be back in Brixham for 2012. The team are always looking for volunteers and have ambitious plans for her future.
It was a great pleasure to return to Dartmouth Hospital to see the newly refurbished Minor injuries Unit and to discuss the future of Community Hospitals with Tracey Cunningham, matron of Dartmouth Hospital.
The hospital was built in 1894 on the South Embankment and continues to provide a fantastic service for local residents, who would otherwise face a long journey to Torbay.
It is impossible to overstate how much patients benefit from the personalised care and link to their home communities provided by Community Hospitals. I would like to see an expansion in the outpatient services available at Dartmouth. At present ENT is available and the previously threatened paediatric clinic has been reinstated.
Why not expand these and bring more expertise out into the community? The future for community hospitals is to extend the services they offer. In addition to x-ray two days per week why not include ultrasound and other diagnostics like endoscopy?
It was also interesting to see some of the innovative measures staff take to look at how standards can be continually examined and improved at Dartmouth.
I challenge any hospital in the country to provide a better or more therapeutic view from its dayroom.
Having seen the site under construction during the campaign and heard about the extraordinary efforts of so many in the community to make it happen, it was wonderful to see it so full of children on a beautiful sunny day.
Cllr Mike Howarth thanked all those involved and then I joined the prime movers, Cllr Anne Balkwill and Wendy Bolt in cutting the ribbon. After a walk around the Creek it was a real pleasure to be able to open the skate park and watch an impressive demonstration.
If you have not been to Kingsbridge recently, take a look. With its vibrant high street and farmers' market and the transformation brought about by Kingsbridge in bloom, it is a wonderful place to visit. The play area in memorial park is outstanding; children could not fail to enjoy it. I just hope they have more success than I did at staying on the roundabout!
On this day I visited Dartmouth to meet the Mayor, Richard Rendle, Simon Entwistle, Chair of the freeholders group and Nigel Way. After a discussion of the issues, an inspection of the site brought home the scale of the devastation to the heart of Dartmouth. It is clear that the community has done an amazing job in re-housing all those who were made homeless as a result of the fire and the Mayor's fund has been set up to raise funds for some immediate help for those who have lost so much.
The focus was on what needs to be done to get Dartmouth back on its feet for the summer season. The first priority is to sort out the traffic flow as there are reports of temporary signs being moved and numerous collisions and holdups as confusion arises over the new one way system.
I call on the Chief Traffic Engineer for Devon to review the urgency of the situation and arrange for permanent signage to be installed as soon as possible. Dartmouth traders are already suffering as a result of the hike in business rates and cannot afford to suffer further loss if visitors stay away because of traffic chaos.
I am confident that South Hams District Council will prioritise any planning arrangements needed for rebuilding of these lovely buildings.
Meeting with our local police to discuss the force reorganisation known as blueprint and how the teams area are coping with changes to their shift patterns and response teams. It was also good to meet the team which then takes over to investigate crimes after the response team.