• Ministers are to round up a family of beavers spotted living in the Devon countryside and put them in a zoo. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is trying to find a home in captivity for the rodents that are thought to have made their home on the River Otter in east Devon. But while Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has decided not to cull the animals, the move has angered environmentalists anxious to return the animal to the wild. Beavers, once native to the UK, were hunted to extinction here 500 years ago as they were prized for their fur, meat and scent [...]

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    Here’s my Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/clairewrightindependent

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    Just who is this recalcitrant individual who persecutes developers? It’s me! And the developers, are of course, Mr and Mrs Headon of H&H Prestige Homes, who I have written about previously on this blog, as they arranged for two healthy 150 year old oak trees to be ringbarked, then felled, last autumn, prior to submitting a planning application. Dozens of mature trees in the back garden of Crantock, West Hill Road, also met the same fate. Last week, following a site inspection, EDDC’s planning committee approved two bungalows for Crantock’s back garden.  It was at [...]

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    It is really inconceivable how ministers could get away with blithely handed over policy making to a group of people who obviously had such a significant self-interest in drafting the rules in their favour. Where are the checks and balances in the system? Here’s the story, including links to the document. http://eastdevonalliance.org/2014/06/26/the-story-of-the-birth-of-the-nppf-and-what-a-disgraceful-one-it-is/

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    The developer, Charles Church - a branch of Persimmon, is interested in building possibly between 30-50 houses off Ash Hill Road, on the edge of the village. The plans will be displayed on Wednesday 16 July and will run from 2-7pm. The field is outside West Hill’s built up area boundary and is around one mile from the centre of the village. Photograph with thanks to Save the Woodland Village campaign on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-West-Hill-the-Woodland-Village/669125346454414 :  It is the field that Persimmon are interested in building on.

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    Mental health is given “second class status” by the Government, one of the region’s top psychiatric consultants has warned in a letter to David Cameron. Dr Andrew Moore, clinical director and consultant for the Devon Partnership NHS Trust, which provides care to people with mental health problems, says psychiatric care is “not a great priority” for ministers. The warning came as former Health Minister Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, told the House of Commons professionals fear mental health services are “in collapse” – underlined by vulnerable people [...]

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    Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors invoked a special procedure to ‘call-in’ the decisions, announced last week, to allow more scrutiny of why the decisions were taken. The challenge is due to be heard on Thursday (26 June) in County Hall by cross-party members of the County Council’s Peoples’ Scrutiny committee. However, plans by Lib Dem and Independent councillors on the committee to invite families and carers of those affected by the closures, along with Trades Unions and key council officers have been scuppered by the ruling Conservative administration.[...]

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    MPs and business leaders in the Westcountry are backing a national campaign to reduce the rate of VAT for the tourism industry. Campaigners want to see the current 20% rate slashed, and have backed the CUT Tourism VAT Campaign, which is lobbying for a reduction to 5%. A cross-party group of 28 MPs from across the country have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on the government to reduce the rate of VAT on the tourism industry, in order to boost regional economies outside London. This comes as growing numbers of politicians want to see Britain become more competitive compared with [...]

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    New statistics from the Forestry Commission released today show the rate of tree planting is far lower than is needed to meet Government targets – despite efforts by landowners who applied for woodland creation grants last year. Just 3,300 hectares of new woodland was planted in England in the 2013-14 planting season – an increase of just 700 ha on the 2012-13 figure of 2,600ha but still far short of the 5,000ha target.1 In Scotland, 8,300ha was planted, 1,300ha more than last year but again, far short of the 10-15000ha target. In Wales 900ha was planted – equal to last year’s figure [...]

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    We were outside the library, which is at risk of closure under Devon County Council’s cuts programme. Many showed interest and enthusiasm for the idea of an independent MP for East Devon.  And of course, it was fabulous weather I will be back! Photograph:  Me with Budleigh Salterton resident and fellow campaigner, David Daniel.

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    The event runs from 3pm to 8pm and it will be a chance for nature lovers to study wildlife and cook over a camp fire. Booking is essential.  For more information see - http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/news/events/fingle-festival/

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    Council scrutiny committees are based on the model of parliamentary select committees, where witnesses are invited along and asked questions. I am a member of EDDC’s overview and scrutiny committee and Devon County Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee. The idea is to try and get behind an issue, to work through to the nub of it, particularly on issues of public concern. The role of the scrutiny committee is act on behalf of residents who do not have the opportunity to seek out, or ask such questions.  And it should be taken seriously…. But is it? Here are a few examples[...]

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    Other events include: - Sidmouth town centre - Saturday 5 July - Topsham town centre - Saturday 19 July More information on community events will follow, especially in relation to visiting East Devon villages. If you would like to help me leaflet or campaign in any way, please get in touch with me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)/*= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if (el[j].getAttribute('data-eeEncEmail_SbAVfKvvgT'))el[j].innerHTML = out;/*]]>*/ For more information about my campaign for a seat in Parliament click here - [...]

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    At the overview and scrutiny minutes on 15 May, the conservatives largely voted in favour of major public speaking restrictions at planning committee meetings - see here for details - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_public_speaking_clampdown_plans_make_it_through_scrutiny_committee But although overview and scrutiny committee chairman, Cllr Tim Wood, can be heard explaining to the cabinet on Wednesday 4 June, that there were amendments to the proposals (and knowing how controversial the changes were) not one councillor queried these, nor did any councillor on the cabinet make[...]

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    The plans do not affect residential homes or day centres in Ottery Rural ward but closures will take place in Exmouth, Sidmouth, Seaton and Honiton. http://www.devonnewscentre.info/council-to-target-resources-on-keeping-people-independent-at-home/ Devon County Council is to stop providing direct residential care for older people in most of its homes so it can help more elderly people live independently at home or in supported accommodation, and in other residential homes. Half of the county’s day centres will be retained, supporting the most vulnerable and people with disabilities. Devon [...]

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    NHS managers from the NEW Devon clinical commissioning group (CCG), Jenny McNeill and Rebecca Harriott, presented their over-arching strategy for community health services, which has been criticised for its lack of detail. I asked about costs because I am aware that the local NHS is in financial difficulty and I am unconvinced that the new proposals, which focus on moving care to people’s homes and are likely to involve widespread community hospital bed losses, can save money in such a rural area. Rebecca Harriott confirmed that there were no costs yet prepared and that this would happen [...]

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    There were cookery demonstrations, including how to make properly authentic Indian food, cake baking, specialist food stalls, children’s activities, cream teas and some rather unusual sounding activities such as fish dancing and rodent racing! Have a look at some pictures in the Express & Echo link here - http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Pictures-Hundreds-attend-start-Ottery-St-Mary/story-21237539-detail/story.html There was a wonderful atmosphere and it was an absolute honour to formally open the event. Photograph:  Me with Ruud Jansen Venneboer, the event’s chief [...]

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    Tamara Powderley of the NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told East Devon District Council Scrutiny Committee Members on 12 June that the body was under extreme financial pressure, and “cannot afford the current configuration” of community hospitals. She said that they have as big a cash issue as Devon County Council (which is required by the Government to slash its spending by hundreds of millions of pounds). Dr Rob Daniels of the CCG, addressing the Scrutiny Committee with Tamara Powderley, said that the present model of five community hospitals - [...]

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    Sadly, Ottery’s youth centre will not survive in its current form and must rely on volunteers if it continues.  It is set to shut by September. Some young campaigners were there to hear the cabinet make its decision. Most opposition councillors, including me, welcomed the move that the council was not now going to close all its youth centres, instead retaining eight hubs across the county. However, many expressed concerns about how the young people currently attending youth centres in other places would manage to travel to the hub centres. I asked about the issue collection system [...]

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    The story is on just after 7.30am and again just after 8.30am. As a member of Devon County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, I am interviewed, as is local doctor, David Halpin and also a GP from one of the clinical commissioning groups. The story will also feature on BBC Spotlight this evening. You can listen again here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/radiodevon/on-air  Here’s the link to Spotlight programme - it is the lead story - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04617fv/spotlight-11062014

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    The library is under threat of closure, following Devon County Council’s proposals to withdraw funding from the facility, along with others across the county. One resident told of how the library was her “lifeline” when she was suffering from mental health issues. A blind resident said that the library was “absolutely essential” to her life and a bus trip to Honiton or Exmouth could be very difficult. A letter from King’s headteacher, Faith Jarrett, said that access to a local library was a “key feature” for developing a love of reading in young [...]

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    West Hill resident, Jessica Bailey, residents association chair, Dr Margaret Hall and I, argued at last week’s planning committee meeting that the application should be rejected on the grounds of over-development. We enlightened councillors about the destruction of the many trees and argued that the two veteran oaks at the very least, which formed part of West Hill Road’s character, should be replaced with semi-mature oaks. Planning committee chair, Cllr Helen Parr, told me that there were no grounds to request replacements because the felled trees had not been legally protected.[...]

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    It aims to get East Devon constituency residents views on a wide range of issues, such as business, education, health services and environmental issues, as well as what their priorities are for public spending. It also aims to establish residents thoughts on which public services are most important in their eyes, and which they would protect from budget cuts. The survey, which is open to residents living in the East Devon constituency, will be available until December. I want my manifesto to reflect as much as possible, local people’s views and this survey, along with conversations with [...]

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    The report was in response to a motion I lodged at February’s full council meeting, proposing that councillors on the planning committee declare whether or not they had been lobbied on a planning application.  Here’s the account of the debate, which seemed caused widespread bafflement among the conservative group - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/but_what_is_lobbying_confusion_breaks_out_over_motion_to_encourage_greater The thorny subject, which has been beset by delay after delay, was referred to the April standards committee for consideration. Officers at the [...]

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    East Devon District Council is inviting all the residents of Ottery St Mary Town Council’s Parish, voluntary and community groups and other organisations to send their ideas to Ottery St Mary Town Council on how £17,300 can be spent on sport in the area. The parish of Ottery St Mary is anywhere covered by Ottery St Mary Town Council, so includes Alfington, Tipton St John, Wiggaton and West Hill. All the funds available have been accumulated by East Devon District Council from recent housing developments in the parish of Ottery St Mary (Section 106 money). They have a nationally acclaimed [...]

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    We will be there from 10am to midday, at the Magnolia Centre. We look forward to meeting you!

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    Here’s George’s statement….. This change in policy by Devon County Council is a hard-earned victory for the: thousands of members of the public; hundreds of youth activists and dozens of youth workers who have been critical of the original proposal. The dedication and commitment of campaigners across Devon illustrates the extent to which people are willing to go when the livelihood, identity and family of 12,500 Devonian young people are threatened. We hope that we have made it clear to the county council that it is a very detrimental idea to make decisions against expert [...]

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    Yesterday I launched my campaign for the East Devon parliamentary seat, citing as one of my strengths, being free to speak and free to act .... never having to choose between my conscience and a party line - here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/my_parliamentary_campaign_launch_speech Below is the link to the story in today’s Western Morning News - http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Devon-Cornwall-Somerset-MPs-rebel-leaders-220/story-21180376-detail/story.html

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    An alternative East Devon Imagine a different MP for East Devon ….. • Who represents East Devon’s interests by frequently tabling QUESTIONS to ministers on matters of importance to constituents • Who regularly takes part in debates that are of importance to East Devon residents and SPEAKS OUT on their behalf. • Who INITIATES debates to further the interests of their constituents. • Who is free to speak and free to act, on behalf of their constituents precisely BECAUSE they are not a member of a party and because they are not subject to a party whip. • An MP who has more TIME to [...]

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    One of the main festival organisers, Ruud Jansen Venneboer of Mazzard Farm Holiday Cottages, said: “We were so overwhelmed by the response last year that it was inevitable we would run the festival again. “Ottery and the surrounding area boasts an amazing level of skill in local produce and chefs who are committed to using only responsibly sourced ingredients, and the festival is a way to showcase and applaud these achievements.” Squaring up to the challenge of cook offs and demonstrations, Robin Rea of the Rusty Pig and ‘Samosa Lady’ Tina Chauhan-Challis attended the launch, where[...]

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