• Over the months the flow over the weir seemed to dry up almost totally, leaving just a trickle of water cascading down the rocks. I contacted the Environment Agency a few weeks ago and they investigated. They found that it was due to hydro-electric power facility downstream, which was taking more water than it should have been. The EA explained that during construction of the fish pass, flows and levels were carefully calculated to ensure that there would always be a steady flow over the weir face (in addition to the flow in the fish pass). EA officers wrote to the landowner who adjusted the [...]

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    Last night your MP, Hugo Swire, voted the wrong way. [1] Yesterday, MPs voted on whether to give voters the power to sack misbehaving MPs. [2] The majority voted no, choosing to stick with the government’s recall law that takes this power out of our hands. Days like these can be pretty disheartening. They remind us there’s a huge gap between the political system we want and the political system we have. This won’t be the last opportunity MPs have to vote on this. It could technically be possible to get the changes we want. But, to be honest, it’s pretty unlikely. Not enough MPs are [...]

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    Everyone at the meeting set about contacting family and friends inviting them to come along - and also making placards - very fast! So at 10.30am we all met. I gave a brief but hopefully rousing speech and we had our pictures taken. A coach has already been booked for a really important meeting - the health and wellbeing scrutiny committee on Monday 17 November, which will start at 2pm. If you want to book a place on the coach send me an email and I will put you in touch with Jackie Taylor, who is kindly organising it. The health and wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting is the only committee [...]

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    I say a little more colourful because it wasn’t quite as colourful as I had hoped, when I started the project last year, with Devon County Council highways, Devon Wildlife Trust, ably assisted by Dick Beardsall from West Hill Residents Association. The yellow rattle came up beautifully in June, but the other species that were sowed - a whole range of pretty wildflowers such as cornflowers and oxeye daisy, didn’t feature very much. We think it was probably because not enough grass was removed beforehand, despite our best efforts to scarify. Yesterday, Dick Beardsall, West Hill [...]

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    Dear colleague Re: Urgent and necessary measures to address patient demand As a key stakeholder I am writing to inform you that we expect to announce a series of urgent and necessary measures to address a worsening of the CCG’s financial situation. As you will be aware, last year the CCG returned a £14.5 million deficit (known as the control total) and this year we have been predicting the same. Our confidence in meeting the control total at the end of the current financial year has gradually declined as the situation has become clearer; in short, demand for services is outstripping what we[...]

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    The motion was:  “Openness and transparency in the planning process is vital. This council therefore agrees to include an item on the agenda of all development management committee and planning inspections committee meetings, requiring members of those committees to declare if and who they have been lobbied by, about items on the agenda.”Tomorrow’s agenda item follows a postponement from a scheduled meeting in July. A paper from the new monitoring officer is included with tomorrow’s agenda, containing much information on the code of conduct and rules governing planning [...]

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    It is encouraging that Mr Swire is doing something to put pressure on the seemingly paranoid DEFRA, however, the answer is surely to abandon the expensive and unnecessary capture plans, rather than risk the animals becoming ill or dying in captivity either before or after they are operated on and tested for a disease that Public Health England are apparently unconcerned about them having. If the kits are separated from the parents, they will probably die, either in captivity or on the river. They rely on their parents for warmth and food. I have asked Mr Swire twice now if he will urge DEFRA [...]

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    The environmental charity Friends of the Earth has launched legal action to try to stop the government from ordering the capture of a family of beavers living in the wild in Devon. FoE lawyers have submitted legal papers seeking to challenge licences that allow the capture the animals, believed to be the first beavers to live in the wild in England for centuries. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) plans to trap the colony and transfer the creatures to a zoo or wildlife park. It argues they are a non-native, invasive species and could carry a disease. Most local [...]

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    Now over 1,300 households and businesses will be able to sign up to superfast broadband services following the switching on of four new fibre broadband cabinets. Ottery residents should now be able to get speeds of around 24 mega bits per second. There will be a free workshop in the area delivered by the ‘Get up to Speed’ team part of Connecting Devon and Somerset, showing businesses how to take advantage of faster broadband to boost business opportunities and get more customers. It will be organised with the Ottery Chamber of Commerce, so will be promoted locally once a date is set. The [...]

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    The East Devon locality county committee, which met this morning, also objected to the loss of minor injuries units in all East Devon hospitals except Honiton and Exmouth.  And It requested urgent provision of financial from the NHS, to accompany the plans. I made the proposal, which was seconded by Cllr Andrew Moulding, who represents Axminster and whose community is up in arms about the plans to shut all the hospital beds there. Exmouth GP, Dr Tom Debenham and Tina Teague, from the North, East, West Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NEW Devon CCG) came along to explain the plans to [...]

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    Our shouts of outrage have already prompted East Devon’s MP, Hugo Swire to sit up and take notice and change his position from one of accepting complacency, to opposition. For a start, I would urge everyone who responds to the NHS consultation to send their letter to the local papers, so that they raise the profile of the issue and encourage others to respond. They are: - Fran McElhone, Express & Echo - .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)/*= 0)out += unescape(l[i].replace(/^\s\s*/, '&#'));while (--j >= 0)if [...]

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    I heard some brilliant speeches and loved the atmosphere of positive energy and happiness. I took part in a panel debate in the afternoon, which was sparky and challenging, with some thought-provoking questions from the young people present. I have had some lovely messages from the young people who attended, which mean a lot. Thanks to George Downs, MYP for East Devon for inviting me! Photograph:  The Panel - l to r - Gill Millar, Regional Youth Work Adviser at the South West Regional Youth Work Unit, Tessa Munt MP, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for the Wells constituency, [...]

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    Unbelievably, it seems that Wainhomes couldn’t give a fig about their moral responsibilities, let alone their legal obligations and are happy to let the residents of Feniton flood. But they didn’t bargain on the wrath of Cllr Susie Bond and Feniton Parish Council!  And EDDC have reacted assertively….. Anyway, don’t miss the One Show at 7pm, where you will see Susie and other residents explaining just how disgraceful Wainhomes behaviour really is. Let’s hope this national and very bad publicity shames Wainhomes thoroughly. Read more on Susie’s blog here[...]

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    Here’s the story webbed by the Express & Echo - http://www.exeterexpressandecho.co.uk/Conservative-MPs-rethink-hospital-closures/story-23235630-detail/story.html

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    Roger Giles and I spoke strongly against the plans, and fortunately most of the committee seemed to agree that cutting beds was a bad idea. A robust consultation response will be submitted to the clinical commissioning group.

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    The short report - at item 9 from the link below - raised more questions than it answered in mine and Cllr Roger Giles opinions and we asked many questions of the deputy chief executive. I am not convinced that we received many answers, suffice to say that a new level of uncertainty appeared to emerge over the plans to sell off the Knowle and multiple other EDDC owned assets, to fund a new office build. The meeting started off with several members of the public - Richard Thurlow from Save Our Sidmouth, Richard Eley (Sidmouth businessman) and Marianne Rixson (Sidmouth resident), all urging [...]

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    Here’s the agenda, accompanied by the relevant reports - http://new.eastdevon.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/committees-and-meetings/overview-and-scrutiny-committee/agendas/

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    Question 1: Procedure Rule 9.2 to the Leader of the Council from Councillor Ben Ingham Please can the Leader tell me when he and the EDDC Cabinet were informed that the EDDC CEO, Mark Williams has been called as a witness by the House of Commons Select Committee for their meeting on Monday, 13th October at 5.15pm when they discuss “Political and Constitutional Reform: Voter engagement in the UK” and in light of the event, what he was asked and how he responded? Answer: The CEO is also the Council’s Electoral Registration Officer (ERO), and its Returning Officer. These 3 roles are [...]

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    Oddly, councillors were not informed of Mr Williams appearance before a select committee of MPs until yesterday. The issue kicked off a few weeks ago, following research undertaken by East Devon Alliance - http://eastdevonalliance.org/ The debate centres around the fact that EDDC has not provided door to door canvassers to increase voter registration in East Devon. Questions are asked about EDDC’s scrutiny process. See link to a transcript here - [...]

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    https://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/govt-plans-capture-devon-beavers-may-be-unlawful-warns-friends-earth Dear Hugo, you will remember that I wrote to you on 25 September concerning the above press release by Friends of the Earth, which warns that the capture of the Ottery beavers by DEFRA may breach EU law.  Can I assume that you have written to DEFRA asking for the suspension of the capture? http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/08/health-watchdog-contradicts-claims-devon-beavers-pose-human-health-risk Today’s news by Alasdair Cameron from Friends of the Earth [...]

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    Emails show Public Health England does not believe beavers on river Otter would increase risk to human health from disease The UK’s health watchdog appears to have privately contradicted claims by the environment department that a family of escaped beavers in Devon pose a risk to human health. Officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have repeatedly said that the beavers, thought to be the first in the wild in England for centuries, could threaten human health because they may be carrying a disease that the UK is currently free of. But Defra documents and [...]

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    But in an unexpected twist, a few hours before the meeting started the local provider of healthcare, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, issued a press release stating that Ottery Hospital was going to be the centre for stroke care from next month. But only as a temporary arrangement until the service moves to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital next year. The press release also announced that extra medical beds would be provided at Ottery over the winter to ease the RD&E pressures of the cold weather. The move would bring more beds to Ottery Hospital than it has seen for years, [...]

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    A new system of public speaking at planning meetings of East Devon District Council comes into operation this month (October). The changes will take effect from the Development Management Committee (DMC) meeting on 21 October and will continue on a trial basis for one year, followed by a review. Planning Inspections Committee meetings will be subject to the same new system. Documents associated with the meeting on 21 October will be distributed and/or made available online in the next few days. The key changes, which are for members of the public wishing to comment on a specific planning [...]

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    GP surgeries could be set up in hospitals under “radical” NHS plans to prevent elderly people being needlessly admitted as emergencies. The head of the NHS will unveil the strategy to tackle a critical shortage of GPs, and stop hospitals from being flooded with patients. Simon Stevens will say that individual hospitals can set up GP surgeries, with permanent lists of patients, so people will be able to obtain help more easily. It follows a Conservative pledge to open family doctors’ practices seven days a week by 2020, and warnings that more than 500 practices in England are under threat[...]

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    https://www.devonnewscentre.info/public-consultation-on-proposed-highways-budget-reductions/ A public consultation has been launched today (Friday 3 October) by Devon County Council on proposed savings to its highways and traffic management service budget. The County Council has already reduced its highways revenue budget by £18.5 million since 2010. However, it now needs to cut a further £3.4 million in 2015/16 as part of the £100 million savings required by 2017, due to the ongoing austerity measures imposed by the coalition Government. The nine-week consultation sets out a number of [...]

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    TRANSCRIPT OF HUGO SWIRE INTERVIEW CONCERNING CCG PROPOSALS FOR LOSS OF BEDS AT OTTERY ST MARY HOSPITAL, ON THURSDAY 18 SETEMBER Matt Woodley: Well listening to that, is the Conservative MP for East Devon Hugo Swire.  Hugo good morning I know Ottery St Mary one of the hospitals affected in your particular constituency. Are you concerned that beds will go at Ottery? Hugo Swire: Well I think the thing to remember is that this is the start of a consultation period which lasts until mid December and of course the proposals are that Sidmouth and Exmouth in my constituency will retain their [...]

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