• Firstly, there seems to have been a considerable amount of spinning involved in this budget. Osborne leads everyone to think (right up until the last minute) that the police and working tax credits would see considerable cuts. But his announcements today will have ensured positive press coverage as everyone was expecting the worst. Cynical view? Yes but I think that is the accurate one! So the cuts are less awful than everyone thought - but most will still happen, albeit at a slower pace. The Office of Budget Responsibility has apparently revised its forecast for public finances, which some [...]

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    The scheme includes a 1km surfaced walkway and cycleway running between Laundry Lane in Sidford and the southern boundary of Sidbury. The trail runs along agricultural land on the Eastern side of the A375 and then passes onto boardwalk through woodland at Sidbury. The route has been chosen following public exhibitions in Sidbury and Sidford in February 2014, as well as consultation with affected parties and a presentation to Sidmouth College. Different route options were displayed at the exhibitions and members of the public had the opportunity to comment on the proposals, which has helped [...]

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    This age group now represents around 30 per cent of all contacts with the service. Fee invited me to meet her after she read my Express & Echo article describing my reaction to the film, Suffragette. Fee is worried that young people’s sex lives are being dramatically affected by the insidious effect of online pornography. “Porn is changing young people’s behaviour,” she said. “Shaved pubic hair has become normalised. That just wasn’t the case just a few years ago.” There is a small increase in hospital admissions in some parts of Devon for injuries caused by anal sex, which [...]

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    We blinked and we missed it. I am a member of Devon County Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee and had no idea about its existence. Even the media didn’t pick it up until Thursday last week. The deadline is Monday (23 November)! It looks like a big important one too - setting the future direction of the NHS - as if that hasn’t already been done with the £3bn Health and Social Care Act, which has fragmented and helped to privatise the service. The consultation claims it is about helping the NHS become more accountable to parliament and the public. Responses to [...]

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    You are invited to the launch of the book about the Claire Wright campaign to win the Parliamentary seat of Devon East.  It will be held at the Curious Otter Bookshop, 10 Mill Street, Ottery St Mary, EX11 1AD between 10 and 12 on Saturday 28th November. This is the remarkable story of an independent, lacking a party label, an experienced party machine and relying on private donations and friends, who won the highest number of votes of any independent in the UK, whilst challenging one of the country’s safest Tory seats. This book offers a rare insight into what is necessary to [...]

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    Hospitals will remain at Holsworthy and South Molton. Torrington hospital’s beds were shut over a year ago – and the process leading up to this decision, as well as its impact, is currently being investigated by a task group of the health and wellbeing scrutiny committee. I am a member of this task group. The main reason cited by the trust for shutting the hospitals is financial, with a funding gap of £11m, as well as difficulties in recruiting staff. As a member of the health and wellbeing scrutiny committee, which met on Tuesday (10 November) I made a proposal to record an objection to [...]

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    In my ward, this means that school crossing patrols at Ottery St Mary and Feniton are at risk. Both services in my view are vital. Feniton’s Station Road is very busy at school pick up and drop off times. And the service is even more vital in Ottery’s case, as the patrol operates on the Tip Hill crossroads, between Winters Lane and Longdogs Lane. At rush hour, this is a fast and dangerous road with limited visibility.  The safety of children must be our highest priority and I will vociferously oppose any plans to cut either service.

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    Economists at the RSPB have analysed the figures and have forecast what 30 per cent cuts[1] could mean for the environment: •  It’s estimated that a 30% cuts will lead to 57% real terms cuts[2] – the largest of any department so far[3]. •  5,000+ staff redundancies meaning fewer people to, for instance, advise farmers on managing land with wildlife in mind, research and find solutions for conservation problems, and make legal commitments to cleaning up rivers, lakes and drinking water and regulate the quality of our air.  •  Near 80% cuts in real terms [...]

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    In answer to my written question at today’s cabinet meeting, calling on the council to write to Devon MPs, Cllr Roger Croad said: “I can assure Councillor Wright that the Police & Crime Panel, of which I am Chairman, has and will continue to question the Police & Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable closely on the impact of operational decisions like this. “However, and as has already been made clear, the projected reductions over the next 5 years are dependent upon the levels of funding to be announced by the Chancellor later this month following which the [...]

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    Phil Norrey, board member of the “Success Regime” (and also chief executive of Devon County Council) told the health and wellbeing scrutiny committee that the regime’s board was currently at the stage of analysing the problems, which will continue until Christmas. The paper submitted to today’s meeting, emphasised the seriousness of NEW Devon’s Clinical Commissioning Group’s financial problems . It stated:  “If nothing is done, these pressures are likely to result in a financial gap of around £430m by 2019.” The plans for cuts and change (for which we are told there are [...]

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    Sand and gravel sites consultation responses – 2012 In the Ottery area there have been almost 400 objections to a quarry at Straitgate Farm – largely on environmental and traffic issues. - Environmental issues include that there is an aquifer – major underground watercourse, feeding 100 people’s water supplies and ancient woodland at Cadhay Bog, possibly dating back to the ice age. Aggregate Industries (AI) states that they won’t quarry down as far as the water table, however, water table levels are uncertain - they rise and fall depending on rainfall. - Up to 200 lorry movements a [...]

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    It is thought that much homelessness is hidden, with maybe hundreds of people across East Devon who don’t have a home to call their own. Many of those who are homeless aren’t necessarily sleeping on the streets, but are in temporary accommodation and living on friends sofas. The event was organised by the Citizens’ Advice Bureau and Neil Parish MP came along to give a speech about how important it was to support homeless people. There were a number of questions for him, including from me. In response to the withdrawal of housing benefits for under 21s, Mr Parish pledged to [...]

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