• As the Devon County Councillor for Tipton St John I think it is absolutely disgraceful that earlier this year, the government rejected an application by the school for funding for a new build. The school site is vulnerable to flooding and has been very many times, including in 2008 when the school had to be evacuated for six months while repair work was carried out.  The extreme weather that we are seeing now in Cumbria and Yorkshire should not be regarded as a one in a 100 year event as we keep being told, but a consequence of climate change. It really is about time that the government [...]

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    Devolution is essentially the transfer of some government responsibilities to local councils. I am not opposed to the principle of devolution, however, Chancellor, George Osborne has strong-armed councils into taking on these extra responsibilities, which gives me a cause for considerable scepticism. A group of councils in Devon and Somerset, as well as the NHS and businesses are currently negotiating a deal to be put to ministers for devolved powers. As Devon County Council prepares to shave off nearly £40m again, from its budgets in a few weeks, thanks to austerity measures, it will be even[...]

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    I was up at dawn in local woods on the winter solstice, on Tuesday morning (22 Dec) and given that it was already lightish I wondered if I would notice the break of dawn as it was so cloudy, but at about 8.10, the trees and vegetation changed from monochrome to colour. And suddenly everything looked dark green and sort of russet coloured. I can’t pretend to enjoy the run up to Christmas, it all feels a bit empty, as though we have created this social construct that we are all imprisoned by - and so we behave like automatons. I find it all rather tedious and I really dislike hearing [...]

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    See more from my earlier blog here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/devon_mps_appear_complacent_over_renewable_energy_subsidy_cuts_to_industry Actually, the International Monetary Fund states that fossil fuels add around £400 to the average annual fuel bill, whereas renewable energy adds only around £14. And this article from November, tells how it really is. That government is INCREASING subsidies for fossil fuel producers, offering generous tax breaks, while virtually crippling the renewable industry. See exactly how much this is happening here - [...]

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    By brainwashing us to believe that people on benefits are a scourge to society, ministers hope they can get away with unacceptable policies, such as slashing benefits significantly, imposing inhumane benefit sanctions and claiming that the welfare budget is “bloated.” Welfare payments (in which the government also includes pensions) cost a fraction of the money that big business gets away without paying in tax every year. This runs to tens of billions of pounds. It is so easy for the powerful to sneer at those who have less than them. After all, how do they defend themselves? They [...]

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    For every 1,000 cards dropped in to M&S stores for recycling throughout January, the retailer will fund us to plant a tree. “By simply popping into your local M&S and dropping your cards into the collection boxes, customers can help the Woodland Trust to turn unwanted waste into much needed trees and preserve the UK’s wildlife habitats.” Alexis Steadman, Plan A Community Relations Manager at M&S We and M&S have set an ambitious target to collect and recycle more than 6 million Christmas cards so we can plant 6,000 trees. Mum of three Julia is a former [...]

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    Many residents were heckling because they were angry at what some of the health service representatives were saying. Since then, there was a coach load of people from Ottery, who came to hear the view of the scrutiny committee on the closure of its hospital.  Although there was no heckling, feelings were certainly running high and people were frustrated that they could not address the committee. People have the option to email the committee but this is, of course, informal and there is no guarantee that councillors will read or respond to such messages. I spoke to Devon County Council [...]

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    Just days after the ink has dried on the Paris climate change conference pledge the British government is set to legislate in favour of huge subsidy cuts, which could throw the renewable energy industry into crisis. Richard Fuell, UK Sales Manager with Solar Edge Technologies, is angry and worried about the effect the dramatic cuts in subsidies will have on his business. He said: “The whole industry is on the edge of a cliff and this decision will have a significant negative impact.  Not only will it affect thousands of people directly involved with solar but gives a clear message that [...]

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    The LibDem , Labour and Non-aligned groups voted to hear the motion. The government is set to slash the subsidy by a whopping 87 per cent overnight as early as January, which could cripple a currently successful, but fledgling industry. Conservative Leader John Hart asked his group to vote against debating my motion today at the full council meeting, although it had been explained in writing that the motion was urgent because ministers are set to finalise their plans, on Wednesday 16 December. My motion called on all Devon MPs to urgently make representations to ministers, on slowing down the [...]

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    I voted against the plans because I am concerned that the rather vague proposals are almost exclusively focused on big business, such as the supposed benefits of Hinkley Point C - which is about to be handed to the Chinese ... yet underwritten by the British taxpayer to the tune of £17bn, with the Chinese government being given extraordinarily preferential rates for electricity production.  Not exactly a south west success story. Other big industries mentioned in the plans included the Met Office, manufacturing, marine businesses and specifically referred to were road and rail.  [...]

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    The council will have a debate about devolution, which are causing some concern as plans are still rather vague.  See yesterday’s blog here - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/devolution_more_locally_funded_services_or_a_deal_largely_struck_in_secret The resolution from today’s cabinet asks the council to endorse the approach to devolution and give delegated authority to the leader and chief executive and leaders of opposition groups to endorse the final submission to government of the detailed proposition to central government. And then give delegated power to the[...]

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    The government has decreed that the process must be “business led” which means that the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has been heavily involved in discussions on what will be included in the bid to central government. The LEP meets in private and does not publish its minutes or agendas. Councillors have not been involved in the process, save for the forthcoming agenda item coming to full council on Thursday. There has been no public consultation. In the paper that goes to full council on Thursday, the list of topics to be included in the bid are: - Health, care and wellbeing[...]

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    A consultation reviewing how school crossing patrols should be funded and provided in the county is being launched by Devon County Council. The authority is exploring ways to maintain the service while looking to save £250,000 from the service’s budget in the coming financial year. It is part of £110 million of savings required over the next four years. Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “We know how highly school communities value the crossing patrols. The County Council holds them in equally high regard and we want to do [...]

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    Many MPs engaged with their constituents via social media in public to give their views and answer questions. Labour MP, Stella Creasy , who has been unacceptably abused via Twitter for her decision to vote in favour of airstrikes, will hold a public meeting on Sunday to talk through the issues with her electorate. Conservative MP, Sarah Wollaston, who also voted in favour of bombing Syria, was tweeting throughout the debate and answering queries from constituents. Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, at least put up an explanation of the reason he voted in favour of airstrikes. So what did East Devon’s[...]

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    Motion is below: “This council is working hard to promote economic growth during a very difficult period in the UK’s finances. “Unfortunately, thousands of jobs across the south west could now be lost as a result of dramatic cuts in subsidies to renewable energy schemes. “This council regrets the government’s proposal to reduce subsidies for renewable energy schemes at the speed and scale proposed and agrees to write to all Devon MPs, urging them to publicly support the community energy groups co-ordinated by Regen SW, that have united to campaign against the cuts.”

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