Monthly Archives: February 2016

//February

Ottery and West Hill phone lines returning as BT makes urgent repairs

By |2016-02-28T17:09:00+00:00February 28th, 2016|News|

Around 300 telephone lines are returning to life after BT has made urgent temporary repairs to two major telecommunications cables that were severed in West Hill on Friday afternoon.

A contractor working on repairs to the huge chasm in West Hill Road near Foxenhole Mill, accidentally cut through the cables.

BT sent a team of engineers to the site yesterday and they have been working all day today on making urgent temporary repairs so that residents could at least have a service, before the lines are permanently fixed.

Huge thanks to BT for acting so fast to rectify a problem that was actually not of their making.

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BT engineers planning temporary fix to as many phones lines as possible today

By |2016-02-28T09:47:00+00:00February 28th, 2016|News|

BT engineers are planning a temporary fix to as many of the 300 lines currently down, as possible, in the Ottery and West Hill area.

“Significant damage” has been done to two major telecommunications cables by a contractor repairing the huge hole on West Hill Road, on Friday.

I have been contacted by dozens of people who no longer have either landlines or internet available.

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BT sends in team to urgently investigate as around 300 phone lines go down in the Ottery area

By |2016-02-27T14:11:00+00:00February 27th, 2016|News|

BT has sent a team of engineers to West Hill today to urgently investigate damage to two major telecommunications cables, which has resulted in around 300 people having their landlines and/or broadband cut off, in West Hill and Ottery St Mary.

It is believed that a contractor working on repairs to the huge hole on West Hill Road accidentally severed the two cables yesterday afternoon.

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Devon County Councillors vote through £35m of budget cuts

By |2016-02-19T20:24:00+00:00February 19th, 2016|News|

Funding for school crossing patrols was formally axed at yesterday’s five hour Devon County Council budget meeting, where £35m worth of government cuts were also voted through.

As well as the axeing of the school crossing patrol service, the cuts included reductions to public health services, removal of the entire arts budget and other reductions across all services.

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West Hill Road repair works set to start on Monday

By |2016-02-17T08:45:00+00:00February 17th, 2016|News|

I have just had the following VERY welcome message from a senior highways officer concerning the massive hole on West Hill Road….

“I have been informed this morning that following approval for the funding on Monday, works are planned to start with site clearance on Friday, scaffolding erection on Saturday with a view to starting in the road on Monday.  With good weather the works should take less than a fortnight.  Access will be maintained for pedestrians and cycles throughout the work.”

This will be a huge relief in particular for the owners of West Hill Garage whose supporters have launched a campaign to get the repairs speeded up.

I have been inundated with complaints from residents of West Hill and Ottery St Mary over the past couple of weeks. The large proportion are concerned with the impact on the garage and the suitability of the windy and narrow Toadpit Lane as a diversion.

My thanks to highways officers for prioritising what will be significant works to West Hill Road, under extremely challenging financial circumstances.

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D-day for Devon school crossing patrols at this Thursday’s full council budget meeting

By |2016-02-16T21:34:00+00:00February 16th, 2016|News|

School crossing patrols across the county are facing the axe this Thursday, as Devon County councillors are poised to vote on the budget - and the loss of around £28m.

It comes on the back of around £174m of service cuts over the past five years.

This year the biggest and most controversial cuts are to school crossing patrols. Devon County Council is proposing that schools pay for their own patrols, however, most schools are really struggling financially due to changed staffing administrative rules and a freeze on budgets.  Many school budgets across the country have been plunged into the red.

In my ward both Ottery St Mary’s and Feniton’s school crossing patrols at at risk.

The budget meeting takes place on Thursday, starting at 2.15pm.  It will be webcast live here - http://www.devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/home

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Devon County councillors poised to vote on allowing public to address its scrutiny committees

By |2016-02-16T20:59:00+00:00February 16th, 2016|News|

Devon County councillors will vote on whether to allow members of the public to address scrutiny committee meetings, this Thursday, at the full council meeting.

A facility for public speaking rights at scrutiny committee meetings was recommended unanimously by members of Devon County Council’s procedures committee last Tuesday (9 February).

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West Hill Road blocked until further notice but highways officers doing all they can

By |2016-02-10T09:40:00+00:00February 10th, 2016|News|

The main route between West Hill and Ottery St Mary remains closed until further notice, but highways officers say they are doing all they can to speed up repairs.

West Hill Garage is suffering due to loss of trade, which comes after a different section of West Hill Road was closed for weeks last year. 

I have been in touch with highways officers on a frequent basis asking for updates and letting them know of the increasing number of complaints I am receiving about the block, which is the result of a cavernous sinkhole under the tarmac, which extends further than the centre of the carriageway.  I have also expressed concerns at the impact on West Hill Garage, after owners contacted me early last week. 

Residents of Toadpit Lane are also complaining to me that traffic is using the lane as a ratrun as it is the official diversion. Toadpit Lane is a tiny single twisty country lane and there are reports of speeding and unsafe driving.

An officer told me yesterday that: “Approval in principle has been given to the design by our Flood Risk Management Team .  Now we have an estimate and a design I have again stressed the urgency to our Asset Management team suggesting that, if necessary other programmed works be re-programmed to allow this repair to be expedited.”

Photo: The deceptively large hole in West Hill Road, which is blocking traffic.

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Cuts fears prompt retired chief police officer to bid for Devon and Cornwall Crime Commissioner

By |2016-02-08T09:04:00+00:00February 8th, 2016|News|

I have never been a supporter of the Police and Crime Commissioner function and opposed the post during my 2015 general election campaign. 

However a few weeks ago I was put in touch with a potential candidate - Bob Spencer - a former assistant chief constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, who is community spirited, passionate about policing and very concerned about the effect of government cuts on vulnerable people. 

He indicated that he wanted to run as an Independent and told me about his work as a magistrate, Chair of the Adult Safeguarding boards - and of his distinguished police career.

It piqued my interest and he was obviously an excellent candidate.  Although I hadn’t gone along to meet him with the intention of joining his campaign, within an hour I was so impressed that I had offered to run his media relations work!  See below for more….

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EU parliament votes in favour retaining “nature laws”

By |2016-02-03T10:32:00+00:00February 3rd, 2016|News|

I am absolutely thrilled that the EU parliament has voted in favour retaining these laws, in the first step in a two stage process.  George Osborne described them as “gold-plated” and hinted that he wanted to scrap them.  And big business piled in to give reasons why they should be weakened.

It means (if the next stage of the process is similarly supported) that the rare birds, mammals, flora and fauna living on the East Devon pebblebed heaths are safe from this government’s obsession with economic growth at all costs.

Very happy indeed!

AND what another very good reason for remaining in Europe….

http://www.birdlife.org/europe-and-central-asia/news/european-parliament-votes-nature

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West Hill Road closed until further notice as hole worsens

By |2016-02-02T11:15:00+00:00February 2nd, 2016|News|

West Hill Road will be shut until further notice, highways officers have said.

Unfortunately, the hole has further collapsed over the weekend.

An estimate for replacing the whole culvert with a new pipe has been requested, while someone from the bridge maintenance team visited last night to assess the practicality of repairing just the collapsed section.

West Hill is being serviced by buses still, however, they are turning around in Bendarroch Road as they are unable to travel down West Hill Road.

I will continue to update you….

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Approx 50 protesters from across East Devon attended tax avoidance/MP funding cuts vote demo today

By |2016-02-01T13:52:00+00:00February 1st, 2016|News|

Around 50 residents from across the district attended this morning’s protest demonstration against big business tax avoidance.

Also protested against was the forthcoming vote in the House of Commons next week, which is set to axe a further £28m from Devon County Council’s budgets.

Despite sending a letter to Hugo Swire on the subject a few weeks ago he has remained silent on the points I raised, simply passing my email to David Gauke, Treasury Minister…. 

My speech is below.

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