• This council commends the DCC Environmental Policy document that was produced in 2014/15 - and the reported progress against it, as set out in the Environment Performance Statement. However, the national trend is a significant and potentially catastrophic decline in insects and other wildlife, with some species heading towards extinction, as set out in the latest State of Nature report, published last month (September). The sharp decline in our species suggests that our collective efforts are still not enough to prevent a worsening position. This council agrees that the ‘Countryside[...]

    Read more

    Some councillors had a briefing this afternoon from the chief executive of the “success regime” which has been drafted in by government to make significant cuts to counteract a deficit of around £430m by 2020. We should remember that this area of Devon has already lost all inpatient beds at Ottery St Mary, Axminster, Crediton and Budleigh Salterton. Discharging people from the RD&E in Exeter has never been more difficult. Not only is there a funding crisis in the local NHS, there is also a funding crisis in social care locally, which is one of the reasons why people are [...]

    Read more

    I made the proposal at the latest health and wellbeing scrutiny committee meeting on Monday (19 September) after a presentation from the Ruth Carnall, Angela Pedder and Joe Andrews from the “success regime”, who had outlined their plans for consultation, as well as making a case for significant cuts in health services across the county. The scrutiny committee will set up a task group to look into the funding formula for Devon. The public gallery was full, with dozens of people all of whom were wearing red to demonstrate their opposition to the “no red lines” approach to cutting[...]

    Read more

    A planning application was submitted by Fords earlier this year. Last Monday evening (12 September) I attended a public meeting at Sidford Village Hall where the application was discussed. The hall was absolutely packed with angry residents who wanted the plans thrown out. There was talk of a boycott of Fords to express the deep unhappiness with a local business who wants to build an industrial estate in sensitive countryside adjacent to houses. The meeting concluded that residents would fight the application tooth and nail.  I am familiar with the proposal as a former Local Plan panel [...]

    Read more

    Phase one, with its aim of giving 90 per cent of properties across Devon and Somerset a superfast broadband speed of 24 megabits per second, comes to an end this December. The third week of October is the deadline for bids for phase two, with a decision on the chosen provider being made in November. Devon County Council has been working with Somerset County Council on the programme. BT was the chosen provider for phase one. The target for phase two is that at least 95 of properties across the area will have access to superfast speeds. As a Devon County Councillor I know all too well that slow [...]

    Read more

    While redevelopment would offer new, modern facilities for the Practice on the Blackmore site, the negatives are: reduced parking available to the practice and patients; and lack of future development space on the site to meet future increase in health care needs of the local population. NHSPS plan to pay for the development by adding residential flats and a pharmacy. Their plans are to add another floor and are suggesting 10 flats on site - which would come with the requirement for resident and visitor parking. Addition of the flats will mean the removal of future opportunity for growth of [...]

    Read more

    I did however, manage to take one not very good photo of the rest of the peleton. Here it is. Great atmosphere and great fun!

    Read more

    The sustainability and transformation plan, which unbelievably, wasn’t going to be published until January, leaving very little time for the public to give their views on plans, also states that if nothing changes the NHS in Devon will be £572m in the red by 2020/21. Up to 900 staff may have to change role and there would be an 11% cut in nursing and medical workforce spend as well as management and admin. Derriford hospital in Plymouth would be a fixed point for emergency care, paediatrics, neonatology, consultant-led obstetrics and strokes because it is the designated Major Trauma [...]

    Read more

    And Devon is at the very heart of it. It is a crisis that is borne out of many years of successive governments messing about with our health service.  In the 10 years that I worked in the NHS under the Labour government, there were two major wasteful reorganisations.  Since I left the health service in 2008, the difficulties in recruiting and retaining clinical staff has rapidly escalated.  And funding has been steadily eroded. GPs are leaving the profession in their droves, there is a mass exodus of nurses - and now junior doctors are said to be reconsidering their [...]

    Read more