• 2016 has also been peppered with a remarkably high number of celebrity deaths. I was particularly sad about losing Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne and Prince. Oddly many of my friends, family and acquaintances appear to have had a difficult 2016, or at least a year of significant change. I have supported (and continue to help) several friends through tough times. And my own life has also changed. In May I separated from my husband after 15 years of marriage (we simply grew apart over the years) and I have been living in Ottery St Mary since. By the end of January we will be (amicably) [...]

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    As you will be aware, Devon County Council and our schools across the area were looking forward to these proposals as they had been led to believe by local MPs that it would be good news for Devon – and that the new funding formula – would live up to its name … and be fairer! The county is virtually at the bottom of the league table for schools funding and local schools are talking of undergoing real hardship in the near future because of the government imposed pressures such as higher NI contributions, pensions, the living wage and the apprenticeship levy, to name just a few. The [...]

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    Otter Rotters, which covers Ottery, as well as many other villages across East Devon has operated a green waste door to door collection for many years, avoiding compost ending up at landfill – which is environmentally unfriendly, undesirable and expensive. Roger Croad, portfolioholder for environment admitted at the full council meeting in December that he was not aware that these plans could put Otter Rotters out of business. He claimed that community composting groups being forced to close would not increase the amount of garden waste going to landfill. Devon County Council’s press [...]

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    This is a very serious issue. Images of so-called physically ‘perfect women’ have never been MORE unattainable. Not only are photos airbrushed - women are made thinner, bigger-breasted, longer legged etc, but famous women more than ever are undergoing expensive cosmetic procedures to look ‘perfect.’ It used to be a standing joke for a woman to say: “Does my bum look big in this? I have asked this myself at times in my life, albeit with trepidation, but now it is trendy to have a massive butt ..... providing you also have a tiny waist and large breasts. Why? [...]

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    I believe Tipton St John and Feniton schools are set to receive increases but am waiting for confirmation on this….

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    I feel absolutely furious for local headteachers and furious for local parents and children. King’s is an excellent school and it has been managing to keep above water in recent years despite funding pressures, caused by government initiatives, which schools have not been compensated for - see this blog post for details - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/now_devon_schools_are_in_crisis_and_asking_for_our_help . But this is a massive blow and will have significant effects. It isn’t over yet as the local government settlement has not been approved. Lobby our MPs like [...]

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    Last week every Devon County Councillor received a letter from the Devon Association of Primary Headteachers and the Devon Association of Secondary Heads (DAPH and DASH). The message is depressingly familiar.  And simply cements my long held belief that this government is steadily dismantling public services and instead squandering that money in tax breaks for the wealthy, government consultants, a third runway at Heathrow, a war in Syria and many more things that shouldn’t remotely be a government priority. Like many other public services in Devon, including health and social care, [...]

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    There was a steady flow of interested (and probably concerned) people to see AI`s proposals for a sand and gravel quarry at Straitgate Farm to the west of Ottery. I have vigorously opposed this unecessary and damaging proposal in the past. I have had a number of concerns over issues such as increased flood risk in Ottery, Salston, Cadhay and Coombelake; threat to ancient woodland at Cadhay Bog; threat to water supplies for more than 100 people, who get their drinking water from sources fed from Straitgate Farm; and landscape and noise and dust problems. My particular interest in attending [...]

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    In answers to my written questions submitted for today’s full council meeting, portfolioholder, Cllr Roger Croad insisted that the rates of green waste recycling would not reduce, despite the Ottery area’s kerbside collection scheme being at risk of closure meaning that local people would have to travel to dispose of their garden waste. He said that in his view there would be no impact on recycling rates or landfill costs because he believed that people would continue to get rid of their green waste at recycling centres. Cllr Croad said he wasn’t aware that EDDC had admitted [...]

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    In my speech I outlined the edited highlights (or lowlights depending on how you view it) of the report: - Out of 8000 UK species assessed, 15 per cent of those are extinct or threatened with extinction - We are almost at the bottom of a table of 218 countries ranked for biodiversity - 189th - Butterflies have declined by two per cent - Farmland birds have declined by 10 per cent - There are just three per cent of wildflower meadows left in the country since the 1920s The reasons for decline are largely habitat loss, climate change and intensive farming methods. I said that the good news was [...]

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    Motion one called for an “urgent and significant increase in the level of funding to the NHS.” Motion two demanded the that the Success Regime be suspended while issues relating to the independence of its chair are investigated and for fairer funding for Devon . Despite both motions being from opposition councillors – Independent, Frank Biederman (which I seconded) and Libdem, Brian Greenslade, Conservative leader, John Hart took the unusual step of asking for a recorded vote, which meant every councillor had to state how they voted. In the end the debate was cut rather short due to a [...]

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    But Devon County Council says it can no longer afford to pay £58 per tonne of green waste collected and instead plans to decrease the rate to £25 a tonne. Devon County Council’s press release doesn’t give the whole picture and the new plans don’t allow for the costs incurred from Otter Rotters’ kerbside collection arrangement, in addition to the costs of running the composting sites.  Most other groups don’t provide a door to door collection scheme. It was with these extra costs in mind that East Devon District Council and Devon County Council agreed to pay Otter [...]

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    The questions are: Pre-implementation The model of care: • Does the new model of care align with our overriding ambition to promote independence? • Is there clinical and operational consensus by place on the functions of the model and configuration of community health and care teams incorporating primary care, personal care providers and the voluntary care sector? • Is there a short term offer that promotes independence and community resilience? • Is there a method for identifying people at highest risk based on risk stratification tool? • Are the needs of people requiring [...]

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    At a meeting on Thursday 24 November 2016, members of East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny committee listened to Rob Sainsbury, the Chief Operating Officer of the NHS North Eastern & Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS NEW Devon CCG), give a talk about the NHS’s Your Future Care consultation. Mr Sainsbury spoke about issues such as the financial pressure faced by the NHS,  the changing way in which people are cared for, proposed models of care and the number of community inpatient beds in East Devon. He outlined the options set out in the consultation and reassured[...]

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    “There are many aspects of Straitgate’s proposed inclusion in the minerals plan that I (and many others) believe does not stand up to scrutiny, including the possibility of damaging an underground watercourse.  This risks over 100 people’s water supplies, ancient woodland and flooding. “I am very disappointed that the objections of Devon County Council’s own highways department have been overruled, as well as the Environment Agency and Natural England on their concerns relating to the underground watercourse. “However, below is the most relevant consideration that [...]

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