• At yesterday’s joint budget scrutiny meeting councillors agreed to urge all Devon MPs to speak AND vote against the council cuts debate in the House of Commons, which is expected to take place early in February. Between April 2017 and March 2018 a huge £23m must be struck from budgets – a 15 per cent cut. We are now in the eighth year of austerity and Devon County Council’s annual government grant has plummeted by well over half - from £283m in 2010 to £128m. We continue to see our roads break and fracture. The government gives councils a fraction of the money that has been cut and [...]

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    Reading reports on Sunday of people who were flying back to the States and their families, jobs, homes and children but were deported even before they arrived in America was just incredible. The sinister nature of the ban reminded me of elements of Margaret Attwood’s Handmaid’s Tale, a disturbing novel about a religious fundamentalist sect seizing control of the US government. Trump - the paranoid climate change denying, crass sexist, racist fool, appears to have already made the subtle shift to Trump - the ruthless semi-totalitarian dictator, while still bizarrely referring to himself as[...]

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    Yet most of those same councillors voted IN FAVOUR of a motion calling for a pause to the controversial beds cuts and service centralisation document, the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) at the full council meeting in December. And half of the scrutiny councillors also voted in favour of a raft of actions against the STP in the morning scrutiny session! NEW Devon CCG is set to make its decision on closing 72 beds in Eastern Devon, on 2 March at its governing body meeting, yet it has received what is says are well over 3,000 technical and heartfelt responses. Managers are [...]

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    My question is:  What is NHS Property Services overall income compared with its overall spend on maintenance?  That’s it.  But NHS PS, which now owns 12 community hospitals across Eastern Devon, including Ottery St Mary’s, clearly views it as a VERY difficult question as managers continue to fob off me and the rest of the health scrutiny committee with incomprehensible double speak.  NHS PS claims it manages the NHS’s property portfolio but it appears to have an unhealthy interest in the sale of buildings.  Even the sales from buildings like our own [...]

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    STPs must be drawn up by all health areas in England under instructions from NHS England (basically Jeremy Hunt) that billions of pounds must be saved. For most areas this will mean significant cuts. In Devon more so than almost anywhere else because of the huge debts here, due to a combination of regional underfunding, flatlining growth funding and increased demand, particularly from older people with complex health needs. The Government initially forced health trusts to keep their plans secret until decisions were virtually made, presumably to avoid mass protest. However, the Devon STP was [...]

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    The debate was aired on the programme here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b088jwhr/spotlight-evening-news-19012017  from 12.25 and then after the programme it was streamed live to Facebook. Over 300 comments were received from people watching and the debate was shared over 50 times. https://www.facebook.com/bbcspotlight/?pnref=story - Here’s the Facebook link, you might need to scroll down to yesterday’s date. I have to say although initially nervous I really enjoyed it.  I managed to almost destroy a microphone which then required a technician to fix it after [...]

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    Several Devon MPs were present, including Hugo Swire (who called the debate), Gary Streeter, Ben Bradshaw, Anne Marie Morris and Oliver Colville. Hugo Swire kicked the debate off by setting the scene in terms of existing pressures as well as historical funding unfairness, which sees our schools receive around £300 per pupil less than elsewhere in the country. Most Devon secondaries, including King’s, Colyton Grammar, Sidmouth and Exmouth Colleges stand to lose hundreds of thousands of pounds if the plans go ahead. Ottery St Mary Primary School and West Hill Primary School would also [...]

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    For many years Devon has been one of the lowest-funded education authorities in England. In 2016-17 this resulted in a shortfall of £290 per pupil when compared to the national average. This difference in funding for us has an impact of being funded £263,900 less than the average across the UK for 2016/17. This significant funding shortfall has, and will continue to impact, on the quality of the education provision for children at The King’s School. On Wednesday 14th December 2016 the Secretary of State for Education announced the stage 2 consultation of the national funding formula for [...]

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    If I close my eyes and sit on the floor I might be back in the candlelit octagonal meditation room … or if I sit on the sofa with my eyes shut I could be sitting with a book on my lap silently staring out at the sheep grazing on the opposite hill.  Or (and this was the part I looked forward to most!) devouring the most delicious, most nourishing vegetarian food I have ever tasted. I booked the weekend a few weeks ago to connect more deeply with my spiritual side. I have always loved being in nature, finding it restorative and necessary for de-stressing and being at peace with myself. [...]

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    Proposal to cut the remaining community hospital beds in Eastern Devon Consultation response Claire Wright Devon County Councillor Ottery St Mary Rural Ward 1. Overview My view is that it is wrong and short-sighted to cut the remainder of community hospital beds in Eastern Devon down to 72.  I don’t believe that the there is evidence to support the move as being positive or safe for patients, nor do I believe that it will save money.  It is more likely to shift the pressure from the NHS to Devon County Council’s adult social care department, which is already under significant [...]

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