• In February, the European Union’s food-safety agency concluded that three controversial neonicotinoid insecticides posed a high risk to wild bees and honeybees. It looks likely that the EU will soon move to ban all uses of the insecticides on outdoor crops. Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, indicated last year that the UK would not oppose a further EU ban on bee harming pesticides. This council notes these changed circumstances since the last debate on this issue in July 2016 and now resolves to strengthen its excellent pollinator strategy, by banning bee harming pesticides on all land [...]

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    After years of appalling environmental policies, such as on fracking, slashing renewable energy subsidies, while giving big tax breaks to fossil fuel industries, the disastrous and cripplingly expensive Hinkley C nuclear project, the weakened planning system, voting with pesticide companies on retaining the use of bee harming pesticides, warm words but little action over climate change (and a former environment secretary of state who was actually a climate change denier.. Yes, really!) There have been continued attempts to deregulate a raft of environmental protections, while cunningly [...]

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    I am asking you to reconsider your intention to shut the Lloyds branch here in Ottery St Mary. Ottery’s branch is the only bank now left in the town, which has a population (including nearby villages) of around 10,000.  Hundreds of new houses have been given planning consent and continue to be built in the coming months and years. I know from talking to local people and traders that they really value your bank and whenever I pass it, it always seems busy. The town’s traders unsurprisingly are finding things tough during these difficult times and several businesses have closed in [...]

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    Initially, Amber Rudd and Theresa May disgracefully attempted to blame the civil service for their own actions and their own nasty xenophobic policies on immigration. If you read the article you will see that the Guardian newspaper has been contacting the Home Office about the suffering experienced by the Windrush people for around six months. Unfortunately, all journalists received were dry statements advising seeking legal action, which of course, the victims of these policies could not afford to do because they had been made virtually destitute by these cruel policies. It was only when the [...]

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    This was after I was prevented from asking a local GP a question following his submission relating to concerns on care at home, at January’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting. There was some discussion at today’s meeting and it emerged that other scrutiny chairs (Cllr Rob Hannaford in this instance) exercise discretion for points of clarification. I asked that this be made into a formal policy and it was agreed that the issue would be put before the next Chairs of Scrutiny meeting, which I will attend and make my case. It is difficult to see a reason to argue against[...]

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    Care at home is the system which replaced the loss of many community hospital beds, 72 of which closed locally last year. Across Devon, around 250 community hospital beds have been shut since 2012. Up until 2016 there was no public speaking at scrutiny committee meetings which was quite wrong, especially for Health Scrutiny as the committee’s remit is to take up matters of public concern. The lack of public speaking resulted in frustration from members of the public who heckled and shouted when they heard the NHS representatives say things they disagreed with, or believed were untrue. In[...]

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    A more isolationist act in the midst of a bubbling international firestorm cannot possibly be imagined. “But we have no practicable alternative” claimed Mrs May in a statement in the early hours of this morning. “This persistent pattern of behaviour must be stopped,” she added. “This isn’t about intervening in a civil war,” she also claimed, ludicrously. The fallout has been swift. The Russians are comparing Trump with Hitler and are threatening “consequences”, casting doubt of the legality of the air strikes and claiming that the UK is [...]

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    A revised resolution that the cabinet supported yesterday, merely noted that the new system was being set up and everything else was so watered down as to be almost meaningless. The message was repeated at length that this was not an endorsement but simply noting that it was happening and that progress will be monitored. I reminded the cabinet of the County Solicitor’s advice to the Health Scrutiny Committee in November that it is unique in scrutiny committees in that we provide a legal check on health services - the only legal check - and that our remit is to take up issues of public [...]

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    An additional line on a public engagement, was voted down by Conservative councillors: Here’s what the cabinet will be considering. If it supports the resolution, it will be implemented with immediate effect….. I will be speaking in support of the resolution tomorrow…... If you are keen to know the outcome or hear the discussion, the meeting is webcast live here - https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/home (a) record the Committee’s concerns over the emerging Devon Integrated Care System being a single Integrated Strategic Commissioner, a number of Local Care [...]

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