• Education Secretary stonewalls Devon County Council on anti-racist motion

    The Education Secretary has stonewalled Devon County Council for four months, following my anti-racist motion and Diversity in Devon campaign with four King's School Students, last year. Following the full council meeting on 1 October, when there was agreement to lobby the Secretary of State for Education urging him to address diversity issues more fully in the national curriculum, Education Portfolioholder, Cllr James McInnes wrote to Mr Williamson. In his letter, Cllr McInnes urged the government to look again at the national curriculum and do more to address anti-racist sentiment.[...]

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    Motion: Lobbying the government on bee killing pesticide u-turn

    I was appalled to see that the government has u-turned on the use of the notorious bee killing pestcides, neonicitonoids. My motion before full council today is as follows: This council regrets the government's u-turn on using neonicitinoids banned under EU law, and which have proved to be damaging to our vital bee population, other insects and birds and water courses. This council calls on the government to urgently reverse its decision. Before being debated at the April full council, my motion will be referred to the March cabinet meeting.

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    It's budget day at Devon County Council... Here's my speech...

    This is the eleventh year of austerity. And the second year of no government funding cuts. That’s not because austerity is over it’s because there is nothing left to cut. Because central government ministers have now removed the revenue support grant in its entirety. Total reductions to budgets since 2010, is over £280million. Core funding to DCC has reduced by 72% in real terms. So services are STILL having to be slashed. This council is now reliant only on business rates, council tax revenue and any ad hoc funding that ministers casually toss in our direction, meaning we must now[...]

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    Ministers ignore Tipton School's plight and announce funding for 50 school rebuilds

    I have just issued this update on my petition for the government to fund the relocation of Tipton St John Primary School, within the village.......................... Dear all, thank you so much for taking the time to sign and share this petition. The government has unexpectedly announced the 50 schools that will be funded for a rebuild. We weren't expecting this news for a few weeks yet. Unfortunately, Tipton St John Primary School is not among them. The list of schools appear to be mainly in Conservative marginal constituencies, which is surely unacceptable. Baroness Berridge did not [...]

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    How Independents are being disadvantaged by the local election leafleting ban

    Here's a piece I wrote for Westcountry Bylines earlier this month on how Independent candidates are being significantly disadvantaged in the forthcoming elections, which will take place on 6 May. https://westcountrybylines.co.uk/may-local-elections-level-playing-field-doesnt-look-that-way/

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    How the pandemic is causing a Devon explosion in unpaid carers and distress

    I have always taken an interest in difficulties facing unpaid carers. Having heard from many unpaid carers during my role as a councillor, my heart goes out to them in what is often a hard and lonely job, often fraught with struggles to access the financial help they are entitled to. I proposed a Health Scrutiny review into this issue several times during 2018/19 before it was eventually agreed in 2019, when I chaired a six month spotlight review. The review was published last January. Our recommendations, partly locally focused with some nationally focused, were fully endorsed by Devon [...]

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    Report on dentistry services across Devon to be scrutinised at March meeting

    Given the grim news below I have asked officers for a full report on dentistry in Devon at the next Health and Adult Care Scrutiny meeting in March. I am told that representatives from NHS England and NHS Improvement have been invited. I asked for a report last year following local complaints about long waiting times and concerns from dentists themselves on similar issues. The report we received in my view was a bit of a whitewash and did not answer my questions. I asked for more detail but this was not provided. I am pleased that we now have an item on the agenda of the next [...]

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