• Devon County Council's Cabinet has mostly backed the anti-racism motion I have prepared with a group of students from Ottery's The King's School this morning. Many thanks to group leaders - Rob Hannaford (Labour), Frank Biederman (Ind) and Alistair Dewhirst (LibDem), who all spoke in support of the motion. (The LibDems have their own similar (albeit less controversial!) motion also coming [...]

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    If you're interested in how Devon's NHS is faring, both relating to handling Covid19 and its precarious finances, you need to read this report... Huge thanks to Save Our Hospital Services for taking the time and trouble to put together such an excellent report. We must continue our scrutiny of Devon's NHS, especially in the coming months, as many service cuts will be happening ... Here's [...]

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    Four A Level politics King’s School students are today officially launching a six-week campaign, with the aim of debating the benefits of diversity in Devon and a greater understanding of what constitutes racist behaviour or prejudice. Diversity in Devon (see Youtube links below) is being launched today at 9am and 10am through the voices of 17 year old Sandra Sanena and Anoo Kakarlamudi [...]

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    20/1504/MOUT - Outline planning application with all matters reserved except access for up to 150 new dwellings, a 210 Space primary school, construction of a new roundabout on Exeter Road, a new junction onto Cadhay Lane, and associated infrastructure | Land Opposite Barrack Farm Exeter Road Ottery St Mary   Tipton St John Primary School is in flood zone 3 and needs to be [...]

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      Local Tories channel Trump in attempt to bamboozle over cuts to Devon's NHS A rather Trumpist email (sent to me by a concerned resident) appears to be a stock response being circulated to people contacting their conservative councillors about the service cuts being made to the NHS in Devon, as part of a government instruction to save over £400m by 2024. The annual budget is [...]

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    I have just submitted this motion to Devon County Council for the full council meeting on 23 July. It was an absolute pleasure to work with the thoughtful and considered sixth form students at The Kings School, especially young BAME people, to create this motion. The BLM movement appears to have triggered something very powerful and potentially very healing... and is in my view, an ideal [...]

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      A plan to build thousands of new houses across East Devon was unveiled last week, with proposals for specific areas in the county. I have since spent time talking with strategic planning officers to try and understand the detail of the national policy driving this. Strategic planning is technical and complicated and takes some learning. I was heavily involved in strategic [...]

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    I have just delivered this letter to around 25 of my neighbours... Dear Neighbour A few days after I discovered my garden had weedkiller sprayed on it last week I found a little hedgehog curled up in the full sun of my flowerbed. It was breathing rapidly and clearly unwell. I have seen hedgehogs in my tiny garden each summer but never before have I encountered an unwell one. I [...]

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    I have just delivered this letter to 25 of my neighbours...   12 June 2020 Dear Neighbour I have been incredibly upset that the vast majority of my valerian plants appear to have been sprayed with weedkiller, probably some time last week, and are in various stages of death. The wild sweet peas below the valerian are dying, and so are the branches of the bushes behind the [...]

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    My annual report - A summary of some of my work between April 2019 and March 2020 East Devon care at home service is ‘fully recruited’ The East Devon Care at Home Service otherwise known as ‘rapid response’ was described as “fully recruited”, Devon County Council senior officers confirmed at the 21 March 2019 Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting. Councillors at the [...]

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    Devon County Council's Cabinet last week endorsed the scrutiny task group recommendations to improve the lives of unpaid carers. I proposed and led the review between last summer and February this year. It was one of the most important pieces of work I have been involved in and I hope it will result in profound improvements to the lives of unpaid carers. Here's the report in this week's [...]

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    Below is the latest (received today) briefing from Devon's NHS to Devon County Council's Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee. My fellow Independent colleague, Cllr Martin Shaw and I have been asking for an urgent online scrutiny meeting before the one on 16 June, to ask questions about these issues and many others. It has been agreed instead, to have a webinar, where councillors can ask[...]

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    Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day. A very different kind of day is being celebrated from the one that was planned... This post may seem unconnected... but please be patient....! …. I discovered John Clare's poetry a few years ago at a music festival in Wales. Known in the 18th century rather dismissively as the 'peasant poet' it makes his achievement as a contemporary of Keats [...]

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    Devon County Council is reopening its recycling centres for essential use only from Monday 11 May. The government has defined ‘essential use’ as waste that ‘cannot be stored without causing a risk of injury, health or harm to the resident or other members of their household.’ Residents are urged to follow government guidance and only travel to recycling centres if the waste presents [...]

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    https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKDEVONCC/bulletins/286f842 You may be interested in the latest Devon Trading Standards briefing, which includes the latest scams to be aware of...

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    I received the briefing below today from the Devon County Council Health and Social Care Portfolioholder. Coronavirus is now sweeping through care homes which have become the new frontline in fighting the virus. The information below should be read against a backdrop of crippling government funding cuts to adult social care over the past decade, which has fuelled a growing crisis.  I [...]

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    I have been asking a number of questions of the NHS and Social Care for a few weeks, some of which have been answered and some haven't... I do appreciate officers are very busy right now. This briefing arrived yesterday evening.  I have a number of questions relating to issues including community hospitals,  finances, care homes and dentistry.  I know my colleague, Martin Shaw, also [...]

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      It has taken me a long time to write this post for two reasons. Firstly, it seemed too political in a health crisis. And also it was always going to be a dispiriting read for people who frankly don’t deserve to be further dispirited! So I procrastinated. However, I do firmly believe that scrutiny and challenge must still exist, despite the perilous position that the UK [...]

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    Many thanks to Cllr Martin Shaw for leading this call...   Statement by County Councillors Hilary Ackland (Exeter), Martin Shaw (Seaton and Colyton) and Claire Wright (Otter Valley):   The South West is experiencing the epidemic in a different way from other regions. We have the lowest levels of hospitalisation and death from Covid-19 in the country. South West councils, MPs[...]

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    It's been a super busy and quite remarkable three weeks for Ottery Community Volunteers! I've just issued this press release... I'm very proud of my town! OTTERY COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERS LAUNCHES COVID FUNDRAISING BID Ottery Community Volunteers has launched a bid to raise money to help fund its covid-19 epidemic relief effort. Since the group was formed just three weeks ago, it’s [...]

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