Importance of Vaccination

Well worth reading this letter from Dr Julie Yates, who leads for immunisation in the South West. Vaccination prevents death and serious harm from diseases that should be consigned to history. Our communities are being put at risk by the myths propagated by the antivaxxers.

Whilst it might not seem important that 4 or 5 children in each eligible group do not receive their immunisations when they should do this is a serious concern, not just for these children but also for the wider population in Totnes. 4 or 5 children not being immunised per quarter means 16 to 20 per year. If these children continue to remain unimmunised that equates to 100 over 5 years, 200 over 10 years and so on. Over time this builds a substantial group of children and young people who are not protected and therefore risk becoming ill themselves but who are then also able to spread infections such as measles within nurseries, schools and colleges and on to other vulnerable individuals, such as babies or those with immune deficiencies, who are not able to have the immunisations themselves.

We already have a legacy of a large group of young people aged 16 – 25 years who, following the publication of now discredited reports, did not receive MMR in the 1990s. These young people remain vulnerable and may not be aware that their parents made the decision for them not to have routine immunisations such as MMR. We have experienced large outbreaks within the south west in recent years as a result of the drop in uptake of immunisations that occurred back then. In 2015/16, for example, more than 240 people developed measles in the South West with the outbreak starting and being centred in South Devon. We experienced a similar large outbreak last year, this time centred on Bristol which is an area that has similar low uptake of immunisations. These young people are not only at greater risk themselves as they grow up, leave home and mix with new people in new communities, but they also potentially risk the health of their unborn children if they remain vulnerable to disease as they reach childbearing age and become pregnant themselves.

Unfortunately, partly because immunisation is so effective at protecting against these diseases, people do not now often see the devastating effect that they can have on individuals and families. In last year's measles outbreak at least 22 people were hospitalised and 2 adults were left with long term life changing consequences after suffering complications including measles encephalitis and pneumonitis. A child was seriously harmed because its parents mistakenly believed the myth that often goes along with anti-vax / 'natural health' theories that fever is good and should be encouraged by wrapping the child up and keeping them hot. That child had to be admitted to intensive care. This was all completely preventable.

Measles, tetanus, diphtheria, polio, pertussis, meningitis (A,C,W,Y, HiB, Pneumococcal) and even flu can kill – we know that some people think that these diseases are not really serious, but 3 children died from complications of flu in the south west in 2017/18 alone. Rubella can cause totally preventable congenital abnormalities and rotavirus is a major cause of hospitalisation of children.

Nothing we do in life is without risk, but immunisation is the safest and most effective option which is why more than 9 out of 10 parents make this choice for their children. I am a strong advocate of parental choice, but that choice needs to be based on accurate information not unsubstantiated hearsay. We respect the right of anyone to express their opinions, but would ask that those who are involved in organising and supporting anti-vaccination talks consider very carefully the implications of doing so. The implications of children not receiving vaccines is that they risk becoming ill, or of passing on disease, or at worse dying from diseases that are almost completely preventable. 100 years ago families sadly took it for granted that some of their children would die in childhood, fortunately the tragedy of losing a child is a now very rare occurrence – that difference has a great deal to do with developments in healthcare, including our world class immunisation programmes, which mean we no longer have to fear infections in the way our grandparents and great grandparents did. We would ask that those involved please think about what you are doing and take responsibility for the harm you may cause by creating unnecessary fear and doubt amongst parents. Please don't be part of sending us back to those bad old times when children died from these infections - vaccines are valuable, they work and vaccines save lives.

For more information please see #value of vaccines or


Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Consultation

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the proposals for the Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service. I have spoken with staff on the ground and the Chief Fire Officer as well as to people with concerns.

Contained within the proposals is a significant investment in prevention, protection and additional response capability but understandably, local media coverage has focussed on the possible loss of a number of low activity fire stations and fire engines.

I have no powers as an MP to direct the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service to stop their consultation, so the important next step is to look at the plans as a whole and contribute to it. You can do that via the following websites:

Any final decision will not be made by the Fire Authority until November after they have reflected on the public feedback, considered alternative options that have been presented and listened to the public and staff.


Missin' Tackle Brixham

Down on the Old Fish Quay, Brixham Harbour (by the Golden Hind) meet with the Missin Tackle to attend one of their Shanty evenings. They are held in aid of two local causes, Brixham Museum and The Friends of Brixham Library and are free events!

Tuesdays 30 July, 6 & 13 August

From 8.00 – 9.00pm

For a more comfortable evening, please bring your own seating with you.




Plans for the Slapton Line

Do you live near the A379 at Slapton, Strete, Torcross or the surrounding areas?

Then you should come along to find out the future plans for the Slapton Line.

The Slapton Line Partnership are holding a community drop in event on Tuesday the 16th of July at Stokenham Village Hall between 3.00 pm and 7.30 pm.


Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust runs the Churchill Fellowships, a unique programme of overseas research grants. These support UK citizens from all parts of society to travel the world in search of innovative solutions for today's most pressing problems.

Every year they award 150 Fellowships. These fund outstanding individuals to travel for 4-8 weeks, anywhere in the world, researching a topic of their choice among global leaders in their field. On their return, the Trust will help them to share their global learning with professions and communities across the UK.

These are not academic research grants. They are practical inquiries into real-world issues that the Fellows have encountered in their daily lives. They cover eight universal themes in society: Arts and culture, Community and citizenship, Economy and enterprise, Education and skills, Environment and resources, Health and wellbeing, Governance and public provision, Science and technology.

Any UK adult citizen can apply, regardless of qualifications, age or background. They are chosen not for their past achievements, but for the power of their ideas and their potential to be change-makers.

So if you are passionate about making a difference in your community or profession, and inspired by new ideas and projects from overseas, now is the time to apply for a Churchill Fellowship The closing date is 17th September 2019 for travels in 2020.


Brixham-based theatre company wins theatre award in New York

Many congratulations to the Brixham-based South Devon Players Theatre & Film Company who discovered on the 11th June that they had won a theatre award in the Long Island Theatre Awards ceremony for their production of Shakespeare's classic drama of ambition, power and fate; Macbeth.

The show, first performed by the Players at Brixham Theatre, the South Devon Players home performance venue, and then at Torquay Museum, attracted record positive feedback from audience and critics, with feedback that surpassed productions by the Globe in London, and the RSC.

Following their success came requests for a second larger show tour, including from Ireland and the USA, and a request from the Long Island Theatre Awards to enter the production for their 2019 awards. They were happy to accept a video submission of the show filmed at Brixham Theatre.

Months later the Players were advised they were among the award nominees, and received a request from the Theatre Awards administrators to send a representative to New York. Christophe Lombardi who played Macbeth, travelled to New York, collecting the award on behalf of the Players, which will be brought back to Devon during the next week or so, as he travels back from the USA.

Brixham Theatre was saved from closure in 2018 by a team of local volunteers, and it provides a critical base for local creativity, without which, successes like this, would not be possible for local people in their hometown. The Players owe this success to the continued existence of Brixham Theatre.

The South Devon Players, founded in 2005/6 on the proceeds of a car boot sale, and still funded in much the same way, are winners of the national Epic Award 2017 for England, a national arts award celebrating creativity and innovation in grassroots arts, and international nominations for past productions. Based in Brixham, the Players primarily specialise in researched historical theatre productions and old "Classics".


Brixham 75th Anniversary of D-Day


There are a total of 43 war graves in St Mary's Churchyard, from both World Wars 1 and 2. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day, each one is recognised by a poppy band around the headstone, and can be seen from both sides. Take a walk around the churchyard and reflect on those who paid the ultimate price in these wars, many of whom were so very young.

The graveyard display is only part of what Brixham will be doing between the 1st -9th June to mark D-Day; there will be commemorations, displays, exhibitions and some celebrations.

A full list of events can be found in the Brixham brochure.



SWW "Stop the Block" Campaign

Every year South West Water deals with around 8,500 blocked sewers which costs about £4.5 million to clear. Blockages and flooding can be caused by people inappropriately flushing baby wipes, hygiene wipes, moist toilet tissue, cleaning wipes, cleansing pads and sanitary products. Don't be confused by products labelled biodegradable or flushable, such as moist toilet tissues and hygiene wipes. They still cause blockages and should not be flushed. Nor should sanitary products.

Hot fat, oil and grease when poured down sinks, cool and forms a solid mass which can block pipes and cause flooding. SWW are seeking to enlist the help of the communities they serve. To help "stop the block" in your neighbourhood and for more information about their campaigns please look at the following websites: -


Ordinary / Extraordinary 2019

In 2018 a small group of learning-disabled young people with a creative streak enabled by artists working with Daisi, Dance in Devon and Soundart and supported by Lifeworks and Play Torbay mounted Ordinary Art, a 2-day inclusive art festival at Dartington. Together they created a "wholly inclusive space" and provided a range of activities to satisfy a diverse range of interests; from a Big Band in the Great Hall to a Vintage Gaming installation in the Soundart Radio Studios.

This spring, a small group of learning-disabled young people came together at The Mansion in the heart of Totnes to work out how to use the arts to tackle loneliness in Devon and Torbay - Together they decided an inclusive 2-day art festival could be just the thing to connect local people; they want to use drama, dance, music and animation as ways to connect people, celebrate difference and make new friends in an extended festival offer called ORDINARY/EXTRAORDINARY 2019.

They feel Ordinary/Extraordinary could encourage social change; to help them go from: "Sometimes people don't want to be my friend" to "When you feel connected, you can be like friends". They want to "make animations that could talk to politicians" and use animation to "talk about coping with learning disabilities."

If they achieve commission the Festival will run at Dartington on the 25 and 25 October.

To get involved or to find out more, visit the following website


Tell us Totnes! We want to hear from you...

Caring Town is a network of over 80 local organisations and groups that care about our community and they are asking all residents of Totnes and the surrounding parishes to fill out on online survey in order to better understand the unmet needs of you and your loved ones - and then take action...

So please take just 10 minutes of your time and contribute your voice to this important piece of work - even if just to tell us you feel perfectly well and need nothing!

Please complete the survey, and then share this the link with everyone you know!

For those that are not online, some paper copies are available at Leatside Surgery, Catherine House Surgery, Totnes Town Council, The Mansion and through Totnes Caring,


Devon County Council's Community Transport Awards

Devon County Council's Community Transport Awards is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and nominations are now open for the 2019 awards.

Passengers, staff, volunteers, community organisations, service providers and Town and Parish Councils can nominate anyone working or volunteering in the community transport sector for the awards. The annual award ceremony honours the dedicated staff and volunteers who help deliver Devon's essential community transport services.

To mark the milestone anniversary of the awards, two special new categories have been added this year – the Community Transport Photography Competition, where entries are invited from over 18s, to capture the essence of what community transport is all about in a photograph. More information is available here.

There is also an award for the Best Team Contribution to the Community, which has a small cash prize of £200.

The other categories of awards are:

Volunteer Drivers – with three awards available for minibus drivers and another three for car drivers; Volunteer Community Transport Enabler – to recognise those working behind the scenes e.g. administrator, committee member, fundraiser;

Employee of the Year.

One of the individual volunteer award winners will also be selected by a panel of judges as Community Transport Volunteer of the Year.

Nomination forms are available online. Alternatively call Devon County Council's Community Transport Team on 01392 382123.

Completed forms can be emailed to:, or print and send them to: Community Transport Team, Transport Co-ordination Service, County Hall, Exeter, EX2 4QD.

Nominations and photograph entries must be submitted by 12 noon on Monday 3 June.


Rural and Wildlife Crime

Rural and wildlife crime is one of those crimes that has a huge impact on our community.

If you witness a suspected wildlife crime in action call 999 immediately. In all other instances call the non-emergency number 101 or email the Wildlife Crimes Group More information can be found on the Devon and Cornwall Police website

People buying, selling, harming or disturbing wild animals or plants that are protected by law are committing a wildlife crime, similarly if you see agricultural equipment being stolen call 999 and you are also able to link to Devon and Cornwall Police Alert.  By signing up the recipient can tailor the type of messages they receive and can be aware of incidents in the area and be on the lookout for suspicious activity. The police are encouraging farmers and equestrians to sign up. If people sign up and also use their own social media groups it can be an effective way to get appeals, updates and messages out to various groups and communities.



Are you feeling low/ Anxious? No-one to talk to?

Come and join the DASH Men's Project and meet others feeling like you!

Meetings take place on the first Tuesday of every month, 7.00 – 8.00pm, starting 7th May 2019

Please call 01803 559006 for more details.

Know that you are NOT alone!







The FAIR Project

I was so pleased to attend the launch of the FAIR project last year, the FAIR project is a service for people over 50 in Torbay. FAIR stands for Financial Advice, Information & Resilience and offers advice and information on benefits, local welfare provision, getting the best utility deals and help for those in debt. The project is a joint venture involving local community groups and specialist providers and is led by Citizens Advice Torbay.

They offer a drop-in service and people can self-refer at community access points across Torbay:

Brixham Does Care, Old Market House, Town Hall, 1 New Road, Brixham,TQ5 8TA.
01803 857727
Open Monday – Friday 9.45 am – 4 pm.

Brixham Youth Enquiry Service (YES), The Edge, Bolton Street, Brixham,TQ5 95H.
01803 851414
Open Monday – Friday 11 am – 5 pm.

Crafty Fox Café 'n' Hub, 103 Foxhole Road, Paignton, TQ3 3SU.
01803 669005
Open Monday – Friday 10 am– 3 pm.

They are always looking for more volunteers to join FAIR at various community settings across Torbay. For more information on becoming a volunteer, or any aspect of FAIR, please contact FAIR co-ordinator Susan Bottomley:

Email: or Tel: 07706 714366

CDS now offering Better Broadband scheme vouchers

The Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) broadband programme has today announced that it is now offering vouchers through the national BDUK Better Broadband Scheme.

All homes and businesses in the region with broadband speeds of less than two Megabits per second (Mbps), without a published delivery date for superfast broadband within the next 12 months, are now eligible to apply for an interim solution under the voucher scheme.

The Better Broadband Voucher Scheme, administered by BDUK, helps provide access to a broadband service offering download speeds of at least 10 Mbps.

Vouchers worth up to £350 would contribute towards the cost of equipment and installation of a 4G, Fixed Wireless or Satellite solution.

Applications need to be made through registered suppliers on the approved supplier list 

Any premises benefiting from a voucher will not be removed from future superfast delivery plans. This includes premises within current planned superfast delivery through our Airband and Gigaclear contracts.

The Better Broadband Scheme runs until the end of 2019 and is open to residential and business premises.

For more information, and to apply for a voucher, follow this link - Better Broadband Scheme website 

The Better Broadband Scheme is separate from the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which is already in operation nationally including, for qualifying premises, in the CDS region.

Dartmouth Nurslings

Dartmouth Nurslings officially launched on February 14th and will be based at the Flavel Church in Dartmouth.
The aim of Dartmouth Nurslings is to offer mother to mother breastfeeding support within the local community. Providing moral support, encouragement, and sharing of information for women and their families at every stage of their breastfeeding journey. Dartmouth Nurslings hope to normalise breastfeeding and spread the understanding of the benefits to mother & baby.
The group will run every Thursday 10.30am until 12pm as a relaxed drop in session. It will be run by volunteers and will be a free group with a donation of a £1 for teas and coffees. There will be toys available for older children. Dads and other family and friends will also be welcome.

For more information contact or Facebook under Groups; Dartmouth Nurslings


Consultation on Protecting and Enhancing England's Trees and Woodlands

This consultation seeks views on the UK government's proposals to introduce four new measures designed to increase transparency and accountability in the process of felling street trees and to strengthen the Forestry Commission's power to tackle illegal tree felling.
Two of the measures introduce new duties on local authorities: a duty to consult on the felling of street trees; a duty to report on tree felling and replanting; while the third suggests the production of best practice guidance to support local authorities in drawing up, consulting on and publishing a Tree and Woodland Strategy.
The duty to consult is intended to ensure that members of the public are appropriately consulted on the felling of street trees, which can contribute positively to the quality of life for people in urban areas.
The duty to report would require local authorities to collate and report information on the felling and replanting of trees in a uniform way. This would increase transparency and allow the government to monitor tree felling at a national level, helping to make sure we maintain and enhance the natural capital benefits of trees.
Tree and Woodland strategies would help local authorities to set out the principles that support their tree management activities, thus both increasing transparency and accountability and improving stakeholder and public engagement.
The fourth measure is intended to give the Forestry Commission more powers to tackle illegal tree felling and strengthen protection of wooded landscapes.

All of these proposals could contribute to the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, and help deliver the government's ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan. This consultation seeks views on these measures and their implementation and you are able to submit to the consultation via the following link.


A Third Specialist Cardiology Lab is to Open in May

There was a welcome announcement today that waiting times for patients needing cardiology diagnosis and treatment will fall with the opening of a third specialist lab in the grounds of Derriford Hospital. You can find out more about this here.


£80 million Funding for a New Sea Wall at Dawlish

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has today (15 February 2019) announced further funding of up to £80 million in the south-west to deliver a new sea wall at Dawlish, providing better protection for the railway and homes behind it.

Upgrades to the sea wall will increase its height by 2.5 metres and include wave returns to reduce the impact of waves and the likelihood of the line being closed during adverse weather. This will help ensure the serious damage and disruption seen during storms in 2014 is not repeated.

The improvements at Dawlish are part of an extensive programme of investment in the south-west to transform connectivity throughout the region, outlined in the Investing in the South West report. This includes schemes totalling more than £2 billion, improving the strategic road network, high-speed direct bus connectivity, safe and continuous cycle routes and easier transfer between transport modes.


SEAFIT delivers on physiotherapy network for fishermen and their families in Devon and Cornwall

Working fishermen in Devon and Cornwall are being offered free physiotherapy as part of the SeaFit initiative. SeaFit is funding the creation of a network of physiotherapists to work with fishermen on or near the harbourside, and the Seafarers Hospital Society (SHS) is funding the treatment. SeaFit is a health and wellbeing development programme run in partnership by SHS and the Fishermen's Mission with funding from Seafarers UK.

So far there are ten clinics in 8 fishing ports working together to provide free physiotherapy to local fishermen, supported by Harbourside Physiotherapy in Newlyn. Harbourside has been funded by SHS to provide free physiotherapy to fishermen since 2007 and has developed considerable knowledge and expertise about the impact of fishing on physical health. They are now using their experience to create a network of physiotherapists to work with fishermen in their local ports.

Some of the physiotherapists involved in the network have been down by the harbour talking to fishermen and spreading the word.

For information about a clinic near you, call Harbourside Physiotherapy on 01736 366 224 or email:

If you are an active seafarer in the Brixham area, call Tidal Physiotherapy on 07983 313 344

Energy Advice in the South Hams

Two local Energy Advisors have been recognised for their energy advice work with vulnerable residents across the South Hams at an award ceremony in the House of Commons.

Lin Etherden from Citizens Advice South Hams and Sophie Phillips from South Dartmoor Community Energy (SDCE) were nominated by their colleagues and received a national Heat Hero Award at the House of Commons.

The awards are organised by fuel poverty charity National Energy Action and recognise people for going above and beyond in helping their clients to reduce their fuel bills and to stay warm and healthy at home.

Lin and Sophie are both qualified Domestic Energy Assessors and help householders to sort out their fuel bills, reduce fuel debt, apply for grants for home improvements and link up with other support services.

Citizens Advice and SDCE both deliver fuel poverty projects across the South Hams and often work together to ensure residents receive all the support that's available to them. They run regular drop in advice sessions in community venues, can attend community groups and can undertake home visits for more vulnerable clients. Their energy advice is all free and impartial and is funded through small grants that they have to apply for every year. SDCE are delighted to have recently secured £2000 through the Tesco Bags of Help scheme towards their work.

To find out more about the energy advice offered in the South Hams please visit their websites or or call them on:-
CAB:01803 659733
SDCE:0800 112 3044.


BBC's Consultation on the Future of Age Related TV Licence Fee Concessions

At the moment all households with someone aged over 75 are entitled to receive free TV licences. The cost of this scheme has been funded by the UK Government since it was introduced in 2000. In 2020 the current scheme is set to come to an end, along with the Government funding for it. Any new scheme from June 2020 to provide concessions relating to TV licences for older age groups is for the BBC to consult on, decide and then pay for.

This decision is the responsibility of the BBC's Board but the responses the BBC receives to the consultation they are running will help them decide what to do next.

Should you wish to have your say, the BBC's consultation is now open until Tuesday the 12th of February 2019. To find out more, and to take part, go to

If you require alternative formats (e.g. Braille and audio) the consultation can be accessed by calling 0800 232 1382.


Totnes Gives You XXtra

Totnes XX is a brand-new boutique festival combining music, film, comedy, art, debate and workshops, and taking place in multiple venues across the town over the weekend of 7th-10th March to coincide with International Women's Day 2019.

Event co-ordinator Lee Friese-Greene was frustrated by routinely seeing mostly male performers at local venues, and at one festival he attended last summer, fewer than 10% of the performers on stage were women. Lee knew there were plenty of amazingly-talented female artists and bands out there and began to think about ways to get their voices heard. At first it was just going to be a gig, but after talking to some of the many inspiring local business women there are in Totnes, there is now a 4-day, multi-arts event!

However, Lee is keen to stress that Totnes XX isn't just by or for women. The theme for this year's International Women's Day is #BalanceforBetter, and 'balance' was a key factor in assembling this programme; it is not about men v women, it is about tipping the scales more in favour of female artists, creating events that are more inclusive, and that have more gender-equal participation.

Further programme details and links to all events can be found via the Totnes XX Facebook

Also checkout the 'Totnes XX Radio Show' on SoundArt Radio on alternate Monday evenings from 28th January between 7-8pm where Lee will be making further programme announcements as the date get nearer.


Dartmouth Hospital

Following my request on 27th November to meet with the Minister , the Minister sent this letter to the CCG

Here is the response from the CCG and I hope this will help to clarify the situation.

I would also like to add the following personal statement.

It has been brought to my attention that messages are being circulated which are making entirely false allegations that I have a personal financial interest in the new development. I would like to make in clear that I have no income over and above my salary as an MP and Select Committee Chair, and that I do not own any shares or investments in any business or property developments. The following is a link to the register of MP's interests


Torbay Waste Collection and TOR2

Torbay Council apologise for the current issues with waste collection across Torbay. TOR2 have been experiencing problems with the amount of recycling that has been left for collection following Christmas, particularly the amount of cardboard and glass. This has resulted in delays to collections in some areas. TOR2 have informed the Council that this week they expect the majority of collections to take place on their scheduled day. Torbay will continue to monitor TOR2's progress and work with them to return collections to their usual days, as soon as possible.

In the meantime please leave your bins out for collection on the normal day and should a collection be missed please report it online via


Torbay Community Governance Review

Torbay Council is carrying out a review to decide if changes should be made to existing local governance arrangements, including whether or not new town or parish councils should be set up in those parts of Torbay where they don't currently exist.

Full information about the review including the terms of reference and a timetable, are on the main Community Governance Review page here

All local residents, business owners and organisations are invited to give their views.

Torbay Council will consider all feedback before making draft recommendations. These will then be published for further public consultation before any final decisions are made.

This first stage of this consultation will close on Friday 15th March 2019 and you can access the consultation here.

Have your say on police numbers in Devon and Cornwall

This week the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner launched its poll to find out whether people were supportive of a rise in the police precept, if the additional revenue generated from that rise were reinvested in frontline policing across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

More information on the proposals, and a link to the online poll, can be found here. Essentially the force would be able to provide an extra 85 officers, who would be stationed across the force area, if the precept were raised by the maximum permissible amount (£24 for a band D household). Such a rise would also enable additional commitments, such as the pension fund deficit and annual pay rise, to be met.

Do take part in the poll so that your views can be taken into account.



'Blue Monday' (the third Monday in January) is known as one of the most difficult days of the year.
But it doesn't have to be.

Help beat the January blues by getting together with your friends, family or colleagues over a brew and raise vital funds for Samaritans.
Over the last 64 years, Samaritans volunteers have helped save countless lives, but as demand for their services grow, your support is needed now more than ever.
Support Samaritans on Monday 21 January or any day throughout January!

Have a brew. Raise money. Save lives.


Recycling of Physiotherapy Equipment.

Physionet South West volunteers collect adult and children's mobility and disability equipment specifically in the South Hams and also elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall.
They collect from recycling centres (Totnes, Kingsbridge and Newton Abbot) and from hospitals, retirement homes and other institutions.
Collections from private homes can be arranged where there are a number of items or one or two expensive items such as wheelchairs or mobility scooters. The equipment, after checking, repair and cleaning, is sent in container loads to charities and poor communities around the world.
Physionet UK received the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2017. Please contact Harry Franks 01803 833316 or email


Lady Astor 100 Statue Campaign

Of the more than nine hundred statues and monuments in the UK, only 27 are of non-royal, non-mythical women. I am supporting the campaign to raise a statue to Devon's Nancy Astor, to celebrate one hundred years since she was elected as the first female MP to take her seat in Parliament. It was the people of Plymouth who voted her in just one year after some women were finally given the vote. She served the city as MP for Plymouth Sutton for another 26 years and fought for the rights and safety of women and children, education, the people of the city, and equality throughout that time.

You can find out more about the campaign and donate at the following website.


Friends of Brixham Library

To mark the 25th anniversary since the opening of Brixham Library in its present location and as part of their regular 'first Friday of the month ' coffee mornings, the Friends of Brixham Library are holding a special coffee morning on Friday 7 December between 10.00 - 12.00 noon. They will be commemorating the opening with a special cake; singing by children from one of the local Primary Schools and a number of stalls to buy items for Christmas from. Everyone is welcome, come and join your local Library!

Action for Education Fundraising Drive

Action for Education is a charity currently doing work on the island of Chios in Greece, they run a youth and education project which provides much needed services to young people living in the refugee camp on the island.

They provide a school for people over the age of 14, who otherwise have no access to education and a youth centre, which offers a nurturing safe space where people can develop friendships and undertake projects.

Action for Education have just launched a fundraising campaign to help ensure they can continue to offer their services. You can find out more about the charity's work and how to donate to their campaign here.

Letter to Santa

Santa would like to hear from children about what they would like for Christmas. The Royal Mail "Letters To Santa" service runs every year. Children can write to Santa and get a free personalised reply all the way from the North Pole! It only costs the price of one stamp.

Write a letter to Santa telling him what you want for Christmas.
Include your full name and address in so Santa can write back.
Stick a stamp on the letter that you send to Santa.
Post it no later than Friday 7th December 2018 to:-

Santa/Father Christmas,
Santa's Grotto,

Father Christmas is very busy at this time of year so he can't guarantee that he'll send a reply, but he'll do his best if you include your full name and address.

'The Shadows' marks the 100th Anniversary of end of WW1.

Brixham Future Community Interest Company commissioned a new artwork to mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918.

Designed by local artist Lynne Peets, the metalwork and placement work was carried out by local firm Western Engineering in Castor Road, Brixham.

The 216 individual poppies adorn the artwork. Each poppy represent a life that was lost as recorded on the towns War Memorial. All the poppies are individual and were hand-made by Izzie Lomas. The 'Shadows' artwork is secured to the wall in the garden opposite the Brixham bus station, adjacent the main taxi rank. The profile figures represent the 'shadows' of that departed generation as a tribute to them from the town. The figures depict a soldier, airman, woman, sailor, mother and child.


Macmillan Mobile Information and Support Service

The Macmillan mobile information and support service will be visiting Totnes on Monday 19th November. The bus will be at Morrisons Supermarket, Coronation Road.

Everyone is welcome to use the service, whether they have a cancer diagnosis, have a friend or relative affected by cancer, or are worried about cancer in any way at all. The service aims to promote awareness that there are lots of ways that Macmillan can support - medically, financially, emotionally and practically. A dedicated mobile team of highly-qualified Macmillan professionals travel across the UK and wherever the mobile service is, the team of trained radiographers, dietitians and financial experts are there to talk in confidence and to open up all the Macmillan services on offer. Further information is available here:

Devon School Admissions and Transport Consultation

A public consultation is being held by Devon County Council between now and 4 January 2019. This covers the following:

  • 2020-21 Normal Round Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme
  • 2019-20 In-Year Co-ordinated Admissions Scheme
  • 2020-21 Education Transport Policy Pre-16 and post-16
  • 2020-21 individual schools admissions policies for state-funded schools and academies in Devon County Council's area and including some academies in Plymouth and Torbay's council areas.

This is the annual opportunity for parents, other schools, Early Years settings and the local communities to review the admissions arrangements that are proposed and to comment on them, making suggestions for change.

The consultation is hosted here and ends on 4 January 2019 and all polices must then be determined by the end of February.


Protect yourself and others by having the flu jab

Flu season is nearly upon us and the best way to help protect yourself is to get vaccinated. Children aged 2 or 3, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions and over 65s are all eligible for a FREE flu vaccination.

Speak to your GP or pharmacist about getting vaccinated - it's free because you need it.


Giving Back

Do you see people in need and want to help? Do you face the dilemma of not wanting to give cash directly in case it is misused? The vision of Totnes Connection Hub is to fund and run projects that have the capacity to transform people's lives. Donation Boxes are at the following premises in Totnes:-

 Brioche  Community Bookshop Eva & Dot
Green Café
 Green Life  Paperworks Pet Nature  Pure Hairdressing
 Seeds 2  TV & Electrical Shop Zero Waste  

All of their staff and support workers are volunteers, giving you the assurance that every penny donated goes towards the Totnes Connection Hub

Envelopes are provided at the sites for you to place your donation in the collection box. If you are a taxpayer, they are permitted to claim the tax back on your gift so, should you wish them to do so, please complete all the details on the front of the envelope. If you would like to give on a regular basis, please set up a standing order to the following account:

Sort Code: 30-98-69
Account No: 43052260
For more information visit: or telephone 01803 840354
Giving Back is run by Totnes Connection Hub, a division of Marketplace Ministries Ltd


Benefit to Society

The Benefit to Society campaign aims to address the common misrepresentations of social housing tenants in the local and national media, which often include inaccurate perceptions such as tenants being associated with exploiting the benefit system and living in run down estates. These misrepresentations are damaging and drive the public to have a typically negative stereotypical view of social housing tenants, and can have a major impact on the wellbeing and lives of those living in the social housing sector. The campaign that will challenge the way the public think and tackle the stigma associated with social housing tenants. Have a look at the Benefit to Society campaign - there is also the opportunity to join up.


Change of advice day for Citizens Advice in central Totnes

The Citizens Advice drop in advice sessions held in Caring Town Information Exchange (CTIE) at the Mansion on Fore Street will be moving from Fridays to every Wednesday from October 3rd.

Teena Barrett, Advice Services Manager at Citizens Advice South Hams says "The service will be the same as before, open on a drop- in basis for people to come along with their problems and talk to an adviser although the hours have changed slightly and will now be 9.30am – 12.30pm.

CTIE have made the CAB very welcome and working from the Mansion in Totnes has helped clients who live centrally and find it difficult to travel to Follaton House. The move to a Wednesday is because the CAB have more advisers on hand to help residents with problems such as housing, debt, benefit and disability entitlement.

All information and advice given by Citizens Advice South Hams is free, independent, impartial and confidential. Advice is also quality assured and meets the Advice Quality Standard (AQS), all debt advice is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. CTIE at the Mansion also has a public access computer available.

Totnes residents can access advice from Citizens Advice South Hams, on line by visiting and typing their problem into the "How can we help" box, by ringing 03 444 111 444 or by dropping into their offices at Follaton House Mon – Thurs 10am – 4pm or CTIE at the Mansion Weds 9.30am-12.30pm


South West Water champions ReFill revolution to reduce litter from single-use plastic bottles

South West Water is behind a national campaign by water companies to make tap water more freely available, helping to reduce litter from single-use plastic bottles and keeping people healthy and hydrated when out and about.

To mark the launch of National ReFill Day (27 September), South West Water is supplying 3,000 stainless steel refillable bottles, free of charge, to Keep Britain Tidy to distribute to community groups in Devon and Cornwall. The ReFill bottles can be sold by communities to plough the proceeds back into good causes in their areas.

More than 1,100 locations, such as cafes, hotels, restaurants and shops, are now registered with ReFill in Devon and Cornwall, allowing the public to top-up their water bottles for free – more than double the total last year. People can use an app on their phone to find out where the nearest ReFill point is, or look out for special signs in shop windows.

The sites are part of a growing network of participating premises and businesses across the UK, co-ordinated by trade body Water UK, which aims to offer ReFill in every major town and city in the UK by 2021.

I would encourage businesses to sign up for this project to ensure that the South West is leading on the issue of tackling the amount of single use plastic bottles ending up in landfill (estimated to be 16 million everyday)

You can sign up via this link, either to register your business or to see where there is a Refill site near you.


Drugs & Alcohol Survey

Healthwatch Torbay is working with Public Health Torbay to identify what works well and what does not work well, for people in Torbay that may have a problems with drug and alcohol use. If you would be interested in helping Healthwatch Torbay please do look at the following survey which aims to gather feedback on the types of support people need to make positive changes to their problematic use of drugs and/ or alcohol.

Centenary of the End of the First World War

We are approaching the centenary of the end of the First World War and many events will take place to mark this special occasion.

Pageant Master Bruno Peek is the man responsible for the detailed organisation behind many of the events that bring our country together to remember the past. Bruno has prepared a tribute of remembrance on 11th November called the Battle's Over. The national commemorations will include the lighting of over 1,000 beacons of light symbolising an end to the darkness of war and a return to the light of peace. And cathedrals and churches across the country will ring their bells in celebration of peace.

There will be many events taking place across the country recognising the importance of this centenary, giving us all an opportunity to remember those sacrifices that were made, both on the battlefields and on the home front, so that we can continue to enjoy freedom. You can find out more about the events planned on the Pageant Master website

Great Western Railway

After discussions with GWR about the lack of easement on the 17.57 (retimed18.03) during the temporary period of electrification works at Newbury, GWR have agreed to allow lower priced tickets on this service for Newton Abbot and Totnes customers. They are looking at an easement for the remaining line closures on Tuesday 28 to Thursday 30 August, Monday 8 to Thursday 11 October and Monday 19 to Thursday 22 November.

Consultation for Planning for Shale Gas Extraction: Share Your Views

I know that shale gas extraction, or fracking, remains contentious and the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government is currently seeking views on the principle of granting planning permission for non-hydraulic shale gas exploration development through a permitted development right.

In practice this would mean early exploratory work could proceed without requiring planning applications, although planning applications would still be required for fracking.

The consultation will run until the 25th of October and you can find out how to contribute via the following website

Voice & Vote: Women's Place in Parliament.

Come and see the excellent free Exhibition in Westminster Hall this summer. Exploring the history of women in Parliament - the campaigns, the protests, the achievements. The Exhibition tells the 'her-story' of Parliament over the last 200 years, and the many brave people who fought for democratic equality.  Book your free tickets now!


Rural Crime Reporting Line

Rural crime is a serious issue for farmers, rural businesses and those who live in the countryside, and it can have significant impacts on a farm or another rural business.

A new service for farmers and the public to give information anonymously about rura

I have received a number of emails about the amendment tabled by John Mann to the Serious Crime Act.

First and foremost, it is of the utmost importance that the government protects children from abuse and addresses concerns that public bodies and other institutions may have failed to act to protect children in the past or deliberately covered up abuse. These must be fully investigated without any fear that anyone could be deterred from giving evidence as a result of the Official Secrets Act

The government has made it clear that John Mann's amendment was not necessary as the Official Secrets Act does not prevent disclosures about abuse being made, this point being clarified by the Home Secretary in the Commons & by the following statement by the Home Office:

The Official Secrets Act is intended to protect certain classes of particularly sensitive information such as security and intelligence matters, and it provides for a number of offences that prevent current or former Crown servants or Government contractors from disclosing certain information without lawful authority. It does not prevent protected information from being disclosed to an officer of an official investigation or inquiry into historical child abuse. In particular, information may be disclosed where the disclosure is made in accordance with that person's official duty or is otherwise authorised. Departments and Ministers can permit current and former civil servants and Government contractors to share knowledge and documentation with an inquiry.

For example, in the case of the Kincora investigation - the Hart Inquiry in Northern Ireland - it has been made absolutely clear by the Attorney-General that prosecutions under the Official Secrets Act will not take place where people are giving evidence of child abuse to the inquiry. The Home Secretary has made it clear that official authorisation would be given for the Goddard Inquiry if a request were made, in a manner similar to that for the Hart Inquiry, and has written to Justice Goddard to suggest that she make such a request to the Attorney General.

Click here to see me being interviewed by Women2Win


Click  to listen to BBC Radio 4 Today programme interviewing Sarah and discussing "Do Westminster Primaries Work?"




06 JUL 2019

Ways With Words

An absolute joy to interview the amazing John Simpson at Ways with Words on his extraordinary career, the courage of journalists, Russia, the state of politics and his novel, Moscow Midnight

05 JUL 2019

The Samaritans

I met with the Torbay Samaritans today, where they have had extensive alterations in order to improve the conditions for this wonderful bunch of volunteers. The volunteers are there for everyone and anyone in the toughest of times. Find out

22 JUN 2019

Laywell House, Brixham

Thank you to all the team at Laywell House, Brixham for inviting me to your fair today and to Friends of Laywell and trustees for taking the time to share your views on Social Care funding and workforce.

10 JUL 2019

Disability: Children

Written Answers Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what plans he has to increase support for parents who care for disabled children at home. Elizabeth Truss The Chief...

10 JUL 2019

Climate Change, the Environment and Global Development

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee Has the hon. Lady's Committee looked at the issue of three-phase electricity supply to homes? One of my constituents is keen to invest in solar and Tesla-style wall plugs so that...

09 JUL 2019

Devon Police and Fire Rescue

I met today with the Devon Police and Fire Rescue operational experts to hear how Devon and Cornwall are leading the way in blue light innovation with community responders, tri service officers and Police and Fire Community Support Officers.

09 JUL 2019


Written Answers Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the July 2017 tobacco control plan for England, when the Government plans to announce a...

09 JUL 2019

Active Travel

< Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee We have heard the environmental, health and economic cases for cycling. I fell in love on a tandem and I am still cycling 40 years later, so perhaps I should add that there is a...

Please register here if you would like to receive regular newsletters.

Sarah's Personal Blog

Click here for Sarah's blogs and to leave comments.

No Deal is a disaster for local farmers. I won't be voting to destroy local businesses 12.07.19

The National Farmers' Union (NFU) has said that a No Deal Brexit is the worst possible deal for the farming industry.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has called it a "grisly prospect".

No Deal would lead to bankruptcies and shortages hitting local businesses and consumers alike. The UK has a trade deficit in food, drink and animal feed products with both the EU and with non-EU countries.

To read the full blog and leave a comment, please click here.

Brexit Update 03.04.19

I wish I could be responding with more positive news but the truth is that Brexit has left us deeply divided and that is reflected in our politics and Parliament. We have reached gridlock. The Prime Minister's deal failed to pass for the third time and none of the alternative options presented by backbench MPs reached a majority. The greatest number of votes was for a referendum on the final deal and the slimmest margin of defeat was for a customs union to be added to the deal.

The legal position is that, unless a deal is agreed by Parliament, we leave with No Deal in little over a week's time. This is I know the preferred option for many who have written to me but not for the majority. It would lead to such serious real-world harms both locally and nationally that I could never support it. It would mean knowingly and deliberately voting to make this community poorer and for many of my constituents to lose their jobs and livelihoods.

I won't don't that.

It could not be more obvious that the problem with the original referendum was that it never defined which of the many versions of Brexit was on offer. The risks, trade offs and benefits of No Deal, Canada Plus, Norway, Norway Plus and the Prime Minister's Deal are all very different but campaigners were able to talk up the benefits and downplay the risks. It turns out that we cannot have our cake and eat it and that countries are not queuing at our door to sign up to advantageous trade deals.

To read the full blog and leave a comment, please click here.

What next for Brexit? 15.03.19

One of the few things that everyone agrees on when it comes to Brexit is that it is all a complete mess. No one voted for this divisive shambles undermining our economy and trashing our international reputation. But the undeliverable promises made during the campaign have collided with reality and a hung Parliament. It's like being locked in a car with a broken handbrake and an incompetent driver, rolling towards the edge of a cliff.

The Prime Minister has twice put her Withdrawal Agreement and Future Framework, to a meaningful vote claiming it to be the 'will of the people'. It certainly isn't the will of Parliament which has rejected it on both occasions by historic margins.

Brexit reality turns out to please almost nobody, neither the 48% who voted remain nor the majority of Leave voters. The Deal is deeply flawed and looks nothing like the sunlit uplands promised during the 2016 referendum campaign. The problem is that the Prime Minister's alternative, to leave with No Deal, is even worse.

To read the full blog and leave a comment, please click here.

Brexit. What Happens Next 03.02.19

The grim news from Sunderland that Nissan have pulled out from a major future investment, should come as no surprise. Even Patrick Minford, one of the very few economists who Mr Rees Mogg and other hard Brexiteers can rely on to support their views, told a Parliamentary committee that WTO would all but destroy the UK car industry, but inferred this would be a price worth paying. Not for the tens of thousands of people and their families who depend on Nissan for their livelihoods across the North East.

It is not just the steady drum beat of warnings from firms like Jaguar Land Rover, Honda, Airbus and the pharmaceuticals sector that should worry us but the deep concerns of small and medium size companies the length and breadth of the UK about the consequences of No Deal.

It's easy to talk glibly about 'clean Brexit' but there is nothing clean or appealing about the reality of No Deal. I've seen the slogans 'Let's go WTO' outside Parliament, but there is a good reason why no country chooses to trade exclusively on those 4th division terms. All nations prefer trade deals but these are complex and time consuming to negotiate. At a stroke, if we exit with No Deal, we lose the trade deals we enjoy covering nearly 80 countries which extend to us because we are members of the EU. These deals cover around two thirds of all our goods exports and, as with the car industry, it is likely that other countries would prefer to import from nations with whom there are deals in place.

For our part, simply removing tariffs unilaterally on imports from one country, would oblige us under WTO rules to remove them from all which would mean kissing goodbye to major sectors of our own industries. How would our own farmers compete with a flood of cheap imports of lamb, beef and vegetables? The simple answer is that they would not cope with a rush to the bottom on pricing and the inevitable trade offs on welfare standards.

Far from being the 'easiest deal in human history', to quote the International Trade Secretary, Brexit reality does involve difficult trade offs and compromises. We were promised that scores of deals would be ready on the stroke of midnight as we left the EU, that 'Britain would hold all the cards' and that we would retain the 'exact same benefits'.

The reality is that the Prime Minister is  presenting us with a choice between a bad deal that leaves us with no future certainty and No Deal.

To read the full blog and leave a comment, please click here.

Brexit Amendment 09.01.19

Over the past couple of days I have supported a series of amendments to try to reduce the risk of the U.K. crashing out of the EU on March 29th with No Deal. The Government must stop introducing deliberate delays and instead make serious plans for what happens if the Prime Minister's Deal is rejected. As there have been no changes to the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement, rejection looks to be near certain and we do not have the luxury of time on our side with just 79 days to go until Brexit.

Yesterday I voted for an amendment that will prevent the Government implementing the "no deal" provisions of The Withdrawal Act without the explicit consent of Parliament.

In essence, this was about Parliament making it clear to Government that there is no majority for No Deal. That message was highlighted further during a cross Party meeting between the Prime Minister and over 200 MPs after we had written to set out our deep concerns about the damaging effect of No Deal on individuals, businesses and communities.

Today I supported a further amendment in order to reduce the timeframe for Government to return with its proposals about what should happen next if the Deal is voted down next week. The Government will now have 3 days rather than 21 days to respond.

This matters because of the very serious consequences that would follow if we left the EU in a chaotic manner and the increasing risk of that happening as a result of running out of time for any alternatives.

A majority of MPs won't support No Deal because of both the immediate and longer term damage this would inflict on our economy. The government's own forecasts predict that growth over the next 15 years without a deal would be 9.3% lower than it would otherwise have been on current terms.

To read the full blog and leave a comment, please click here.

The NHS Long Term Plan 07.01.19

I welcome the NHS Long Term Plan, which is wide ranging and ambitious. It rightly celebrates the successes of the NHS but is realistic about the scale of the challenge to meet relentlessly rising demand and to improve services. It acknowledges the pressure on staff as a result of the workforce shortfall and the urgent need to upgrade facilities including digital resources.

It is one of the greatest triumphs of our age that we are living longer but more of us are living with complex and long term conditions and there are widening inequalities in the degree to which both young and old are living in poorer health. There also remains an unacceptable variation in outcomes and experiences for patients from one area to the next even where that cannot be accounted for by resources or local challenges.

The Plan sets a number of priorities such as making sure that a greater share of NHS resource goes to mental health, especially for children and young people as well as to GP and wider community services. It lays out a number of proposed improvements to major areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and respiratory disease as well as a welcome focus on children and young people.

To read the article in full and leave comments, click here.

Childhood Obesity

Almost one in five children are obese before they leave primary school. 85% will go on to become obese as adults with increased risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Do you feel that we should do more to help them?

Your email address:

Your postal address:

Your postcode: