A379 At Torcross
I was sorry to hear the news this morning that the A379 at Torcross has had to be closed, due to the failure of the seawall during this morning's high tide. The sea wall that has failed is the one starting at the slip way supporting the highway.
This is clearly a worrying situation and I have recently held meetings with the Environment Agency, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council to discuss prioritising of repairs and plans for a long term solution. Devon County Council are currently trying to get an 18 tonne excavator down there to see what they can do as a temporary measure to prevent any further loss of material supporting the highway over the next few days, before they start work on Monday to do something more permanent.
Picture by kind permission of South Hams Newspapers
Totnes and Dartmouth Ring and Ride Service urgently needs funds.
This valuable service is at risk of being lost to the community. It needs a minimum of £10,000 by the end of February to see it through to the next financial year when it is hoped to access grant funding for a restructured operation. The Ring and Ride Service were delighted to hear that last year they had been awarded money to provide a new specially adapted bus, this will allow them to hand back a 15 seater bus they are currently leasing from Devon County Council and thereby help their running costs.
The Ring and Ride Service is aimed at some of the most vulnerable in the area and with their specially adapted vehicles, assist the elderly, frail and disabled. Often this group do not have access to other forms of transport and some of the users have already stated that if the service closes they will have to remain in their homes.
There are less than 28 days for the Ring and Ride Service to order their new bus but if they do not receive funds of £10,000 within the next couple of weeks, the service will have to close their doors.
If you are able to help please do get in contact with Ring and Ride Chairman, Judy Westacott on 01803 863043.
The Local Government Boundary Commission
The Local Government Boundary Commission is carrying out an electoral review of Devon County Council.
The aim of the electoral review is to recommend electoral division boundaries that mean each county councillor represents approximately the same number of voters. The aim is to ensure that the pattern of divisions reflects the interests and identities of local communities as well as promoting effective local government. In order to achieve these aims, division boundaries are being re-drawn across the county.
The Points of Light Award
The Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
Every week day the Prime Minister recognises an inspirational volunteer with the Daily Point of Light award.
First established by President George H. W. Bush in 1990, over 5,000 US Points of Light have been recognised in the USA. UK Points of Light was developed in partnership with the US programme and launched in the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street in April 2014.
Since then hundreds of people have been named Points of Light by the Prime Minister, highlighting an enormous array of innovative and inspirational volunteering across the length and breadth of Britain.
Doing everything from tackling knife crime, to supporting families of dementia patients, our UK Points of Light are fundraising, awareness raising, problem solving heroes who all had an idea they decided to make a reality. Their actions have changed lives and their stories are can inspire thousands more to get involved or start their own initiatives.
Find out more about our UK Points of Light.
Feeling inspired? Discover volunteering opportunities near you.
Tell No 10 your inspirational volunteering stories.
Superfast Broadband in Thurlestone
Connecting Devon and Somerset have connected Thurlestone to superfast broadband through the Sutton Cross 4 cab. The future for superfast broad in the constituency is looking positive with 89% of properties in the constituency having superfast broadband by the end of this year. Whilst the remaining 11% will be connected in the near future. To register your interest in superfast broadband or to find out more about Connecting Devon and Somerset you can simply use the following link. Remember if more of us register an interest in superfast broadband the more likely it is, the roll out will be faster and more encompassing.
Photo by kind permission of Marcus Faye
The latest figures show that unemployment in the Totnes constituency, and across the country, continues to fall.
Those benefitting most from the employment figures are women and the long term unemployed. Since 2010 there are a million more women in work and this is likely to be helped further with our guarantee of 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds.
The number of people who have had to cope with long-term unemployment has fallen by a quarter since 2010 and that needs to fall further if everyone is to have the same opportunity to benefit from having a job.
Of course, it is not just work itself that matters, but the quality of that work and training opportunities. People were rightly concerned about some companies' abuse of zero-hours contracts. Businesses, small and large, are the lifeblood of the UK economy, but they rely of millions of individuals who deserve fair pay. It's for this reason that it was so important to have banned 'exclusivity clauses' in contracts, preventing companies from locking-in employees on unfair hours whilst preventing them from working elsewhere. The latest ONS Labour force survey estimates that just 2.4% of the workforce now work zero hours contracts http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/mro/news-release/zero-hours-contract-in-main-job-now-reported-by-744-000-people/zhc0915.html
It is also welcome news that wages continue to outstrip inflation and that is before a welcome boost from the National Living Wage. The fall in petrol prices has been particularly good news for businesses and commuters alike in this area where people are more likely to need to drive longer distances.
There is no room for complacency as, compared with the rest of the country, local people are paid lower wages yet face higher housing costs and, as a nation, we still have a long way to go to close the gap between what we earn and what we spend.
The Government has set out plans in the bid to tackle the scourge of nuisance calls.
Direct marketing companies will have to legally display their telephone number on caller ID, helping consumers report unsolicited calls to the regulators.
Unsolicited direct marketing calls can cause significant stress and anxiety, particularly to those people who rely on the telephone as their main means of keeping in touch with friends and loved ones. At best these calls are a source of irritation and at worst they can lead to people falling foul of scammers.
The proposal to make it a requirement for direct marketing callers to provide valid Calling Line Identification (CLI) will help:
- Make it easier for people to refuse and report unwanted marketing calls;
- Make it easier for the ICO to investigate and take enforcement action against callers that persistently and deliberately break the rules.
There is a six-week consultation which closes on 23 February 2016 and following this, the Government plans to bring the measure into force in spring 2016.
Paying your tax online
The Government has set out the details of its plan, first announced in the 2015 Budget, to replace the annual tax return with an online payment system which will be available to all individuals and businesses by 2020. Businesses and individuals will be able to record their income and costs directly to a secure digital tax account online and this will cut out the need to fill in a complex annual tax return form. Online records need to be updated at least quarterly, in a process which aims to be quicker and simpler than filling in the current tax return.
It is hoped this will make it easier for businesses to track how much tax will be due, helping them to plan for the future. The smallest businesses won't have to pay for the software, to help them make the transition. Other ways of paying tax, such as telephone filing, will continue to be available for those who are unable to use this system. For more details on the replacement of tax returns click here.
Our Plan; The South Hams Newsletter
Click on this link to read Our Plan; The South Hams Newsletter for an update on the progress of the development plan, it covers changes nationally and locally, along with calls for new sites across the District.
Looking for local funding?
Local groups and organisations with great ideas to make their communities even better places to live are now invited to apply for funding to turn their ideas into reality.
Using money raised by HealthContact society lottery through The Health Lottery, People's Health Trust has opened Active Communities in Devon and Torbay.
Active Communities is a funding programme for community groups and not-for-profit organisations, with an income of less than £350,000 a year or an average of £350,000 over two years, seeking investment of between £5,000 and £50,000 for projects lasting up to two years. They are looking for small and local projects, genuinely designed and run by local people. By small, they mean just a small group of people on an estate, in a few streets or villages.
They are also looking for great ideas from communities of interest. By this they mean a group of people who have things in common and wish to come together to address something that is important to them. These ideas could be based in one neighbourhood, or cover a wider area.
They run a two stage application process over a four week period that begins with a short online form. There's step by step guidance to help you along the way but if you need any support, please call them on 020 7697 4021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for applications is 1pm on Wednesday 3 February 2016.
Share shop in Totnes
Network Of Wellbeing is planning to open a Share shop in Totnes and would welcome your views and help. The Share shop is a library of things, instead of books people can borrow things- this could be garden tools, a sewing machine, camping or leisure equipment or even a chocolate fountain. Things we don't need every day, which we could share. We hope that this would have benefits of building community, allowing people to uses things they may not be able to afford and helping people de-clutter their garages of what they no longer want to keep without things going into landfill. At this early stage we are wanting to gather ideas on a suitable venue for such a shop, ideas for fundraising and inviting people to fill out this link http://www.tinyurl.com/nj9nad8 which takes a few minutes to share your views on such a shop.
'Defra Guidance and Data Reforms: Cost, Benefits and Early Feedback' Consultation
On the 17th December, Defra launched a consultation 'Defra Guidance and Data Reforms: Cost, Benefits and Early Feedback', which will run until the 10th February 2016. The consultation is being conducted as an online survey. The online survey and supporting information may be found at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/better-regulations/defra-guidance-data-reforms.
As part of the Red Tape Challenge, Defra committed itself to a fundamental overhaul of its guidance and information requests to make them simpler, quicker and clearer to use. The purpose of this consultation is to invite views from stakeholders on the assumptions, key sensitivities and risks that underpin the estimates of costs and benefits to business contained in the Consultation Impact Assessment. Take this opportunity to have your say.
New South Devon Highway Opens To Traffic!
Last night (14.12.15) after more than 60 years in the planning, the South Devon Highway opened to traffic. In an overnight operation which took several hours to complete the last works to the main road were carried out on the construction project. In a joint effort with Devon and Cornwall Police, the project team opened the road, with the first vehicles travelling north on the new 5.5km road. The operation took place overnight to ensure it was safely managed and this morning commuters will find themselves travelling on a new dual carriageway which has taken just over three years to construct.
To help motorists understand the new junctions, diagrams are available through the following link.
Just before the new road was opened, a video flythrough was filmed. The video was produced by Matt Cranfield of Skyflicks. It contains a series of blends showing how the road has transformed over the last eight months.
Great News for Shoalstone Pool
I am so delighted that Shoalstone Pool in Brixham is to receive a grant of £49,500 for repairs and renovation as part of £3m of funding from the government for projects in seaside towns. I know it has been a long fight and a lot of hard work from the community to keep the pool open and this money will ensure the future of the pool is secured. The hope is that this funding will allow for new life to be breathed in to the pool, allowing it to be retained as a top class destination for both locals and tourists.
The purpose of the Coastal Revival Fund, where the money is coming from, is to help kick start the revival of at risk heritage sites, which have the potential to create opportunities for new businesses and jobs. In total there are 77 Coastal Revival Fund awards being made and the grant will go directly to the local authority. More good news is that another £1m of funding will be available in 2016/17 for projects that narrowly missed out on being selected.
Care Quality Commission Listening Event
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has announced a listening event for the public to share their experience of the service and care provided in the last year by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.
These listening events are a great opportunity for the people who use the services of the hospital trust to contribute to the inspection process and share their experience of care, which can help inspectors identify particular issues to pay attention to during inspections, and ultimately improve the service provided.
The event will take place on the 20th of January at Paignton Library and Information Centre from 10.00 am until 1.00 pm and I would encourage people to go along and share their views.
Floods and Insurance.
This weekend, the weather has served as a reminder of the danger flooding poses in the UK.
The Association of British Insurers have written a guide explaining how insurance companies will respond in an emergency situation where homes or businesses have been flooded and sets out the support that can be expected from an insurance provider in the days, weeks and months following a major flood.
Indeed, I hope this information is not needed, but just in case, you can view through the following link.
The Community Potlucks are regular events, hosted by the Network Of Wellbeing, which provide the local community in Totnes with an opportunity to come together and share a meal, with everyone contributing a delicious dish. These are family friendly events and all are welcome.
For more information, email email@example.com or telephone 01803 849107
Parliamentarian of the Year.
The Political Studies Association awarded Sarah, Parliamentarian of the Year. The judges said that she was a worthy winner as someone who has developed a "reputation for independence of opinion and approach, using her knowledge of the health service to raise concerns over planned health reforms".
Sarah was also commended for:
"making best use of parliamentary scrutiny and use of her role as Chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee to impressive effect. Her work proves that the independent voice still plays an active role in UK politics."
This week I met up with representatives from Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) – the organisation responsible for the roll-out of superfast broadband in our area – for an update on their progress.
In the Totnes constituency, there are already 8,273 properties connected to superfast broadband with an additional 2,034 coming online shortly. I was pleased to hear that areas connected to exchanges in Bigbury, Blackawton, Dittisham, Dartmouth, Kingswear, Paignton, Salcombe, South Brent, Staverton, Stoke Fleming and Stoke Gabriel will be connecting to superfast soon and that the infrastructure for those areas has now been put in place.
By the end of 'Phase One' of the rollout in 2016, CDS estimates that 89% of properties will be connected to superfast. The remaining 11% will be delivered through 'Phase Two' and discussions are ongoing ahead of the process to decide which provider will be awarded the contract to deliver this. CDS are currently negotiating an agreement for State Aid Notification with the European Commission, which is necessary before the tender process can begin and it is hoped that this will be concluded by February. The contract will then go out to tender for 12-16 weeks before a provider will be decided and work on connecting the final 11% will begin.
Residents can check whether their property can receive superfast broadband or see when their area will go online via the following link
Fair School Funding
As part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, it was great to see a commitment to introduce fairer system for school funding. The current arrangement, which has lasted for decades, has led to a situation where the ten best funded areas in England receive over £2,000 per pupil more than the ten worst funded areas. In Devon, schools currently receive over £1,000 less per pupil than schools in the best funded area.
The new funding formula will set a national rate that every school will receive for each pupil, with additional funding for those with extra needs. Crucially, from 2017-18 the resources that schools and local authorities receive will be based on pupil characteristics rather than historic political calculations. MPs representing the F40 group of underfunded schools have been asking for this for many years and I'm delighted that the Department for Education will now consult on the detail in early 2016 and I look forward to seeing the full proposals.
Torbay gets UNESCO status!
In its 70th anniversary year and 40 years after the creation of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Science Commission of UNESCO (United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture) at the UNESCO General Conference in Paris today has approved the statutes of the new "International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme" which will allow for the creation of the new site designation of "UNESCO Global Geoparks" and the re-designation of all 120 existing Global Geoparks, including Torbay, as new UNESCO Global Geoparks.
Previously operating with the informal support of UNESCO, the status of UNESCO Global Geoparks has been recognised under the new programme. The English Riviera, which includes the three towns of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, and covers the entire Torbay area, became a Global Geopark in 2007 and, against competition from China and Europe, won the bid to host the 7th International Conference on Global Geoparks in September 2016 when delegates from around the world will attend what will now be the first UNESCO Global Geoparks conference.
The English Riviera Global Geopark was an initiative that came from the Torbay Heritage Forum 11 years ago and led to the development of a grass-roots initiative, championed by the Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust, supported by Torbay Council under the direction of Nick Powe, director of Kents Cavern. It is now a partner-led organisation coordinating Geopark activities and assuring adherence to a pragmatic code of conduct mandated by the Global Geoparks Network and UNESCO.
EU dairy support payments come early for UK farmers
I met with a group of farmers last week to discuss their concerns and was pleased to hear from the Chancellor that two weeks ahead of schedule EU support payments to help hard-pressed UK dairy farmers manage cash flow problems will start arriving in bank accounts
The first payments have been made to over 10,000 farmers across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – three-quarters of all eligible farmers and amounting to almost £19.2 million. Payments will continue through November and December. I hope this emergency payment will help ease some of the immediate cash flow problems that many people are facing.
Major boost to Devon NHS Perinatal Service; Chancellor waives VAT for Wembley gig
The Chancellor has announced that all VAT will be waived on ticket sales for the sold out performance by "Above and Beyond" at Wembley Arena in the memory of Charlotte Morley, the sister of sister of band member Jono Grant, with an estimated £80,000 going to the Devon NHS Perinatal unit. All proceeds from the event are being donated to the 'Little Something Fund'
Charlotte, suddenly and unexpectedly passed away earlier this year at the age of 42. She was a well-respected member of the Perinatal Mental Health Service provided by Devon Partnership NHS Trust.
A wife and mother herself, Charlotte worked with a lot of women from South Devon who had babies at either Torbay Hospital or the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital and was passionate about family wellbeing.
Do you know what to do in a flood?
There is a tendency for us all to think that "flooding will never happen to me". The fact is - it could.
Almost 5 million people in England are at risk of flooding and this is only going to increase with a changing climate.
The Environment Agency is running a flood campaign in early November to encourage you to act now to prepare for a flood.
Have you ever checked to see if your home or business are at risk from flooding?
Would you know what to do in a flood?
What could you do now to save you time, money and worry if it happened tomorrow?
Visit www.gov.uk/floodsdestroy to take the following simple steps to help protect you, your family and home from flooding.
- Use the Environment Agency's maps to find out if you are at risk from flooding
- Check if free flood warnings are available for your area
- Prepare a personal flood plan
Take these small steps now and help save you time, money and distress in a flood
Dartmouth: a 'Rising Star' in the Great British High Street Competition!
The awards were set up to recognise and champion local areas working to develop their high streets. This year, a record-breaking 230 applications were received and 21 finalists were chosen and are now fighting it out to win the public vote. However a further ten applications which impressed the judging panel with their commitment to working together to rejuvenate their high streets, were recognised with a 'Rising Star' award. These areas are considered to be strong competitors for a finalist's spot next year.
Dartmouth will receive £1000 in recognition of their hard work for introducing a new high-quality tourism campaign.
Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner
Have your say in the selection of the next Conservative candidate for the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner elections in May 2016. Anyone, registered to vote in the Devon and Cornwall Police Authority area can register to attend and vote at the two primary meetings being held. They are on the evening of 30th October in Mid Cornwall and on the morning of 31st October in the Exeter Area. Full details will be sent to those who register to attend. To register, For the Mid-Cornwall meeting email firstname.lastname@example.org and for the Exeter Area meeting email email@example.com Or phone: 01626 331795 between 9am and 5 pm. Please apply by 6pm on Thursday 29th October.
Have you trouble cancelling or terminating a broadband, phone or TV contract? Ofcom want to hear about it.
Ofcom is looking to hear from consumers about their experiences of cancelling or terminating phone, broadband or pay TV contracts.
Earlier this year, Ofcom launched a monitoring and enforcement programme to look closely at the cancellation and termination arrangements of different providers, identifying where they seem to be making it difficult for customers to leave.
Although Ofcom cannot handle individual complaints, they want to make sure they fully understand the difficulties consumers are facing and use it to inform their wider monitoring and enforcement work. So if you have recently tried to or succeeded in terminating your phone, broadband or pay TV contract, please tell Ofcom about your experience by filling out a short questionnaire.
Keeping Children Safe Online
New technologies inspire children to be creative, communicate and learn. However, while the internet is a wonderful resource, it is important that children and teenagers are protected from the risks they may encounter. This is where Parent Info comes in. Parent Info is produced by The Parent Zone, which has been working with parents for over a decade. This organisation has the support of numerous organisations that make up the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and is also backed by the government.
The service they provide is relatively new and gives information to parents on a range of issues affected by the internet. It also offers the most up to date and expert advice from a wide range of sources to help parents understand and support their children's digital activity, to help their children grow up confident and creative online.
On the Parent Info website their articles cover everything from internet gaming, cyberbullying and mobile phone apps. There is also information for parents with older children on sex and relationships. A vast amount of information is covered to help to put parents' minds at ease.
An opportunity to apply for a free defibrillator and training for your community!
The British Heart Foundation and the Department for Health have launched a joint partnership, with an investment of £1 million from the government, to improve public access to defibrillators.
Each year, nearly 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest out of hospital, with less than one in ten surviving. However a bystander providing immediate CPR and defibrillation can significantly increase the chances of survival. Unfortunately at present only 38% of the public are aware that they can use public access defibrillators in an emergency, and only 22% are confident that they would know how to do so. This is an opportunity to apply for the following three packages for your area.
- A free public access defibrillatorCPR training kit and a cabinet
- A free public access defibrillator and CPR training kit
- A cabinet to improve accessibility to a current defibrillator
Successful applications must demonstrate:
That the defibrillator will be accessible to the public, preferably 24/7
A commitment to train the local community in CPR
A clear need for the device, such as high footfall or a rural location
For more detailed information click here Applications close in March 2016
A number of people have contacted me about how they can help to support the refugees being welcomed into Britain. Depending on what you can offer, the agency you will need to contact will vary.
Locally The Dartington Hall Trust is already putting together a fantastic offer, talking to local groups and like-minded organisations on how they can work together on a useful and effective response to the refugee crisis and more information can be found on their website.
For more detailed information and contact details of the many agencies involved locally and regionally please click on the following link
Totnes, a Caring Town with a Compassionate Response
Concerns have been raised about beggars in Totnes. Some people have been asking what they can do to help. Based on experience and evidence from many other places, it has been found that giving money directly to beggars doesn't always help, especially when there are other routes that can have more lasting benefits.
Below is information about the support networks in Totnes that work long term with the homeless and practical ways in which you can help.
- The Drop In Centre on Burke Road—first right after South Devon house on the Industrial Estate. This has links with South Hams and Leatside Surgery and provides, food, clothing, washing facilities professional advice and help with housing. In bad weather it operates as a Night Shelter. The Drop is open Monday to Friday 9.30—12.30 Sunday at 12.30 for lunch Closed Saturday
- Emergency Food Parcels—these can be collected from the Market Place Ministries building opposite the Drop In
Who can you telephone?
- Emergency Food Parcels: 01803 840354
- South Hams Rough Sleeper 24 hour hotline: 0800 151 3441
- South Hams Housing and Benefits: 01803 861234
How can you give money which will help add to the current support?
If you wish to give money to help those who are homeless, on the streets or in food poverty, several of our cafes and restaurants operate the Giving Back Scheme where you can donate the price of a cup of coffee or meal to help fund the support networks
The Drop In and Giving Back Scheme are run by volunteers and so 100% of any donation goes directly to support the homeless and those in need.
I support the campaign organised by the cycling charity Sustrans, for the November spending review to guarantee that 5% of all transport spending be reserved for cycling and walking. If we are going to make a serious difference to the number of people who walk or cycle to work or to school, then we have to build safer infrastructure in order to build confidence and improve safety. Encouraging cycling and walking will also help the UK to meet our legally binding commitment to cut carbon emissions.
If you agree that the Government should be doing more to promote cycling and walking then please support Sustrans' campaign via a dedicated Sustrans campaign webpage, which can be accessed here.
Attention all MIU nurses!
If you would like to join the team at Dartmouth Community Hospital or visit our town, this beautiful job advert is not to be missed!
A New Strategy for Sport
A public consultation has been launched on a new strategy for sport. The benefits of sport are clear, both physically and mentally. We know that keeping active adds years to our lives and life to our years. We need to keep up the momentum from the London Olympics to create a long term sporting legacy for everyone, and not just for our elite athletes. We know the greatest health benefits will be in making activity and sport appeal to those who take no exercise at all, so please send your views about what would help the most to get Britain active.
The consultation is open until the 2nd of October and you can access it here.
Coerced consent is not consent and would threaten us all.
Torbay Citizens Advice Bureau is launching a new initiative aimed at people in Torbay facing poverty and hardship.
Weekly drop in sessions are going to be held at The Edge, Bolton Street, Brixham on Thursdays between 1-4pm
The drop in sessions provide a whole range of services that offer information on a variety of different issues such as: benefits, budgeting, debt, housing, employment, family and personal issues.
Advisors can also offer further support on issues such as food banks and crisis support.
A similar initiative has been launched in Paignton at the Centre Peace, 56 Palace Avenue on Tuesdays between 1-4pm starting from July 28th and in Torquay at The Living Room, St Mary Magdalene Church, Union Street on Wednesdays and Fridays between 11am – 2pm
This week, Parliament has launched a new way for the public to create and sign online petitions. Petitions can be on any issue for which the Government or Parliament is responsible and any which receive 10,000 signatures will receive a response from the Government.
Those petitions which reach 100,000 signatures will almost always be debated in Parliament – unless it is an issue which has recently been debated.
All petitions which are accepted will also be examined by the Petitions Committee – a cross-party group of MPs – to look at the issue in greater detail and see whether there are also other ways to take the matter forward. This could include pressing the Government for action or asking a parliamentary committee to look into the topic raised by the petition.
You can sign current petitions or create a new one at https://petition.parliament.uk/
Information about how the petitions system works and what can be included in one can be found at https://petition.parliament.uk/help
Poverty; why measurement matters
There has been some controversy over the proposed changes to the way that we record poverty. We currently use relative poverty, defined as earning below 60% of median income. This means however, that the income below which people are classified as living in poverty is constantly changing, in line with changes to levels and distribution of wealth. To read more on this issue please click here
Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) – the organisation tasked with delivering superfast broadband to hard-to-reach rural areas – have announced that they will not be awarding BT one of the two contracts which make up 'Phase Two' of broadband rollout across Devon. This phase aims to have 95% coverage across Devon by the end of 2017 and BT had bid for a £35m contract to target the hardest-to-reach areas. It was judged that they would not be capable of achieving this important target.
Separately, CDS announced that the second 'Phase Two' contract, to cover hard to reach areas of Dartmoor will be awarded to wireless broadband specialists, Airband. The £4.6m contract will allow the company to lead on the use of wireless technologies to overcome the challenges of providing superfast connections on the moor. The technology passes a broadband signal from a transmitter to a radio attached to the property – allowing the user a high speed connection to the internet.
While BT will continue to work under its existing contract to deliver 90% coverage across Devon and Somerset by the end of 2016, the contract for the next phase of delivery has been put out to tender again to finding a provider who can meet the Government's new 95% targets for superfast broadband delivery.
While I am pleased that Airband has signed the contract to begin work on Dartmoor, the situation with the other contract is clearly a setback and Devon MPs are working together to press for further broadband rollout to rural areas to be prioritised before increasing speeds within large metropolitan centres.
Great Western Mainline
The Managing Director of First Great Western, Mark Hopwood, has confirmed "work is progressing well and, subject to DfT agreement, remains on track for the new trains to be rolled out on the network from summer 2018." This will be the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation, with new or more modern trains across the whole network delivering faster, more frequent journeys and millions more seats per year.
Reassuringly, the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, has stated "electrification of the Great Western line is a top priority and I want Network Rail to concentrate its efforts on getting that right."
These upgrades in both the line and rolling stock are essential to improving the transport links to the South West.
Bob the Bus has begun weekly trips to Dartmoor National Park.
Moorland Bob takes passengers to some of the most popular areas of outstanding natural beauty that the moors have to offer giving you the chance to visit and explore the ancient clapper bridge at Dartmeet, go for some truly beautiful walks and have lunch or picnics at the very heart of the ancient moorlands.
This exciting development gives people the chance to explore the unspoilt wildlife and landscape of the moors. Such as the famous Dartmoor Pony and Dartmoor's most famous landmark, Haytor or visit the truly lovely village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor. Take a picnic or visit the local pub, the Rugglestone Inn, which offers a cosy traditional atmosphere for any weary traveller.
Bob the Bus is available every Sunday from Totnes and tickets are available for booking from Totnes Tourist Information Centre or on the Bus itself.
Click here to find out more about Bob the Bus, his journeys and ticket prices.
The Daisy Garland
||I met Sara and David Garland to hear about the inspirational charity, The Daisy Garland, started by them in memory of their daughter Daisy who died in her sleep at the age of 6 from SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy patients). The Daisy Garland work tirelessly, offering help and support some of the 18,000 children in the UK who suffer from drug resistant epilepsy.||
In the last 11 years they have funded 13 specialist Daisy Garland ketogenic dietitians to work within NHS hospitals countrywide, successfully treating children with difficult to control epilepsy. Each full-time dietitian costs c.£46,000 p.a. to fund.
In the addition to the above they also provide grants for night-time breathing (SATs/epilepsy) monitors for use in the home, reducing the risk of SUDEP. Each SATs monitor retails at £880 and they have provided over 243 monitors, keeping children safe at night while they sleep.
For further information about The Daisy Garland and the important work they do for children with drug resistant epilepsy, please contact Sara Garland on 01803 847999 or at firstname.lastname@example.org www.thedaisygarland.org.uk
Britain's passion for cycling is growing; more than 5.1 million people in England cycle at least once a week and Government road traffic estimates suggest that in 2013 the distance travelled by bike was 12% greater than the 2005–2009 average. Unfortunately, this is still far lower than many other European countries. In the Netherlands, 27% of journeys are made by bike, followed by Denmark on 19% and Germany managing 10%. Britain languishes behind, with less than 2%.
Some British cities are performing well. Having put cycling closer to the heart of transport policy for decades, Oxford and Cambridge boast continental levels of journeys made by bike (17% and 30% respectively). Across the country some local authorities are showing that by working with communities, real improvements can be made and substantial benefits delivered to cyclists and non-cyclists alike. In 2009, the six cycling demonstration towns, including Exeter and Darlington, recorded an increase in cycling of almost a third.
The potential benefits are tremendous. Keeping active through cycling improves the chances of living longer and increases well-being.
We know however, that the single greatest deterrent for those considering cycling to work or school is the fear of collisions.
Following the tragic death of Ying Tao in central London this week, the risk from HGVs especially to women cyclists, is back under the spotlight. Of the 33 women cyclists killed on London's roads since 2009, 27 have been killed by lorries. Cycling to work in Westminster I know that riding more slowly and politely makes me more vulnerable to left-turning HGVs at busy junctions. I also know that I cannot compete with the Lycra racers who push past to the front of the queue. To encourage more people to ride to work or school, metropolitan areas could look at excluding HGVs during rush hour or to giving cyclists a safer head start with phased lighting at high risk junctions. Better still we need to move further on creating segregated cycle lanes or quiet routes within our towns and cities.
Per mile cycled, rural A roads still pose the greatest danger as a result of the speed of collisions and we need to further increase the network of reduced speed routes and off road segregated cycle paths.
Transforming lives with continental levels of cycling however, takes continental levels of investment of at least £10 per head per year as part of a coordinated and prioritised cycling and walking strategy. This would still be a drop in the ocean compared to the overall level of investment in our roads.
Getting more people out of their cars and onto bikes benefits all road users, but Government needs to do more to make it as safe as possible.
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