Businesses in the South Hams, Teignbridge, West Devon and Dartmoor National Park Authority are being invited to get involved in a quick survey to tell their local councils about any help they need in order to flourish.
The survey, can be accessed here and is designed for existing businesses and those that are about to start up. There are many challenges facing businesses. This survey provides an opportunity for businesses to have their say, especially if there is any help that could be offered to make them more successful
It follows on from previous surveys over the last nine years that have helped to bring over £14 million of additional funding into the local area for projects that have included 10,000 free or subsidised training opportunities, IT equipment and advice, and funding directly to businesses to fulfil growth plans and to find suitable new premises.
The 2014 Business Survey will run during October 2014 and takes about 10 minutes to complete. All businesses large and small are encouraged to fill out the survey online
If you do not have internet access just call the DR team on 01837 658643 to go through the questions over the phone.
The TQ9 Rehab Group
The TQ9 Rehab Group in Totnes offers an exercise and general support programme for patients of the Leatside and Catherine's House surgeries who are suffering from chronic respiratory problems. Those who would like to join the group should request their respective surgeries to give them the necessary contact details.
On Friday 10th October I was on the panel of BBC Radio 4's Any Questions along with Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey MP, Caroline Flint MP who holds the shadow Energy brief for Labour, Paul Nuttall MEP the Deputy Leader of UKIP. If you would like to listen to the programme, click here.
Multiple Sclerosis Masquerade Ball CANCELLED
Please note The Multiple Sclerosis Society's Masquerade Ball due to be held on Friday 31st October from 7.30pm at the Berry Head Hotel has had to be cancelled
Click here for details of the local MS branch.
Devon County Council's Highways and Traffic Management service
Over the three years 2014 to 2017, Devon County Council's Highways and Traffic Management service needs to make large savings in its budget.
Around £18.5 million has already been cut from the highways revenue budget since 2009, but it is vitally important that they can find different, more cost-effective ways of doing things and that non-essential work is stopped so that they can maintain a safe and effective highway network.
To help meet their 2015/16 budget reduction target of £3.4 million they are considering a number of options which they hope will help them reach this target, while still allowing them to maintain and carry out the essential work required on Devon's road network. They will continue to reduce costs of management and support services, as well as raising fees and charges to reduce the impact on services.
A consultation begins on 3rd October 2014 to find out what the people of Devon and a range of stakeholders think about the range of proposals, what their impact might be and what DCC can do to reduce the impact. The consultation ends on 5th December 2014.
- Gritting and snow clearing fleet – To reduce the number of vehicles in the second fleet, which is used to respond to severe winter weather.
- Gritting and snow clearing routes – To review the criteria determining which routes are treated with salt during close to or freezing conditions.
- Grit bins – That Devon County Council no longer maintains or restocks grit bins.
- Picnic sites – To close the four picnic sites on the A361/A39.
- Grass cutting – To only fund grass cutting to maintain visibility at junctions and on the inside of bends.
- Weed treatment – That the Council no longer fund the targeted weed spraying and treatment of noxious weeds.
- Parish Lengthsmen Service – To reduce the number of Lengthsmen and make cleaning and drainage clearance their only duty.
- Neighbourhood Highway Team – Reducing frontline staff by 20%
To contribute to the consultation please click here
Postal and Proxy Votes
The Party Conferences are coming to an end and everyone is starting to gear up towards the Election next May. Now is the time to ensure that you have registered for a postal or proxy vote and you can do this by downloading the appropriate form.
If you pay your council tax to South Hams District Council and want to apply for a postal or proxy vote click here
If you pay your council tax to the Torbay Council and want to apply for a postal or proxy vote click here
An Open Letter to Constituents (5th September 2014)
It is just over a year since I set out why I could not support military action against the Assad regime in Syria. I continue to feel that arming and intervening at that time on behalf of a divided opposition, also comprising extremist elements and without the support of regional powers, would have drawn us into a wider conflict viewed as Western aggressors. British arms would by now have been in the hands of the mass murderers of 'Islamic State'.Through the deliberate use of grotesque acts of barbarity and terror, they have advanced rapidly beyond Syria's borders, seeking to establish their dystopian vision of a 'caliphate' across the region.
The scale and savagery of their atrocities are profoundly disturbing and IS now directly threatens our own national security as well as key allies.
It is sickening that someone from Britain was responsible for the obscene and cowardly murders of two American hostages and that an estimated 500 more have been drawn to travel from this country to commit further horrific crimes. We cannot ignore the fact that this conflict is knocking at our own door.
In my view, the Prime Minister is right to focus on the threat those individuals and their vile ideology pose to all of us in Britain. 69 people have been arrested for terror offences since their return to the UK and the strongest possible action will be taken against anyone planning to join IS. The UK has also led efforts at the UN to block the flow of finance to IS and strongly opposed the ransom payments that lead only to more hostage taking and fund these murderers.
Our continuing focus is also on humanitarian aid, including 17 air drops by the Royal Air Force which have brought food, water and tents to desperate communities under siege and we have pledged £23 million of further assistance.
Inevitably the question arises as to whether we should take stronger action, including joining the US in direct military action such as air strikes. The Prime Minister has set out the clear conditions that would have to be met before any such action, including the involvement and support of other regional powers and a direct request from the legitimate government of Iraq as well as Kurdish leaders.
We are witnessing an unimaginable evil spreading rapidly across Northern Iraq; crucifixions, beheadings, grotesque levels of sexual violence, even evidence of women and children buried alive. If asked for my support for the Prime Minister to take further action to protect Christian, Yazidi and other minorities from genocide I believe it would be right to do so.
Dialogue and peaceful solutions are better than conflict but it is clear that there is no possibility of negotiation or dialogue with the warped and murderous leadership or ideals of IS, an organisation which now directly threatens our national interest and can only be confronted by decisive international force.
Whilst I plan to listen carefully to the Prime Minister's Statement and the debate following the NATO summit and to your views, I feel that there is a strong case to support air strikes if they are judged to be necessary in our national interest. I am interested to know whether you agree.
I realise this is a complex situation and a simple Yes or No response will not be appropriate, but I would ask that should you wish to make me aware of your views that you respond using the following links to indicate your overall position, with SUPPORT or UNDECIDED or OPPOSE in the subject line as this will enable me to gauge the strength of feeling on this issue.
Please do not forget to include your full address as I am only able to take into account views of my constituents. If you are not a constituent may I suggest that you contact your own Member of Parliament.
I am delighted that more children will now be able to benefit from 15 hours per week of free early education. From this month the scheme has been extended to help two year olds from lower income families, with 2,700 children in Devon set to benefit.
We need to make sure that less advantaged children can benefit from early years education to give them the best start to school life.
To find out more about this and to see if you are entitled please visit the following website
Childcare costs are a real struggle when it comes to the cost of living and I am glad this has been recognised. The Government now meets up to 70% of childcare costs for low and middle income families via tax credits. I look forward to the introduction of tax free childcare from Autumn next year, which will see eligible families receive up to £2,000 towards each child's childcare costs.
To find out more information about help with childcare costs, either from your employer or while you study please visit the following website
South Hams District Council Mobile Website
South Hams District Council services are now available in the palm of your hand after the launch of a new mobile website
With a growing percentage of people choosing to access the council's website using their smartphone, the local authority designed a new mobile version to make it easier and quicker to find services.
You can now buy a parking ticket, report an incident of dog fouling or even take a photo and send it to them – all via your smartphone.
There is no app to download, simply visit www.southhams.gov.uk using a smartphone.
The design reflects the services used most frequently and includes apps which allow you to pay online or report information.
South West Coast Path Association
I am pleased to announce that the South West Coast Path Association has successfully secured a £1 million pound investment from the Coastal Communities Fund. After the storms at the beginning of 2014, 32 sections of the path need urgent repairs. Due to the charity's success in obtaining this money the repairs can be carried out, and around 790 jobs in the region will be created and protected.
Alistair Handyside, who leads the Coast Path management, spoke of how the Coast Path is our region's largest tourist attraction, attracting 8.6 million people a year. As the path has had to be diverted 50 times in the past year rather than the expected average of 5, the repairs will help to ensure the region continues to attract high levels of tourism, and some of the money secured will be used by the National Trust to deliver events that will enhance the way that people enjoy the coastline.
However, urgent repairs and improvements still need funding, especially between Bantham and Dartmouth. The South West Coast Path Association has a target of £20,000 to be raised from businesses and communities. If you want to get involved you can simply donate at www.justgiving.com/SouthHamsAppeal, or get involved with a fundraising event such as the Great South West Walks from the 20th - 28th September, or the Thurlestone Golf Day on the 3rd October.
Secretary of State decides not to call-in Solar Farm planning application at Coombeshead
I was very disappointed when I received the following correspondence from Kris Hopkins, Minister for Local Government to tell me that the Secretary of State has decided not to call in the Coombeshead Solar Farm application.
Thank you for your letter of 8 May requesting the Secretary of State to call in the above planning application.
We remain committed to giving more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believe that planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible. The call-in policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively.
In deciding whether to call in this application, I have considered my policy on calling in planning applications. This policy gives examples of the types of issues which may lead me to conclude, in my opinion that the application should be called in. I am satisfied that the application should be determined at local level.
I appreciate that this is not the preferred outcome for you and your constituents. However, it is now for South Hams District Council to determine the application and a copy of our letter to the Council is attached for your information.
The following is a copy of the letter sent to South Hams District Council.
Town and Country Planning Act 1990
Application for the installation of up to 45,000 ground mounted solar pv panels, erection of ancillary buildings and structures and access tracks at Coombeshead Farm, Diptford, nr Totnes, Devon.
I refer to the above application.
The Secretary of State has carefully considered this case against call-in policy, as set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by Nick Boles on 26th October 2012. The policy makes it clear that the power to call in a case will only be used very selectively. The Government is committed to give more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues, and believes planning decisions should be made at the local level wherever possible.
In deciding whether to call in this application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications. This policy gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion that the application should be called in. The Secretary of State has decided, having had regard to this policy, not to call in this application. He is content that it should be determined by South Hams District Council.
In considering whether to exercise the discretion to call in this application, the Secretary of State has not considered the matter of whether this application is EIA Development for the purpose of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011. South Hams District Council is responsible for considering whether these Regulations apply to this proposed development and, if so, for ensuring that the requirements of the Regulations are complied with.
The Article 25 Direction issued pursuant to the Secretary of State's letter of 14th May 2014 is hereby withdrawn.
Storm Bertha forced Box and Leith Hills to be closed, so cycled 86 miles on the tandem for MIND charity in 5:39:43!!
A big "Thank You" to everyone who sponsored me.
The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
Helena Seager from South Brent (currently about to start her final year at University) has taken the brave decision to have her long hair cut off and her head completely shaved to raise funds for The Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. This is a cause close to her heart having lost two grandparents to this terrible disease. If you would like to support this young person please visit her Just Giving page.
Simon Stevens visits Dartmouth
I was delighted to welcome the Chief Executive of NHS England, Mr Simon Stevens, to the constituency after inviting him to come to discuss the importance of community hospitals and the voluntary sector to the NHS.
I arranged for a number of meetings to be held at Dartmouth Community Hospital, hosted by Matron Nadine Brooks. The morning started with a tour of the hospital, followed by meetings with local Matrons, commissioners and representatives from Devon's Leagues of Friends about the value of community hospitals and how they could expand their role.
Mr Stevens heard how, in rural areas, community hospitals are key as long distances and weak transport links increase the need for people to be able to access excellent care as close to their own homes as possible.
Mr Stevens spoke about the need to use community hospitals fully and effectively and took away several concerns raised both locally and nationally around the issues of inpatient beds, increasing access to clinics and services such as investigations and minor injuries units, ownership and the difficulties with recruitment.
Powerful representations were made to Mr Stevens from voluntary groups representing a range of bodies supporting people across South Devon about the value they add to help keep vulnerable people living well at home. He also heard about the rising demand on their services and increasing complexity of issues at a time when access to long term funding is under great pressure.
This was an opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by local charities when applying for NHS and social care funding and the need for these processes to be simplified. For small local groups, Mr Stevens and local commissions from across health and social care heard that the pressure and complexity of repeated grant applications is becoming an intolerable burden with valuable volunteers' time taken up trying to compete with national organisations which may have no local presence in South Devon. The difficulty in quantifying the value added by volunteers was acknowledged as well as the impact that loss of voluntary sector partners would have not just on individuals but in adding costs to the wider NHS and social care.
Suggestions for different commissioning strategies for voluntary groups were discussed as well as the advantages of nurturing voluntary organisations and reducing bureaucracy and keeping them flexibility to meet local needs. Representatives from the Clinical Commissioning Groups stressed that they recognise the value of the voluntary sector and are trying to utilise their experience. Staff from the Care Trusts also noted that they could not do without the support from the various Leagues of Friends.
I am so pleased that Simon Stevens came to visit Dartmouth to hear about the importance of community hospitals and the voluntary sector to Devon. He heard a clear and consistent message about the importance of stable core funding for the work of the voluntary sector. NHS and social care commissioners need to make it easier for these vital groups to apply for grants so that the funds go to those who are actually delivering the services in our local communities. It is evident that a small amount of money in the voluntary sector goes a very long way. I would like to thank all our volunteers for the extraordinary service they give both to individuals and to our communities.
The following volunteers met with Mr Stevens and myself:
- - Carol Lingard: Chair of Devon League of Friends
- - Daphne Jefferson: Chair of South Hams League of Friends
- - Bob Alford: Totnes Caring
- - Sue Burgess: South Brent & District Caring
- - Elizabeth Bewley Jones: Saltsone Caring
- - Emma The Director of Brixham Does Care
- - Alison Stocks & Dee Nutt: Dartmouth Caring
- - Claudia Benzies: Cool Recovery
- - Nick Cape: Community Volunteers Service
- - CEO Giles Charnaud: Rowcroft Hospice
- - Lesley Clarke: Dartmouth and Totnes Ring and Ride
- - Andrea Chandler: Homestart
Consultation on the implementing of regulations for the Flood Re Scheme has been launched
These regulations will ensure that domestic property insurance continues to be widely available and affordable in areas of high flood risk without placing unsustainable costs on wider policy holders or the taxpayer. The Flood Reinsurance Scheme (Flood Re) will be established as a not for profit, industry run and managed scheme and will be directly accountable to Parliament for the day to day operation of the scheme
Flood Re will provide transitional support to households at flood risk over a 25 year period as part of a gradual transition towards more risk-reflective prices; this will provide time for choices to be made and risk management action to be taken.
Regulations are to be introduced to enable the insurance industry to implement Flood Re next year. The proposed regulations will cover the legal framework around the Flood Re Scheme, its funding and its administration.
Groups, individuals and businesses at flood risk, insurance industry participants and property and mortgage sector participants are advised to respond to this consultation.
1World-Kids.Com a children's guide to climate change and the world...
1World-Kids is a platform for social change and an opportunity to teach our kids more about the world and the impact our lives have upon it. With greater understanding children will have an opportunity to live lives where they respect people, place and planet.
You can sign up for their free monthly newsletter, look out for facts packs, competitions and more.
Become a 1World-Kids friend and donate and see your name on the friends pages, whatever you do, do something good.
Find out more by logging onto their website
Head Up, Heart Strong
One in five women experience mental health problems in their pregnancy and beyond. A small number of these will experience a mental health crisis.
Head Up Heart Strong is a film about recovery from perinatal mental health problems, starring 6 women from Devon and Torbay. From Devon Partnership NHS Trust, Head Up, Heart Strong captures the stories of six incredible women who have experienced the most extreme episodes of perinatal depression and post-partum psychosis and who have been supported by Perinatal Mental Health Service.
These stories have been told so that in sharing them people can gain a deeper understanding and bring hope to those who most need it.
In 2011 a public meeting was held to discuss the possibility of improving the amenity, environment and facilities of the Rotherfold Square at the top end of Totnes for the benefit of the local community, local business and visitors and in approximately two weeks the work is due to start. The image was used as a basis for the consultation with the local community; do keep your eye out for the transformation!
European Health Insurance Cards.
The summer holidays are approaching and many of you will be preparing for holidays in Europe and applications for the European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) rise significantly.
Your EHIC should be free and if you are being asked to pay you are not on the official EHIC website. Further information, including how to apply can be found at www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card or by calling 0300 3301350
If you already been affected by this issue the government has set up a webpage so that you can report a misleading website www.gov.uk/misleadingwebsites
Check for signs of skin cancer - it is treatable if detected early on
Now the beautiful weather is with us, many take to the beaches and usually in our bags is a tube of sun screen, but care needs to be taken when working in the garden, cycling and whenever you are undertaking an outdoor activity.
There is a new campaign in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset that aims to raise awareness of skin cancer by being alert to changes in your skin in addition to changes in moles.
The key message is if you are not wearing sun protection while you are outside you are exposed and you increase your chances of developing skin cancer.
Spotting skin cancer early
- A new growth or sore that won't heal
- A spot mole or sore that itches or hurts
- A mole or growth that bleeds, crusts or scabs
You're more likely to get it if you have:
- Lots of moles or freckles
- Fair skin that burns easily
- Red or fair hair
- Light coloured eyes
- History of sunburn
- Personal/family history of skin cancer
For more information on the signs of skin cancer, visit www.nhs.uk/skincancer.
Health Select Committee
I am delighted to have been elected by fellow MPs to Chair the House of Commons Health Select Committee. I am so grateful to all those who have sent such kind messages of support. Whilst this will be a huge commitment, it will also be an opportunity to highlight so many of the health and social care issues raised with me from across the constituency and make sure that the voice of South Devon is fully represented in Westminster.
Click here to watch the announcement and Sarah's response
The Review of Polling Districts and Polling Places by Torbay Council
Torbay Council is conducting a general review of polling districts, polling places and polling stations within the Torbay Constituency and the part of the Totnes Constituency within the South Hams District Council area. Full details of which are available on the Council's website
Malborough's Scarecrow Trail
Malborough's Scarecrow Trail was a great success and made a profit of £1612 to be shared between Malborough Village Hall and All Saints Church Malborough. The Judges' best scarecrow was Sir Francis Drake and the Judges' favourite scarecrow was "Women who changed the world".
Resignation of Stephen Dorrell
Stephen Dorrell MP, has been an outstanding chair of the Health Select Committee; I am sorry to hear that he is standing down from this role with immediate effect. Over the past four years, under Stephen's leadership, the cross Party Select Committee has impartially and effectively scrutinised government policy and held many outside institutions to account.
Stephen has never shrunk from his role in leading challenging inquiries on behalf of the public.
I have been training for Ride London and have added two more routes to my cycle blog, which you can view here. Both are suitable for cyclists wanting to come to Devon by train. Devon miles count double! Try this one from Dartmoor to Dartmouth, taking in the English Riviera for 68 miles of bluebells and blue sea.
The Shark Trust
The Shark Trust has launched its No Limits? campaign in response to the crisis posed by unlimited and escalating shark fishing pressure. With no catch limits set for many shark species, landings have soared over the past decade, placing huge pressure on shark populations. The Trust's No Limits? campaign highlights the urgent need to introduce science-based catch limits for Blue Sharks, Shortfin Mako, Tope, smoothhounds and catsharks – species accounting for over 97% of reported Atlantic shark landings.
No Limits? appeals to you to support the campaign by signing the online petition urging governments to act before it's too late, and today's commercial shark species follow other previously abundant Atlantic shark stocks into collapse.
South Devon Business supports a Great British Sucess Story
There has been another sharp drop in unemployment both in the Totnes constituency and across the country as a whole. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that unemployment in our area of South Devon dropped by over a third (34%) since this time last year and by 15% over the past month.
The strength of these figures are particularly welcome as they include a fall in youth unemployment, which decreased by 30% in the past year and by 14% in the past month.
I am delighted that our area is following the national trend, which has seen 1.5 million more people in work since the General Election. Unemployment is now at a five-year low and the number of people in work is the highest since records began in 1971.
While in Parliament I have continued to support the Government's plan to create jobs and build a strong economy. These figures, along with economic growth which makes the UK the fastest growing economy in the developed world, show that the plan is working.
The national economic success story has been achieved in large part by policies which encourage apprenticeships and jobs and by the businesses that give opportunities to young people.
Locally, I am working with South Devon College to organise a Careers and Skills Fair
On Friday 6th June at the South West Energy Centre from 10.00am-12noon there will be a chance for employers to discuss the wide ranging issues on developing the skills needed to grow and sustain businesses across the region as well as receiving information on funding and grants. Please click here to register
To coincide and celebrate the official opening of the South West Energy Centre, there will be a Careers and Skills Week at the Centre, the week commencing Monday 9th June. During this week there will be a wide range of interactive activities taking place, ranging from employer talks, apprentice skills showcases, displays and master classes.
On the Monday, Wednesday and Thursday of that week there will be a carousel of activities for young people to participate in, including:
·Meeting with employers to gain an insight into a diverse range of industries·Discover a wide range of careers and apprenticeship programmes·Learn what it takes to secure employment in what can be a challenging marketplace·Hear first-hand from employers what qualities they are looking for and how to stand our from the crowd·Talk to current apprentices to find out what it is like to earn while you learn
On each of these days there are 2 x 2 hours sessions running from 10.00- 12.00 or 13.- 15.00
For more information on these sessions please contact Farrah Goodwin on 01803 540809 or email Farrah.Goodwin@southdevon.ac.uk
My thanks to Barclays Bank for their sponsorship of these events and to Torbay Development Agency for their support.
I know many are still recovering from the severe weather we experienced earlier in the year and I want to ensure that everyone is aware of the government financial support schemes that are on offer to those adversely affected.
The following link will take you through to a summary guide of all the schemes that are being supported by government funding and I would urge all eligible businesses and individuals to apply for any pertinent schemes.
Littlefootprints Sands Memorial Garden
On Sunday the 1st of June at 2.00 pm South Devon Sands, a local branch of the stillbirth and neonatal death charity, will open the Littlefootprints Sands Memorial Garden at the Follaton Arboretum in Totnes.
Work began on the garden some months ago and the idea behind it was to create a baby memorial garden for those who have suffered the tragic loss of a child. The land was kindly donated by South Hams District Council. There will be remembrance events held at the garden several times a year.
Coombeshead Solar Planning Application.
Today, South Hams District Council's Development Management Committee were minded to approve the planning application by AEE Renewables to install 45,000 ground mounted solar pv panels, near Diptford.
The Secretary of State has now exercised his powers under Article 25 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) to direct the Council not to grant permission on this application without specific authorisation. This direction has been issued to enable him to consider whether he should direct under Section77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that the application should be referred to him for determination. This direction does not, of course prevent the Council from considering the application, forming a view as to the merits, or, if they are so minded, refusing permission.
Consultation on changes to financial support for solar PV
This week, the Government announced the launch of a consultation on proposals to close the Renewables Obligation for large scale solar farms from April 2015. If the plans are approved, developers will no longer to receive Renewable Obligation Certificates for solar farms with a capacity greater than 5MW – removing their incentive to build large scale developments. This would mean that developments such as the proposed Coombeshead Farm solar plant near Diptford which would produce 7.86MW over 23.4 hectares would be ineligible to receive the Certificates.
I welcome the announcement as I believe that the Government should encourage community energy solar developments on roof tops rather than larger industrial scale developments. This will allow us to continue increasing the percentage of renewables in the UK's energy mix while ensuring that our natural environment is protected.
Also this week, I wrote to Nick Boles – the Planning Minister – asking him to consider calling in the planning application for the proposal at Coombeshead Farm near Diptford. This of course would only be put forward for consideration should the application be approved by SHDC's Development Management Committee.
The strength of local feeling on this development has been made clear – many people have written to me directly and over 200 people have submitted objections to South Hams District Council. My overriding concern is that this industrialisation of the South Hams landscape would not only damage our natural environment – it is also less than a mile from an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – but it would also set a worrying precedent nationally.
The Government recently added to national planning guidance to ensure that the cumulative impact of developments on the landscape should be taken into account when considering an application. There are currently three solar farms within three miles of Diptford, totalling an area of 41.4 hectares of land and the proposed farm at Coombeshead would see an extra 23.4 hectares being developed. If this site were to be approved, it would mean that there would be the equivalent of 92 football pitches developed as solar farms within three miles of Diptford. Local people do feel that that this proposed development would have just such a cumulative impact and so I have asked the Minister to review whether the decision, should approval be granted, is in line with new guidance. If the Committee does approve the site, the National Planning Casework Unit at DCLG may issue an 'Article 25 direction' which will instruct the Council to place the application on hold until the Department decides whether the Minister is able to review the application – this is a process which will take several weeks.
Ultimately it will be a change in the financial incentives that will stop communities feeling under threat from inappropriate solar. These tend to benefit only a tiny minority whilst leaving communities blighted for 25 years.
Dementia Awareness Week (18-24 May 2014)
Dementia affects the lives of many; there are 800,000 people in the UK living with dementia and across the UK. On average less than half of those people have received a diagnosis. Diagnosis is the key that unlocks access to support services.
If you're worried that you, or someone close to you, may have dementia, it can be difficult to talk about. You may feel scared, confused or even ashamed. You may also be hoping that the problem will go away so you don't have to deal with it.
We all bury our heads in the sand from time to time. But if you're seriously concerned, and the problem continues, it's important to talk to someone about it. The sooner you know what you're dealing with, the sooner you can get on with your life and feel in control again.
That's why this Dementia Awareness Week is all about opening up. Anyone who's concerned about dementia should stop bottling it up and to talk to their doctor, their family but also to contact the Alzheimer's Society.
Alzheimer's Society national dementia helpline 0300 222 1122 has specially trained advisers on hand to discuss any concerns around dementia and provide information, support, guidance and signposting to other appropriate organisations. The helpline can help in many ways but specific areas of expertise include:
- Understanding dementia and treatments available
- How to get help locally
- Maintaining independence
- Financial and legal matters
- Caring for people with dementia
- Community care and long-stay care
People with dementia sometimes need a helping hand to go about their daily lives and feel included in the community. Dementia Friends initiative is run by the Alzheimer's Society to improve people's understanding of dementia and its effects; more information about this initiative can be found at this website.
Keith Makepeace enters the Triathlon on the 1st June!
I was delighted to hear that Keith Makepeace of Soar Mill Cove Hotel is entering a triathlon to raise money for Hope Cove Life Boat, which is a registered charity. The life boat is so important to our area and I wish Keith all the best with this challenge.
Keith has a donation box at the hotel and you can also sponsor him via his just giving page
South Hams District Consultation on Planning Policies
The Council is preparing a new strategic plan for South Hams which will set out a vision, long term priorities and planning policies for the area to 2031.
They have prepared a consultation document which sets out
- What they think the challenges are for the future
- What topics they think the new plan might cover
SHDC would really like to know:-
- Whether you think they have identified the right topics and challenges for their Plan
- Whether there is anything else their Plan should contain.
The consultation document is available to view and comment on their website or at the Council Offices at Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Totnes TQ9 5NE.
Postcard from Devon Competition.
Thank you so much to all the primary school children who entered the art competition to show that Devon is a fantastic place to work and visit. The judging was extremely difficult because of the high standard of entries and this task was undertaken by Helen Wood from the Speakers Committee on Works of Art.
The overall winner was Charlotte from St John's
A very close 2nd place went to Harry from Furzeham Primary
Joint 3rd places went to:-
Louie from Park School Olivia from Loddiswell
Zara From St Christophers Scarlett from Stoke Fleming
Big Big Sing is coming to Dartington!
Learn new songs and singing styles with the inspiring choirmaster Adey Grummet.
Come along to Dartington Hall on 16th May and join the crowd for an evening of song and fun in mass singing sessions led by Adey, who will have you singing Commonwealth-style. Enjoy some sounds and rhythms from Africa, the Caribbean or India and get into the mood for this summer's Commonwealth Games.
Singing starts at 6:30pm until 9:30pm and no experience is required.
Tickets can be booked via this link or by phoning 01803 847 070
For more information on Big Big Sing click here
Large Scale Solar Planning Application
Many of you have contacted me about the solar planning application for Combeshead and there are some important dates and meetings are just around the corner.
- There will be a site visit by members of the SHDC Development Management Committee: Tuesday 6th May 2.00pm-4.00pm and they will be escorted by the Case Officer. I believe they will visit a number of critical locations and viewpoints relating to the Combeshead planning application.
It may be that some of you would like to take the opportunity to attend but there is a certain etiquette involved. You are able to listen, but without commenting unless you are asked a direct question by the Committee and please do not bring placards, lobby, shout, berate or speak to the committee members, or be confrontational.
If the rules of behaviour are broken during a site visit the SHDC delegation can get straight back into their vehicles and drive away.
- Wednesday 14th May there will be a meeting of the SHDC Development Management Committee: at 2.00pm in the Council Chamber at Follaton House
At this meeting the DMC will make its decision either to approve or refuse the planning application by AEE Renewables for a solar PV farm at Combeshead.
So I am sure that many of you may like to attend this meeting to make your Councillors aware of your strength of feeling on this application
I hope this application is looked at carefully and that we see further examination of the subsidies for such large scale solar farms.
The Cued Speech Association is a national charity based in Dartmouth and provides training and information in Cued Speech, a technique which enables deaf children and their families to communicate in English (or any other language).
Learning to cue is not like learning a new language, like British Sign Language. It is a sound-based language tool, allowing hearing parents and professionals to acquire a new way of expressing themselves. There is no new vocabulary or grammar to learn as it uses eight hand-shapes in four different positions near the mouth to simply clarify the lip patterns of normal speech.
Parents and teachers can learn Cued Speech in about 20 hours, although more practice is needed to become fluent.
Through Cued Speech deaf babies and children can pick up the vocabulary and structure of the English language naturally and without effort. They can use their understanding of English to help with literacy, speech and lip-reading. It complements what they hear through their implant or hearing aid and it works even if they hear nothing!
Young children and babies are not taught to cue, they pick up English by watching it cued, just as hearing children pick up English through listening.
Most children brought up with Cued Speech use it to understand what people say to them but communicate by speech alone. It's never too late to benefit from Cued Speech use.
- There are many different ways in which Cued Speech can be used:
- from babyhood in the family to give whole-language access.
- alongside British Sign Language for true bilingualism
- before an implant, and afterwards as the child learns to use their hearing and when the background noise is a problem
- to help deaf children's speech
- to make education accessible – teachers can use it for literacy, to teach phonics, to give access to the whole curriculum.
Where can I learn more?
Full details of their work can be found on their web site
On their entertaining and informative web site, , you will find videos, parents' stories, a full range of publications and information about learning to cue.
The Devon Digital Inclusion Project
The Devon Digital Inclusion Project aims to support individuals and communities to become more digitally aware. The programme runs until March 2015 and offers help for free!
- Are you part of a community group who feel they need to get to grips with IT?
- Do you know someone who needs help to get online?
- Are you scared of what the internet can offer?
- Are you worried about how you will claim your benefits when the welfare system goes online only?
- Do you have a coffee morning coming up where you would want them to come along with some of their gadgets/tablets to have a play without a sales man over your shoulder?
- Is it difficult for you to keep in touch with your family where video calling would help?
- Are you unable to afford the internet and not sure how you can access the internet?
- Would you like to know how you can use the internet for your hobby?
- Do you need some support with finding your way around the internet but can't afford to attend a course?
If you have answered yes to any of the above questions then the Devon Digital Inclusion Project would love to hear from you!
For more information contact Lizzie Whitchurch, Kate Doodson 0845 094 6108 email@example.com
Dartmouth Caring: " Small is Beautiful" Award
Dartmouth Caring have been awarded the "Small is Beautiful" Award from the South West Forum in Bristol. This award, the first of its kind, emphasises that small charities such as Dartmouth Caring can make a huge difference. The Judges were impressed with the work that Dartmouth Caring does within the community with its emphasis on the elderly and vulnerable and preventative work in enabling the vulnerable to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Many congratulations to Dee Nutt and Alison Stocks and their hard working team on receiving this award; it is well deserved!
Nadhim Zahawi Visits Totnes
I was pleased to welcome Nadhim Zahawi MP to Totnes on Friday the 4th of April for a meeting followed by a Q&A session with a range of local businesses at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel. One of Nadhim's responsibilities is to make sure businesses have the chance to feed back in to the policy making process, he is especially suited to this as someone who has experience of setting up his own successful business,YouGov.
I would like to thank everyone who attended; it was good to have so many representatives from across the business community. As Nadhim acknowledged, whilst tourism, food and drink dominate our local economy we also have