May 2015 Election

I am delighted to have been re elected as the MP for the Totnes constituency. Thank you so much to every one of the 24,941 people who supported me to return to Parliament having more than tripled the majority from 2010.

However you voted, I am keen to listen and learn from your experience in order to represent our wonderful area of South Devon.

My email now returns to the following contact:

The full results of the national and local elections can be found on the following link






Scarecrow Trail Sunday 24th May

A family day out in Stoke Fleming! To date there are 35 scarecrows which are clues to a Quiz; a barbecue, donations bar, raffle, tea and coffee. The School in Stoke Fleming is the primary beneficiary of the funds raised. Do go along for a fun day out!









Sea vs Land Tandem Challenge!

Congratulations to the amazing

Lang brothers

on their extraordinary achievement

Thank you to everyone for joining us at Oxen Cove, Brixham on Good Friday for the start of the Sea vs Land Tandem TopGear style challenge across the Bay.

Andy and Chris Lang raced across the Bay on their Sea Tandem to Torquay Harbour whilst Adrian and I took the hilly 21 mile inland route via Totnes on our land tandem.

Congratulations to Andyand Chris for raising £2500 all in aid of the RNLI.


Flood Prevention

This week, the Government announced that £60m will be used to bring forward a number of flood prevention programmes, including a number of projects in South Devon. These works are part of the Government's £2.3bn national Flood Risk Management programme and this latest announcement will mean that protection for over 2,000 homes in the South-West will be accelerated.

Projects being brought forward include the Brixham Flood Alleviation Scheme, which will be brought forward by a year, the Salcombe Town Tidal Gates project and the Victoria Stream defence improvements in Dartmouth.

The acceleration of these projects is welcome and are vital for the protection of homes and businesses in our area.


Torcross Shingle Recycling - Technical Briefing

To read the full technical briefing, click here


Picture 1 – Haul road       Picture 2 – Result of shingle recycling


Fairness for Park Homes Residents and the Warm Home Discount

Over the past five years I have met with many park home residents to hear about the unfair challenges they face. It cannot be right that they have been excluded from the Warm Homes Discount, as only the primary bill payer is eligible for this, in their case the site owner. I am pleased that following a consultation, the government have published their response which includes the provision of a rebate to eligible park home residents at risk of fuel poverty. This will be welcome news and I am delighted that they will be eligible for this important discount. You can find out more about this via the following link


Broadband Programme  9th February 2015

Good news this week on the roll-out of superfast broadband across Devon. New figures show that by 2017, 19,621 homes and businesses in the Totnes constituency (100,083 across Devon and Somerset) will have been connected-up by the Government's £1.7bn Broadband Programme. In 2010, 3 million homes didn't have access to fast broadband and this scheme aims to have 95% of the UK connected by 2017.

High broadband speeds are essential for local businesses and every £1 invested in the Broadband Programme will generate £20 of economic benefits.

As a rural area, it has traditionally been difficult for broadband providers to reach some sparsely-populated parts of South Devon. The Government recently announced the investment of an extra £65m of Growth Deal funding for the South West – part of which will be used to target these rural families and businesses who might otherwise miss out of superfast speeds. Additionally, £10m is being spent developing new technologies, such as fixed wireless and satellites to ensure that the most remote places are connected.


Epic News for Whiterock !

The Government has committed £4m of Growth Deal funding to develop an Electronic and Photonics Innovation Centre EPIC, at White Rock. To read more about this click here





Good News for the South West Economy

An extra £65m is being invested in projects to boost our economy here in the South West. This new funding, part of the Growth Deal, comes on top of the £130m awarded to the region last summer. The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership estimates that in the next six years, this funding will create up to 22,000 local jobs.

In our constituency this will go towards the creation of a world leading Electronics and Photonics Centre in Paignton. Fibre optics made here are already an important British export, with customers including NASA and the European Space Agency. The investment in this Centre will allow local businesses to access new equipment and increase their ability to export to the global market - securing vital hi-tech jobs in our area.

Additionally, part of the Growth Deal funding will go towards increasing superfast broadband coverage in the region - targeting families and businesses in rural and sparsely populated parts of Devon which are traditionally difficult to reach by broadband providers.

After speaking to Ministers on the benefits to South Devon of the Growth Deal, I am pleased to see them commit to investing in these local schemes. Thank you too, to the Local Enterprise Partnership for their tireless work in securing this terrific boost for our economy.


NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group

Many of you contacted me concerned at the end of last year, with regard to proposals by NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to introduce a number of measures as part of their financial recovery programme.

I know the main worry in this area was the possibility they would decide to ration patients to only one hearing aid. I have recently heard again from the CCG that they have now decided they will not be taking any action to restrict hearing aids. I am pleased that the CCG have listened to those who got in touch with them on this matter.

You can find out more about this and the status of other proposed measures via the following website


Unemployment Figures

More good economic news for South Devon this week, as the latest figures show that unemployment in the Totnes constituency has dropped by 42% in the past year and 55% since May 2010. Among those aged 18-24, unemployment is also down – decreasing by 42% in the past year and 53% since the general election.

This news follows last week's announcement that the UK economy was the fastest growing in the G7 in 2014.


Empty Homes in the South Hams

Owners of empty homes in the South Hams are being urged to bring their properties back to life.

Recent estimates show there are approximately 80 homes in the district which have been empty for more than two years.

South Hams District Council is offering to help owners bring these potential homes back into use and to help people make full use of what could be a valuable asset, not just for the owner, but for a local family looking for somewhere to live.

Affordable homes for local people can be provided in a number of ways and this scheme is one of the viable alternatives to building new homes. By encouraging people to take action and repair or renovate these properties we are also helping to boost the job prospects for local trades people and craftsmen.

A large number of owners will already have plans for the future of their property but others may need a helping hand, and this is where the council can offer advice and information to owners, tenants and landlords.

Financial help may also be available towards repairs and renovations through a range of grants and loans, usually subject to the owner agreeing to rent out the property when work has been completed. Low interest loans are also available for repair work.

The council can offer first-time and existing landlords in the South Hams, a property management service through its 'Direct Lets Scheme'. The council can also put owners in touch with a charitable scheme which offers a grant for essential repairs and a property management service, in return for a lease agreement.

For further information, or to tell the council about an empty property, call South Hams District Council's Environmental Health Team on 01803 861234, email, call in to the council's offices at Follaton House or visit


Rural Fair Share Campaign

We must have fairer funding for rural Local Government. This week I met with Treasury Minister, Priti Patel MP, as part of a delegation of Coalition MPs led by Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the Rural Fair Share campaign, and including former Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson MP, Richard Benyon MP and Anne Marie Morris MP.

Rural areas are getting a raw deal. Rural residents pay an average £80 more per head in council tax than their urban counterparts despite lower average wages. This is in large part because urban local authorities receive 50% more in central Government funding. In a time of tight budgets, this unequal settlement is putting rural services under significant strain especially as it often costs more to deliver services in rural areas and in Devon we have a higher proportion of older residents. No one doubts the need for adequate weighting for deprivation but I will continue to make the case for also weighting that funding for rurality and age.


Flood defence improvements at Torcross and the Slapton Line. 12th January 2015

I was delighted to see that £250,000 of emergency flood funding has been secured to pay for flood defence improvements at Torcross and the Slapton Line. Following meetings between South Hams District Council, the Environment Agency, the Cabinet Office and myself, work began today on moving 25,000 tonnes of shingle towards Torcross to protect the village from storm damage.

While it is not uncommon for shingle to move during the winter, the severe storms last year meant that the shingle did not return during the summer as normally happens.

This one-off funding from the Environment Agency will help to protect Torcross as well as the vital A379 route. The work is expected to take eight weeks to complete.


Totnes Station

This week, I was pleased to welcome the announcement by the Department for Transport that Totnes Railway Station will receive a share of £60m funding to improve access for passengers.

The station will see improvements to accessibility into the station and between platforms – including the installation of lifts. This development will make a difference to those with limited mobility, parents with small children and passengers carrying heaving baggage and I am pleased to see that Totnes was one of the 26 stations selected to benefit.

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?"




16 MAY 2015

Any Questions

If you would like to listen to this episode click here

15 MAY 2015

Totnes Advice Surgery

The new term started with a busy surgery in Totnes. If you would like to meet please contact 01803 868378 to make an appointment.

06 MAY 2015

Visit to Brixham

Last day on the campaign trail Judith and Laura Sandy Brixham Sewing Box Debbie and Judith Buccaneer Boutique President of Brixham Rugby Club Catching up with Brixham's famous Mr Brown Geoff at Hillhead View over Brixham Harbour Rosemary &...

23 MAR 2015

Offences against Children

Written Answers Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee 23rd March 2015 To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps the Government has taken to protect children from a parent who has been convicted of child sexual abuse. To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what...

23 MAR 2015


Written Answers Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee 23rd March 2015 To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether the General Medical Council (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake any reviews of online prescribing of oral antibiotics. Daniel Poulter The Parliamentary...

19 MAR 2015


Written Answer Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee 19th March 2015 To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment Public Health England has made of the effect of remote prescribing of oral antibiotics through online pharmacies on resistance to antibiotics. Jane Ellison The...

19 MAR 2015

Pharmacy: Internet

Written Answer Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee 19th March 2015 To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the adequacy of clinical consultations conducted by online pharmacies. To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to...

19 MAR 2015

Planning Permission

Written Answer Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee 19th March 2015 To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what estimate he has made of the average cost to the public purse of a request for him to call in a planning application in each of the last five...

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Sarah's Personal Blog

Click here for Sarah's full blog and to leave comments

Why I will not be voting to undermine the Abortion Act

There is no room for complacency in the UK and we need to remain vigilant.

The Department of Health has updated their analysis of male to female birth rates with data from 2008-2012 and this now includes ethnicity. Without exception, birth ratios were within the expected range for all UK communities, including analysis by ethnicity and birth order.

There may be individual cases but it would be entirely wrong to stigmatise entire communities in Britain by suggesting that this is in any way a common or systematic practice here is not.........To read the full blog and leave comments, click here

Remember The Real Victims of IS

Several press reports describe the latest trio of teenagers as 'jihadi brides' fleeing the country for Syria. In what sense can their actions be described as 'fleeing' when that is defined as running away from a place or situation of danger? There are risks in glamourising these girls by describing them as 'A-grade' students yet in the same paragraph portraying them as if they are merely passive victims of social media grooming.......To read the full blog and leave comments, click here

HSC's Complaints and Concerns Inquiry

Most people experience really great care in the NHS but sometimes things can go wrong. Most of those who complain about NHS services do not seek financial redress. They do so because they wish to have their concerns and experiences understood and for any failings to be acknowledged and put right so that others do not suffer the same avoidable harm....To read the full blog and leave comments, click here

We owe a debt of gratitude to returning aid workers, subjecting them all to compulsory quarantine would be counterproductive and unnecessary 2nd January 2015

As the nurse Pauline Cafferkey fights her own battle with Ebola at an isolation unit in London, questions have been raised not only about why she was allowed to board a flight from Heathrow to Glasgow, but also about whether all returning aid workers should be placed in quarantine..... To read the full blog and leave comments, click here


Fair Representation for England 18th December 2014

This week, William Hague set out the options to ensure fair representation for England following the agreement to devolve greater powers to Scotland. Whilst 'English Votes for English Laws' is rarely top of the priority list, the subject regularly comes up at my open meetings as people are rightly annoyed that Scottish Labour MPs regularly vote on issues which have no effect whatsoever on their own constituents. Imagine the fuss if the situation was reversed!

Following the Scottish independence referendum, the transfer of additional powers to Scotland will significantly worsen this injustice to English voters.

In the Houses of Commons, William Hague set out the three options put forward by the Conservative Party:

1. Bills that deal with English matters could only be able to be voted upon by English MPs at all legislative stages.

2. Bills that deal with English matters could be voted upon by all MPs at Second and Third Readings but only by English MPs at Committee and Report Stages.

3. There would be the creation of a new legislative stage in between Report Stage and Third Reading at which English MPs could veto and approve legislation which deals only with English matters.

I am pleased that all three options look to address the 'English question' within Parliament rather than proposing that another raft of structures and politicians be created. The idea of regional assemblies was rejected during a 2004 referendum in the North-East and I have yet to meet a constituent who asks me to campaign for more politicians.

I'm keen to hear your views.

The first proposal has the advantage that it would not add extra stages to the already lengthy legislative process. Although it is true that some parts of bills may apply to devolved nations but not others, in reality Labour oppose this as it would reduce their ability to push through unpopular, burdensome and expensive legislation should they ever return to power. The SNP have long taken the view that they should not vote on English only legislation and rarely do so, thus demonstrating that it is not the complicated morass wrongly claimed by Labour.

This is about fairness to England.

Update on meeting with Planning Minister Kris Hopkins 14th December 2014

Last week, I met with Kris Hopkins – Minister from the Department for Communities and Local Government – to discuss challenges for South Hams District Council (SHDC) with solar and wind farm planning policy.In recent years, our area has seen a significant increase in the number of applications. SHDC has either approved or is currently processing applications for solar farms covering 305 acres – the equivalent of 170 football pitches. I have received a large number of representations on this from people across South Devon who are concerned about the impact that these development have on the countryside. The South Hams is renowned for its outstanding natural beauty and I am concerned that overdevelopment with vast industrialised solar arrays will impact on vital tourism and the land we need to feed the nation.

This year, the Government announced reforms to the subsidies provided to developers to remove Renewable Obligation Certificates from solar farm developments over the size of 5MW – removing the incentive for large solar farms to be built. While this news is welcome, there are concerns that this will lead to a large increase in applications in the short term, as developers seek to beat the 1 April cut off for subsidy.

At the meeting we discussed some of the problems that the Council faces when solar and wind farm applications come in. Developers have the right to appeal if applications are rejected and the associated costs for the Council can be high if their decision is then overturned. This can leave Councils with a difficult decision when rejecting an application as they need to sum up the risk to council tax-payers money if their decision is overturned on appeal. Additionally, I have concerns with the appeal process allowing unelected Planning Inspectors to overrule the decisions made by local representatives who have detailed local knowledge and opinion.

Of course all areas must take their share of renewables but it is clear that the South West has been far more attractive to developers because the returns on solar are greater. We have more than fulfilled that obligation locally and nationally we are already on course for reaching our target for energy generation from renewables. It is time to genuinely shift the balance to installations being where the public expect them to be, on rooftops or brownfield sites, not desecrating our beautiful landscape for the profit of a few at the expense of subsidies paid by those who are fuel poor.

We have asked the Minister for stronger and clearer guidance to help Councils reflect the wishes of local people and I look forward to seeing the Department's future plans to support local councils in achieving this. Councils must be able to turn down applications where they feel they are inappropriate, safe in the knowledge that council tax payers will not be doubly penalised in having to put up with these monstrosities as well as pick up the tab for the appeal.

Thank you to representatives from the council and the CPRE for coming to London to help to set out the position so clearly.

2 Billion Pound Extra Funding for the NHS

The Chancellor has promised almost £2bn in extra funding for the NHS. This will make a real difference as the pressures facing the health service from rising demand are becoming increasingly clear. This pledge also confirms the government's backing for the NHS 5 Year Forward View as set out by its new Chief Executive, Simon Stevens.

During our ongoing public expenditure inquiry, the Health Select Committee has heard that that changes in people's health needs and an increase in the number of those living with long term health conditions mean that, without action, the NHS would face a £30bn funding gap by 2020. NHS England's Five Year Forward View has set out their plan to close that gap. However this plan will still require an extra £8bn funding a year by 2020 with £1.5bn this coming year. The funding announcement will protect high quality services for patients and allow the NHS to start work on improving community services including changes to invest in the front line in primary care . It was particularly welcome that future budgets will allow planning over several years to make it easier to plan services with more certainty.

Despite the good news this weekend, it is more important than ever to ensure to secure a strong economic recovery to safeguard funding for the NHS in future years.

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?

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A Short Life: Devon based Charity Auction raising money for Little Bridge House Children's Hospice

A Short Life was set up by Jon Rowe, who recently lost his 11 year old sister to the disease Mucopolysaccharide (MPS).  Click here to find out more about the charity auction that Jon is organising to raise money for the MPS Society and Little Bridge House Children's Hospice.