Improving the A30

Devon County Council would welcome your views on proposals to improve the A30 trunk road between Honiton and Devonshire Inn.

This is an important but currently unimproved single carriageway stretch of the A303/A30/A358 corridor between the South West Peninsula, London and the South East.

The County Council hopes to provide the Department for Transport with a preferred route with the aim of securing Government funding firstly for this element and then for the remaining unfunded single carriageway elements of the A303/A30 between Honiton and Southfields junction.

You can express a general view about the need for improvement and/or indicate a route preference.

Do use the following link to take part in the consultation on their proposed options. The consultation closes on 20th September


I Am Team GB

Inspired by Rio? You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to be part of Team GB.

On Saturday 27 August from 10.00am - 7.00pm Hope Cove's Big Weekend will be opening its doors for you to be part of I Am Team GB.

Mouthwell beach will host a day of volleyball (as well as other beach games) as part of Volleyball England's Big Weekend. Above the beach, we will also have a speed cage to test your skills.

How do feel about testing your skills on the sand alongside England Volleyball or challenging your strength and technique on the speed cage? There will be free coaching, 'come and try' sessions and I Am Team GB giveaways, alongside enjoying some fun social and family friendly events on the beach, suitable for all ages, so bring the kids for some family fun!

Important things to note:

  •  You must wear suitable clothing for the activities
  •  Participation is at the discretion of the club. Any guests acting in an inappropriate manner will not be permitted entry. ITV reserve the right to refuse entry
  • All visitors agree to being filmed or photographed during their visit and such footage / photography may be used by ITV at its discretion for archive, news and press purposes

Sports and activities

Beach Volleyball, Volleyball, speed cage, live music, family activities.

Location: Anchor Cottages, Hope Cove, Kingsbridge TQ7 3HQ, UK


Prescribing Advice

Citizens Advice Launch GP Surgery Project

An exciting new project where social advice and information can be found at GP surgeries, has recently been launched. Citizens Advice South Hams are delighted to announce the new one year pilot project in South Hams which will be offering social support to patients.

This project aims to help tackle underlying factors affecting patient well-being. By intervening at this early stage, this service will help to reduce patients from reaching a more critical stage of crisis, therefore reducing the demand on GP and NHS services.

South Hams District Council have funded the project, which means that participating surgeries, Chillington Health Centre and Woolwell Medical Centre, can now offer patients an appointment with an advice specialist in the surgery.

  • Advice and information is available from
  • Advice and information is also available by calling the Citizens Advice helpline on 03444 111 444 between 9.00am and 4pm, Monday - Friday
  • Citizens Advice South Hams is based at Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Totnes TQ9 7UY. They are open from 10am-1pm and 2-4pm Monday – Thursday and offer a drop in service in Kingsbridge and Dartmouth (Tuesdays 9.30-12.30pm)
  • Information about Citizens Advice is available on


Garden Party Saturday 10th September at Bowringsleigh, West Alvington.

Mr and Mrs Michael Manisty are very kindly holding a Garden Party to support Saltstone Caring on Saturday 10th September from 2.00-5.00pm.

There will be tea and cakes, plants, tombola, bric a brac, jewellery and much more!

Admission is £3.00 per person with children free and dogs on leads are welcome.

Saltstone Caring is a registered charity whose aim is to promote the independence, physical and mental well-being of older, isolated or vulnerable people living in Kingsbridge, Salcombe or the surrounding area, by providing services not normally available through statutory agencies.

The services are delivered by a team of volunteers, keen to provide friendship and support to those who need it, so please do visit Bowringsleigh, have an enjoyable day out, and in doing so, help to support this local charity.


Dartington Deer Park Urgent Appeal

An important feature of the Dartington Hall estate for around 700 years is the Deer Park and thanks to grants will become a heritage site and a new visitor attraction free to the public. But, as a condition of securing one of the grants, The Deer Park Wall project needs to raise an addition £6,000 in donations by 5 September to access a £120,000 matching grant and this has to come from independent means, not from The Trust's own resources.

So please contribute if you can. You will be playing a vital part in helping to safeguard 700 years of history and developing the site as a place of learning and beauty for visitors of all ages to enjoy.


AONB Planning Guidance document consultation and associated workshop

The South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Planning Guidance document is now open for consultation until midnight on Tuesday 16th August 2016.

The proposed eight sections of Guidance are available for viewing and downloading from the documents list found on the AONB website AONB Planning Guidance. Having read the document in full, or the sections that are of most interest, participants are requested to complete and submit a consultation response to provide their feedback using the following link

All feedback will be collated and used to inform the final version of the Planning Guidance. A report on the consultation feedback will be available through the South Devon AONB website.

The unit has also arranged a Planning workshop as an opportunity to get involved in shaping the guidance. It is aimed particularly at Parish Councils, Town Councils and Neighbourhood Plan Groups across the South Devon AONB. This will be held on Thursday 11th August from 6.30pm – 9pm at Kingsbridge Community College Library. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to email or call the AONB team on 01803 861384 to book their place.


Local Plan

It is so important for communities to have a say about developments in their towns and villages and nothing stirs controversy like planning applications.

South Hams District Council has now joined with West Devon Borough Council and Plymouth City Council to create a draft Joint Local Plan. Please take a moment to respond the consultation they are currently running on this because when finalised, the local plan will have huge consequences in shaping future development.

For the part that affects this area you need to contribute to the Thriving Towns and Villages consultation which is open until August 12th

The Local Plan will determine which land should be developed over the coming years, the role of neighbourhood planning and the future of communities, infrastructure and the natural environment, among other issues. Don't miss your chance to have your say before the deadline.

Once representations on the publication version of the plan have been received, the local planning authority should submit the Local Plan and any proposed changes it considers appropriate along with supporting documents to the Planning Inspectorate for examination on behalf of the Secretary of State.

A Statement of Representations Procedure should be published alongside the submission version of the Local Plan.

You may be interested to read the Guidance on Local Plans


More Independence for Openreach

Representing a rural constituency I receive a lot of queries from exasperated constituents about broadband in the area and many people highlight difficulties with Openreach, BT's infrastructure division. Indeed, BT have admitted themselves that their customer service is not yet good enough. It remains the case that too many people, and businesses, in counties like Devon continue to be hampered by slow speeds and poor connections and I am clear that connectivity in the countryside must be on a par with urban areas.

I believe we need to see services improve as ensuring high speed digital connectivity is a defining factor in our long term success, allowing us to create new opportunities and growth. However, unless we are better able to hold Openreach to account this is an uphill battle.

Therefore, I am delighted that BT is due to increase Openreach's independence after Ofcom raised concerns about the accountability and transparency of their operation. For a long time now Openreach have been accused of underinvesting in upgrading the network and installing high speed fibre, and Ofcom's insistence that it become a separate company within the BT group will help to provide more customer focus.

Their proposal includes Openreach having its own board with an independent chair and a majority of independent members. Ofcom are running a consultation on this and you can respond with your views via the following link up until the 4th of October.

I know BT have stated that, in line with government policy, they wish to provide every property in the UK with better broadband by 2020 and I do hope this will be the case.

You can read Ofcom's statement on this matter here

You can read BT's plan for these governance and operational changes here


Corporal Theodore Veale VC

On 20th July 1916, during the First World War, Corporal Theodore Veale was involved in the Battle of the Somme. For his bravery and heroic actions on that day, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. To commemorate Corporal Veale's gallantry, the Departments of Communities and Local Government created and provided a Victoria Cross paving stone, which was unveiled at a special ceremony in Dartmouth, Corporal Veale's home town, a hundred years to the day of those historic events. Corporal Veale's son in law and his grand-daughter, along with military guests and other local dignitaries attended a moving ceremony.



NHS Funding

Sarah speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on the 19th July 2016




Guide to the New Cabinet

The last week has seen a large political shake up so I thought it might be helpful to provide a guide to the faces on our frontbenches.

I am very pleased that Theresa May is our new PM, having seen her work over the past six years I have no doubt about her abilities. She has statesmanship, a track record for negotiating skills and an eye for detail. You can read more about Theresa here.


of the Exchequer

Philip Hammond


Home Secretary
Amber Rudd

Foreign Secretary
Boris Johnson

Lord Chancellor
Secretary of State
for Justice

Liz Truss

Secretary of State
for Defence

Michael Fallon

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union
(New Ministry)
David Davis
Secretary of State
International Trade
(New Ministry)
Liam Fox

Secretary of State
Work and Pensions
Damian Green

Secretary of State
for Health

Jeremy Hunt
Leader of the
House of Commons,

Lord President of the Council
David Lidington
Secretary of State
for International Development

Priti Patel
Secretary of State
for Education & Minister for Women & Equalities
Justine Greening

Secretary of State for Transport
Chris Grayling
Secretary of State
for Business, Energy
& Industrial Strategy
(New Ministry)
Greg Clark

Secretary of State
for Northern Ireland

James Brokenshire
Secretary of State
for Environment,

Food & Rural Affairs
Andrea Leadsom
Secretary of State
for Communities & Local Government

Sajid Javid
Secretary of State
for Wales

Alun Cairns
Secretary of State
for Culture, Media & Sport Karen Bradley



The Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund are offering grants of between £300 and £10,000 for groups to hold one off events or activities which celebrate their local community.

It could be celebrating something from the community's history or a local hero. Or maybe it could a chance to bring people together to get to know their neighbours better!

There is total of £3.875m available for projects in England. Applications are assessed on a first come, first served basis until all funds are awarded

Applications for funding opened on 6 July 2016 and further information can be found on their website


EU Referendum

Read my blog on the outcome of the vote here.


Environment Agency repairs at Torcross

The Environment Agency have provided me with the following update (21.07.16) on Torcross:-

Last month we held a drop-in surgery in Stokenham about the Environment Agency's flood repairs in Torcross. Thank you to everyone who came along. We spoke to around 50 people about our preferred repair option. As promised we will continue to provide you with short email updates when key project milestones are met.

The latest update is that our consultant have now substantially completed the detailed analysis and design work for the repair. The planning application to complete this work is being produced. We aim to submit this in early August. We are still working on applications for associated environmental and marine licenses too.

Weekly surveys continue to monitor any movement in the defence. So far we haven't seen any changes.

Updates will be published through the Slapton Line Partnership website as project milestones are met.


Fly Tipping

From the 9th May the penalties for fly-tipping were increased. It is now a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £50,000 or 12 months imprisonment if convicted in a Magistrates' Court. The offence can attract an unlimited fine and up to 5 years imprisonment if convicted in a Crown Court.

There are also a range of other possible penalties including fixed penalty notices and local authorities can now issue fixed penalty notices between £150 to £400 for small-scale fly-tipping.

As well as spoiling the countryside, fly-tipping is illegal, bad for the environment and often a health hazard to people and animals. Household waste, including DIY material and electrical goods such as fridges, accounts for half of all fly tipped rubbish. Councils encourage householders to dispose of waste responsibly through reducing, reusing, recycling and composting waste, where possible.

You can dispose of your waste in a number of ways:

  • 'Normal' household refuse and recycling should be placed out for collection the evening before, or by 7 a.m. on the morning of, your collection.
  • 'Bulky' items and larger items of household waste can be disposed of in several ways:- Take these items to your closest household waste recycling centre.
    In the South Hams these are run by Devon County Council. For further information contact DCC on 0345 1551010; or look at the website
    Information about Torbay recycling centre can be found here 
  • Arrange for a bulky household waste collection. This service is operated by the Councils and a small charge is made. Please visit  the appropriate Council's website for further details. SHDC  or Torbay
  • Take glass bottles and jars to your closest recycling bank. You can find recycling banks through the following links South Hams District Council  or Torbay Council

Some residents call on contractors for removal of larger waste items. If you choose this option, please follow these simple checks to make sure your waste is disposed of correctly and not fly tipped out of sight.

  1. Check that the contractor has a waste carrier's licence. You can do this on the Environment Agency website
  2. Ask where they are going to take your waste.
  3. Pay on presentation of an invoice which shows the waste carrier's licence number and details where your waste was disposed.
  4. Ask for a receipt and keep it safe.

Unfortunately, if a fly tip includes items tracked back to yourself, you may be liable for legal action being taken against you and you could be fined. Make sure that doesn't happen with these simple checks.

Help us to protect the environment and to keep our beautiful district perfect.


Slow and Wide














I met with a constituent who came to see me about Debbie Smith's petition and campaign that was started in September 2015 about the dangers horse riders face on the roads.

Riders have as much right to be on a pubic highway as anyone else, but they get verbal abuse, beeping of horns and revving of engines, cars speeding past so close their stirrups get hit.

The petition is seeking to change the law to make it a legal requirement to have to slow, and pass a horse wide, and abide rider's hand signals to stop and slow to reinforce this. Riders feel there is a need to be riding with head cameras to gather the evidence to give to the police. As it stands, action can only be taken if riders can prove careless driving but by that time it is generally too late and the accident between the car, horse and rider has already happened; riders need to be able to ask a car to stop to prevent an accident happening, if caught on camera they will get fined and charged. The statistics of accidents and deaths has risen highly in the last 10 years, this needs to decline.

If you would like to join the pass wide and slow campaign you can sign the petition via the following link


Totnes Community Development Society

Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS), has been awarded as runner-up in the Cabinet Office National Social Investment Awards run in partnership with Nat West. TCDS were jointly shortlisted with UK social investor CAF Venturesome that has invested finance in the pre-development process taking place at the community-led development facilitated by TCDS, Atmos Totnes.

Together TCDS and CAF Venturesome were shortlisted for the Institutional Social Investment Award, which show-cases institutional investment deals or products that have created demonstrable social impact at scale.

Marcelino Castrillo, Managing Director of Business Banking at NatWest, joined the Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson in congratulating all shortlisted organisations at a ceremony at RBS head office in London last week.

Atmos Totnes is currently one of the first developments in the UK progressing through a Community Right to Build Order. The scheme seeks to develop and bring into community ownership the former Dairy Crest milk processing plant next to Totnes train station. Sixty-two affordable residences are currently planned on the Atmos Totnes site as well as substantial amounts of community and enterprise space.


The House

I was interviewed by John Ashmore for The House Magazine and you may be interested to read the article

                                                                              Photo by Jack Lawson

Flooding in Totnes

The Environment Agency have announced a new initiative to reduce the risk of flooding in Totnes. Since the original flood defences were built in the 1980s there have been at least two separate occasions where some properties in Totnes have come close to flooding.

For more information you can contact the Environment Agency by email or write to them at The Environment Agency, Manley House, Kestrel Way, Exeter, Devon, EX2 7LQ. Or you can visit their website using the following link

In addition to the Environment Agency's new initiative, the government has recently launched FLOODre. This is a new national scheme designed to help provide better access to affordable home insurance. More about FLOODre can be found at or you can watch their informative video.


Petitions to Torbay Council

Torbay Council is encouraging people who wish to submit petitions to follow the correct procedure as this will ensure their voice is heard about subjects that matter to them.

Petitions are often used to allow communities to raise awareness and participate in local affairs. If a petition has 25 or more valid signatures it will be seen at Council and the petitioner will have the opportunity to speak on the matter. The petition will then be referred to the decision-maker for a decision.

Petitions with 1,000 or more valid signatures can be presented to Council for full debate and decision. However, for a petition to be approved it must follow Torbay Council's Petition Scheme or it will unfortunately be refused.

Recently a number of petitions have been refused for the following reasons:
• The petition did not have accompanying signatures with full addresses (including post codes).
• The petition did not clearly stating the action it wishes the council to take.
• The petition did not have clear headings on each page to inform the signatories what they are signing.

Addresses must be clear and include the correct post code to ensure they have been signed by people who live, work or study in Torbay.

If you are thinking of submitting a petition please contact the Governance Support Team on (01803) 207087 or email before you start so that they can assist you and ensure your petition meets the requirements of the scheme.

To help you decide what to include please find details of petitions received by the council and the outcomes on the website

The petition scheme and a template is available here


Together, We can tackle Child Abuse

The Department for Education is funding an important communications campaign to encourage members of the public to report child abuse and neglect. We all want to ensure children who are at risk of abuse or neglect are identified quickly to stop situations escalating.

In 2014/15 there were 632,400 referrals into children's social care, with 9.7% of these coming from members of the public. This figure can be improved upon and that is why this campaign aims to get as many people as possible to be more alert to the protection of children in their communities.

Campaigns have already been launched across the country with the government funding out-of-home advertising on billboards and bus stops along with digital and radio advertisements to get the message across.

We all have a role to play in protecting children and young people from child abuse and neglect and I am pleased that the campaign has received welcome support from local authorities, the police and health officials.

For more information on the campaign, and advice on how to protect children from abuse or neglect please visit the following links:


WW1 Commemoration Funding

2016 marks the centenary of some of the most bloody and significant battles of the First World War, including Verdun, Jutland, the Dublin Easter Rising and of course, the Somme. A number of sources of funding are available to help explore and commemorate the events of WW1. These are:

  • The Heritage Lottery Fund, which is providing grants of £3,000-£10,000 to mark the centenary of WW1. Details of this can be accessed here.
  • The War Memorial Trust, which provides grants of up to £30,000 to help conserve and restore local war memorials. Details can be found here.   
  • Historic England has launched a programme, financed by the Government, to add 2,500 war memorials to the National Heritage List. Details of this project, including how to register a war memorial, can be found here.


A first for community-led development in South Hams

South Hams District Council has received its first Community Right to Build Order for the proposed Atmos Totnes development on the former Diary Crest site. This is one of the first in the country to use this new route to planning which increases the amount of consultation and involvement by the local community within a planning process.

Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS) have been working with the community for the last 18 months to prepare plans for a mixed development on the site. Before Christmas TCDS held Pre-submission Consultation (Regulation 14 of Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012), which is a formal part of the Community Right to Build Order process.

Following the most recent consultation with both the community and statutory organisations, there have been some changes to the Order and associated plans. Please do have a look at the revised Order available through South Hams District Council, which includes all associated plans, designs, and supporting technical information for Atmos Totnes. This period of Consultation (Regulation 16 of the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations 2012) will end on the 8th April.

You can submit comments and objections to the submission for Atmos Totnes via the South Hams District Council website, email or the office address:


Torcross Update from the Environment Agency (22.04.16)

Our project board met this week to review the repair options for Torcross. We are confident that our consultants have provided robust solutions for the stability of the defence at Torcross. As promised we're sharing with you an overview of the options being considered.

What repair options are technically feasible?

1. Full rock revetment in front of the whole length of defence – this option is likely to result in full loss of the beach (similar to Beesands). We are concerned about the impact of this option on the community in Torcross.

2. Concrete Armour in front of the whole length of defence - this option is likely to result in loss of the beach, although less than with option 1. We are concerned about the impact of this option on the community in Torcross.

3. New steel sheet piled wall – this option would involve driving a new piled wall approximately 1 metre in front of existing defence to a greater depth than the existing piling, to provide greater protection to the structure from reduced beach levels. This wall could be either along the full length of defence or just in front of the damaged areas, with or without rock in front.

4. Beach management – this option would involve recharging the beach in front of the existing defence. Any recharge will need to take into account 2015 experiences and the potential for ongoing management.

5. Combination of Option 3 and 4 – this option would involve a combination of new steel sheet piled wall and recharging the beach. This option would help increase the lifespan of the new sheet piled wall.

What repair options are economically feasible?

When investing tax payer's money, government requires us to follow appraisal and funding guidance to ensure we are providing a cost effective solution over the life of the defence and ensure value for money. The preferred option will be the one that has the highest benefit to cost ratio (i.e. the one which gives the best value comparing the cost with the damage avoided) provided the solution is technically feasible.

Tell us what you think

As well as choosing a technically and economically feasible option, we also want to endeavour to choose a solution that enables residents to continue to enjoy Torcross. This means we need to know more about what you think of the options presented above.

Please send any feedback on the options above through to your community representative, Bill Fletcher-Neal by the 6th May 2016 to or calling 01548 581 036. Bill has kindly agreed to collate these comments for us. We will also hold a drop in to answer any questions individual residents and businesses have about the options if you think this would be useful.

All your comments will be taken to the project board in May to make a decision about which option is preferred

All enquiries about this project should be sent to If you need to report an emergency incident at Torcross please call our 24 hour incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

For all updates please look at the Slapton Line Partnership website

Picture by kind permission of Pat Nettleton


Torcross is open for business.

The recent weather has damaged the A379, temporarily closing the southern end of the Slapton line but thanks to a rapid response, it is hoped that this will reopen to light traffic by the weekend or early next week.

Devon County Council are also funding a temporary shuttle bus service between Kingsbridge bus station and Torcross to replace the suspended Stagecoach bus route.

The car park at the War Memorial is open so please take the opportunity to enjoy one of our best sea views and nature reserves with a stunning walk along the coast path. The wonderful Start Bay Inn is also very much open for business.



Thank you to local residents, Mike Williams and his Environment Agency team, Peter Brunt from DCC Highways, South Hams District Council, local councillors and the Slapton Line Partnership for coming to today's emergency meeting at Torcross. This was an opportunity to inspect the sea defences and raise questions about the scale of the damage both to the sea wall protecting Torcross as well as to the A379. This vital road link has been closed at the Torcross end of the Slapton Line as a result of damage to the sea wall.

Despite all three main agencies, SHDC, EA and DCC working together to rapidly agree remedial work to the sea wall protecting the road, further bad weather over the weekend has caused further damage and forced a complete closure. It was explained that work to drive metal sheeting to protect the road could not start last week because of the essential requirement to first carry out checks for unexploded ordnance. The EA confirmed that the main sea wall at Torcross is their responsibility as a flood defence barrier and that the section to the north, protecting the road, is the responsibility of SHDC. The road itself is however, the responsibility of DCC whilst the land on which the road runs along the Slapton line is owned by the Whitney Trust. The urgency of the task ahead to protect both the community and vital road link was clear to everyone. It was reassuring to see work in progress to create extra protection for the road as well as the equipment arriving on site to construct a temporary diversion through the car park to allow the passage of light traffic and hopefully also to local buses.

The EA have now awarded the contract for an urgent survey to assess the condition of defences beneath the main sea wall protecting Torcross and, in the meantime, plan to start emergency work bringing in rock armour to place in front of the wall.

For local residents worried about the structural safety of their homes, the advice was to call 01626 215793 to discuss this with Building Control if not already covered by home insurance.

The need for a future single communication hub for all agencies to update the community was agreed and thank you to the Slapton Line Partnership for agreeing to host updates on their website.

I will continue to work with the community and all the agencies to try to get the work completed as soon as possible and to safeguard the future of Torcross and the A379. These plans must also consider the defences and communities of Beesands and North Hallsands.


Drink Wise, Age Well in Devon

Drink Wise Age Well are a fantastic organisation who provide expert advice on healthier drinking for the over 50s.

They provide friendly and community led activities and the opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people. They run both group and individual sessions and can help with information on looking after your health and wellbeing, family relationships and healthier drinking.

To find out more phone 0800 304 7034 or visit their website


Breaking Free Online

Breaking Free Online is a confidential online treatment and recovery programme for alcohol and drugs to help people break their dependence and move on with their life.

It is very easy to follow and completely confidential, providing a wide choice of coping strategies. You build up a helpful toolkit of recovery resources and get a certificate showing your achievements.

Breaking Free Online helps you identify what is keeping your drink or drug use going and sets you personal goals to track your progress.

You can find out more via their website


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

Employment Figures

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

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.

Nuisance Calls

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 fu

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?"




28 JUL 2016

Advice Surgery

Today there was another busy surgery held at my offices in Totnes. If you would like to meet me to discuss matters of concern, please telephone 01803 868378 or email to make an appointment.

27 JUL 2016


I was in Dartmouth this afternoon when I met with the community hospital team, Dartmouth surgery, ICO, Dartmouth Caring and Rowcroft for views on future of vital services.

27 JUL 2016

Leatside Surgery

I met with Doctors at Leatside Surgery today where we discussed the GP Forward View, training, sustainability and workforce challenges

19 JUL 2016

Impact of the Spending Review on health and social care

The Health Select Committee report released today, covers the NHS funding challenge and calls for clarity, workforce and training, public health and inequality, social care and transformation. To read the report click

13 JUL 2016

Health Professions: Training

Written Answers Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether legislative changes will be required to remove the NHS bursary for healthcare students by September 2017; and if he will make a statement. Ben GummerThe Parliamentary Under-Secretary of...

13 JUL 2016

Health Services

Written Answer Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether his Department plans to publish and keep updated a public resource for identifying and assisting contact with (a) chairs of clinical commissioning groups, (b) chairs of health and wellbeing...

13 JUL 2016

Clinical Commissioning Groups

Written Answer Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee To ask the Secretary of State for Health, when clinical commissioning groups will be required to update their local transformation plans; and what plans he has for such plans to interact with sustainability and transformation plans. George...

12 JUL 2016

Neuromuscular Disorders

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent discussions his Department has had with NHS ambulance trusts to encourage them to work with Muscular Dystrophy UK to increase health professionals' knowledge of care for people with muscular dystrophy and...

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Sarah's Personal Blog

Click here for Sarah's blogs and to leave comments

Childhood Obesity; A Plan for Inaction (21.08.16)

The childhood obesity strategy has been downgraded. The final paragraph sums up the tone that it will be 'respecting consumer choice, economic realities and, ultimately, our need to eat'. This crass statement entirely misses the point; of course children need to eat, but the childhood obesity strategy needed to make sure that they benefitted from a better diet.

Trying to capitalise on the feel good factor of the Olympics, the messaging has distorted the underlying evidence. Of course we need children to be more active but exercise matters whatever a child's age or weight. The key message on childhood obesity should have been front and centre about the importance of reducing junk calories with evidence-based action to match.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article.


What next following the Chilcot Report? (08.07.16)

The independent Chilcot Report was expected to report rapidly but such was the volume and detail of the evidence examined and the sensitivity of its conclusions that in the end it took seven years. It runs to 12 volumes and 2.6m words and the final summary should be compulsory reading for all who will in future be tasked with the heaviest decision for any government, to commit our forces to war. 179 British servicemen and women lost their lives alongside 24 British civilians and over 150,000 Iraqis. The consequences for their loved ones of our failures in Iraq have been appalling and the terrorism and violence continue to this day across the region and worldwide.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article.


EU Referendum (26.06.16)

Britain has spoken and now it is for Government and Parliament to respect the result of the referendum and carry forward the instruction to take us out of the European Union. It has been a long campaign which has divided families, communities and the nation. Almost three quarters of those under 24 voted to remain whilst their grandparents' generation voted decisively to leave. In Torbay the clear majority embraced Brexit whilst in the neighbouring South Hams most people did not. Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted in whilst England and Wales voted out. In the end, months of complex arguments seemed to boil down to a tug between immigration and sovereignty on the one hand versus the economy, stability and our links with Europe on the other. Now it is time to put the divisions behind us and move on.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article.


I will be respecting the outcome of the referendum, but my personal vote will now be to remain in the EU.(09.06.16)

My postal vote sits unopened in the kitchen. Far from tearing it open to do my bit for Brexit, I have been imagining how it would feel to wake up to that result on June 24th. It would not be elation or freedom but a profound sense that something had been lost and guilt too if my vote had contributed to the turmoil ahead.

It's far easier as a politician to stick immovably to a declared position but more honest to set out why I will now be voting for Britain to remain a member of the EU.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article


Both sides should stop treating the public as fools in this ugly referendum campaign (23.05.16)

With a month to go until the EU referendum, the public deserve better from this campaign. I came into politics urging for better use of data and, like so many who are grappling with the questions at the heart of the debate, I'm dismayed by the disingenuous and at times downright misleading claims from both official campaigns.

We have seen a spiral in recent days, with both sides making ever more outlandish claims. Most recently Vote Leave has blamed EU migration for NHS pressures, brazenly hijacked their branding and continued to make the absurd claim that Brexit could divert £350million extra per week to the NHS.

There are many reasons for the pressures on the NHS, but largely because we are living longer and with multiple and complex conditions. As many have commented; if you meet a migrant in the NHS they are more likely to be caring for you than ahead of you in the queue. The NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens, set out the stark dependence of the service, on overseas staff during his interview on the Marr Show and, whilst many health and care workers come from outside the EU, a vote to leave would have consequences if those from the EU were made to feel unwelcome. He also highlighted the dependence of the NHS on a strong economy and the knock on consequences for any uplift in funding of financial turbulence. In my view, it is an increase in the percentage of our national income that we spend on health and care that will save the NHS, not Brexit. After the rebate and funds already committed to support farmers, exporters, regional development projects and science, the leave campaign clearly does not have an extra £350m per week to promise the NHS and they should stop treating the public as fools.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article

Community Hospitals; a precious community resource (17.04.16)

Our community hospitals are immensely valued and so any changes, especially those that could lead to bed closures are a serious concern. Community hospitals are about far more than their bricks and mortar, they are at the heart of delivering a service to local communities that allows people to be cared for closer to home, sometimes to be able to be cared for near loved ones at the end of their lives or to avoid having to be admitted to a larger hospital too far away for friends and family to be able to visit. Community hospitals provide personal, high quality and supportive care and are extraordinarily important to all the communities and individuals they serve.

To be clear, I do not want Paignton or Dartmouth hospitals to close. But our ageing population and the rising demand for services especially as a result of the growing number of people living with long term conditions mean that those planning services have to look at how we can care for as many people as possible close to home within the resources available. That means looking at the whole system of primary care, community nursing, social care, mental health services and voluntary services alongside community hospitals and Torbay hospital. We cannot look at them in isolation.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article

In this junior doctors row, both sides have lost sight of the patient (04.04.16)

I have great respect for junior doctors; it has always been a demanding role. Alongside my clinical practice, I spent over a decade teaching them before changing my initials from GP to MP. I should also declare a personal interest as my daughter is one of them, albeit currently working in Australia.

There is a long tradition of juniors spending a year or two abroad early in their careers before settling down to specialist training back in the UK, but now there is a genuine concern about the balance between leavers and returners. Many of my daughter's colleagues are not planning to join her on the journey home next year and there has been a marked increase in the numbers applying for certificates to work overseas.

The toxic dispute between the government and our core medical workforce risks driving an exodus of skills that we cannot afford to lose.

The contract sits like a festering boil with neither side ready to agree a way forward, and the dispute looks set to erupt into a dangerous full walkout by junior doctors. The British Medical Association (BMA) claims that the contract will harm patients by stretching doctors too thinly across seven days while reducing their take-home pay. The government insists that patients are being put at risk by understaffing at the weekends and that the contract reduces doctors' maximum hours and consecutive shifts while increasing basic pay by 13.5%.

Click here to read the full blog and to leave comments on this article

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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