Cirl Bunting

As the RSPB Cirl Bunting Species Champion I am delighted to see the lovely Cirl Bunting nominated for Wildlife Success of the Year 2016 by Countryfile Magazine. You can find out more about Cirl Buntings, the other species nominated, and vote for your favourite via the following website



Music Therapy at Rowcroft Hospice.

A campaign is under way to support and maintain the music therapy service at Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay.

There has been music therapy at Rowcroft since 1998, offering a space for people with a progressive life limiting illness, to explore creativity and use music as a resource to connect with and express their feelings, to look at what is happening and how to respond to it.

Due to shrinking budgets the hospice is no longer able to pay for this service and music along with art therapy had to be cut. A small Newton Abbot based charity, the Towersey Foundation, has agreed to take on the task of fund raising for the music therapy service, to keep it going for 2 years until Rowcroft is once again in a position to take over the funding. Towersey has worked since 1996 to raise funds for music therapy in palliative care and they will be using a variety of strategies to explore potential funding sources, including promoting local awareness with events and coverage in the media.

For more information and contact details please look at the Towersey website

There is currently a crowd funding campaign to ensure the continuation of this vital service. There are just 2 weeks now to raise the funds needed to keep music therapy as part of the holistic care provided by Rowcroft Hospice to the people of South Devon. Please follow this link for more information.


Devon's Acute Services Review

Devon's Acute Services Review (ASR) was announced on 4 November 2016, when the final draft of the five-year Wider-Devon Sustainability and Transformation Plan was published.
This Plan sets out the need to transform health and care services across Devon.
The aim of the review is to make sure Devon's acute hospital services are fit for the future and provide the best possible care for patients.

Which acute services are being reviewed?

  • Stroke services, including hyper-acute and stroke
  • Maternity and paediatrics
  • Urgent and emergency care

In March 2017, the partners of the wider-Devon STP will be encouraging people to discuss what is important to them about acute services. This feedback will be collated into themes and called decision-making criteria. For example, people are already telling them they feel strongly about travel times and distances so they expect this will be an important criterion that many people feel should influence their plans.

Discussions will be held across Devon in a variety of formats and settings, from attending council meetings to specially organised public meetings and questionnaires.

Local meetings are being held at the following locations:

Tuesday 4th March 18.30 - 20.30
 Civic Hall Totnes TQ9 5SF
Tuesday 21st March
10.00 - 12.00
 The Avenue Methodist and URC Church Newton Abbot TQ12 2BY
Friday 24th March
14.30 - 16.30
 Preston Baptist Church Paignton TQ3 2RB
Thursday 9th March
16.00 - 18.00
 Kingsbridge Community College Main Hall TQ7 1PL

To register and to guarantee your place at one of these discussions.
Call: 01392 267 642 or

For the full list of meetings click on the following link

What will Brexit Mean for Women?

On Thursday 2nd March from 6.30 - 9.00pm at St David's Community Centre, 17, St David's Hill, Exeter, EX4 3RG, Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society's CEO will talk about concerns and what action can be taken.

For more information please contact



The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has begun its consultation paper on how to increase productivity and support local businesses in the Devon area.

Currently, the South West's aerospace, nuclear, marine, and ecology industries and our world-leading innovation in clinical, environmental, and life sciences are great examples of what the local economy has to offer. However, they are currently looking for input from local community on how they want to see the South West develop. Please send your views to by 10th March 2017 as this is an opportunity to help shape how the South West's economy will develop in the coming years.

You can find more information on the consultation here

Brixham Neighbourhood Plan: Share Your Views

A consultation has now started on the Brixham Neighbourhood Plan and will run until the 11th of March 2017. It is really important to view and share your thoughts on the plan, as it includes proposals for housing and employment space, ideas for the protection of specially valued green spaces and many other policies which matter to the future development of the area.

This is an opportunity to help shape the plan, as after this consultation, the plan will be submitted to Torbay Council with a view to it eventually being brought in to legal force.

You can see the plan and find out how to submit your comments at the following website.

Paper copies of the plan are also available to view at several locations. To find out where and information about the public meetings that will be held on this matter please call 01803 859678 or email

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman make final decisions on complaints that have not been resolved by the NHS in England and UK government departments and other public organisations. This is done without taking sides and the service is free.

The PHSO have just launched a new website to make it easier for people to find and understand how the PHSO can assist. The website will help get answers to straightforward questions and encourage on line complaints. It also features a complaint checker to help people complain to the right organisation at the right time.


Article 50

I know that the recent Supreme Court ruling on the need for Parliament to give approval to trigger Article 50 has concerned many. My view however, is that we all benefit from an independent judiciary, doing their job free from political control and that this judgement has upheld the supremacy of Parliament.

The European Union (notification of withdrawal) bill is now before Parliament and you can follow its progress and read its short text here

I will be respecting the decision of the majority in the referendum and voting to give the Prime Minister the power to trigger Article 50. I will be following the debate closely and as chair of the Health Select Committee, scrutinising the implications to health, including public health, of Brexit and the Article 50 process.


The Modern Industrial Strategy and the South West

This week the government announced plans for a Modern Industrial Strategy which recognises that, though our economy is strong, its benefits remain unevenly distributed across the UK. You can read more about this here

Rural areas such as the South West have long been seen to be missing out in comparison to the London metropolis and the Northern Powerhouse and I was glad to hear plans for the South West include investment in local transport infrastructure, more flood defences and support for research and innovation. The Green Paper on Building Our Industrial Strategy has now been published and you can view it here

The government is consulting on the plans included in the paper and you can share your views up until the 17th of April 2017. You can find out how to contribute here


Joint Surgery with the Dr Sarah Wollaston and Citizens Advice Bureau on Debt Matters

I recently met with the Citizens' Advice Bureau where we discussed that many people find January a particularly tough financial month and therefore I am teaming up with the Citizens' Advice Bureau to hold a debt advice surgery.

The surgery will be held on Tuesday the 14th of February from 11.00 am until 1.00 pm at the Totnes Library, which is fully accessible to all. For more information please call 03444 111 444 or 01803 868 378.


Exporting is Great Campaign: Support for International Trade

The PM has now given the most detailed speech we have heard yet on the government's plans for exiting the European Union. Those who were angling for a so called 'soft Brexit' will have been disappointed, but for all of us who wanted some more candid details about the government's post EU direction it was illuminating.

The PM unequivocally stated that we will not remain in the Single Market but provided reassurance that she will push for the greatest possible access to it. Nonetheless, I know many businesses will be now looking to see where future trading opportunities may lie outside of the EU.

Therefore I hope the many thriving enterprises we have in the constituency will be interested in the new government initiative that has been launched by the Department for International Trade. The department have instigated this following research indicating that many firms have the potential to export but do not and that those who do could significantly increase their exports with the right support.

Only 11% of UK businesses currently export and only around 6% of those target high growth economies such as India and China, so there is huge scope for growth in this area.

The initiative looks to support companies who are wishing to grow or secure international trade by connecting businesses with overseas suppliers, helping to search through export opportunities and providing preferential deals from a range of partners. There is also assistance available to help work out which e-marketplaces might be suitable for a business's goods and services.

As part of this campaign the Export Hub truck will be travelling the country and will be in the South West from the 13th until the 17th of March, more details about this will be available in due course via the following website.

To find out more information about the initiative in general please visit the following website.


Government's key objectives during the Brexit negotiations

The Prime Minister has today (17.01.17) clarified the Government's key objectives during the Brexit negotiations, and the principles which will guide it. Theresa May has confirmed that the Government will not seek to be in the single market. She has also been clear that no deal is better than a bad deal and she has called on the EU to approach these negotiations in the spirit of cooperation, to build a strong partnerships for the future. You can read the Prime Minister's full speech here.
I have also set out the Government's guiding principles and main objectives in the Brexit section of my website.


Pothole Action Fund

Representing a constituency with rural roads and lanes I often receive correspondence from constituents exasperated by potholes. I do appreciate people's irritation on this, however I also recognise the tough job that Devon County Council has in maintaining the largest road network of any local authority in Britain. Nonetheless, decent roads are vital in the countryside where driving is a necessity rather than a luxury.

Therefore it is welcome news that Devon County Council will be receiving £3,192,000 and Torbay Council will get £ 117,000 from the Pothole Action Fund, from which all road users will benefit. This funding is part of a £1.2 billion fund for local roads that the government is distributing to councils to help repair our essential transport links.

To see how many potholes will be filled in your postcode visit the following website
To see an interactive map of how many potholes are going to be filled in 2016/17 in your local authority area visit the following website

Lastly if you want to report a pothole you can do so online to Devon County Council via the following link  and to Torbay Council via this link 

South Hams District Council has secured £1.8m from the Community Housing Fund

In the 2016 Budget, the Government announced it would provide funding for communities affected by second home ownership. Often, second homes stand empty for a large proportion of the time which can affect communities, the demographics of an area and distort local housing markets. The South Hams has just under 4,000 second homes which makes up over 9% of the total households, therefore the impact of second homes is acute in the area.

The Council provided a very robust case requesting a good proportion of the identified fund. I worked closely with South Hams District Councillors, Parliament was lobbied and I tabled a Parliamentary Question on the matter.

We were therefore delighted that our efforts have been recognised and that South Hams District Council will receive a £1.8m boost for affected communities.

Once full details of the scheme have been released, the Council will be in a position to plan for the next steps.


Improvements in the pipeline for Kingsbridge

Work on a £250,000 scheme to improve Kingsbridge's sewer network starts again next week. South West Water has been renovating sewers in the town to improve the service to residents. Work started in October for five weeks, with a second phase of work taking place from January to March 2017. This was planned to avoid the busy festive season.
SWW will be working in the following streets in 2017:

Western Backway – Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February – footpath closure ​
Fore Street (lower) – Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February ​
Plymouth Road – Monday 20 February to Friday 24 February – temporary traffic lights ​
Bus Station – Monday 27 February for approximately two weeks – entrance closure ​
Prince of Wales Road – Monday 13 March TBC for approximately two weeks – road closure

SWW's Project Manager Andy Young said: "This is a real investment in Kingsbridge's future. Without this necessary work the sewer network will continue to deteriorate. That can lead to collapses – which cause pollution, flooding and odour.

"Where possible we will be using innovative no-dig techniques but some excavations will be necessary. As well as upgrading over 700 metres of pipe, we will also be preventing sea water entering the network during high tides.

"We will be working hard to minimise disruption to the public and businesses as far as possible while completing these essential improvements."


Totnes Share Shed

The Big Lottery has awarded the Totnes Share Shed with a £5000 grant to enable it to open in the Spring.

Local charity, Network of Wellbeing (NOW) has promoted the idea of a Share Shed in Totnes for over a year. Now, with support from the Big Lottery and Totnes Town Council, who are offering use the use of The Guild Hall garage on Guild Hall Yard, the project is going ahead. A steering group of volunteers has been set up and plans are being made to convert the disused garage into a thriving community facility.

The Share Shed will enable local people to borrow all sorts of useful things at nominal cost so that they don't have to buy them for themselves. The aim is to encourage the sharing economy; to help people connect more, spend less, consume less, and waste less. The Share Shed aims to allow people to use things they may not be able to afford and help people de-clutter their garages and houses of what they no longer want without things going into landfill.

If you are interested in this project and would like to be involved, please get in touch with Kate Reed as the Share Shed now urgently need some accessible free storage for items for a minimum of 3 months in either an empty garage or a spare room. Or perhaps you would like to donate, or lend, one or more of their top 20 items: digital projector; wall paper steamer; carpet cleaner; extending ladder; gazebo; heat gun; belt sander; pressure washer; electric strimmer; electric hedge trimmer; sewing machine; floor sander; garden tools; guitar; jam fruit preserver; laminator, hammer drill; regular drill & SDS drill.... and a Unicycle? They would also like a dehumidifier if you have one. All items need to be in good working order.


Radio 4 Suicide Prevention

This morning (19.12.16) I was on BBC Radio 4 Today's programme to talk about the Health Select Committee's inquiry into suicide prevention





Competition and Markets Authority launch a study into Care Homes

On 5 December, the Competition and Markets Authority launched a study examining care homes for the elderly across the UK.
The study wants to hear about people's individual experiences when choosing a care home and whether or not there is enough protection under the current regulatory and complaints system. It will also look into whether cares homes are fulfilling their obligations under current consumer law.
With 430,000 elderly people in care or nursing homes throughout the UK, it is important that the CMA has a wide range of evidence to draw on when examining any practices which may be unfair. This matters because there have been concerns that those paying for their own care may in some cases also be cross subsidising those whose care is paid by the State. You can find out more about this and how to submit evidence here.

Any Questions

Ritula Shah presented Any Questions from the Quarry Theatre at Bedford School with Labour MP Lisa Nandy, the SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, the Deputy Leader of UKIP and London assembly member Peter Whittle and myself in my role as Conservative MP and chair of the House of Commons Health Select Committee.

Questions included: The Richmond by-election - should parties on the left form a liberal alliance? Will UKIP win the working class vote from Labour, "Cake and Eat it" plan for brexit? How much would you pay annually for access to the EU single market? animal fat in the new £5 note, Should taxes rise to fund the NHS and social care? (35 minutes into the broadcast) and schools places and immigration.

Cross Country Trains

The Managing Director of Cross Country trains, Andy Cooper, came to meet local MPs in response to our concerns about proposals to change the timetable which would involve axing important services. A number of trains which run directly from Newton Abbot, Paignton and Torbay to Birmingham, and on to Manchester, would be lost each weekday. A shortage of new train carriages for the network means Cross Country has chosen to reduce services for this region to relieve overcrowding elsewhere.
Cross Country apologised unreservedly for the lack of publicity given to the consultation, which will impose such drastic cuts to services for us in the South West. The proposed changes will hit our tourism sector and other businesses, as well as cause increased overcrowding and inconvenience for an area of the country already disadvantaged by low investment in rail services. I am totally opposed to the company trying to relieve overcrowding elsewhere in the system at our expense. I urge all constituents to sign the Herald's 'Save our trains' petition, and I will continue to work with colleagues to call on the Department for Transport and the train operator to find a fairer way of tackling overcrowding and improving rolling stock.


Funding for the rail line at Dawlish

The collapse of the line at Dawlish had disastrous consequences for commuters and the South Devon economy. South West MPs have been working together to press upon the government that we are not prepared to see our region isolated and expect to see the investment to protect our vital rail and road network.

Therefore I welcome the Transport Secretary's announcement today of £10 million in funding for the next stage of development work at Dawlish. The money follows on from a further £5 million secured in the last budget in March. The money will go towards preparing a planning submission for the work on the Teignmouth cliffs. I am happy to see that the Government remains committed to strengthening and investing in the South West's infrastructure.

Funding for defibrillators in England

It is fantastic news that the BHF and the Department of Health are working together for a second year to provide £1 million investment to provide hundreds of defibrillators as well as training in CPR to communities across the country.

When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their heart stops pumping blood around their body and they will die within minutes without treatment. For every minute without defibrillation, a person's chance of survival decreases by around 10 percent. Learning CPR and an increase in publically accessible defibrillators will empower people in the constituency to know what to do in an emergency and save lives. I encourage all organisations to check if they are eligible to apply for the free community package including up to five public access defibrillators and a Call Push Rescue training kit, by visiting:


SHDC's Local Plan

There is a lot of public interest in what is being proposed for Totnes as part of SHDC's Local Plan consultation, and a lot of rumours have been circulating around what the Council plans to do.

SHDC have issued some very clear statements on the situation in Totnes and have also now released the Youtube video which clearly sets out the process for public consultation that SHDC will be following.


Dartmoor National Park Authority

Dartmoor National Park Authority are taking the first step in reviewing Dartmoor's local plan. There is a current local plan for Dartmoor, but a lot has changed since it was produced.

This first consultation is an opportunity for residents, communities, visitors, businesses and other organisations to offer views on how the new local plan should guide future development on Dartmoor. The local plan will cover issues such as; house extensions, design, the environment, listed buildings, housing, business, farming, tourism, quarrying, and land for development.

The DNPA would like everyone interested in Dartmoor's future to tell them what is important about Dartmoor for them.

Please view or download the consultation paper , where you will see a number of 'Talking Points' they would like you to comment on.

For more information and details of consultation events please click here


Your Future Care

The Your Future Care programme is now underway by the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commission Group.

The engagement exercise aims to bring about a consistent model of care across Northern, Eastern and Western Devon (NEW Devon).

Your Future Care proposes changes which will, if adopted, provide care and support in people's homes and in the community, preventing unnecessary admissions and supporting a faster return home for patients in NEW Devon.

For more details visit the CCG's website


The NHS Stay Well This Winter Campaign

The NHS Stay Well This Winter campaign launches this week with the biggest ever flu vaccination programme in England for children. This year the programme is being extended to those in school year 3, offering more than 4 million children protection against flu – around 600,000 more than last year. As well as offering protection to these children aged 2 to 7 years, it will help reduce the spread of this infection to the most vulnerable in the community, particularly younger children, the elderly and those with long-term conditions.

Children aged 2, 3 and 4 can now get the vaccination from their GP. The school vaccination programme gets underway later this week, with parents of children in years 1, 2 and 3 being asked permission for their child to get the free nasal spray vaccination at school.

The campaign is also encouraging pregnant women to get vaccinated against flu. Pregnancy naturally weakens the body's immune system, and so flu can cause serious complications for the mother and her baby. The free vaccine is offered to other groups at particular risk of infection and complications, or liable to spread it to those at risk: anyone aged 65 and over; residents of long-stay care homes; and carers. Those eligible should contact their GP, pharmacist or midwife, as appropriate, to arrange vaccination.

Find more information click here


Holne Community Shop and Tearoom

Nestling on the southern slopes of Dartmoor National Park in Devon is the delightful Holne Shop and Tearoom. In 2011 the community formed an Industrial Provident Society to raise the required funds to purchase the premises. Opening the shop and tearoom in August 2011, the committee then worked tirelessly until they were able to purchase in 2014. This not for profit organisation ploughs all profits back into the business (and in the future, the community).

The result is a friendly multi-purpose shop and tearoom of which they are justifiably proud. They have a wonderful band of volunteers who gain much from the social aspect of the venture. Local youngsters are employed to work in the tearoom, giving great work experience.

Volunteers have transformed the outside area into a lovely garden with amazing views over the moors, new furniture graces the lawns and the hedge down the side of the leat, laid by Tree Warden, Ross, won him first prize for hedge laying.

The shop stocks everyday groceries, locally-sourced specialist foods, maps and guide books for tourists, gifts for all and much, much more. They are an official Dartmoor National Park information centre. Walkers doing The Two Moors Way, can get their books officially stamped. They also have a stamp for those doing 'Letter Boxing' on the moor.

The airy tearoom is open 7 days a week, providing home cooked cream teas, cakes, light lunches, all day breakfast and more. Visitors, locals, cyclists, walkers with muddy boots, canoeists, all are welcome. Food intolerances eg gluten free, are catered for. It is used as a meeting place, coffee mornings with guest speakers and events eg annual McMillan coffee mornings.


New Constituency Boundaries

The independent Boundary Commission published its proposals for new constituency boundaries. The changes equalise constituent numbers across the country, ensuring that a vote in one constituency carries as much weight as one in another.
I welcome the new proposals, which create a much more realistic constituency than the previous draft boundaries. The new constituency will include the wards of Ambrook and Ipplepen in the north east of the region.
Constituents may examine the proposals in more detail, and submit their comments, on the Commission's website here. The Commission will also take local opinion on whether a new name should be proposed for the constituency, and I would be interested to hear whether local people feel 'Totnes' accurately represents the whole area, or whether a new name such as South Devon should be proposed.



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

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


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



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 (15.01.17) on Torcross:-

How is the work progressing?

The recent storms slowed construction however we are still making good progress. We have 11 concrete pours remaining to finish the main construction work. We are working an 11-day cycle. Our current cycle started on 13 February 2017 and is due to finish on 23 February 2017. Our next 11 day cycle begins on Monday 27 February 2017.

What hours will you work?

Standard working hours continue to be 07:30-18:00. We may need to extend beyond these depending on the low tide, with the earliest start being 06:00 and latest finish 22:00. Working hours are displayed on the notice board by the public toilet.

When will the repair be finished?

We currently expect our main concrete work to be finished during week commencing 6 March 2017. This is very weather dependent as we need relatively calm seas to ensure our work isn't damaged. We are constantly monitoring the weather to make best use of the working opportunities. Once these main concrete works are complete we will still have a site presence until the end of March. We will remove the compound and reinstate the car park in this time.

We will also complete some smaller scale follow-on works. This includes fitting flood gates to the middle stairs and sealing joints on the existing sea wall. This will take up to 3 weeks and we expect to create little or no disruption to resident and visitors in Torcross.

When will the car park be open?

We are starting to down scale our works. We hope to have an area of the car park open shortly to help ease any current parking issues. The main car park should be open by the end of March.

Will the slipway need to close?

We are currently maintaining public access to the slipway during our works, although a temporary fence is put in place when the slipway is in use by construction traffic.

As we confirmed in the last update, the final part of the repair requires us to close the slipway whilst we form a concrete capping beam and allow the concrete to sufficiently cure. We currently plan to carry out this work on week commencing 27 February 2017. We will display a notice on the slipway at least 7 days before the closure to confirm the exact dates. The slipway will be closed for up to a week. Beach access will be maintained utilising the other access points.

How can I contact the site to ask questions?

Contact the Site Manager Andrew Pointon-Bell on 07734 577883

When and how will I get further communications?

Further updates will be sent by email to those who are on our email circulation list. If you want to join this list please send your request to There will be notice boards on display on the fence by the public toilet in the beach car park before the start of each work cycle. These will give details of the expected working times.

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

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?"




24 FEB 2017

HM Coroner

I was pleased to meet with Ian Arrow, HM Coroner to discuss improving support for those using the coroner's system and how we improve the consistency for recording suicides around the country. It is currently difficult to assess the most effective ways of reducing suicide, because of the...

16 FEB 2017

Advice Surgeries

Today, I held two Advice Surgeries at Totnes, where a wide range of issues were discussed. If you wish to meet with me, please either telephone 01803 868378 or email

14 FEB 2017

Joint Debt Surgery with the CAB

                                                             A big thank you to South Hams CAB, Totnes Credit Union, and Torbay CAB for sharing your expertise today at our joint...

22 FEB 2017

Royal College of Radiologists

I was grateful to Dr Nicola Strickland, President of the Royal College of Radiologists for coming to Parliament to discuss the shortage in radiologists and the impact this is having on diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other serious conditions in the UK. An average of 9% of consultant posts are unfilled in the UK, with...

22 FEB 2017


Following up on the Childhood Obesity Plan, I met with Paul Graham and Victoria McKenzie-Gould from Britvic to discuss the company's work on reformulation. The new sugary drinks levy has encouraged soft drinks companies to reduce the sugar content in their products but the effect of the levy will be increased if there...

22 FEB 2017

General Medical Council

I met the General Medical Council's new Chief Executive, Charlie Massey, along with its chair Terence Stephenson. We discussed upcoming reforms to professional regulation and some of the challenges facing doctors, particularly in terms of revalidation and the concerns about the impact on the NHS and care workforce over...

22 FEB 2017

Police Grant

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee Does my hon. Friend agree that the assumption is often made that rural areas are wealthy? In fact, rural deprivation is significant, but it often needs to be measured in different ways. Those in rural areas are often on below-average incomes, but they have...

22 FEB 2017

Local Government Finance

Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health Committee I would like to put on record the fact that my constituency covers part of Torbay, which has both a national and an international reputation for integration of health and social care. Despite that, it is now under extraordinary pressure from a number of...

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Sarah's Personal Blog

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

The 2017 Budget Needs to Provide a Lifeline for Social Care and a Plan for the Future (27.02.17)

As the Chancellor finalises his 2017 Budget he can no longer afford to ignore the stark warnings about the impact on individuals and the NHS from the crisis in adult social care. Last year the Care Quality Commission described the fragility of the system as approaching a 'tipping point'. The situation looks set to worsen without an immediate lifeline and one that goes beyond the uneven and inadequate sticking plaster of a 3% increase in council tax precepts. To put this in context, last year's uplift in the precept raised £382m but this was entirely swallowed by the £612m increase in costs from the National Living Wage. Precepts also entrench inequality as those areas least able to raise money also have a greater proportion of residents who are fully dependent on their local authority to fund their social care. The 2017 Budget needs to bring forward the so-called Better Care Fund already planned for later in the spending review and it needs to be 'new' money, not a smoke and mirrors device to transfer funding from an already overstretched NHS.

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


Trump Trading on Prejudice (30.01.17)

Donald Trump made no secret of his deeply divisive instincts during his long campaign for the White House. Vile racial and religious stereotyping, misogyny, his support for torture, even parodying those with disabilities. All his prejudices were worn as a badge of honour, displayed from campaign platforms and television studios for months on end.

Locker room talk, we were told, of his boasts of 'grabbing women by the pussy' as voters were assured that the office of Presidency would surround him with wise counsel and bring out the statesman in him. Less than a month since his inauguration, the stark reality must be dawning on Americans, that their choice of President isn't 'draining the swamp' but dragging them into one of his own making. We don't have to join them.

It would be a mistake to dismiss Donald Trump as some oafish 'man baby' impulsively blurting whatever comes into his mind. His actions seem calculated to offend, bully and control.

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

The global gag will hit the world's poorest women (26.01.17)

A few days into his Presidency, Donald Trump has signed an executive order dubbed the "global gag rule". It will have the effect of cutting off funding for overseas NGOs whose work is associated in any way with abortion services. This means that many international health workers and organisations, even those who receive part of their funding from other private sources for work or advice linked to abortion services, will have to decide whether or not to continue. These services risk losing crucial funding – meaning cuts to choice based contraception and other health services for the most disadvantaged women worldwide. Because the US is the largest health donor this will have an impact on unwanted pregnancies and could have a knock on effect on other areas of women's health care like screening programmes, prenatal check-ups and support for HIV sufferers.

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

My response to the consultation on re-shaping community services (22.01.17)

Following their recent consultation, the South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group has now published its recommendations . These will be put to their governing board when it meets in public on 26.1.17.

The most controversial aspect is that the CCG continues to recommend that several local community hospitals will close as part of their plan to introduce a new model of care. In my constituency that would mean the closure of Dartmouth hospital. Many Paignton residents will also be affected by the closure of their community hospital in the neighbouring Torbay Constituency.

Reading the document I am deeply concerned at the statements on page 24 which imply a lack of support for Dartmouth hospital from local residents and their representatives. This is simply not the case. There is huge support for our local community hospital and gratitude for the dedicated work of the staff. There was however pragmatism that the consultation was likely to result in the closure of the hospital, if nothing else by further undermining the ability of the trust to recruit staff, and therefore a determination to work to make sure that we have a commitment to an effective alternative.

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

The current pressures in the NHS (09.01.17)

I wrote the following article for the British Medical Journal (published on 3rd January 2017)

The current pressures in the NHS can be traced back to 2009 and what became known as the Nicholson challenge. In the aftermath of the economic crash this ushered in an unprecedented period of efficiency savings against a headwind of rapidly rising demand and costs. The incoming coalition government then imposed a disruptive and demoralising reorganisation that distracted from the key challenges. Rather than seizing the opportunity to integrate health and social care and to design a sustainable long term financial settlement, the Health and Social Care Act 2012 led to greater fragmentation at a time when our demographic changes demanded a different approach.

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

Celebrating the success of nature friendly Devon farmers. (15.11.16)

This Friday (18th November) I will be celebrating the great progress in saving a bird that was nearly lost and the great contribution of Devon's farmers in making this possible.

The bird is the lovely cirl bunting, for which I am delighted to be a 'species champion MP'

Often called 'Devon's Special Bird' because, while it was once much more common across southern Britain, by the 1980's its numbers had declined and range pulled back into a small zone in south Devon. At this stage then, this bird of mixed farmland was in real decline and it began to look as if we might lose it altogether in this country. Devon had a special role to play. With these signals something stirred, the nature organisations, especially the RSPB, got stuck in. What was the problem? What has happening on the farms? Could farmers help save the bird? From what I have heard about the work, something wonderful began to happen. (Photo courtesy of Matt Adam Williams)

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

Public Health is in Crisis (01.09.16)

In her first speech as prime minister, Theresa May promised to tackle the nine-year gap in life expectancy between rich and poor, placing this at the top of her list of burning injustices. This yawning inequality has defeated successive governments, and the gap is even wider between rich and poor for years lived in good health. Closing it will require action across areas such as poverty, housing and education, as well as those more conventionally thought of as affecting health. May will need to start early and look far beyond the short-term political cycle for results.

Public health seldom makes headlines. We tend not to recognise, let alone thank it for preventing disease or life-changing accidents, despite public health measures transforming our life expectancy. We are more likely to focus on and appreciate the specialists who treat a condition than to complain about the absence of the expertise or policy that could have helped to prevent it.

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

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.

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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.

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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