May 2015 Election
I am delighted to have been re elected as the MP for the Totnes constituency. Thank you so much to every one of the 24,941 people who supported me to return to Parliament having more than tripled the majority from 2010.
However you voted, I am keen to listen and learn from your experience in order to represent our wonderful area of South Devon.
My email now returns to the following contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The full results of the national and local elections can be found on the following link http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/constituencies/E1400100
Scarecrow Trail Sunday 24th May
A family day out in Stoke Fleming! To date there are 35 scarecrows which are clues to a Quiz; a barbecue, donations bar, raffle, tea and coffee. The School in Stoke Fleming is the primary beneficiary of the funds raised. Do go along for a fun day out!
Sea vs Land Tandem Challenge!
Congratulations to the amazing
on their extraordinary achievement
Thank you to everyone for joining us at Oxen Cove, Brixham on Good Friday for the start of the Sea vs Land Tandem TopGear style challenge across the Bay.
Andy and Chris Lang raced across the Bay on their Sea Tandem to Torquay Harbour whilst Adrian and I took the hilly 21 mile inland route via Totnes on our land tandem.
Congratulations to Andyand Chris for raising £2500 all in aid of the RNLI.
This week, the Government announced that £60m will be used to bring forward a number of flood prevention programmes, including a number of projects in South Devon. These works are part of the Government's £2.3bn national Flood Risk Management programme and this latest announcement will mean that protection for over 2,000 homes in the South-West will be accelerated.
Projects being brought forward include the Brixham Flood Alleviation Scheme, which will be brought forward by a year, the Salcombe Town Tidal Gates project and the Victoria Stream defence improvements in Dartmouth.
The acceleration of these projects is welcome and are vital for the protection of homes and businesses in our area.
Torcross Shingle Recycling - Technical Briefing
To read the full technical briefing, click here
Picture 1 – Haul road Picture 2 – Result of shingle recycling
Fairness for Park Homes Residents and the Warm Home Discount
Over the past five years I have met with many park home residents to hear about the unfair challenges they face. It cannot be right that they have been excluded from the Warm Homes Discount, as only the primary bill payer is eligible for this, in their case the site owner. I am pleased that following a consultation, the government have published their response which includes the provision of a rebate to eligible park home residents at risk of fuel poverty. This will be welcome news and I am delighted that they will be eligible for this important discount. You can find out more about this via the following link
Broadband Programme 9th February 2015
Good news this week on the roll-out of superfast broadband across Devon. New figures show that by 2017, 19,621 homes and businesses in the Totnes constituency (100,083 across Devon and Somerset) will have been connected-up by the Government's £1.7bn Broadband Programme. In 2010, 3 million homes didn't have access to fast broadband and this scheme aims to have 95% of the UK connected by 2017.
High broadband speeds are essential for local businesses and every £1 invested in the Broadband Programme will generate £20 of economic benefits.
As a rural area, it has traditionally been difficult for broadband providers to reach some sparsely-populated parts of South Devon. The Government recently announced the investment of an extra £65m of Growth Deal funding for the South West – part of which will be used to target these rural families and businesses who might otherwise miss out of superfast speeds. Additionally, £10m is being spent developing new technologies, such as fixed wireless and satellites to ensure that the most remote places are connected.
Epic News for Whiterock !
The Government has committed £4m of Growth Deal funding to develop an Electronic and Photonics Innovation Centre EPIC, at White Rock. To read more about this click here
Good News for the South West Economy
An extra £65m is being invested in projects to boost our economy here in the South West. This new funding, part of the Growth Deal, comes on top of the £130m awarded to the region last summer. The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership estimates that in the next six years, this funding will create up to 22,000 local jobs.
In our constituency this will go towards the creation of a world leading Electronics and Photonics Centre in Paignton. Fibre optics made here are already an important British export, with customers including NASA and the European Space Agency. The investment in this Centre will allow local businesses to access new equipment and increase their ability to export to the global market - securing vital hi-tech jobs in our area.
Additionally, part of the Growth Deal funding will go towards increasing superfast broadband coverage in the region - targeting families and businesses in rural and sparsely populated parts of Devon which are traditionally difficult to reach by broadband providers.
After speaking to Ministers on the benefits to South Devon of the Growth Deal, I am pleased to see them commit to investing in these local schemes. Thank you too, to the Local Enterprise Partnership for their tireless work in securing this terrific boost for our economy.
NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
Many of you contacted me concerned at the end of last year, with regard to proposals by NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to introduce a number of measures as part of their financial recovery programme.
I know the main worry in this area was the possibility they would decide to ration patients to only one hearing aid. I have recently heard again from the CCG that they have now decided they will not be taking any action to restrict hearing aids. I am pleased that the CCG have listened to those who got in touch with them on this matter.
You can find out more about this and the status of other proposed measures via the following website
More good economic news for South Devon this week, as the latest figures show that unemployment in the Totnes constituency has dropped by 42% in the past year and 55% since May 2010. Among those aged 18-24, unemployment is also down – decreasing by 42% in the past year and 53% since the general election.
This news follows last week's announcement that the UK economy was the fastest growing in the G7 in 2014.
Empty Homes in the South Hams
Owners of empty homes in the South Hams are being urged to bring their properties back to life.
Recent estimates show there are approximately 80 homes in the district which have been empty for more than two years.
South Hams District Council is offering to help owners bring these potential homes back into use and to help people make full use of what could be a valuable asset, not just for the owner, but for a local family looking for somewhere to live.
Affordable homes for local people can be provided in a number of ways and this scheme is one of the viable alternatives to building new homes. By encouraging people to take action and repair or renovate these properties we are also helping to boost the job prospects for local trades people and craftsmen.
A large number of owners will already have plans for the future of their property but others may need a helping hand, and this is where the council can offer advice and information to owners, tenants and landlords.
Financial help may also be available towards repairs and renovations through a range of grants and loans, usually subject to the owner agreeing to rent out the property when work has been completed. Low interest loans are also available for repair work.
The council can offer first-time and existing landlords in the South Hams, a property management service through its 'Direct Lets Scheme'. The council can also put owners in touch with a charitable scheme which offers a grant for essential repairs and a property management service, in return for a lease agreement.
For further information, or to tell the council about an empty property, call South Hams District Council's Environmental Health Team on 01803 861234, email email@example.com, call in to the council's offices at Follaton House or visit www.southhams.gov.uk
Rural Fair Share Campaign
We must have fairer funding for rural Local Government. This week I met with Treasury Minister, Priti Patel MP, as part of a delegation of Coalition MPs led by Graham Stuart MP, Chairman of the Rural Fair Share campaign, and including former Secretary of State for the Environment Owen Paterson MP, Richard Benyon MP and Anne Marie Morris MP.
Rural areas are getting a raw deal. Rural residents pay an average £80 more per head in council tax than their urban counterparts despite lower average wages. This is in large part because urban local authorities receive 50% more in central Government funding. In a time of tight budgets, this unequal settlement is putting rural services under significant strain especially as it often costs more to deliver services in rural areas and in Devon we have a higher proportion of older residents. No one doubts the need for adequate weighting for deprivation but I will continue to make the case for also weighting that funding for rurality and age.
Flood defence improvements at Torcross and the Slapton Line. 12th January 2015
I was delighted to see that £250,000 of emergency flood funding has been secured to pay for flood defence improvements at Torcross and the Slapton Line. Following meetings between South Hams District Council, the Environment Agency, the Cabinet Office and myself, work began today on moving 25,000 tonnes of shingle towards Torcross to protect the village from storm damage.
While it is not uncommon for shingle to move during the winter, the severe storms last year meant that the shingle did not return during the summer as normally happens.
This one-off funding from the Environment Agency will help to protect Torcross as well as the vital A379 route. The work is expected to take eight weeks to complete.
This week, I was pleased to welcome the announcement by the Department for Transport that Totnes Railway Station will receive a share of £60m funding to improve access for passengers.
The station will see improvements to accessibility into the station and between platforms – including the installation of lifts. This development will make a difference to those with limited mobility, parents with small children and passengers carrying heaving baggage and I am pleased to see that Totnes was one of the 26 stations selected to benefit.