Tory majority sacrifices Seaton and Honiton hospitals at Devon Health Scrutiny

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By 7 votes (all Conservative) to 6 (2 Liberal Democrats, 2 Labour, 1 Conservative and Independent, Claire Wright), Devon County Council's Health Scrutiny Committee today sealed the fate of the beds in the two hospitals (and Okehampton) by voting not to refer the closure of beds to the Secretary of State for Health.

Police Community Support Officer cuts debated at County Council

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Read the report here by Claire Wright. The Council’s Tory majority also declined to discuss motions asking for the resignation of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, and on education funding – both will be sent to the Council’s Cabinet for discussion before coming back to the Council in October (!).

County Council will ‘look at’ support for X52 bus from Seaton and Beer to Exeter

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IMG_0272At Devon County Council yesterday, I asked Councillor Roger Croad, Cabinet Member for Transportation, if the Council would support peak services on the X52 Jurassic Coaster bus services, which are threatened with closure by First Wessex.
First Wessex proposes to run only two off-peak buses a day in each direction from September, instead of the current five peak and off-p
eak services. While better than nothing, these will be inadequate for people in Seaton and Beer who want to work or study in Exeter or get to appointments at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital. Relying just on these services, people would barely be able to spend an hour in Exeter before having to get the bus back.
This is the only service direct from Seaton and Beer to the RD&E and this narrow window will not enable people to get to appointments. Using other services, people in Beer who want to get to the hospital will have to change twice in Seaton and Exeter Bus Station and the journey which currently takes an hour will take more than two hours each way, making it arduous and impractical for many people.
Councillor Croad initially replied to suggest that people could use these alternative routes, but in a supplementary question, I suggested that since hospital services are increasingly being centralised in the RD&E, the withdrawal of direct bus services discriminates against people without cars in communities like Seaton and Beer which are on the periphery of Devon. Seaton is further from the RD&E than any other town in Devon and has the oldest population profile of any town in Devon. We need direct public transport links to the acute hospital in Exeter.
Councillor Croad then said that if I would meet him afterwards, he would discuss the issue with me. We later talked and he agreed to look further at the question. My supplementary question and the reply can be viewed here 1:47:50 to 1:49:15.

Bus filling up for County Hall next Tuesday

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More people are coming on the bus to County Hall, Exeter, for next Tuesday, 25th, crucial Health Scrutiny Committee meeting, but there are still places left and we need to show councillors that the public are there and concerned about the issue. Please join us! (Email cllrmartinshaw@gmail.com if you’d like to reserve a seat on the bus – will cost £9-£10 return, depending on numbers.)

This meeting will finally decide whether to refer the hospital bed closures in Seaton and Honiton to the Secretary of State for Health. I will be speaking along with others from our area. We will be gathering to protest outside County Hall at 1 pm before the meeting at 2.15, which we will be observing.

Colyford will get its crossing, and Seaton Down Hill an island

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IMG_0264A packed meeting of local residents, councillors and Highways officials, with Cllr Stuart Hughes (Devon Cabinet member for Highways) and chaired by Neil Parish MP, this morning in Colyford Memorial Hall (right with mock crossing), heard that the County Council has agreed to install a zebra crossing on the A3052 before April next year. The Council has also offered to install a ‘pedestrian refuge’ (island) at the bottom of Seaton Down Hill, Seaton.

These are significant successes for the dogged campaigns waged by the Speedwatch teams in the two areas. Council officials had reservations about residents’ more comprehensive proposals for traffic calming all along the A3052 in Colyford. The Council was open to ‘gateways’ and vehicle-activated signs (VAS), providing funding can be found (my Locality Budget for Seaton and Colyton could help), but residents will certainly continue to explore more ambitious options.

Council officials also undertook to ‘look again’ at extending the 40 limit on the Harepath Hill section of the A3052 to past the Tower junction, with an implied extension to Seaton Down Hill itself. Neil Parish MP, who played an admirable role in pinning down the issues, undertook to meet again in February 2018 to review progress in the two areas.

Seaton Town Council co-opting a new councillor

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Details with application form here. There is also a co-option coming up for Beer Parish Council.

Seaton is also holding a ‘Have Your Say’ session where members of the public can come and talk to councillors and the police, at Marshlands from 7 to 8 on Thursday (20th).

Health Scrutiny Committee will decide on hospital beds on Tuesday 25th July

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IMG_0276Campaigners in the Seaton and Honiton areas are preparing for a crucial meeting of Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 25th July. Following a meeting in June when they postponed a decision, this committee will now decide whether to use its power to refer the decision of the NEW Devon Clinical Commission Group (CCG) to close all in-patient beds in Seaton, Honiton and Okehampton hospitals to the Secretary of State for Health.
In March, the Committee sent the CCG 14 questions, from a resolution proposed by County Councillor Claire Wright, about the proposals to replace 72 of East Devon’s 144 community hospital beds by care at home. Cllr Wright and other committee members are expected to examine the 14 points in detail to see which of them the CCG has answered satisfactorily.
The questions included the justification for the surprise last-minute switch of beds from Seaton to Sidmouth, which left no beds at all in the Axe Valley, since Axminster has already lost its beds.
Among those who will be speaking against the plans are Seaton Mayor, Jack Rowland; the Chair of EDDC’s Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Roger Giles; Steve Craddock and Bob Sturtivant from Honiton; and myself.
This is a crucial decision not only for the beds but also for the future of the hospitals. The CCG’s next step is its local estate strategy, which may involve partial or even complete closures of hospitals. Seaton is more remote from acute hospitals than any other East Devon town and it is vital that we retain our hospital, which was built by the local community in Seaton, Beer, Colyton and the surrounding area.
As in June, protestors will gather outside County Hall from 1 pm, and will then observe the meeting which starts at 2.15. A bus is being organised to take people from Seaton to County Hall: anyone who would like to book a seat should contact me cllrmartinshaw@gmail.com or 07972 760254.
The many emails sent to committee members in June had a real impact. Here are their addresses if you’d like to write again: