Month: February 2017

Cutting West Seaton out of Seaton

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The Boundary Commission for England has made proposals which would take part of Seaton ‘around Beer Road’ – which the map shows means the area to the west of Castle Hill/Marlpit Lane and to the south of Bunts Lane – out of the Seaton district council ward and puts it into Beer and Branscombe ward.

Because the area would then be in a different district ward from the rest of Seaton, it would be also be a separate ward for town council election purposes, with one councillor (the rest of Seaton would be another ward, with 11).

The Commission justifies this on grounds of ‘electoral equality‘, i.e. ensuring that each ward has roughly the same number of voters per councillor. However while this change would leave Seaton ward with just 1% over the recommended number of voters, it would leave the expanded Beer and Branscombe ward 5% over.

It seems that Beer and Branscombe parish councils are behind the drive to expand their ward. Alternatives to ‘include either Salcombe Regis from Sidmouth parish or the parish of Southleigh’ were rejected because they ‘would not meet our statutory criteria of community identity.’ Bizarrely, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to the Commission that West Seaton citizens might have feelings about having their Seaton identity taken away!

This is now out for consultation until 3rd April and will be considered by Seaton Town Council. By coincidence, the AGM of the West Seaton & Seaton Hole Association takes place on Thursday 16th February (at the Marshlands Centre, Harbour Road, starting at 7 pm). We will add this to the agenda.

Here is what the Commission says in full:

‘Beer & Branscombe, Coly Valley and Seaton 35 We received a number of different suggestions for this area. One of the two district-wide warding patterns we received proposed that the parish of Southleigh be added to the existing Beer & Branscombe ward to improve electoral equality. The other district submission suggested that a part of Seaton parish be included in Beer & Branscombe ward but did not specify a proposed boundary.

36 We received submissions from both Beer Parish Council and Branscombe Parish Council that accepted that the current ward of Beer & Branscombe needed to be extended to provide for better electoral equality. It was suggested that either an area around Seaton Hole or Salcombe Regis be added to the current ward. We visited the area and considered all proposals. We concluded that to include either Salcombe Regis from Sidmouth parish or the parish of Southleigh would not meet our statutory criteria of community identity. A ward coterminous with Seaton parish would not provide for acceptable electoral equality. Therefore, we have included an area of Seaton parish around Beer Road in our Beer & Branscombe ward. This provides for good electoral equality for both our proposed Beer & Branscombe and Seaton wards. Coly Valley ward remains unchanged, which was supported by a submission from one of the parish councils in this ward.’

Funding the NHS, by Jack Rowland

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seaton_hospitalI was born in 1950 so have been fortunate in my lifetime that the NHS has existed throughout that time. During my formative years I remember listening to the family discussions that took place concerning health provision that was available before the NHS was created. By and large my parents and grandparents feared having to seek health related help – they were all working class living in, what was then, a poor area of London.

My formative years, hearing stories at first hand, forged the views I still have today regarding the type of society I want to live in and the one I want to see for my children. They are both in their 30’s with good University degrees, good careers and living in London and Bournemouth, but cannot afford to buy a property yet and do not have the salary linked pension provision that I enjoyed during my career.

Where I live now in Seaton we are experiencing the same problem with the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that other areas of the U.K. are experiencing, namely giving options across a number of local hospitals with the aim of reducing bed spaces. The CCG has gone through the sham of holding public consultation events to be able to put a tick in a box when no doubt the decision had already been made when looking at options to save money.

To say that alternative services will be put in place to avoid people having to occupy bed spaces is just a future promise at the moment and, in my opinion, will not adequately tackle the problems that people will face in the future with people living longer, but, as we know now, having more multiple difficult health issues allied with possibly living at home alone or with another aged husband / wife or partner.

So who is the real culprit?

I lay the blame squarely at the door of Central Government and the current Conservative stance. The U.K. is the 5th or 6th richest country (depending on which statistic you believe). The Government decide how the expense cake will be divided and the priorities whilst servicing Government debt and hopefully growing the size of the cake. I want to see the NHS and Social Services receive a larger slice of the cake as we can afford to do that if the will is there to match the current and future needs.

I want to see everyone benefit fairly from a growing economy and in a society where health and social care is not subject to a post code lottery and a fair national tax system for individuals and businesses that encourages individuals and businesses to grow and develop without resorting to tax avoidance schemes or exploiting loopholes.

I know that the cost of the NHS and Social Services will grow due to an ageing population and I’m not advocating throwing more money at them without strong controls over how the money is spent, but I do want to see the same improved provision in the future regardless of where you live or your financial situation. As a country we can afford to do this without decisions being devolved to a local level that has resulted in the current situation and Central Government pointing the finger and blaming health professionals.

Although I am a Councillor on Seaton Town Council the views I have expressed above are my personal views. JR


RD&E back on red alert

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Local NHS crisis deepens: RD&E back on red alert, according to Express & Echo

Diabolical cuts to Devon funding

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Independent County Councillor Claire Wright, bottom right, says (see full post here):

budgetscrutinyjan17‘Fewer people are set to be eligible to receive social care in Devon in the coming year, following the latest required budget cuts, due to government austerity measures.

At the same time Devon County’s council tax is set to rise by three per cent from April, to try and cope with the latest massive loss in income.

At yesterday’s joint budget scrutiny meeting councillors agreed to urge all Devon MPs to speak AND vote against the council cuts debate in the House of Commons, which is expected to take place early in February.

Between April 2017 and March 2018 a huge £23m must be struck from budgets – a 15 per cent cut.

We are now in the eighth year of austerity and Devon County Council’s annual government grant has plummeted by well over half – from £283m in 2010 to £128m.

We continue to see our roads break and fracture. The government gives councils a fraction of the money that has been cut and the blames councils when it can’t repair all the roads. Some roads are simply deteriorating and will not be properly repaired.

Almost all Devon County Council run care homes have shut, Devon County Council run youth centres have closed and many bus routes were lost or cut back.

… Children’s homes closed and funding has been cut for vulnerable children and adults.

Last month, the council removed some of the schools’ budget for special needs funding to make its books balance.  This has plunged more Devon schools into an even worse financially austere position.’