Month: July 2018

Desperate Conservatives advertise for candidates on Facebook, as they try to cling to control of East Devon in 2019

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Conservatives control our County and District councils and both parliamentary seats in East Devon, but their members are so thin on the ground that (not withstanding the well-known pitfalls of social media) they are trawling Facebook for candidates to replace councillors who retire next year. The big problem with their pitch is that if you really ‘want to stand up for your local community and the interests of local residents’, you’re going to come bang up against how the Tory party works both at local and national level.

2019 looks likely to be the year when the Conservatives finally lose control, as the local party (discredited by its failure to defend community hospital beds) is further undermined by the mess the national party has made of Brexit (due to take place 6 weeks before the district elections). Lots of people who really want to represent their local communities will be standing as Independents, so as not not to have their hands tied by a party machine.

Conservative advert for candidates Ian Hall

I realise why Devon’s Tory leaders are resigned to a train-crash Brexit – after 8 years of austerity, they just want to ‘make whatever comes down work’, however bad it is for everyone

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fullsizeoutput_1107Following the chaos in Westminster over the UK’s customs relationship with the EU, and the Government’s cave-in to extreme Brexiteers who want the country to crash out – even if that means turning Kent into a giant lorry park, risking our food and medicine supplies and renewed violence in Northern Ireland – Devon County Council discussed the customs union last Thursday.

To a man and woman, the Tories opposed the Council expressing a view. While the Leader, John Hart, recognised the mess in London, he said it was not our job to try to influence Government. ‘We know we’ve got to make whatever comes down work. That’s the important bit for us’, he said. At that moment I realised that the local Tories’ complacency towards Brexit is exactly the same as their attitude to the austerity of the last 8 years. However bad it is for the Council’s services and the people of Devon, for our Conservative councillors, Brexit is another just another stage in our inexorable decline which they have to manage.

Cllr Hart reminded the Council that 6 Devon districts voted for Brexit, and only 2 against. True – but no one voted to leave the Customs Union, since it wasn’t on the ballot paper, wasn’t part of the Leave campaign, and no one knew what it was when they voted!

Photo: me at the anti-Trump demonstration in Exeter ten days ago. Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg want a Trump trade deal, but that it is likely to involve US healthcare and pharmaceutical firms taking getting their hands on our NHS.

County Council confirms its support for Wilmington A35 improvements, and will meet Highways England with me early next month

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IMG_0860On Thursday, the County Council unanimously gave its support to Cabinet recommendations asking for it to be a formal consultee on Highways England recommendations for safety improvements on the A35 in Wilmington. This was in response to my motion and the campaign of local residents. Right, Wilmington’s Speedwatch team on BBC Spotlight ten days ago.

I will be meeting Highways England together with County officers on August 9th.

 

NHS Support worker jobs available now in Sidmouth, Seaton and Axminster

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Richard Anderson, the Health and Social Care Community Services Manager for Sidmouth, Axminster and Seaton, has asked me to publicise the fact that NHS Support Worker jobs are available now in the three towns.

Good rates of pay, pension etc.  Please ring Julia Blake on 07592 579919.

Devon STP: there is ‘no rush’ to make decisions on community hospital buildings. What’s more, it hasn’t agreed what a ‘health hub’ is or how many there should be

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Speaking for the Devon NHS Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP), Dr Sonja Manton told a meeting of county councillors this morning that there was ‘no rush’ to decide the future of community hospital buildings.

Contrary to Dr Simon Kerr’s suggestion in April that decisions would be made in July, Dr Manton was clear that the end of July is a deadline for the Devon Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to bid for capital funding from NHS England, but not for decisions about the local estate. If these two were previously linked, they are not any more.

She also confirmed what she said to me some months ago, that no decisions will be made about buildings until after the conclusion of the ‘community conversations’ such as Seaton Area Health Matters and Honiton Health Matters, launched earlier this year, and that discussions are still going on about the distribution of local services.

Dr Manton, who was launching the STP’s two-year report, also stated that there was no agreement yet on what a ‘health hub‘ is, or how many of them there should be.

There is no room at all for complacency, however, since the report states:

We know a large amount of space in our community hospital buildings is underused. The revenue cost of our community hospital estates is in the order of £20 million; money the NHS could use to improve other services. Working with other public sector partners, as part of the One Public Estate initiative, we will review the space that is required to deliver care, and plan to consolidate the number of sites to free up estate and generate money, which can be re-invested in technology and infrastructure.

It also appeared from the meeting that midwife-led maternity services are unlikely to be restored in Honiton or Okehampton any time soon. References were made to staffing difficulties and also safety issues in case of difficulties during birth.