Month: September 2019

People lining the streets clap and cheer as fire engine leads Colyton Carnival procession in ‘Save Our Station’ protest

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IMG_3148IMG_3145.JPGIn my second demonstration of the day, I carried a placard (alongside district councillor Paul Arnott) behind the fire engine last night at Colyton Carnival. A huge turnout from the town and surrounding area and great support for the campaign to save Colyton Fire Station.

Inspiring exhibition by Hilary Arnold in Beer’s Bomb Shelter this week

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IMG_3138On Friday I spent a couple of hours helping to hang a new exhibition of paintings by Hilary Arnold, the Seaton-based artist who is also a friend and strong supporter of local causes. I think Hilary’s work is really special and her latest paintings take it in striking new directions. 10 to 5 daily (10.30 start on Sundays). Hilary’s WEBSITE

My plea at today’s Exeter protest against Johnson’s vandalism – where the Tories can be defeated (especially Exeter, Totnes, East Devon), we will need a single opposing candidate to make sure we win

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Claire Wright 2019.jpg

At today’s rally in Exeter, I urged that in the coming General Election, the pro-European parties and voters should support a single candidate against Johnson’s hard-right, anti-democratic Tories. Most obviously, on the south coast of Devon we should support incumbents Labour’s Ben Bradshaw in Exeter and Liberal Democrat Sarah Wollaston in Totnes together with Independent candidate Claire Wright (pictured) who is the main challenger in East Devon. Claire won 21,000 votes last time to Tory Hugo Swire’s 29,000, and will be poised to capture the seat if the small numbers who voted Labour or Lib Dem switched to her. Clare’s website is HERE.

John TimperleyIn the Tiverton and Honiton constituency (which Seaton and Colyton are part of), it is not so obvious that any of the opposition parties can win. The Lib Dems have adopted Dr John Timperley (right), who is taking a strong line on the NHS, while Labour and the Greens have not yet announced candidates. I have not yet made up my mind.

Fire Service chiefs fail to answer questions at Devon County Council private briefing – but they are worried about the level of opposition

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cuts domestic

Yesterday I attended the private ‘masterclass’ for county councillors with Chief officers Ian Howell and Pete Bond – arranged instead of the public Scrutiny hearing which the Fire Service had refused to attend.

  • I protested about the over-complicated design of the consultation and the way it has closed off opportunities for the public to express views about particular stations – they said it was signed off by the Consultation Institute (I shall be writing to them) but like some members of the Fire Authority, I don’t think it is credible.
  • I challenged the misleading assumptions on which the calculations about ‘savings’ of life are based – they failed to respond.
  • I asked them if they accepted the estimate, based on their own data, that 600,000 people would have increased risk due to slower response times – this would include everyone in the Seaton and Colyton area – again they failed to answer.
  • I asked why they said it wasn’t about ‘cuts’, when papers presented to the Fire Authority showed clearly that saving money is a key driver.

Although I got to raise some other points about Colyton, I was cut off by the chair and didn’t get a chance to come back in. I’ll be writing up a full objection (and a paper for when this comes to Scrutiny – as I have insisted – on 25th September) and will post this here.

Three things struck me even more forcefully, from this meeting and re-reading the papers in preparation for it:

  1. As with the hospital cuts, the bottom line here is asset-stripping. The sites represent over 80 per cent of the financial gains from the 8 proposed closures.
  2. Even more than with the hospital beds cuts, the ‘alternative’ ( in this case more ‘prevention’) is pathetically weakly developed. They’re selling off the family silver and not giving us any serious detail on what they’re offering instead. In all likelihood, they’ll pocket the gains and the prevention activity will barely materialise.
  3. Finally, they are worried about the high level of negative TV and press coverage – keep up the campaign!


European people living in Devon are anxious about their future after irresponsible Government statements -my advice to troubled constituents

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EU:UK flagsOne of the worst things about Brexit is the harm and anxiety it has caused to many innocent people living in the Seaton and Colyton area and other parts of the country for over 3 years.
People who have made their homes here – benefiting from the EU’s Freedom of Movement which also benefits British people who go to live, work and study in other European countries – have found their lives turned upside down.
Empty threats, for crude political purposes
Recently, as the new hard-right Johnson government has pursued a No Deal Brexit which risks making things dramatically worse for all of us, the Home Secretary Priti Patel issued a threat to ‘end Freedom of Movement from October 31st’.
This has understandably made many local residents who are citizens of other EU countries worried that they might be barred from returning their homes if they go abroad before that date.
My view, after reading many of the experts, is that Patel’s statement was primarily an outrageous political stunt to encourage racists to believe that the Government is on their side.
It is true that in principle, freedom of movement for new EU arrivals could end if there is no deal. However the Government had long given existing EU residents until the end of 2020 to apply for settled or pre-settled status. They have now repeated that the deadline has not changed.
My advice for constituents 
Therefore in principle people who are already resident in the UK do not need to apply for the new status immediately. As things stand, you should be able to come and go freely until the end of 2020 even without settled or pre-settled status.
However it is just possible that some over-zealous border officials, encouraged by nasty right-wing politicians, might cause problems for a few people. For this reason, if you are travelling to the continent and expect to return after 31 October, it may be best to get settled or pre-settled status now, so that you can prove your right to be here, just in case you are stopped at passport control.
I am happy to give further advice by email ( and will phone you to talk about this if you send me your number.

Devon County Council launches Climate Emergency site

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It’s very much a work in progress … councillors are discussing the whole programme further (informally) later this week. HERE IT IS.

‘Save Our Fire Station’ protest in Colyton Carnival, this Saturday, 7th, 7.40 pm

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INVITATION to adults and children to march behind Colyton’s fire engine in the Colyton Carnival procession on Saturday, 7th September bearing placards protesting the proposed changes to our Fire Service and promoting the completion of the consultation questionnaire. Dress boldly in red, orange, yellow or black ~ any combination ~ or come as you are. Costumes are fun but optional. We’ll be singing “We are burning” to the tune of “London’s burning” through the streets of Colyton and, if there are enough of us, we could sing it as a round 😁 Let’s be heard! There are a few placards available to carry but if you could make your own that would be excellent.
Meet up at 7:40pm in Govers Meadow at the Dolphin Street/Kingfisher end. We’ll be walking at a safe distance from the fire engine, which will be leading the procession, as the fire crew will be on call 👨‍🚒🔥🚒🧯
Online consultation questionnaire: