Month: December 2019

A success – Colyton Health Centre’s service charges reduced a sensible level

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imagesIt’s nice to be able to end the year by reporting a success. The Seaton and Colyton Medical Practice have informed me that their landlords, NHS Property Services, have reduced the service charges for Colyton Health Centre to a reasonable level and the dispute has been settled, thanks partly to the public pressure I put on at the Health Scrutiny Committee.

Colyton Primary School parents don’t share Ofsted’s view that it is ‘inadequate’ – and oppose forced academisation. I am supporting them and have written to the Regional Schools Commissioner

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Ofsted has published a report on Colyton Primary School and has graded it ‘inadequate’, ‘particularly for pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND)’, although other significant failings were also identified.

I attended a meeting of 70 parents at the school last week, addressed by a representative of the County Council and the new Chair of Governors (the previous governors resigned). There was a general view that, while the support for some SEND children may have been inadequate, the school was generally doing much better than the Ofsted report suggested, and that specific managerial problems had led to the key problem which they identified.

In view of the ‘inadequate’ grading, the County will (following procedures) quickly bring in a Multi-Academy Trust to manage improvements in the school. I have asked to be kept informed on what is happening.

Parents were very concerned, however, that, legally an ‘inadequate’ grade means that the school should be permanently transferred to a Multi-Academy Trust. 

Parents have established a Facebook group to oppose academisation. I am supporting them and have written to the Regional Schools Commissioner, who will be responsible for overseeing the academisation process, to express my opposition.

Research by parents has shown that many academy orders have been revoked following parents’ opposition. I do not believe that specific managerial issues justify a wholesale privatisation of this community school. I am confident that the parents can prevent this happening and that the community will support them.

New online news site, Exeter Observer, offers free journalism training

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You can view the site here and the free journalism training is here.

Claire Wright achieved the best result for an Independent anywhere in the UK, far better than the former Conservative and Labour MPs who stood as Independents

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Candidate Constituency Original party Vote % % behind winner
Claire Wright East Devon n/a 40.4 10.4
Dominic Grieve Beaconsfield Conservative 29 27.1
Jason Zadrozny Ashfield n/a 27.6 11.7
David Gauke SW Herts Conservative 26 23.6
Frank Field Birkenhead Labour 17.2 41.8
Gavin Shuker Luton South Labour 9.2 42.6
Anna Soubry Broxtowe Conservative 8.4 39.7
Anne Milton Guildford Conservative 7.4 37.5
Mike Gapes Ilford North Labour 7.3 56.3
Chris Leslie Nottingham East Labour 3.6 60.7

Claire Wright achieved the best result for the opposition anywhere in Devon

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Constituency Main challenger Swing to challenger
East Devon Claire Wright, Independent 1.4
Newton Abbot Liberal Democrat 0.8
Devon West and Torridge Liberal Democrat -1.5
Central Devon Labour -1.7
Plymouth Sutton & Devonport Labour -2.2
Tiverton & Honiton Labour -3.2
South West Devon Labour -5.1
Exeter Labour -5.3
Plymouth Moor View Labour -9.1
North Devon Liberal Democrat -9.4


Devastating results, but not ‘irrefutable’ support for Johnson’s policies on Brexit or anything else: the majority voted against him

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The election results are devastating for hopes of change both nationally and in East Devon, where Claire Wright (above) was defeated despite gaining nearly 26,000 votes. Yet Johnson’s victory is not based on winning a majority of voters (the Tories won 43.6 per cent of the vote) nor is it ‘irrefutable evidence’ of the will of the British people for his Brexit. On the contrary, 16.7 million people (51.8 per cent) voted for parties which support a 2nd referendum, and only 14.7 million (46.4 per cent) for parties which support Johnson’s ‘deal’.

The explanations for these discrepancies are our disproportional electoral system and the uselessness of the leaders of the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties (and the ex-Tory Independents) who failed to unite sufficiently either in the last Parliament or for the election. I’m pleased that Swinson has gone and Corbyn is also on his way out.

We are now stuck with a Johnson ‘elective dictatorship’ for 5 years. If you have to wait too long for NHS treatment, if your fire station is closed or your children’s school academised against your wishes, you will know who to blame (and that will include yourself if you voted Tory). You are going to need opposition politicians, especially Independents, more than ever.

Ten LOCAL reasons to vote AGAINST the Conservatives today

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In East Devon, vote for Claire Wright (Independent), in Exeter for Ben Bradshaw (Labour), in Totnes for Sarah Wollaston (Lib Dem), who are candidates who can clearly beat the Tories. In Tiverton & Honiton where the Tories are unfortunately safe, vote Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green to show the Tories they can’t take us for granted.

  1. The Conservatives wanted to sell off our community hospitals, and only our protests (see above) and the 21,000 who voted for Claire in 2017 stopped them. Tory MP Hugo Swire effectively proposed closing Seaton’s hospital beds, to save those in Sidmouth which were in his constituency (the CCG followed his advice). Our community hospitals still do not have a secure future. Despite vague election promises from Tory candidates, no plan has been presented.
  2. The RD&E is chronically underfunded, short of staff and beds, and waiting times for operations are longer than ever. Spinal and orthopaedic patients are waiting over a year in many cases.
  3. Even cancer patients are being forced to wait longer than the safe recommended times for treatment in the RD&E. That’s a matter of life and death.
  4. Tory Brexit policies have worsened the RD&E staff shortages. Brexit has driven away European doctors and nurses, despite continuing freedom of movement. The so-called ‘Australian’ points system will only make this worse.
  5. The Tories’ handover of Colyton Health Centre to NHS Property Services threatened its closure through astronomical service charges. Only after I publicly protested have they backed down.
  6. Tory austerity policies have starved all East Devon’s schools of funds. Even after Johnson’s promised increases have been paid, they will still be significantly worse off than 5 years ago.
  7. Tory academisation policies threaten to force Colyton Primary School to be handed over to a multiacademy trust against parents’ wishes, because of a poor Ofsted report.
  8. Tory austerity policies have pushed the Fire Service to threaten closure of Colyton, Topsham and 7 other local fire stations. If they win the election, Tory councillors are expected to push them through on January 10th.
  9. Tory Brexit policies threaten the livelihoods of our farming and (yes) fishing communities, who will no longer be able to sell their products freely to the EU. (And fishing will be forced to accept the continuation of EU boats in UK waters, as part of any future trade deal.)
  10. People from other European countries who live in our communities have been forced to apply just to continue to stay here living with their partners and families in their own homes. Now they are told by Boris Johnson that they are ‘foreigners’ who are taking Britain for granted. This is a threat to our communities as well as a national shame.

I’m sorry I restricted myself to 10 points. Anyway, I’ll sneak in an extra one … local Tory candidates have lied, Neil Parish about Seaton Hospital and Simon Jupp about funding for Exmouth town centre and Sidmouth beach management … just like their leader.

Will ‘Hugh Grant voters’ deny Johnson a majority? I meet the actor supporting Claire Wright in Sidmouth today

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It’s been suggested that ‘Hugh Grant voters’ – who vote tactically – could deny Boris Johnson an overall majority, such has been the effect of Hugh’s heroic campaign to support the candidates best positioned to defeat the candidate of the new ultra-hard-right Tory party.

Over 200 supporters gathered at an hour’s notice in Sidmouth today, as Hugh came to urge opposition to the ‘most dangerous leader any of us have seen’ in British politics. (Anyone want to help leaflet for Claire in the next 2 days? Phone, text or email me.)0372F3A7-2914-40B5-A2B1-8EB4BE6D3D5A.jpeg


Yet again, Devon Conservative councillors block discussion of Colyton, Topsham and 7 other fire stations which are likely to be closed, once the Tories have got a majority

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At Devon County Council yesterday, Tory councillors voted as a block to prevent my motion critical of the fire station closures from being discussed at the meeting. They also voted not to allow the vote to be recorded, to protect themselves from criticism. (My picture shows them voting the first time they did this, in October. Yesterday’s webcast is not available to take a still from.) 

The meeting of the Fire Authority which will finalise the closures has been postponed until January 10th, and the proposals which will be put to the Authority will not be published until after the election.

My motion asked the Council to press the Fire Authority to allow county councillors to speak and represent their constituents, which the Authority’s standing orders would not normally allow us to do – the Tories would not even stand up for the right of councillors to represent their constituents.

Make no mistake – the closures will almost certainly go ahead unless voters throw a spanner in the works!