Month: March 2020

As bus services slashed for the duration, County trials taxi service for key workers

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Due to the reduction of bus services across the county, Devon County Council are trialling an on-demand subsidised taxi service for Devon residents for key workers accessing employment only.

This service is intended to replace those journeys which were previously made by bus – a subsidised flat fare will be charged.

Requests can only be made by email and should be sent to

Please include the following information in your email:


JOURNEY REQUIREMENTS (pick up/drop off)

We will aim to respond to all requests as soon as possible during normal office hours  – journeys should be booked 48 hours in advance of travel.

Highways safety repairs still being done, but planned maintenance stopped

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unnamed-6Devon Highways say:

‘We’ve temporarily suspended planned highway maintenance work in order to focus on the repair of critical infrastructure, and continue to deliver essential safety repairs in order to maintain the local network.”

Now that the lockdown is in place, ‘one-size fits all’ isn’t right – could Devon still contain the epidemic through testing, and quarantining contacts of cases?

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Dr KK Cheng, the director of the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, has commented that in many areas of the country the epidemic is well behind London, the Midlands and other leading areas. He suggested that local authorities with relatively few cases (which I believe Devon’s still is) might contain the local expansion of the pandemic. 
His suggestions were:
  1. Expand testing to identify cases, trace contacts and isolate;
  2. Even without testing, ensure the close contacts of those admitted are properly quarantined;
  3. Testing does not even require personal protective equipment, so could be done by retired GPs, junior medical and nursing students – someone has suggested that dentists are also an under-utilised resource?

COVID-19 helpline to support parish and town councils in your community response activities: 01392 248919 or email

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DCC logoA joint message from DALC, Devon Communities Together, Devon County Council and all of Devon’s district, city & borough councils

Devon’s town and parish councils are at the heart of our communities.

Now more than ever, your role is vital in helping people through this coronavirus pandemic.  We are committed to working together to give you the support you need to ensure that Devon’s communities get through this outbreak.

We have pledged to doing everything in our power to help you directly and to support our communities to find ways to respond quickly and positively for everyone’s benefit.

We know what makes Devon special – it’s the people, and many of them have already leapt into action to offer help and to look out for elderly and vulnerable neighbours and those who may be self-isolating.

Towns and parish councils are among those setting up volunteer schemes to ensure people receive essential support.   We want to work alongside you to build on this and support the community response that’s being established.

We are going to develop a picture of what’s going on across Devon in order to share good practice. If you are already doing something in your local area or are establishing a community response group, or if you know of local initiatives, then please let us know by filling out this form so that we know where help is being offered.

We have set up COVID-19 helpline, supported by Devon Communities Together to support parish and town council’s and the Devon Village Halls Networks in your local community response and resilience activities. The helpline will be open from 9am on Monday 23rd March and will be staffed 9am to 5pm on weekdays for the foreseeable future. Please telephone 01392 248919 or email

Please also visit Devon Communities Together’s community resilience web page

We are in this together, and by standing shoulder to shoulder, we will get through this together.


The lockdown, better late than never, gives hope to the South West. Now we need testing and tracking. But a public inquiry into the Government’s mistakes must come later.

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The lockdown announced by Boris Johnson yesterday is the right policy. Respecting it will save lives.

In the South West, where it seems we still have relatively few cases – although no one really knows because the Government abandoned most testing – this policy gives the best chance of containing the epidemic to a level which will be manageable with the limited number of Intensive Care Unit beds, ventilators and nursing staff in the region’s NHS.

As the lockdown slows the spread of the disease, it should be used for widespread testing and tracking down cases, to eradicate it before lifting restrictions.

The Government’s catastrophic mistakes

A lockdown should have been done 3 weeks ago. Doing it even two weeks or a week ago would have made a big difference, as I and colleagues argued at the time.

Instead we now know that Johnson, with his advisor Dominic Cummings, initially went for a policy summed up by one leading Tory as ‘herd immunity and let the old people die’. They were prepared to allow 100,000 excess deaths. But then research showed that their policies would actually lead to 250,000-500,000 deaths, and they realised that the NHS would be destroyed.

Now, a study suggests that 35,000-70,000 deaths will still result. This is ‘only’ 10-20 times the number in China. We had the benefit of their experience, and also observing the terrible situation in Italy. But our leaders learnt too little, too late, after pursuing a terrible fantasy. Many will pay the price.

In due course, there will need to be a public inquiry. Johnson, Cummings and others responsible must be brought account for the unnecessary deaths. For now, however, we must give all our support to the NHS staff who are battling to save lives, and live with the lockdown, for all our sakes.

Two deaths from coronavirus confirmed in Devon

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UnknownStatement from Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust following news of confirmed COVID-19 deaths


A Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson said:

“Sadly, we can confirm that two patients who were being cared for at Torbay Hospital, and had tested positive for COVID-19, have died.

“The patients, who were both in their 80s had underlying health conditions.

“Their families have been informed and our thoughts and condolences are with them at this difficult and distressing time. We will not be making any further statement.”

Recycling centres restricted to essential use only – Devon County Council

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DCC statement: Residents should only visit the Recycling Centres if absolutely necessary. Those with small amounts of waste which are suitable to be placed in the kerbside collection, those over 70, those who are self isolating (vulnerable or displaying symptoms of COVID 19) should not visit the sites from today (Mon 23 March ) until further notice.

The new measures follow thousands of people using Devon’s recycling centres over the weekend and  not adhering to Government advice and the social distancing guidelines.

Staff at Devon’s 17 open Household Waste Recycling Centres are limiting vehicle access at the gates to enforce the government’s social distancing guidelines.

There will be in a ‘no assistance/no contact’ policy in place at recycling centres and users are requested to lift/handle their own waste and adopt the social distancing guideline..

People with large volumes of waste should consider alternatives such a skip hire or Hippo bags. Home composting should be practised where possible. Residents should delay projects that generate large volumes of waste such as clearing out the shed/garage. Waste should be held at home where possible.

Credit/debit cards will be the only form of payments accepted for chargeable waste – no cash. Resale shops are already closed.

Those still wishing to use the recycling centres for essential purposes should expect lengthy traffic queues and therefore should only visit if absolutely necessary.

‘Like Napoli or a busy bank holiday’ at Branscombe yesterday. I have asked police to patrol, EDDC for warning notices, and DCC to press Government to lock down the SW

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Alas, Branscombe beach wasn’t as quiet yesterday as the picture shows. Locals tell me it was ‘like when the Napoli happened, or a busy bank holiday’. People were thronging around, not at all observing social distancing.

It’s like many younger and middle-aged people just don’t understand – this is a lethal disease, causing a pneumonia for which there is no cure. The youngest person to die in the UK was 18. A 36-year-old nurse is fighting for her life in Birmingham. Half of the people with it in London hospitals are under 65.

If there are a dozen people with Covid-19 in the Seaton area today, and each infects 3, there’ll be three dozen in a few days and three hundred in a couple of weeks. If it’s the same across the area and 10 per cent need hospital treatment, there won’t be enough beds, ventilators, or nurses to give all the sufferers a chance. Many will die at home without treatment.

I’ve asked the police to patrol beaches at busy times, and for EDDC to put up notices demanding people keep their distance. I’ve written to John Hart, leader of the County Council, and Phil Norrey, the chief executive, asking them to pile the pressure on government to lock down the South West, using police and troops if necessary to stop all non-essential travel.

Phil has replied saying they’re doing all they can. Now do yours – stick with your immediate family. Keep your distance from others. Isolate completely for a full week if you get any cold, flu, throat or temperature symptoms. Call 111 if you have difficulty breathing.

STOP THE SPREAD: Everyone of ALL AGES in Devon should immediately do the MAXIMUM possible social distancing they can, to save thousands from death and the NHS from collapse.

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I’ve just republished figures showing that the SW’s critical care capacity needs to be increased by 600 per cent to deal with expected demand from coronavirus sufferers. Put another way, across the region we need 7 times more critical care beds than we had at the start of this crisis. In Devon, that figure could well be even higher. And that’s without thinking about ventilators or staffing.

  • I’m sure that NHS managers are working night and day to increase the capacity of the system. But unless we reduce the demand, by slowing the spread of the virus, their efforts will be insufficient. Our NHS and our extraordinarily dedicated NHS staff will be overwhelmed. Thousands of Devon people will die without the best possible care, quite likely at home.

The victims will be primarily people who are older or with underlying conditions – but they will also include many healthy middle-aged and even some younger adults who are unlucky and get severe disease. You’re not safe under 70!

  • THE GOVERNMENT MUST ACT FASTER TO SLOW THE SPREAD. Their delays over the last few weeks have been appallingly irresponsible. They have begun to change course, but must now follow almost all other countries and take more decisive action to suppress the epidemic:
  1. Forcibly close down all except essential shops and public places, and prevent all but essential movement.
  2. Support everyone to take the action we need: immediately guarantee full compensation for all workers, including the self-employed, who cannot work, and for all affected businesses; increase statutory sick pay to a real living income like other countries.

The terrible crunch coming to the SW in the next few weeks: we have more older people and fewer critical care beds than any other region. These beds need to be increased by 600 per cent.

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The Health Service Journal has published these stark graphs which show the availability and occupancy of critical care beds in each region. The SW has fewest acute beds and least spare capacity of any region. We already have the highest level of mortality from Covid-19 compared to the number of acute beds available. If the virus spreads through our older population in the community and in care homes, we face the worst crisis of any region.

The HSJ concludes ‘the shortage is largest for critical care where between 130 per cent (London) and 600 per cent (south west) additional beds are required to meet expected demand in the coming weeks, even without considering the demand from patients without covid-19. For hospital beds, the shortage is less significant with an additional 23 per cent (London) to 94 per cent (south west) additional beds required to meet demand, although far more of these are required in total.’