On-street parking tariffs: need for strategic approach which supports public transport and cycling recognised by County committee

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The Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee debated a ‘call in’ of proposed increases in on-street parking charges, which the Lib Dems argued were inconsistent and in some cases excessive. However the point was made by Labour Councillor Yvonne Atkinson that we need to look at the possibility of using parking income to support public transport and cycling. I urged a more ‘strategic’ approach and this was recommended by the Committee.

Connecting Devon and Somerset: broadband rollout is a ‘mini-Brexit’ says Tory councillor – and he didn’t mean that as a compliment

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The disaster that is the Gigaclear superfast broadband rollout came back to Scrutiny on Tuesday. Councillor Rufus Gilbert, the Conservative cabinet member responsible, called it a ‘mini-Brexit’. Even if it all works out in the end, 50,000 homes and businesses still won’t be connected in 2020. And no one thinks it will. Cllr Gilbert’s point was that ‘we don’t want a hard exit’ from the Gigaclear contract. He claimed that we will know ‘by the summer’ whether Gigaclear can recover – the rollout timetable for communities is still unknown. But when I pressed for a more definitive update at the next Scrutiny meeting on 26 June, he said that would be too early. This debacle, impacted but not solely caused by the Carillion collapse, is surely another big nail in the coffin of outsourcing in Devon. In the meanwhile, people affected will be able (from April) to claim from the national Better Broadband Voucher Scheme. I’ll post details when I have them.

Outsourced property management: minimal ‘profit’ for DCC, while ‘all the income generation is cheques from County Hall’ – time for a rethink?

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Devon County Council outsources its property management to Norfolk Property Services. DCC has 20 per cent equity in NPS, but the forecast profit share for DCC in 2019-20 is a mere £78k. This emerged at DCC’s Corporate Infrastructure and Regulatory Services Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, leading Tory councillor Paul Crabb to make the comment in the title to this piece.

Why I’m not supporting the idea of making St Boniface the Patron Saint of Devon

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The Boniface Link Association are asking County Councillors to back this proposal. I’ve explained my position in this letter to them:

Thank you for writing to me about your proposal that St Boniface should be made the Patron Saint of Devon and his day be made Devonshire Day. I found your letter and the leaflet most interesting, and as a staunch European I was attracted to the story of Boniface’s European connections. I certainly appreciate the role which Christianity has played in the creation of modern Devon, England and Europe.

However I am afraid that I cannot support your proposal. This is because we no longer have a primarily Christian society, with many belonging to other faiths such as Judaism and Islam, and half the population no longer identifying with religion at all. In this situation, I don’t believe it is appropriate to further entrench Christianity in the symbols of our local institutions.

I particularly think that St Boniface is the wrong figurehead for our County since his story is so much about missionary activity to convert the ‘heathens’. In this light, many of us today would be regarded as heathen, and I think it sends out the wrong message – especially to children of other faiths and none – to adopt as our patron someone who is identified with this particular aspect of our history. I hope you will understand why I will be opposing this proposal when Nick Way brings it forward.

I have written to @neil_parish to represent the 7,000 of his constituents who have signed the petition to #RevokeArticle50. We are the people, too. Listen to our voices of common sense.

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Dear Neil,

I am writing to represent nearly seven thousand of your constituents who have signed the petition on the Government website to revoke the Article 50 notification to exit the EU. This is the largest number who have ever signed any petition. Across Devon, over 100,000 people have supported it, and nationally the total is now 4.8 million.

I know you have taken the position that the 2016 result means that you have to support Brexit, and you have backed Theresa May’s deal. But that deal, which no one likes, has now clearly failed. Mrs May is reported to be prepared to back a No Deal Brexit, but I am sure you know that this could mean: shortages of medicines; failures of food supply chains in Devon; lambs slaughtered because they can’t be exported to Europe; a severe shock to our national economy; and violence in Northern Ireland, with Devon police sent to the province to help maintain order.

Since we have only a fortnight to prevent this self-inflicted disaster, I urge you to support a policy of ‘Revoke and Rethink’. Revoke the Article 50 notification to the EU, and give everyone time to reflect on the mess that the current Brexit proposals have caused. If in due course, a Government produces a coherent new proposal for Brexit, and can negotiate that with the EU, we can put it to the people and negotiate it with the EU.

For now, however, it is time to call a halt to this national humiliation. We, the thousands of your constituents who have signed the ‘revoke’ petition, are part of ‘the people’ too. Please listen to our voices of common sense and help ensure that our country comes safely through the impending crisis.

Regards, Martin

Over ten thousand people in East Devon have signed the petition to revoke Article 50 in the last 48 hours.

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The petition put on 30,000 more signatures nationally in the 5 minutes after I took this photo!

Latest figures for Tiverton & Honiton constituency, 4686, and for East Devon constituency, 5944, making 10620 in the East Devon district!