X52 Jurassic Coaster bus service – use it or lose it!

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jurassic-coaster-appIt is uncertain whether this service, currently 5 times a day from Colyford, Seaton and Beer to Exeter and westwards to Lyme Regis, will continue after 2nd September – and if it does, it may be further reduced to 5 instead of 6 days a week and from 5 to 4 return daily journeys, possibly losing the early morning journey to Exeter.

First Wessex, who run the service, are currently tendering for a new service with the County Council. I will be discussing this issue with the bus company and the County Council. If you have concerns about the loss or reduction of this service, please write to Simon Newport (simon.newport@firstgroup.com) and me (cllrmartinshaw@gmail.com), letting us know how changes will affect your lives. David Morgan, the indefatigable Seaton campaigner who has alerted me and the Town Council to the issues, has suggested a loop to Colyton – would you use that? In the meanwhile, consider the X52 as an alternative to the car!

Seaton Museum looking for volunteers

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The Museum is looking for volunteers to help in its running, curator Ted Gosling tells me. If you’d like to help, ring him on 21278.

The group which runs Seaton Museum, the Axe Valley Heritage Association, has just published its latest newsletter full of interesting historical information, much of it supplied by Ted. One item caught my eye: a diary entry about an exceptional storm in February 1915: ‘mouth of the river washed away, dreadful havoc on the West Walk, asphalt all broken up and from this site of the Chine to Seaton Hole the walk is completely destroyed, nothing left but pebbles.’

You can join the AVHA (and receive the newsletter) in the Museum, in the top floor of Seaton Town Hall (to the left of the Gateway entrance) or send a cheque for £6 single or £10 per couple to Mrs C. Sargent, 32, Seaton Down Road, Seaton, EX12 2SB.

West Seaton will become part of Beer & Branscombe district ward, says Boundary Commission

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This proposal has been approved, despite opposition from Seaton Town Council and the West Seaton and Seaton Hole Association representing residents in the area which will become part of Beer & Branscombe ward from the 2019 EDDC elections.

The Boundary Commission for England argued that Seaton will have too many electors, and therefore to equalise the voters:councillors ratio, some part of the town needed to be hived off from the existing 3-member ward. Since no one put forward an alternative carve-up, the Commission stuck to its original plan.

EDDC approves yet another extension to Seaton’s iconic Check House, after biased photographic display

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3007021_4ebd9eaeEast Devon’s Development Management Committee (DMC) today approved a new extension to the Check House, the iconic house (named after its distinctive brickwork) which is now a care home.

Built by Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan and Lady Pauline Trevelyan – the key figures in Seaton’s transformation from fishing village to seaside resort – in 1866, the Check House has a fine clifftop setting overlooking Lyme Bay. Yet this crucial part of Seaton’s heritage has long been compromised by the planners and councillors of East Devon District Council (EDDC). Large extensions were allowed in both its front and rear gardens in 1992 and 2004 respectively to serve its new role as a care home.

Last year a new proposal was approved for both an extension off the earlier rear extension, together with a ‘Victorian’ conservatory and greenhouse along the north side facing Beer Road, on the left hand side of the house in the picture above.

The earlier extensions, while partially spoiling the site and followed by the transformation of much of the garden into car parks, at least had a similar checked pattern to the original building. The small new extension which has been built (just off the right of the picture) onto the earlier rear extension is, however, an eyesore, completely out of keeping with both the Check House and the original extension.

The owners decided, however, not to build the approved conservatory and greenhouse, which – while spoiling one of the unspoilt sides of the original building – did at least nod towards its Victorian character and would have had a lighter impact because of the large amount of glass involved. Instead they asked to put a solid extension, without the original check pattern, where the conservatory would have been. This was to allow yet two more bedrooms so as to maximise income from the site – although of course residents will no longer enjoy a conservatory or greenhouse.

EDDC has now approved this proposal, despite the opposition of ward councillor Jim Knight, the Town Council (which I represented at the DMC) and local residents (represented by Steve Read). Steve and I mentioned, of course, the important fact that the Check House already has completely inadequate car parking and its staff and visitors’ cars spill out on to Beer Road where they cause problems for traffic – so this development will add to the problem.

Most disturbing, Planning Officer Chris Rose’s photographic display which preceded the discussion showed not one photograph of the original house, let alone of the sides affected by the proposal which are shown above. This was truly shameful, as was the lack of care of the committee.

 

Whose smell was it – was Hugo Swire behind the Seaton-Sidmouth switch?

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A smug Hugo Swire MP told BBC’s Sunday Politics this morning that East Devon had more community hospitals than western Devon and than the national average. He failed to mention that it has many more over-85s too. He backed the NEW Devon CCG’s plans to replace community hospital beds with care at home, and said we must ’embrace change’.

Swire knows that beds in Exmouth and Sidmouth, in his constituency are safe from closure, so he is happy to write off Seaton (which he no longer represents after boundary changes a few years back) and Honiton.

Swire’s self-satisfied comments raise the question of whether he played any role in the CCG’s bizarre, unexplained, last-minute switch of 24 beds from Seaton to Sidmouth. Clearly had the CCG stuck with its original preferred option of closing beds in Sidmouth, they would have given Claire Wright a huge issue – which might well have seen her taking Swire’s seat in the general election.

Readers will recall that during the consultation, Swire was already saying that if beds had to go, they should stay in Sidmouth. Did Sir Hugo, or Tories acting on his behalf, lobby the CCG? How did the CCG respond? BothIMG_0518 have questions to answer.

Swire’s colleague Neil Parish MP told me and other Seaton councillors that the decision ‘smells’. Whose smell was it?

I appeared on the same edition of Sunday Politics as Swire, but was not in the studio to respond to him. Here I am being interviewed!

Unfortunately the Labour MEP for the South West, Claire Moody, who was on with Swire, obviously didn’t know much about East Devon hospitals and failed to respond. 

(YOU WILL BE ABLE TO WATCH THE PROGRAMME ON BBC iPLAYER SOON.)

 

EDDC backs call to refer hospital beds decision – Seaton switch rises up the agenda

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On Thursday, East Devon District Council’s Scrutiny Committee expressed ‘great concern‘ that under the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s plans ‘there will be no community hospital beds east of Sidmouth, leaving residents in a whole swathe of eastern Devon remote from the nearest hospital facilities.’
The Committee also agreed to write to Devon County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, urging it to refer the matter to the Secretary of State for Health ‘as a matter of urgency‘ as it was ‘concerned that lack of an early submission will result in NEW Devon CCG going ahead with its proposals‘. This followed a claim from Councillor Mike Allen that staff were already leaving and patients being turned away from Honiton Hospital, a point I also made about Seaton Hospital.
Much of the discussion at the EDDC meeting reacted to the discussion at Devon’s Health Scrutiny Committee last Monday. Devon councillors had followed the recommendation of their Chairman, Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, to postpone until July a decision on Councillor Claire Wright’s proposal to refer the CCG’s decisions to the Secretary of State for Health.
How many staff? – ‘What is required’ says CCG!
The Committee’s resolution was the outcome of two hours’ pressure from Committee members, other councillors and the public on the Chair of the CCG’s Eastern Locality, Dr John Kerr. The  resolution was proposed by Chairman, Councillor Roger Giles of Ottery St. Mary, who had interrogated CCG representatives on their proposals. He repeatedly asked ‘how many additional staff will be required’ for the CCG’s new model of care, only to be told ‘what is required’. Other members expressed doubt that enough new staff could be recruited.
Moulding backs Seaton
Cllr Giles’ proposals followed speeches by EDDC ward councillor Andrew Moulding of Axminster and myself for keeping hospital beds in Seaton. Councillor Moulding pointed out that not only Axminster, but also Axmouth, Uplyme and Rousdon, had been omitted from the CCG’s calculations of the population served by Seaton Hospital.
Keeping beds in Seaton has had tremendous backing this week, including not only from Councillor Moulding but also Councillor Hall from Axminster, and Mike McAlpine, Chair of the Committee for the Axe Valley Health Hub. Seaton’s Deputy Mayor, Martin Pigott, made an excellent case at County Hall.
CCG fails to answer 
It was very obvious that CCG representatives, Dr Sonja Manton at the Devon meeting and Dr Kerr at EDDC, refused to answer direct questions about the flawed case for axing Seaton’s beds. I am optimistic that when this comes back to Devon, councillors on the Health Scrutiny Committee will pick up the Seaton issue and we will finally get justice for our communities.
EDDC has put saving the beds back on the agenda and pointed the way for Devon County Council’s Scrutiny Committee to follow. I am very pleased at the strong cross-party case made for East Devon hospitals – especially the mounting support for looking again at the CCG’s completely indefensible abandonment of Seaton.

More closures at community hospitals

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The Acute Services Review, part of the Devon NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), proposes the closure of maternity units at Newton Abbot, Tiverton, Okehampton and Honiton – the last two hospitals of course designated, with Seaton, to lose inpatient beds too. Read a summary and Claire Wright’s comment.