Swire says NHS is safe in Tory hands – do you agree

Owl finds nothing in this response on Facebook that is reassuring.

Reply to constituent:

“SWIRE, Hugo
Thu 31/10/2019 12:02
Dear Mrs Hadley
Thank you for contacting me about the NHS and international trade and Jonathan Ashworth MP’s amendment on the Queen’s Speech.

As I have stated before, like you, I cherish our National Health Service and the role it plays in ensuring that no-one is denied medical treatment because they cannot afford it. However, I did not vote for the amendment because I believe it was un-necessary as the Government has been repeatedly clear that our NHS will never be on the table in any trade negotiations, a position I fully support.

Free trade is a driver of economic growth which can raise incomes, create jobs, and lift people out of poverty, which is why I am glad that outside of the EU the UK will be able to strike new trade agreements with countries across the globe. But more trade should not come at the expense of the high levels of quality and protection enjoyed in our country.

In the EU trade agreements to which our country is currently party, our NHS is protected by specific exceptions and reservations. Outside of the EU, rigorous protections for our NHS will be maintained and included in any future trade agreement to which our country is party.

I hope this reassures you that all future trade agreements will continue to protect our vital NHS.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

Yours sincerely
Hugo Swire”

Young people: your friends are registering to vote in their tens of thousands – why haven’t you?

“Young people might be ensuring that Boris Johnson has a thoroughly miserable Christmas. Because huge numbers of them are registering to vote. In fact, 316,000 people have signed up to vote in the last 48 hours. And 205,900 of them are under 34.”

In just 48 hours, young people show they could have a nasty surprise in store for Boris Johnson

Register here:

Tell Devon County Council what you think (nicely, now!)

Devon Community Insight Survey

Devon residents are being asked what matters most in a survey run by Devon County Council.

The Community Insight Survey asks about experiences of a range of services and the County Council’s strategic aims.

It also asks questions about Council Tax increases, community resources, if people have good access to green spaces, and if the council’s decision make sense.

A council spokesman said: “We are committed to building a Devon where everyone can live their lives well, and to do this we need to understand what matters most to you and where you experience difficulties. The results will be shared across services and used to inform budget decisions and how services are provided in future.”

The survey can be filled in online at


Poor people to be disenfranchised – and EDDC was the trailblazer!

Story here:


EDDC Electoral officer and CEO used “light touch” as the reason/excuse when he “lost” 6,000+ voters from the electoral roll in 2014 (that and not wanting his canvassers out in the dark were just two of his reasons at the time):


At that time it was also the poorer and more itinerant renters who were not contacted or followed up.

The Tories, having realised that poorer and rent-trapped people were more likely not to register to vote, jumped at the chance to do their best to ensure they never reach the electoral roll again.

Nice one Boris – bet you’ve made Mr Williams very proud! Maybe he will even get a gong for it like Swire got for cosying up to Cameron!

Medical student challenges Johnson on NHS

“An angry medical student confronted Boris Johnson over his “PR stunt” visit to a hospital today.

The trip was paid for by the taxpayer – despite kicking off the Tories’ election campaign where the NHS will be a key battleground.

The Prime Minister visited Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambs, to meet staff and patients – despite mounting fears the Conservatives will do a deal to open the health service to the US in a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Tump.

Julia Simons, 23, who is training in the hospital tried to challenge her fears about the future of the NHS if such a deal takes place.

She told the Mirror: “I want him to recognise that, for example insulin is incredibly expensive in the United States because of the monopoly that three companies have.

“And we don’t have that system here at the moment and Brexit threatens the reality that patients here won’t be able to access those drugs. …”

“One of the really expensive things to the NHS is drug purchasing and if we don’t have any guarantees about that being protected then how can I possibly consider voting for someone who is going to possibly detrimentally affect the death of my patients?”

Boris Johnson , Matt Hancock the health secretary and Liz Truss, the international trade secretary have all insisted that the NHS is “off the table” in talks with the US.

But reports of meetings where the relationship between the deal and health service remained open and reported by Channel 4’s Dispatches have ramped up fears. …”


How to vote tactically in East Devon if you are a Remainer

Vote Lib Dem in Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish)

DO NOT VOTE LIB DEM IN EAST DEVON (Hugo Swire) – vote Claire Wright (Independent)

Tactical voting site says vote Lib Dem in Tiverton & Honiton constituency and Claire Wright, Independent, in East Devon

General election, Hugo Swire and Neil Parish

East Devon Watch will NOT report any “good news” stories from Hugo Swire or Neil Parish between now and the election unless it can be proved (by very strong evidence) to be accurate – and not just convenient pre-election speculation.

Are homes in National Parks REALLY more expensive than in East Devon?

Owl is informed that a correspondent carried out some research on house prices yesterday, using Rightmove and Zoopla, because they thought – is the old chestnut that housing in national parks ismore expensive – or do the Tories et al use it just an excuse to do nothing?

It turns out, Cranbrook is already on a par with 2 bed terrace house prices within Dartmoor national park. In East Devon, Budleigh Salterton and Sidmouth prices are higher, but maybe they attract a premium already as coastal locations – the premium is said to be about an extra 10%?

Hopefully, this should mean that prices will not increase dramatically in this area if we were to gain national park status…

Over to you those councillors who want to keep a tight hold on planning and a very loose hold on developers …

How you can (try to) get a cash machine back in your community

“… Following our analysis, Link launched its Community Access to Cash Delivery Fund, which invited local communities to apply for a free-to-use cash machine. The network today announced it had already had 100 applications in the first month.

As a result, the new tool has been developed to meet the swell of demand.

To use it you just need to go to the website:


fill out your details, suggest a site for the ATM and explain why it is needed.

Link promises it will respond to the requests one by one and assess whether it can find a viable location to get an ATM up and running in the area. …”

‘Request an ATM’ tool launches for areas hit by cash machine closures

Jurrasic Park: a Halloween scary story

A scare story fit for Halloween. So scary that Owl is hooting with laughter.


Here is Owl’s dissection of the substance of the scare story recently spun by EDDC ex-Tory Councillor (and ex-leader) Ian Thomas, previously posted here:


Whilst he may now claim to be “Independent” the “Project Fear” he spreads is the established view of the previous Tory Council (and many in the current council).

It’s all about the proposal to create a new National Park by combining the East Devon and Dorset AONBs.

This proposal is not new. Like the creation of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site before it, a considered and reasoned case has been building for a number of years now.

The bit that SCARES Cllr. Ian Thomas (and others in the council) is that, despite EDDC attempts to pour cold water on the idea in the past, it has now been given endorsement by the Glover Review. (The Glover Review of Designated Landscapes was commissioned by Michael Gove to report in the 70th anniversary year of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act).

It calls for National Parks and AONBs to have a clear national mission to reverse environmental decline and specifically calls for the creation of two new National Parks and a National Forest – one such park being the area of the Devon and Dorset AONB/World Heritage site.

Click to access landscapes-review-final-report.pdf

Cllr. Ian Thomas’ stated FEAR is that house prices in East Devon could rise ‘considerably’ if proposals for a new ‘Jurassic’ national park’ covering East Devon and Dorset are successful (when did prices last fall,in the recession)?

The REAL FEAR, however, is, Owl thinks, loss of power, particularly the power of development. As Ed Freeman (Service Lead Planning) put it in the penultimate paragraph of his review of Glover Report for Cllr. Susie Bond’s Strategic Planning Committee:

“….there may also be felt to be concerns around loss of power by this authority to another body.”

Click to access 4Protected%20Landscape%20Report.pdf

It is interesting that Dorset has no such worries and has enthusiastically endorsed the idea.

How fitting then at Halloween that Owl should do the scary thing and examine the FACTS!

In terms of protective policies, both National Parks and AONBs have identical aims. These are to “conserve and enhance natural beauty”. (National Parks have the further responsibility to conserve and enhance “wildlife and cultural heritage” as well.) National Parks also have a duty to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within their park (note – communities not just developers). The Glover review proposes that in respect of this duty, National Parks should go further and “respond proactively to local housing needs”.

So where is the scare?

Could it be that under past EDDC regimes AONB responsibilities to “protect and enhance” the area have simply been ignored, something that might be harder to do under different management and wider scrutiny?

If this is the case, then EDDC is in for a REAL SHOCK – a LOOK BEHIND YOU moment – because the Glover Review also proposes that both AONBs and National Parks should be staffed by a shared National Landscape Service and that AONBs should be given greater status in the planning system. AONBs should become statutory consultees, and should be supported to work towards local plans for their areas, prepared in conjunction with local authorities. For larger AONBs such as East Devon (specifically mentioned), this plan should have statutory status in place of local authority plans. So even if the National Park idea doesn’t get off the ground immediately, the cavalier approach EDDC has adopted in the past to its AONB will have to change if the Glover Report is taken up.

We don’t know what the next government might make of the Glover Review but, whatever political persuasionit has, we can safely assume it will look for ways of demonstrating its Environmental Protection credentials. Not pushing forward with Glover would be an obvious own goal.

There are many positive reasons to embrace the proposal to create a new National Park by combining the East Devon and Dorset AONBs with the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Here are four in addition to the proactive management of local housing needs mentioned above.

1. Wildlife

East Devon and Dorset AONBs have distinctive and valuable ecologies which are important on a national scale. The East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, which forms 5% of the East Devon AONB is one of the largest areas of lowland dry heaths in England and has European designation. Consolidation of these two AONBs within a new National Park would increase the biodiversity of the environment creating a continuous wildlife corridor nearly 70 miles long.

2. Farming Culture and impact on Heritage Landscape

In the past, only the larger landlords like CDE had the management structure and financial stability to promote landscape enhancement projects within the AONB. However, subsidies based on acreage are going to be changed to supporting specific environmental enhancements, distributed more widely. Depending on how it is managed this could make significant changes to protected landscapes. For instance, there could be haphazard re-wilding on a considerable scale. AONBs in the future will need to be more involved and supportive of the independent sector of farming if the Landscape is to be conserved and enhanced, thus becoming more like National Parks.

3. Tourism and Economic benefits

National Parks promote understanding and enjoyment of their area’s special qualities by the public. A clear identity as a National Park would bring an economic boost to East Devon. The South Downs NP has attracted over £100M in core support and project funding since 2011 and it is reasonable to expect an East Devon and Dorset NP to attract a similar level of funding. On a smaller scale, experience from the Pebblebed Heaths are that funds and grants become more readily available with higher environmental designations, in this case SSSI, SPA and SAC.

4. Recreation and Well-being for an ageing and growing population

Encouraging Recreation is already a National Park priority. Improving public enjoyment would go hand in hand with promoting activities to improve health and well-being. Improving these will become an overriding priority in our area which is not only set to grow and age but already has more than 30% of the population aged 65 or older. It will become even more necessary if Cllr. Phillip Skinners dream of creating a North West Quadrant of linked villages to support immigration of 12,000 is realised.


A confidant and forward-looking EDDC would now seek to form a joint liaison committee to work with the East Devon and Dorset National Park Team so as to get a seat at the table and maximise the opportunities, rather than continue to sulk in its (developer built?) kennel.

Are you scared now?

“Freezing home forces disabled Cranbrook mum to be separated from her young twins”

Is this the district heating? Not a good ad for Eon or Cranbrook …

“A young disabled mum with 15-month-old twins has told how the dream of finally moving into a permanent home in Cranbrook – after being rehoused four times since they were born – has turned into a nightmare.

Amber Owen-Jones has not seen her children for five days because they are having to live with her mother in Somerset as their new ‘freezing’ two-bedroom housing association property has no hot water or heating.

Last Friday, the 19-year-old and her partner Michael Korth, 21, picked up the keys to their new home and say that when they realised not all the utility services were working, a LiveWest employee notified energy provider Eon by emailing them their tenancy agreement to get a new account set up. …

However, they say they were told someone won’t be coming until today, October 30, and no time was confirmed.

Amber said: “Eon were refusing to turn our hot water and heating on. The house is absolutely freezing.

“My children even had blue feet as we have no carpets. Eon kept saying they will sort it out on Wednesday, but it’s not acceptable. …”


Screwed NHS more screwed: Tory bed cuts cause chaos

“The NHS needs thousands of extra beds to prevent patients being subjected to “corridor care” this winter, doctors have said.

The Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) analysed NHS data and found that 4,000 to 6,000 extra beds were needed to “keep emergency departments moving” by ensuring that patients could be accommodated.

Katherine Henderson, president of the college, said: “Our number one priority is to put an end to ‘corridor care’ this winter. To do this we will need at least 4,000 extra staffed beds.

“Emergency departments aim to have most patients treated and back home on the same day, but nearly a third of all patients who go to major A&Es needed to be admitted to a bed.

“A lack of beds means that many patients have to wait long times in undignified conditions, often on a trolley in a corridor. Last year nearly a third of a million people waited for over 12 hours. No patient should have to experience this for even a couple of hours, let alone for over half a day as some do.”

It is deemed unsafe if more than 85 per cent of available beds are occupied at any one time because this would leave hospitals unable to cope with surges in demand. Last winter occupancy rates hit an average of 93.5 per cent, Dr Henderson said, adding that more than 15,000 beds, or about one in ten, had been lost since 2010.

This summer was the worst ever in terms of the number of patients waiting more than 12 hours for a hospital bed, she said.

“This is a difficult position to be going into winter in. Without more beds, with appropriate nursing staffing, we fear we may be in for another record-breaking winter,” she added.

An NHS spokesman said: “The NHS will indeed be opening up thousands of beds over the next few months, based on the local availability of nurses and other staff. Hospitals will also be working closely with community health services and local authorities’ home care and care home services.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We have invested £240 million in adult social care to ease pressures this winter by getting patients home quicker and freeing up hospital beds across England.”

Source:Times (paywall)

Claire Wright’s thoughts on the upcoming general election

Her election team – so YOUNG, so diverse – hurrah!

“The news broke last night when I was in one of my regular election campaign team meetings.

Subject to approval by the Lords, there will be a general election on the 12 December.

So we’ve started the countdown to what is being dubbed the most unpredictable and epic general election in living memory.

The last December election was almost 100 years ago, and campaigning is going to tough, with dark nights, cold and possibly pretty awful weather.

But despite the challenges of leafleting and door knocking, last night the air of excitement was palpable. We sensed the enormity and potential of what we’re about to enter.

An election that is alive with possibility. Anything could happen, according to polling experts, like Professor John Curtice.

The next six weeks are for us, stretch gloriously out, full of intense activity, inspiring interactions with others and above all, hope. Hope that this time the East Devon constituency could finally break its 150 year Conservative rule and see an Independent MP elected, whose manifesto is based on local people’s views and who intends to truly represent the people of East Devon, with no party whip to get in the way of that representation.

This is my third general election. I have effectively been campaigning to be East Devon’s MP for six years, including over a year of preparation for this one.

The preparation we’ve put into this campaign is in sharp contrast to the snap election of 2017 where I was completely taken by surprise by the announcement, which arrived in the middle of the Devon County Council elections.

I had to gather a team and funding at what felt like 100mph, while still campaigning to retain my county seat!

And who would have thought that in this election, in a supposedly safe Conservative seat, an election would have been called with no Conservative candidate! Sir Hugo Swire, of course has announced his intention to resign.

This time feels different. It has a different energy about it. I’ve been a councillor for a decade. And I’m a seasoned campaigner, having fought five elections (this is the sixth) since 2011 and once again, I have a strong, committed and extraordinarily motivated and hardworking team around me. I am also very fortunate to have a much wider team of hundreds of leafleters and door knockers.

That’s not to say we don’t need more though. We do!

I hope that the election in East Devon will reflect the mood of the nation in that my opponents will be respectful and polite when challenging me and I in turn, also pledge to operate in the same way.

I’m really looking forward to getting out there and meeting lots of you!

I’m signing off now. There’s much to do!

I can’t wait!

Pic: Here’s some of my core team last night a few moments after we heard the general election confirmed for the 12 December.”

So, who is going to be the Tory candidate in East Devon?

A local person?

Someone parachuted in to what was once a safe seat (that’s how Swire got it with no connection to East Devon at all) but which is now very, very unsafe?

Will the Brexit Party contest it?

Will Lib-Dems split votes and allow a Tory to keep the seat?

So many questions, so few answers …

But at leadt it won’t be a very long campaign!