Devon will ensure a ‘Leicester lockdown’ scenario never happens

Devon has plans to provide a fast response to any future outbreaks of the virus across the county and help prevent it spreading – although cases are among the lowest in the country.

“Devon’s Director of Public Health, Virginia Pearson, will lead a small committee made up of key personnel who can marshal all the resources needed to provide a swift response to managing an outbreak of the virus.”

So at last we have a Devon controlled and manged infection response team who start managing from a low infection base. Heartening to see that death rates per head of population in Devon corresponds to those experienced in Germany. Lets hope that the test and trace system is up to the task – Owl

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

‘If we end up like Leicester, then that will be an absolute failure’.

The East Midlands city this week became the first place to be put into a ‘local lockdown’ as a result of increasing numbers of coronavirus cases.

In total, there have been 3,673 positives cases in the city – with nearly 1,000 of them being in the last two weeks.

The number of infections in Leicester has seen the Government reserve some of the lockdown easing measures with non-essential retail having to close, schools going back to only taking children of key workers, and the ‘Super Saturday’ reopening of pubs on hold.

In complete contrast, Devon feels like a different world. Despite having nearly three times the population on Leicester, the county has seen less than a third of Leicester’s cases – just 1,185 as of Thursday.

Devon has so far escaped the worst of the crisis, with deaths among the lowest in the country, care home deaths significantly lower than would be expected given infections, and the number of cases having plummeted to levels where they the virus is barely there. Only North East Lincolnshire of upper tier authority has seen fewer cases per population than Devon.

And new measures to contain and reduce cases of coronavirus in Devon and safeguard the health of local people have now been revealed, which detail plans to provide a fast response to any future outbreaks of the virus across the county and help prevent it spreading.

The Local Outbreak Management Plan involves close partnership working between local organisations like health, councils, police, schools and care homes alongside businesses and key industries such as tourism, as well as working the Government and with the new NHS Test and Trace Service to ensure Devon has the necessary capacity and capability to provide a fully co-ordinated approach to contain and manage local outbreaks of COVID-19.

“If it can work anywhere, it is here,” said Dr Phil Norrey, Devon County Council’s chief executive. “At the current rate, it (covid-19) is almost not there in the local population. It is there, but at a very low level. The numbers cases may be three times the actual level but they are people who are asymptomatic and have no symptoms. We monitor it daily and get the information through, and if we get more than two in a day, we’re thinking ‘oh that’s a lot.

“Leicester last week had roughly 500 cases and they have same as in two and a half weeks as we have in the whole pandemic, and we have two times the population as them.”

If you go onto the Government website, the statistics show that Devon has had 1,185 confirmed cases across both Pillar 1 and Pillar 2. Of them, 831 are Pillar 1 details of tests carried out by NHS, with a further 354 in Pillar 2, carried out by commercial testing

On Tuesday, when speaking to the media, Dr Norrey said that in the previous five days, there had been no confirmed cases in either pillars in the county, although since then, three cases have been confirmed in East Devon.

“From the start, people in Devon took the message they received very seriously and took responsibility for them and their families. We know examples when people didn’t do that, but generally, there has been a responsible approach, and if that continues, we have every chance to keep levels as low as we can.

“It is a very nasty disease and we have 200,000 people over the age of 65 and the risk of getting ill doubles with every seven years of age, so we have the vulnerability if it is out and about. But where you see no cases in areas week after week, while it may still be there and very infectious and can spread quickly, from those levels, it will still take a while to build up in the local community even if the R Rate was very high, but we would aim to catch any outbreak early.

“Prevention is a key theme for us and all the public sector partners are working to prevent so as far as we can to stop an outbreak. If there is an outbreak then we aim to catch it early, and communicate and engage with the public. The key is to understand where the virus is being transmitted and then we are in a better position to understand that and we have the best possible data.

“People will be able take decisions for their own lives based on the best information that we have locally. If it is on the increase in an area then they can perhaps reduce the social contact or contexts where it is slightly riskier, but we are in a good position with a very low incidence of the disease. We are the lowest in the south west and have had zero cases in five days.”

Out of all of the 316 English district areas, Torridge remains the place with the lowest infections per 100,000 – with the South Hams now 3rd, North Devon 4th, West Devon 5th, East Devon 8th, Teignbridge 10th, Exeter 15th, Torbay 21st, Plymouth 40th, and Mid Devon 43 rd .

Across Devon, in the latest weekly Public Health Surveillance report, only Lambeth had reported a lower proportion of cases to its population than Devon, with five other areas, including Torbay, reporting no cases.

And despite fears that an invasion of tourists, or people flocking to the beach would cause a ‘second wave’, so far, there has been no impact at all in Devon, with the number of cases in single figures through the month of June in all parts of the county – with Torridge’s last case being report all the way back on May 19.

Dr Norrey added: “If you look back to where lockdown began to ease in May, more schools going back, non-essential retail opening, and some of the issues with large numbers coming to resorts or gathering on beaches, as yet, we have seen absolutely no impact on the incidence of the disease and it has steadily decreased. This is not to say we won’t see an increase, but that the incidence remains at a low and a manageable level to enable the economy to open up as far as it can safely.”

Asked what he thinks may happen once more lockdown measures are released on Saturday, Dr Norrey said it was very difficult to tell and there were a range of scenarios, but he thought the most likely was a small but manageable increase in the number of cases.

He added: “There will be more people having contact with more people in situations where the virus is more likely to transmit, but there has been a lot of work been done by businesses to minimise transmissions in those setting and people are being advised to think about the general level of social contact. The last thing businesses want is to reopen and be at the centre of an outbreak and then have to close again, so businesses want to get back in a secure way, and they are taking it really seriously.

“Much of our tourism industry is outdoors and the evidence from recent weeks of people coming together in outdoor groups is that it hasn’t led to any kind of perceptible increase in transmission. There could be small but manageable increase and if there is setting causing us a concern we can stop them quickly and manage the risk, but if people in their normal lives are not having lots of contact then the spread out from a setting would be minimised, and gives us time a catch and stop an outbreak.”

Devon County Council is one of 11 Beacon councils selected to help and advise other public authorities, and Devon’s Director of Public Health, Virginia Pearson, will lead a small committee made up of key personnel who can marshal all the resources needed to provide a swift response to managing an outbreak of the virus.

Dr Pearson said: “This comprehensive plan details how we will work with the new NHS Test and Trace Service and ensures we have the necessary capacity and capability to provide a fully co-ordinated approach to contain and manage local outbreaks of COVID-19.

“It provides a blueprint for action, but it will need regular updating as new national guidance is produced or legislation changes. Containing local outbreaks successfully will need to be a co-ordinated effort with specialists from Public Health England, the NHS, social care, district councils, education, the police, the private sector, employers and the community and voluntary sectors.

“But we have a long history of working with PHE on all sorts of outbreaks of communicable diseases as they happen all the time. Covid-19 is a special sort but we use the same principles of partnership working and early action if we see anything going wrong.

“As lockdown releases and as people want to get back to normal, we need to be vigilant and keep an eye on what is happening, but if people follow social distancing advice, wash their hands, keep going hygiene, wear face coverings where appropriate, it will protect people. We are the people in control of this and can stop covid spreading so have to take responsibility as individuals. It becomes less easy when people are travelling across the country as they increase the geographic footprint and return to normal life, but if we follow public health advice, it will minimise the risk of picking up the virus and spreading it to others.”

Speaking about Devon, Dr Pearson said that the county does have the local data which gives them the ability to keep an eye on what is happening locally, and she added: “There will be a risk until we get immunisation and until then have to be vigilant, but we are following up any cases that we do find and making sure people are protected. We need to keep an eye on local data, which we can do, and we can see what is happening locally and we want to share that with the population so we can tell you what is happening and increase the confidence of the public.”

She admitted that she was surprised by the response of the Government to the situation in Leicester and that if the powers were localised, they wouldn’t have applied the same response, but that Devon would be doing all it can to ensure they never got to a position where a wide ranging lockdown would be needed.

“It is difficult to know what happened in Leicester but we would see any community lockdown in Devon as an absolute failure given our numbers are so low and there is a whole range of things we can do before you end up on a situation where out of control and would have to do that,” she said.

Part of the issue in Leicester appeared to have arisen from local officials not having had the Pillar 2 data, but Dr Pearson confirmed that Devon are getting that information at a postcode level and have been for a while, although the data from the NHS track and trace system is not yet at postcode level.

Weekly rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population

Weekly rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population

But she said that track and trace is able get hold of about 80 per cent of contacts from the few recent positives in Devon, making the county one of the best performing nationally, and she added: “The intelligence we are getting is that it is working.”

Cllr John Hart, Devon County Council leader, added that because of the way the vast majority of Devon people have behaved with ‘great sense and responsibility throughout the pandemic’, it has meant the county has had the lowest number of outbreaks by some way throughout the crisis.

He added: “We obviously want to keep it that way and reduce it still further. We can now build on this effort and extend the work we have done together as Team Devon to protect our residents and support the most vulnerable.

“We will now be at the forefront of responding and managing the outbreak at a local level. And if there’s a hotspot in a town or village we’ll be able to get onto it swiftly before it spreads too far.

“We’ve ensured that our plan includes a strong focus on prevention and early intervention to ensure key settings such as care homes and schools and high- risk locations and communities identify and prioritise preventative measures.”

Cllr Hart said that while there are no grounds for complacency, he will let people know if there is an issue, but ‘at the moment, we have no cases’. In the previous five days, there had been no new cases, while the previous week saw just five cases.

He added: “We prepared for all eventualities, but the eventualities have ironically not raised their heads.”

Based on the initial models, Devon was forecast to see up to 6,000 deaths from coronavirus, and the county spent £2m on two temporary morgues in case they were needed, but as of this week, there have been 169 deaths in all settings within Devon. The latest ONS weekly figures for the week b between June 13 and June 19, but were registered up to June 27.saw zero deaths in the county.

Cllr Hart added: “And we didn’t put all the problems in care homes either. We have 8,500 people in them, and the death rate in care homes is less than would be expected. Devon – along with Kent, Lancashire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk – is one of only five local authorities where the number of deaths in care homes is significantly less than would have been expected related to the general population.

“We have people lined up to firefight if there was a case, but at the moment we have just one care home with an issue out of 333. We have sorted a doctor for each home who will be responsible, and PPE has ceased to be an issue. Every death is a tragedy but the numbers are very small.”

On what will happen this weekend once lockdown measures are released, Cllr Hart added: “We don’t know, but the spikes in activity so far have not caused a problem. In the South West, we have been having second home owners coming since Easter – not in droves – but they have been coming, and it has not had any impact on the fact and figures.

“There have been spikes of activities on beaches since before the Spring bank holiday and there has been no increase in cases of covid-19, and since then, all of the figures have been reducing, not increasing.”

On a local lockdown, Cllr Hart said that they hope that Devon would never get anywhere close to that stage given they have all the information to know what is going on.

He added: “When two or more cases and not in the same household, we will do checks to make sure the people of Devon are safe even though looking to open up the tourist industry. It is worth nearly £2b a year and employs over 85,000 people, so it is crucial that we get back working.

“We will be working for the benefit of the people of Devon and telling them what is happening rather than what rumour can create, if there is something. I hope we never get to lockdown and can stamp out coronavirus and any outbreaks quickly, but we are still looking for a faster response to testing so people know where they are, but we will stamp anything out before we get anywhere near there.

“A local lockdown is around a nine out of ten on a scale and there are lots of other activity before we get to that kind of position and I hope we never get to that kind of position.”

Among the actions that could be taken if there was a spike anywhere, Dr Norrey said, included at short notice deploying testing facilities if they feel the need to around asymptomatic testing of individuals.

He added: “With the numbers we have and they were not isolated cases, we would focus on a setting, be it a care home, a workplace, a school, a factory, and we would work first at that level before it got to the wider community, and we have already done that quietly behind the scenes in a couple of cases

“There has not been a lockdown but we have been working with the settings and ensuring appropriate measures. We identified some that have been an issue but have not had to exercise any powers. Before you get anywhere near closing a setting then lots of work you can do and the last thing we want to do is unnecessarily shut down any setting.”

He added: “Overall, our rate is something like 26 deaths per 100,000 when national average is 86 per 100,000, and the death rate is broadly comparable with the figure in Germany.”

And he added that at the levels of infection in Devon at the moment, the much heralded and misunderstood R Rate was meaningless, saying: “It doesn’t mean as much to me as the number of cases we are seeing locally. It seeped into the public consciousness but have become less and less relevant as cases drop off.”

And cases continue to drop off. The latest Public Health England surveillance report, bases on data between June 22 and June 28, showed another fall in the levels of coronavirus in Devon. The previous week had seen the weekly rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population under Pillar 1 and 2 positive tests at 1 for Devon. That figure has dropped to 0.4 – effectively three cases in the last seven days.

Only Lambeth, and the City of London, Rutland, Portsmouth, Bath and North East Somerset, and Torbay – the latter five where no positive cases where recorded – have a lower positivity rate than Devon.

Cllr Hart added: “We have no grounds for complacency but we will let people know if there is an issue, but at the moment, there isn’t one. If there is something going on then we will tell you.”

COVID Symptom Study data is now able to detect potential new COVID hotspots

The latest data modelling from the COVID Symptom Study app is now able to identify potential COVID hotspots in the UK, as well as showing daily cases in the population.

covid.joinzoe.com /post/covid-hotspots-uk

The COVID Symptom Study app can now detect potential COVID hotspots

The latest data modelling from the COVID Symptom Study app is now able to identify potential COVID hotspots in the UK, as well as showing daily cases in the population.

The modelling highlights three key local authorities as potential new hotspots. As well as Leicester which is already back in lockdown, the data has highlighted Dudley and Wolverhampton as other areas in the Midlands that could be heading in the same direction.

The COVID Symptom Study app defines three key criteria for identifying hotspots. The local authority area must:

1. Have significantly higher prevalence than its neighbouring authorities

2. Be in the top 10th percentile of prevalence for the UK; and

3. Have a prevalence that is higher today than 10 days ago

This method for estimating prevalence is based on the assessments of 3.7 million UK app users, using a validated model to predict COVID-19 based on symptoms and combine it with swab test results reported by app users.

The model used to estimate prevalence, which has been peer-reviewed and published in leading journal Nature Medicine, can find areas in the country that have a prevalence which is higher than its neighbours and is likely to lead to an increase in confirmed cases and hospitalisation in the following 5 and 12 days respectively. The same model predicted Barnsley and Rochdale to be hotspots back on June 17th but these areas no longer rank highly.

The recent lockdown of Leicester has expedited the need for earlier hotspot detection. This model can help find areas in the country that have a prevalence which is higher than its neighbours and are likely to lead to an increase in confirmed cases and hospitalization in the next 5 and 12 days respectively.

Daily new cases

According to the latest COVID Symptom Study app figures, there are currently an estimated 1,445 daily new cases of COVID in the UK on average over the two weeks, 14 to 27 June 2020 [*]. The number of cases has continued to fall nationally, and this week the number fell by 34 % since last week. The highest rates of new cases are still found in the Midlands.

The figures were based on 10,393 swab tests from 14 to 24 June based on 31 positive results. A full regional breakdown can be found on our data and maps page.

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments: 

“This fresh look at the data was inspired by the local lockdown in Leicester, we challenged ourselves to see if our app data could highlight any other local hotspots and we are really pleased that it does. The new model picked up Leicester as a consistent hotspot back on the 17th June which suggests it is accurately picking up places of concern.

With our data now flagging up potential new hotspots, it will allow for greater surveillance and focussed testing that could detect problems like Leicester much earlier and hopefully reduce the number of major  lockdowns. But to do this more successfully we still need more people to join us by logging how they are feeling each day so we can send out kits to those feeling unwell and catch these outbreaks and help us closely monitor what is going on in the UK population.”

Additional notes:

[*] This analysis requires swab testing, which was kindly provided by the Department of Health and Social Care for England. As Scotland and Wales are not yet offering tests to app users, we provided indirect estimates using countrywide averages and wide confidence limits.  Testing is happening in Northern Ireland, but the number of participants is too few to generate an accurate estimate. These figures exclude care homes as there is not enough data from the app to estimate this population.

M5 chaos as hundreds of tourists flock to West Country – Thanks Boris!

There are already delays on roads across the West Country as tourists flock to the region on what is being dubbed Super Saturday.

This picture taken on the M5 this morning shows a stark contrast between the amount of traffic heading north and south.

Holidaymakers appear to be travelling through Somerset to reach destinations in Devon and Cornwall as today marks further easing of lockdown restrictions.

Restrictions have been relaxed from today with pubs, hotels, restaurants and hairdressers all permitted to reopen following months of lockdown.

Devon Live is reporting huge delays on roads through Devon and Cornwall, with delays around Bristol and North Somerset predicted.

There are currently long delays on the M5 past Exeter.

Inrix reports: “Reports of accident on A384 near A38 (Dartbridge Junction). Traffic is coping well.

“A388 in both directions partially blocked due to accident near Service Station. Traffic is coping well.

“Reports of accident, a truck leaving the carriageway involved on A3072 between A388 North Road and Brooks Avenue. Traffic is coping well.”

Dozens of caravans and motorhomes were seen parked up at Taunton Deane Services this morning as hundreds of tourists head to the region’s beauty spots.

This comes after the latest available figures show the South West’s regional ‘R’ rate range has climbed back above the national average.

The latest government data on the rate, which was published yesterday (July 3), shows that the rate in the region could be as high as 1, having just two weeks ago been recorded as the lowest in the UK.

On June 19, the rate in the South West was reported as 0.6-0.9, but now it has risen to between 0.7 and 1, with the national average for England coming in at between 0.8 and 0.9.

The ‘R’ rate is the name given to the measured rate at which the virus can spread from person to person, and it is measured by the number of people who are being infected by one person carrying the virus.

Dominic Cummings: How the Prime Minister’s aide built his lockdown cottage without planning permission

FURTHER details of the planning breaches at Dominic Cummings’ lockdown cottage have emerged after The Northern Echo exclusively obtained a copy of the investigation report.

[Readers can always watch the “Durham Dash – A Song for Dominic Cummings” to cheer themselves up – Owl]

www.thenorthernecho.co.uk 

The Durham County Council inquiry shows the house the Prime Minister’s chief aide helped to build on his family farm was in breach of planning laws.

Durham County Council found several infringements following three visits to North Lodge Farm on the A167, near Durham, but concluded enforcement action could not be taken because changes were made too long ago.

The cottage the political strategist used during his trip to the region was a former barn or storage area and was converted in 2002, after Mr Cummings quit his job as director of strategy for the Conservative Party.

It is understood Mr Cummings built the ‘bunker’ with his father during a two year hiatus from politics.

The unauthorised change of use for the building is now immune from enforcement action by the planning authority but may still be liable for council tax.

The Northern Echo:

Dominic Cummings leaves Downing Street

Investigating officers found there was no planning history at all relating to the building, but believe it was already on the site when the Cummings family bought the land in 1999.

The report said: “The building has been partly converted to a self-contained unit of accommodation comprising two bed, bathroom, kitchen and lounge area in or around 2002.

“The conversion works comprised the removal of openings, installation of windows and doors and internal fit out.

“Invoices relating to the materials for the conversion work verify the approximate date of conversion.

“The remainder of the building (northern part) remains a garage/store and has not been subject to any conversion works. The building is understood to be occupied on an infrequent basis (approximately four weeks in any given year, by family).”

Planning inspectors also found the main property on the farm had been extended without planning permission with a porch built in breach of regulations and a ‘pod’ extension near the family’s swimming pool.

Studies of aerial photography as part of the investigation also revealed the curtilage of the property has also been increased to specifically include the area that now contains the cottage.

The author of the report, which was redacted in the copy seen by The Northern Echo, said there was no evidence to suggest either deliberate concealment or deception have taken place.

The author concludes: “Whilst there have been historic breaches of planning control relating to two extensions to the principal dwelling, building works to the cottage as well as a change of use of agricultural land to garden, these breaches are all now beyond the period in which enforcement action can be taken and are therefore immune.

“I therefore recommend that the case file be closed as there are no breaches of planning control against which enforcement action can now be taken.”

Durham County Council has said the issue of whether the cottage is liable for council tax has been referred to the Valuation Agency Officer, part of HMRC, which will not comment on individual cases.

Durham County Councillor John Shuttleworth, who sits on three of the council’s planning committees, said: “If he (Dominic Cummings) has tried avoid council tax he should be made to pay it.

“Anybody else would so what is the difference.

“This guy is running the country. You have got to be above it and be squeaky clean.”

It is understood Mr Cummings is a co-owner of the property helped build the cottage between quitting the Tory Party led by Iain Duncan Smith in 2002, and leading campaign against regional devolution in 2004, a precursor for his success with Vote Leave 12 years later.

The investigation was launched into the planning issues at the family property after Durham County Council received 18 complaints in the wake of the furore surrounding his trip to the region.

Durham City MP Mary Foy said: “I would like to thank Durham County Council officers for the speedy and professional way they have looked into this matter, but even though this report indicates that some breaches of planning regulations had taken place, the current time limits on enforcement mean that no action can be taken.

“This may be the case, but it’s very troubling that the Prime Minister indicated in his speech on Tuesday June 30 that the Government is planning to relax planning regulations even further, ostensibly to get the economy moving again.

“Rather than give carte blanche for developers to convert even more existing commercial buildings to residential without planning permission, and make it easier for people to carry out the sort of inappropriate development highlighted in this report, the Government should be increasing funding to planning departments to make sure that plans are properly scrutinised, and new buildings are fit for purpose.”

Mr Cummings was heavily criticised for leaving London to bring his wife, to Durham while they were both suffering from coronavirus symptoms in case they needed childcare for their four-year-old son.

Mr Cummings was also ridiculed for claiming a trip to Barnard Castle on Easter Sunday, which coincided with his wife’s birthday, was to see if he could drive having experienced problems with his eyesight.

A subsequent inquiry by Durham Constabulary found the initial trip did not breach Government restrictions but the trip ‘might’ have warranted a minor breach’.

A judicial review is now being sought over the failure of the director of public prosecutions, Max Hill, to investigate Mr Cummings for alleged breaches of lockdown rules.

Mr Hill has said it is a police matter, but the man behind the challenge, Martin Redston, has said the DPP has shown insufficient independence from the Government regarding the actions of Boris Johnson’s adviser.

A legal team, headed by the barrister Michael Mansfield, has now begun legal proceedings in the High Court.

The Cummings family have declined the opportunity to comment.

New building projects to create thousands of jobs in South Devon – another pitch to Government

New building projects to kick-start South Devon’s economy and create thousands of new jobs are on a ‘wish-list’ being sent to the Government this week.

East Devon Watch reported earlier in the year previous pitches to Government, the first to  Sajid Javid just a few days before he resigned, followed in March by a pitch to Boris Johnson.

This looks like a repeat of the same tired message.

Guy Henderson www.devonlive.com

As the Prime Minister heralded an ambitious nationwide ‘New Deal’ worth billions of pounds to kick-start the economy after the coronavirus lockdown, the South West’s biggest business organisation submitted a £121 million bid to fund a package of ‘shovel ready’ projects which include developments on the outskirts of Torquay, a new road at Newton Abbot and investments in South Devon College.

The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Project (LEP) says the projects could be started quickly and would provide an immediate stimulus to the economy, unlocking at least another £171m of investment and creating more than 3,000 jobs. They say the schemes would deliver the most benefit, give value for money and could be completed in a short time. Many already have planning permission, and are just waiting for investment.

Karl Tucker, who chairs the LEP, said: “Our bid will help the national campaign to build back better. We’ve selected our list based on how much these projects can deliver in economic, social and environmental benefits in the short and long term.

“We’ve put forward a strong case, and we await what we hope to be a positive decision. The LEP has a track record of delivering its projects on budget and on time.

“This is just the start, and we call on the Government to back this and back the Great South West.”

 

[Karl Tucker, executive chairman of Yeo Valley Production Ltd takes over from Steve Hindley, the chair of the Midas Group construction company, who announced in July 2017 he would be stepping down after six years. (The transfer was announced in December 2019.) Steve Hindley then popped up as the Chairman of the, unaccountable, unelected pressure group which seem to be an LEP for LEPs  “The Great south West”

Mr Tucker has been with Yeo Valley since 1996, having joined from the quarrying industry and before that having served in the British Army.

As well as his role at Yeo Valley, Mt Tucker sits on the SW CBI Council, is chair of the SW CBI’s Food and Drink Council and a member of the Somerset Growth Board.] – Owl

 

Projects on the wish-list include 2,000 sq m of office and industrial space at the ‘Torquay Gateway’ site at Edginswell, a development which it says will act as a ‘catalyst’ for the building of around 400 homes and will link in with the proposed new Edginswell railway station and a multi-million-pound Torbay Hospital improvement programme.

The Jetty Marsh Two link road between Newton Abbot town centre and the A382 is also on the list.

The LEP says it ‘represents an essential missing link that overcomes a significant bottleneck and supports around 4,000 allocated and future homes. It introduces a walking/cycling corridor where there is no existing or alternative provision, and is an important component of a new strategic bus route. It already has planning permission.

The list bids for new equipment at the EPIC and South Devon College Hi Tech Centre in Paignton to support the development of new talent for the growing hi-tech sector in Torbay.

A second phase of the Torbay Business Centre in Torquay’s Lymington Road is also on the list. The LEP says it will provide modern fit-for-purpose employment space in Torquay town centre and regenerate an area of deprivation.

At Cockington Court there is a plan to create a permanent Sculpture Park, building on the success of the sculpture trail project of the past two years. New commercial units and a harbour depot at Batson Creek in Salcombe complete South Devon’s section of the wish-list.

East Devon council skate parks and games areas to re-open within days

Public skate parks and games areas across East Devon will reopen next week and children’s play zones are expected to follow this month.

Becca Gliddon eastdevonnews.co.uk 
Skate parks in Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Honiton and Seaton can be used from Monday, July 6, after they were closed at the end of March because of the coronavirus lockdown.
Some 12 games areas across Exmouth, Axminster, Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Budleigh Salterton will also welcome back the public from July 6.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) announced the move today (Friday, July 3) adding it ‘anticipated’ reopening play parks on Monday, July 13, in Exmouth, Honiton, Axminster, Budleigh Salterton, Sidmouth, Beer and Ottery St Mary.

It said new signs will remind the public to take along sanitiser, wash their hands thoroughly before and after visits and warn them not to eat and drink while on the play equipment.

They will also be told to take litter home, be considerate of other park users and be prepared to come back another time if the area is busy.

The council warned it could not guarantee the public areas would be free from the virus, and urged parents to supervise their children and take ‘all reasonable precautions’.

Skate parks reopening on Monday, July 6, are:

  • Budleigh Salterton (Lime Kiln);
  • Exmouth (Phear Park);
  • Honiton (Allhallows);
  • Seaton (Underfleet).

Multi-use games areas open to the public from July 6 are:

  • Exmouth: Phear Park (x2), Liverton Copse, Cumberland Close, King George’s Field, Carter Avenue, The Crescent;
  • Axminster: Foxhill;
  • Honiton: St Mark’s, Davey Playing Field, All Hallows;
  • Ottery St Mary: Thorne Farm Way, Winter’s Lane;
  • Budleigh Salterton: Greenway Lane.

The district council anticipates the following play area sites will re-open on Monday, July 13.

  • Queen’s Drive play area, Exmouth;
  • Phear Park, Exmouth;
  • Redgates, Exmouth;
  • Allhallows, Honiton;
  • St Mark’s Road, Honiton;
  • North Street, Axminster;
  • Foxhill, Axminster;
  • Lime Kiln, Budleigh Salterton;
  • Stowford Rise, Sidmouth;
  • Manstone Recreation Ground, Sidmouth;
  • Jubilee, Beer;
  • Land of Canaan, Ottery St Mary.

Councillor Geoff Jung, EDDC portfolio holder for coast, countryside and environment, said: “I am really pleased that following the Government’s decision to reduce COVID-19 Emergency measures we are able to reopen many of our play areas.

“We are only able to do this following a thorough review and risk assessment of all our sites, and providing extra cleaning, materials and signage to protect the health and wellbeing for all the users.

“There are other play parks and facilities throughout the district run by a community, group, or parish council who are also considering opening their facilities and therefore residents need to check locally when their play park is open.”

Re-opening of play sites is a ‘more complex issue’ because of detailed guidance set out by the Government on increased cleaning, due to the risk of spreading the virus from where people’s hands meet the equipment, the council said.

Government guidance says parents, guardians and carers should sanitise children’s hands before and after using the play equipment, said EDDC.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “There are clearly many of these touch points where children play and, whereas before these touch points were not cleaned, the council is carrying out further risk assessments to determine the levels of cleaning now required in light of COVID-19.

“These assessments are required for each of the seventy-one play area sites. With the current resources the council has, it is focussing on how it can safely re-open twelve play parks and will review the re-opening of all the other sites shortly.”

She added: “As with all outdoor equipment that can be accessed by multiple people, play areas cannot be guaranteed to be free of COVID-19.

“Parents should supervise their children at all times and should take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and their children while using the equipment.”