Caught on camera: dramatic cliff fall in Sidmouth – Friday

Go to Sidmouth Herald online to see more images

Alex Walton

PUBLISHED: 23:00 17 October 2020 

Sidmouth cliff fall Picture: Linda Allen

A large cliff fall kicked up a dust cloud at East Beach in Sidmouth this morning (Friday, October 16).

Terry Whitmore from Exmouth was visiting the town and enjoying a walk along the seafront at the time of the fall.

She said: “It happened at 10.25am. There was a small fall just before the large one.

“It was an amazing sight. You could taste the dust.”

This latest cliff fall highlights just how dangerous this stretch of the coastline is and how susceptible it is to erosion.

It comes after a monitoring station was recently installed at Port Royal to observe and record changes caused by coastal erosion.

The public are strongly advised not to use this beach with fresh warning signs in place at the access point on the new bridge to deter any would-be adventurers.

Covid ‘clusters’ in 12 parts of East Devon with 69 new cases across district

Another 69 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in East Devon in the past week – with ‘clusters’ identified in a dozen of its wards.  

East Devon Reporter 

It means a total of 466 Covid-19 cases have now been recorded in the district, where the infection rate is 318.6 for every 100,000 people.

In Exeter, 379 new cases have been confirmed in the past seven days. The city’s overall total stands at 1,442 with an infection rate of 1,097.4.

There were 1,133 new cases across both Devon and Cornwall.

Statistics are from both ‘pillar one’ NHS data and ‘pillar two’ data from commercial partners.

Ninety-two new cases had been confirmed across East Devon – and 603 in Exeter -in the previous week.

However, around half of these were backdated due to a widely-reported national database glitch.

‘Clusters’ in 12 East Devon areas

A dozen ‘clusters’ – where three or more Covid cases have been confirmed – have been identified in East Devon in:

  • Cranbrook, Broadclyst and Stoke Canon (18 cases);
  • Exmouth Town (eight);
  • Clyst, Exton and Lympstone (seven);
  • Sidbury, Offwell and Beer (six);
  • Ottery St Mary and West Hill (five);
  • Exmouth Littleham (five);
  • Feniton and Whimple (five);
  • Axminster (four);
  • Exmouth Halsdon (four);
  • Budleigh Salterton (three);
  • Exmouth Brixington (three);
  • Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh (three).

The ‘clusters’ data, last updated yesterday afternoon (Friday, October 16), is based on a rolling rate of new cases by specimen date ending on October 11.

Figures are based on Middle Super Output Areas (MSOA) in England – broken down into zones of around 7,200 people.

‘Clusters’ have been identified in all of Exeter’s 15 wards:

  • Pennsylvania and University (193 cases);
  • Central Exeter (66);
  • St James Park and Hoopern (56);
  • Middlemoor and Sowton (28);
  • Mincinglake and Beacon Heath (23);
  • Alphington and Marsh Barton (20);
  • Pinhoe and Whipton North (19);
  • St Leonard’s (18);
  • Heavitree West and Polsloe (14);
  • Wonford and St Loye’s (14);
  • St Thomas East (12);
  • Heavitree East and Whipton South (ten);
  • Exwick and Foxhayes (nine).
  • St Thomas West (nine);
  • Countess Wear and Topsham (seven).

New cases across Devon and specimen dates

Some 943 new cases of coronavirus have been across Devon in the past week.

Of these, 69 were in East Devon, 379 in Exeter, 39 in Mid Devon, 50 in North Devon, and 176 in Plymouth.

There were 41 cases in the South Hams, 71 in Teignbridge, 88 in Torbay, 23 in Torridge and 27 in West Devon.

Cornwall recorded 170 new cases.

Of the 943 Devon cases, 581 had a specimen dare of between October 9 and October 15.

Fifty of these were in East Devon and 218 were in Exeter.

There were 109 in Plymouth, 45 in Torbay, 44 in Teignbridge, 40 in North Devon, 26 in the South Hams, 21 in Mid Devon, 15 in Torridge, and 13 in West Devon.

Eighty-two of Cornwall’s cases had specimen dates in the past week.

The number of people in hospital in the South West in the past week has risen to 151 from 77 and there are currently 17 people on a mechanical ventilator.

How the figures compare to the previous week

Of the 1,369 Covid cases confirmed across Devon and Cornwall in the week before last, 745 had a specimen date between October 2 and 8.

Some 310 of these were in Exeter and 45 were in East Devon.

Covid cases totals and infection rates

Devon has now recorded a total of 3,376 confirmed coronavirus cases. The county’s infection rate is 420.8 per 100,000 people.

Of these, 466 have been in East Devon, where the infection rate is 318.6.

Exeter’s total is 1,442 and its infection rate 1,097.4.

There has been a total of 1,268 cases in Plymouth, 550 in Torbay, 418 in Teignbridge, 320 in Mid Devon, 256 in North Devon, 220 in the South Hams, 137 in West Devon, and 117 in Torridge.

The total in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is 1,804 cases.

A total of 584,843 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in England. The national infection rate is 1,039 per 100,000 people.

Hope for Covid vaccine at New Year

The NHS is preparing to introduce a coronavirus vaccine soon after Christmas. Trials have shown it will cut infections and save lives, Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, has privately revealed.

[Similar story carried here ]

Tim Shipman and Andrew Gregory 

He told MPs last week that stage three trials of the vaccine created at Oxford University and being manufactured by AstraZeneca mean a mass rollout is on the horizon as early as December. Thousands of NHS staff are to undergo training to administer a vaccine before the end of the year.

The government changed the law this weekend to expand the number of health professionals able to inoculate the public. The regulations will enable pharmacists, dentists, midwives and paramedics to administer jabs.

Van-Tam gave a briefing to MPs on Monday afternoon in which he said: “We aren’t light years away from it. It isn’t a totally unrealistic suggestion that we could deploy a vaccine soon after Christmas. That would have a significant impact on hospital admissions and deaths.”

The first vaccines will be given to the elderly and vulnerable and to vaccinate those most at risk will take several months. Most people will not be given the jab.

An MP who attended another briefing with Van-Tam said he was “very bullish about the third stage AstraZeneca results, which he expects between the end of this month and the end of next”. The MP said: “Van-Tam expects it to protect the elderly and vulnerable. He gave us to understand that it stopped the virus ‘shedding’ in the young. He said he would expect vaccination to start in January.”

Boris Johnson warned last week that there might never be a vaccine, but insiders say he did so because the government does not want to “overpromise and underdeliver”.

A health department official confirmed a “robust and comprehensive training programme” was being developed by the NHS and Public Health England to train more people to administer injections.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said: “These legal changes will help us in to make sure we are ready to roll out a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it has passed clinical trials and undergone rigorous checks by the regulator.” Van-Tam added: “Vaccines are being developed at a speed that, if successful, will save lives.”

Planning applications validated by EDDC week beginning 5 Oct

Coronavirus: Poll shows lack of trust in Boris Johnson as Britons feel the financial pinch from pandemic

British voters do not trust Boris Johnson and his health secretary Matt Hancock to beat coronavirus, according to a new survey – and less than a quarter (22 per cent) think it would be reasonable for ministers to expect them to keep obeying restrictions on their social and economic lives beyond the spring.

Andrew Woodcock, political editor

The poll by BMG Research for The Independent laid bare the extent of financial hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures imposed by the government to fight it.

More than a quarter of those questioned (26 per cent) said that their household incomes had gone down as a result of the outbreak.

And some 3.4 per cent – the equivalent of more than 900,000 families or sole-person households – said their income had fallen by more than half.

The poll of 1,500 people was conducted as Mr Johnson struggled to maintain his grip on his regional coronavirus policy, with councils in the north rejecting his efforts to tighten local restrictions and Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer demanding a national “circuit-breaker” lockdown.

It found that just 36 per cent now trust the prime minister to lead the response to the pandemic, against 44 per who do not – an overall rating of -8. For Mr Hancock, the figures were more damning, with a trust rating of -13 based on just 26 per cent trusting him and 39 per cent expressing distrust.

The most trusted politician was chancellor Rishi Sunak, whose +19 rating of 44 per cent trust compared to 23 per cent distrust was no doubt buoyed by his role handing out close to £200bn in state support, including a furlough scheme paying up to 80 per cent of wages for employees unable to work.

Nicola Sturgeon had a +13 trust rating (42 – 29 per cent), soaring to +22 (52 – 30 per cent) in Scotland, while Starmer’s positive rating was a more modest +9 (36 – 27 per cent).

Levels of trust in the key pandemic experts were comfortably higher, with chief medical officer for England Chris Whitty scoring +25 (41 – 16 per cent) and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance +21 (36 – 15 per cent).

The figure with lowest public credibility on dealing with coronavirus was US president Donald Trump, with just 11 per cent of Britons saying they trusted him  on the issue, against 73 per cent who did not.

There was little sign of optimism for an improvement to families’ financial position in the near future, with 25 per cent of those questioned saying that they expect their household income to decline further over the next six months. The period will see the replacement of Mr Sunak’s furlough scheme in November with a less generous system paying 22 per cent of wages – or 67 per cent for firms forced to close in tier 3 Covid alert areas.

And it will see the withdrawal in April of the £20-a-week temporary uplift to universal credit and working tax credit provided to help benefit claimants weather the coronavirus storm.

The poll found that those most likely to lose out financially due to coronavirus were 25- to 34-year-olds – those most likely to be bringing up small children – among whom 36 per cent said their household income had fallen, against just 10 per cent who said it had gone up. By contrast, just 8 per cent of over-65s reported financial loss.

Ethnic minority households were far more likely to report that they had lost income (35 per cent) than white British (24 per cent).

The director of policy at the Child Poverty Action Group, Louisa McGeehan, said the poll’s findings reflected the group’s own experience of families with children suffering money woes.

“As these figures suggest, parents of young children are more likely to be struggling due to falling incomes, lack of childcare and the additional costs of raising children,” Ms McGeehan told The Independent.

“Our own research found that eight in 10 hard-up families are financially worse-off as a result of the pandemic. Despite this, there has been no financial support from the government specifically targeted at families with children.”

Removing the benefit uplift in the spring “makes no sense”, said Ms McGeehan, calling instead for a  £10 weekly increase in child benefit to help protect children from hardship.

And Emma Revie, chief executive of foodbank charity the Trussell Trust, said: “It is shocking how many people have seen their incomes fall during the pandemic.

“This has led several thousands of people to be forced to use a food bank for the first time. This is not right.

“Our own research forecasts that if we don’t take action as a nation, our network of food banks will be giving out six food parcels a minute this winter.

“But it doesn’t have to be like this. This year we’ve seen the power of what happens when we stand together in the face of adversity. That is why we’re urging the government to preserve the lifelines that have saved many of us from destitution through this pandemic.”

Among the 26 per cent reporting a blow to their finances, around one in six (16 per cent) said their household income had fallen by less than 10 per cent, a quarter (25 per cent) said it was down by 10-19 per cent, a further 22 per cent had taken a hit of 20-29 per cent in their income, 10 per cent had lost 30-39 per cent, and 7 per cent had lost 40-49 per cent. But a staggering 13 per cent of this group – equivalent to 3.4 per cent of the population – said that the money coming into their home was down by more than 50 per cent as a result of the pandemic.

The poll found that 49 per cent of voters believe that the government is right to prioritise limiting the number of deaths caused by the disease, while 30 per cent say limiting the damage to jobs and the economy should come first.

But it also indicated that Britons’ patience may soon run out for the lockdown restrictions which have forced them to stay in their homes, give up visits to pubs and restaurants and limit socialising with friends and family.

A clear majority (65 per cent) said it was “reasonable” for the current restrictions in their area to continue until Christmas, against just 19 per cent who said it was not.

That majority fell if the restrictions were extended to the spring of 2021 – as Mr Johnson has suggested they might – with 46 per cent saying this would be reasonable and 34 per cent unreasonable.

But beyond this date, support for continued measures drops off a cliff, with 51 per cent saying it would be unreasonable to carry on to the end of 2021 and 59 per cent into 2022, even if no vaccine or effective treatment is found.

Only a hardcore 13 per cent of lockdown accepters said that it would be reasonable to keep measures going into 2022, and these people appear ready to maintain them almost indefinitely, as virtually the same proportion were happy to continue into 2023.

BMG head of polling Robert Struthers said: “Boris Johnson’s own personal ratings strengthened as the first wave of the pandemic hit the UK back in February and March of this year.

“Now, as the second wave of the virus takes hold, it appears public trust has slipped away. 

“The collapse in trust will likely worry those working across government, as the prime minister tries to reassure the public that the new measures introduced over the past week will be enough to halt the spread.”

Mr Struthers questioned whether Mr Sunak’s popularity would survive the  planned rollback of his support schemes.

“You might expect the trust ratings of the chancellor and prime minister to be closely aligned given how closely they will be working together at the top of government,” he said.

“However, this polling clearly shows that the public rate the chancellor’s performance and ability to hand the virus effectively – up until now at least – much more highly.

“However, as the second wave takes hold and economic support packages become more targeted and less generous, whether this trend continues is another matter entirely.”

– BMG Research questioned 1,500 UK adults between 8 and 13 October. 

Former Flybe shareholder Cyrus in talks about reviving collapsed regional airline

A shareholder in Flybe when it collapsed this year with the loss of thousands of jobs is in talks with its administrators about a potentially controversial bid to resuscitate the regional airline.

Mark Kleinman

Sky News has learnt that Cyrus Capital, a hedge fund with offices in Mayfair, is behind a plot to reacquire some of Flybe’s assets, despite the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Britain’s aviation industry.

Cyrus Capital, which is run in Europe by Lucien Farrell, is understood to be in discussions with EY – which was appointed to handle the company’s insolvency in March – about a deal.

It is said to want to relaunch a smaller version of Flybe next year, although the precise timetable would be subject to a recovery in passenger demand and the removal of coronavirus-related quarantine measures.

Flybe was Europe’s largest regional airline, carrying around 9m passengers annually and accounting for 40% of domestic UK flights.

It served more than 80 airports across Britain and Europe, including locations such as Belfast, Birmingham, Exeter, Manchester and Southampton.

It fought a frantic battle to survive, securing a rescue deal involving Cyrus Capital, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Stobart Group, the owner of Southend Airport, early last year.

However, it ran into fresh financial turbulence in January, with mounting losses prompting it to approach the government to seek emergency financial support.

Despite premature public comments from cabinet ministers including the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, that a deal had been struck to keep Flybe aloft, weeks of talks about a £100m state loan foundered.

Opponents of a government funding package were led by Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair boss, who called it “a billionaires’ bailout” in reference to Sir Richard Branson’s involvement in the ownership of Flybe.

The company eventually called in administrators in early March, causing more than 2300 job losses, with Virgin Atlantic’s refusal to inject new funding the eventual catalyst for its collapse.

Virgin Atlantic was forced to seek its own bailout this year following the slump in international air travel.

More than a dozen of Flybe’s routes have been taken on by Loganair, another regional carrier, although many remain unfilled.

Further details of Cyrus Capital’s plans to revive Flybe, including whether it would seek to use the defunct airline’s name, were unclear this weekend.

A number of former Flybe executives are understood to be involved in the proposed relaunch.

The hedge fund held a 40% stake in Connect Airways, Flybe’s parent company, before its insolvency.

According to an administrator’s report, it was also the largest secured creditor, with £53m of loans outstanding when EY was appointed.

Cyrus Capital and EY declined to comment.

As well as Virgin Atlantic’s privately funded rescue deal, International Airlines Group, the owner of British Airways and Aer Lingus, has tapped shareholders for more than £2bn of additional equity since the COVID-19 crisis began.

Sky News revealed earlier this month that easyJet had warned the government that it might require further state support beyond its access to the Bank of England’s coronavirus funding programme

Further evidence of the continuing crisis in the aviation sector was provided this weekend as the UK’s biggest airport entered into a new phase of consultation with employees, heightening the possibility of substantial job losses.

Heathrow Airport has been consulting with unions since early last month about revised pay deals for thousands of staff, but the statutory 45-day period expired on Friday with no deal in place.

That will involve individual consultations with up to 4700 affected employees, although the number of any eventual job losses will be significantly lower than that.

Kathryn Leahy, Heathrow’s director of operations, said: “In order to ensure our business recovers from this crisis and is sustainable and competitive in the future, changes need to happen.

“For the past 45 days we have been in formal talks with our unions, but we have been unable to reach an agreement.

“Whilst we will continue to talk, we now need to move on to the next stage of this process with our colleagues.”

She added that Heathrow, which has seen passenger numbers plummet this year, had “a new future ahead of it and in order to be competitive, we need to create cost efficiencies across the business”.

Ms Leahy insisted that the company’s pay offer meant there was “a job for everyone who wants one”.

Heathrow’s plan involves equalising pay, with a ‘buy down’ offer – for those whose salaries will be decreased – involving the difference being paid in a lump sum or in monthly instalments over a two-year period.

The airport has told unions that while no further pay deals will be considered until the beginning of 2023, that would be reviewed if passenger numbers return to at least 80% of 2019 levels across three consecutive months compared with the same three-month period in 2019.