Covid cases may have stopped falling, major English survey shows

Cases of coronavirus may no longer be falling across England, according to a major survey that raises concerns over whether lockdown measures can contain the new variant, as the UK reported a record daily number of deaths.

[Owl has been keeping records of the Zoe/King’s College symptom tracker app. These data  indicate reported symptom rates in East Devon falling from the November lockdown until the Christmas break. They have then been rising and only appear to have levelled off in the past few days. Reported symptom rates are still running at levels last seen at the end of November. Owl thinks we still need to be very cautious]

Ian Sample www.theguardian.com

Boris Johnson described the 1,820 deaths reported on Wednesday as “appalling”, as he warned: “There will be more to come.”

Scientists at Imperial College London analysed swab tests from more than 142,000 people across England between 6 and 15 January which suggested that new infections may have fallen recently but were now stable, and perhaps even growing slightly, with only south-west England showing clear evidence of a decline.

Imperial’s React-1 infection survey found 1.58% of people tested had the virus, a rise of 74% compared with the previous survey conducted between 25 November and 3 December.

Infections were highest among 18 to 24-year-olds, at 2.51%, with rates more than doubling among the most vulnerable over-65s to 0.94% in the latest survey.

The scientists estimate the R value – the average number of people an infected person infects – to be 1.04 for England. The epidemic grows when R is above 1 and shrinks when it falls below 1.

But the survey reveals regional variations, with cases potentially having plateaued in London and the east of England, falling in the south-west, where the R is estimated to be 0.37, and rising in Yorkshire and the east Midlands.

Levels of the virus were highest in London, with 2.8% of those in the survey testing positive, and lowest in the south-west, with prevalence of 0.53%.

Reacting to the new record death toll, the prime minister said the more transmissible variant discovered late last year was now in virtually all parts of the UK.

“It looks as though the rates of infection in the country overall may now be peaking or flattening but they’re not flattening very fast and it’s clear that we must keep a grip on this. We must maintain discipline, formation, keep observing the lockdown,” he said.

The Imperial scientists warned that pressure on the NHS showed no sign of letting up.

“The NHS is very resilient and all sorts of contingency measures are being brought in, but we do need to get the prevalence rates down because if we don’t then we will see the same pressure from prevalence to hospital admissions to [intensive care] admissions and sadly to deaths,” said Paul Elliott, professor of epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial.

The data appears to contradict the falling trend in new daily reported cases at the start of this week, but Elliott believes the Imperial survey may be ahead of official figures, not least because the survey tests people routinely rather than picking up infections after people have developed symptoms and gone through the process of getting a test.

“We do think we are ahead of the [community testing] pillar 2 data and it may be that in coming days there will be a flattening off, but clearly we need to keep a watching brief,” Elliott said.

At a press briefing on the report, Steven Riley, professor of infectious disease dynamics at Imperial, highlighted Facebook data showing a fall in mobility immediately after Christmas and a rise at the start of the new year, which might help to explain a fall in cases followed by a levelling off.

But the new variant, named B117, which emerged in the south-east and is more transmissible, is also thought to be driving more infections.

“The fact that we’re in lockdown and it’s a stronger lockdown than lockdown two [in November], but R is above 1, we’d attribute some of that to transmission of the variant strain,” Riley said.

The survey came as the UK recorded a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, reaching 38,905 on Wednesday, after continued falls in cases earlier in the week. The latest figures bring the total number of cases in the UK to 3,505,754.

Government data up to 19 January shows that of the 5,070,365 vaccinations that have been given in the UK so far, 4,609,740 were first doses – a rise of 343,163 on the previous day’s figures. Second doses accounted for 460,625, an increase of 3,759 on figures released the previous day.

The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now 281,490. Based on the latest figures, an average of 399,625 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the government’s target of 15m first doses by 15 February.

Riley said that while the vaccine rollout was “quite rightly” focused on those most at risk, they were not the most likely to spread the virus.

He said it would take “a large number of weeks or possibly months” for the vaccine to have an impact on the spread of the virus and bring new cases down.

Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ council criticised as most members based in London

A business council set up by Boris Johnson to rebuild the UK after Covid has been criticised for being too London-centric and treating most of the country with “contempt” after it emerged that all but five council members are based in or near the English capital.

Helen Pidd www.theguardian.com

Just one of the 30 Build Back Better Council members is based in the north of England, two are in the Midlands, one in Cambridge and one in Scotland. None work for firms headquartered in Wales or Northern Ireland. Twenty-two are in London and three in commuter towns within 25 miles of the capital.

Announcing the council on Monday, Johnson said it would “level up opportunity for people and businesses across the UK”. He promised it would “provide an important forum for frank feedback on our recovery plans”.

But the geographic makeup of the council was criticised for drawing almost exclusively from firms based in London or the commuter belt of the capital.

Nick Forbes, the leader of Newcastle city council, said: “So much for levelling up. We’re the only city with an A rating for our CDP assessment (demonstrating our ambition and plan for net zero by 2030), we’ve created thousands of jobs in the city over the last decade, we’ve won national praise for our work on tackling homelessness, we’ve broken all our housebuilding targets and we’re the first city to have all care home residents vaccinated against Covid. But the government doesn’t think they have anything to learn from us.”

Frank McKenna from UnitedCity, a pressure group set up to help businesses in Greater Manchester recover from the pandemic, said: “The one thing the government should have learnt from the last nine months, surely, is that we can’t have a one-size-fits-all-approach to rebuilding our economy.”

McKenna, who also heads Downtown in Business, which brings together firms in the north of England and the West Midlands, said it wasn’t too late to broaden the council’s membership. “Even at this stage I would say to Boris Johnson and his colleagues: this just looks daft … At worst it looks like the north of England has been forgotten and is being treated with contempt again.”

Henri Murison, the director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership thinktank, said: “A large part of the British business community, including a number of its most significant firms, is here – not least most of its major supermarkets. It is vital that discussions about key business priorities reflect that.”

A government spokesperson defended the appointments, saying: “The Build Back Better Council members have significant operations across the UK, employing tens of thousands of people in factories, R&D campuses, shops and forecourts across the Midlands and the north of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“Council members were selected because of their long-term commitment to the UK economy and their combined capability to increase business investment, get the economy moving and create jobs across the entire country.”

The council members include senior executives from companies including Google, Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Unilever. Outside London and the commuter belt there is the chief executive of Siemens, based in Manchester; the chief executives of Jaguar Land Rover and Severn Trent, both in Coventry; Sir Ian Wood of the engineering consultancy Wood in Aberdeen, and Poppy Gustafsson from the cyber-security firm Darktrace in Cambridge. The three companies within 25 miles of the capital are in Slough, Brentwood in Middlesex and Welwyn Garden City.

A new local plan for East Devon – Issues and Options report consultation

[Text of e-mail from EDDC on general circulation forwarded by a correspondent]

Dear Sir/Madam

A new local plan for East Devon – Issues and Options report consultation

I am delighted to advise that we are producing a new local plan for East Devon.  To start things off we have produced an Issues and Options consultation report.  This report highlights some of the major planning issues and challenges that we see for East Devon over the years ahead and some of the potential responses.  We would welcome your views on the matters we raise or any additional considerations.

The Issues and options report can be viewed www.eastdevon.gov.uk/newlocalplan and we have also produced an online questionnaire that we would encourage you to fill out.  We need to receive any comments by 12:00 noon on Monday 15 March 2021.

Responses received to the consultation, along with ongoing plan making work, will be used to help us produce a draft version of the local plan that we hope will go out for consultation in early 2022.

It is envisaged that a new local plan will guide future development and contain the full range of planning policies needed for the Council to undertake its development management functions and determine planning applications.   This consultation is undertaken in respect of the requirements of ‘Regulation 18’ of ‘The Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012’ https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/767/regulation/18/made

Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment – Call for Sites

To support local plan production we are undertaking a call for sites as part of a new Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (HELAA).  If you wish to promote any sites or areas of land in East Devon, for development, please visit our HELAA web page www.eastdevon.gov.uk/callforsites

Submission need to be received by 12:00 noon on Monday 15 March 2021

Sustainability Appraisal Scoping report

Local Plan production needs to be accompanied by sustainability appraisal.  We have produced a draft scoping report and would welcome any comments, again by 12:00 noon on Monday 15 March 2021.  Please see our sustainability appraisal web page www.eastdevon.gov.uk/sustainabilityappraisal for more details.

Yours faithfully

Matt Dickins

Planning Policy Manager

‘WHY THE GOVERNMENT SECRECY?’ ASKS GOOD LAW PROJECT

Legal challenge on Covid procurement secrecy with court hearing scheduled for Wednesday 3 February

Jon Danzig www.facebook.com 

The UK now has the highest COVID-19 death rate of anywhere in the world, writes Jolyon Maugham, QC, Director of the Good Law Project.

As we try and make sense of how we got our response so wretchedly wrong, just how significant will Government’s abandonment of transparency and proper process prove to be?

The purpose of procurement law is to ensure the public interest is served and that contracts go to those most able to deliver.

It protects us by requiring Government to undertake open and competitive tendering. This is particularly important at times of crisis when stakes are high.

Yet Government’s response to this pandemic has been characterised by secrecy.

There are billions of pounds of public health contracts we know nothing about – we don’t know who has made the decision to spend, or with what safeguards, or why such strange counterparties were chosen.

It is almost impossible for anyone to accurately assess where we’ve gone wrong because so many parts of the story are missing.

And Government is being deliberately misleading about what it has and hasn’t complied with.

On 17 December, Cabinet Office Minister, Julia Lopez, responded to a question in Parliament stating that all PPE contracts had now been published.

[Source: https://hansard.parliament.uk/…/583A3CB…/Covid-19Consultants]

That is simply not true.

Our litigation has revealed Government is refusing to publish whole categories of contracts, including those of significant agencies like Public Health England and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

[Source: https://drive.google.com/…/1ZxVtlh_zkY0MZ8fALO1iARTSRY…/view]

Executive agencies have no separate legal status – there is no lawful reason to exclude these.

Further, the NAO in its second report on pandemic procurement, set out that £12.5 billion had been spent on PPE between February and July 2020, including through existing contracts with Supply Chain Coordination Limited (SCCL), which manages the NHS supply chain.

[Source: https://www.nao.org.uk/…/The-supply-of-personal-protective-…]

However, data provided to us by Tussell on 18 December showed that only £8 billion of PPE contract awards made during that same period had been published.

Procurement through existing contracts is still the subject of an obligation to publish. Yet Government has published no details of call-off contracts with SCCL relating to PPE – over £4 billion of contracts are hidden.

These breaches matter.

▪ They matter because they normalise non-compliance with the law.

▪ They matter because they erode public trust that taxpayers’ money is being spent wisely, and that it will not just be handed to politically connected individuals, without adequate safeguards.

▪ But most importantly they matter because without a full and honest picture of what is happening, how can we begin to turn our fatally flawed response around?

We have a Government who no longer wants to account to the people on what it does – on why we have the worst death rate in the world, on why so many families are grieving.

But they cannot evade scrutiny in the courts. Our hearing is scheduled for 3rd February.

I am publishing my final Witness Statement in full.

[Link: https://drive.google.com/…/1ZxVtlh_zkY0MZ8fALO1iARTSRY…/view]

Thank you.

Jon Danzig

Sustainable tourism key to Cumbria’s new carbon neutral plan

Across Cumbria local communities, businesses and grassroots organisations are being mobilised to map out ways that they hope will help it become the UK’s first carbon-neutral county. The county is aiming to decarbonise by 2037, an ambition initially supported by £2.5m of national lottery funding, awarded last August and to be drip-fed over five years starting this month. Tourism will be an area of focus, alongside housing, transport and agriculture.

www.theguardian.com

“The national lottery funding is an injection of adrenaline at the beginning of a long journey,” said Karen Mitchell, CEO of Cumbria Action for Sustainability (Cafs). The funding was secured by the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership, which was set up by Cafs in 2019 with the help of the county council. The partnership has 68 members tasked with leading the drive to cut emissions, including the Lake District national park authority.

The UK government has a legal commitment to achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, but last month announced an additional target of reducing carbon emissions by 68% by the end of this decade. Last November, UK water companies launched a sector-wide commitment to achieving net zero by 2030, and a handful of cities, including Bristol, Glasgow and Leeds, have also committed to becoming carbon neutral by that date.

“We’re not excluding being able to do it earlier,” said Cafs’ Mitchell. “This is a climate emergency and we should be throwing everything at it.”

Achieving decarbonisation poses challenges for a county that in 2019 was visited by 48 million people. Visitors contribute £3.13bn to Cumbria’s economy and support 65,500 jobs. Tourism’s impact on its carbon footprint is largely linked to transport. In February 2020, the partnership commissioned A Carbon Baseline for Cumbria, which was produced by Professor Mike Berners-Lee, an expert in carbon footprinting – who also happens to live in Kendal.

The report found that the driving emissions of visitors to Cumbria are three times the UK average; their emissions from eating out and recreational activities are also higher than residents’. They account for 49% of Cumbria’s consumption-based greenhouse gas emissions, although 36% of those emissions come from travelling to and from Cumbria.

“Tourism does create significant challenges [to decarbonising], but it’s a huge part of the local economy,” said Chris Hodgson, owner of Haven Cottage B&B in Ambleside, which is now working towards gold certification with the Green Tourism accreditation body. He believes becoming carbon neutral will offer new opportunities for local tourism, but also that it shouldn’t have to mean reducing visitor numbers. “You just have to find ways for people to visit in a more sustainable fashion,” he said.

This could mean increasing the public transport options, the number of bike hire locations and cycleways, and looking at pedestrianisation. Hodgson is a member of the Ambleside to Zero action group, which is working with Cafs on some of these challenges.

The Lake District national park authority is about to release a new management plan that will tackle transport, one of the biggest causes of emissions in the world heritage site. As well as emphasising the public transport options available within the park, it will promote active travel days that can be undertaken without a car.

“Three quarters of visitors already go for a walk while they’re here,” said Emma Moody, sustainable transport adviser for the national park authority. “It’s about getting them to do it more, and also to get them to think about walking from the door of where they’re staying rather than feeling they have to jump in the car every morning.” In essence, it’s about persuading visitors to experience Wordsworth country in the same way the poet would have.

Electric vehicle charging points and electric buses are also on the agenda. The national park has already installed charging points in many of its car parks, and is working with Cafs and other partners to map demand hotspots and the potential volume required to cater for visitors in the future. Electric buses are a more complicated challenge, according to Moody, as the technology required to be able to do the types of journeys needed in the Lake District isn’t in place. The region has many power-draining hills and relatively long distances between charging points.

A low-carbon food programme is another area where the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership hopes to get tourists on board. Restaurants will be encouraged to decarbonise their food menus by lowering food miles, while also showing the impact of food choices by highlighting the carbon footprint of each item listed on the menu. The concept has been road-tested by the National Trust-run Sticklebarn pub in Langdale, which in 2019 was one of the first in the UK to list carbon calculations against its dishes.

Some of the £2.5m funding will go towards setting up a “grow local, eat local” scheme, by encouraging Cumbria’s livestock farmers to set aside land to grow fruit, vegetables and cereals. At the moment, local agriculture is geared towards lamb and dairy, according to Cafs, which leaves huge gaps for decarbonising restaurants.

“We will need every business and home in Cumbria to get on board with the net zero ambitions,” said Jonathan Kaye of Cedar Manor in Windermere, one of Cumbria’s leading eco-hotels, which already holds Green Tourism gold accreditation. “It’s taken us more than 12 years to get to where we are, and we are nowhere near carbon neutral,” he said.

“The plans are not too ambitious, they are essential, but it will take time and money to get there, and there is no point starting in 2035. Let’s be totally honest – we need to get on with this now.”

Fears over coronavirus vaccine supplies as rate drops

Ministers are increasingly concerned about the pace of the coronavirus vaccine rollout after a reduction in the supply of Pfizer-Biontech jabs.

Steven Swinford, Deputy Political Editor | Chris Smyth, Whitehall Editor www.thetimes.co.uk

The number of people receiving their first dose on Monday fell for the third day in a row to 204,076 from a high of 324,000 on Friday.

Pfizer said supplies of vaccine would be lower this month and next as it was upgrading its factory in Belgium before increasing production in March.

A government source said that the supply had become “very constrained” with ministers concerned about meeting the target to vaccinate 15 million people in the four most vulnerable groups by mid-February. “It’s going to be very, very tight,” the source said.

In an attempt to scale up the rollout dozens of pharmacies will start offering coronavirus jabs this week in blackspots where large numbers of over-80s are unvaccinated. The pharmacies will step in where GPs have been reluctant to set up vaccination centres.

One government source said they were still “confident” about hitting the February 15 target, but that the delay in the supply of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine made it more challenging.

There are also concerns about the rollout of the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine. Ministers had expected to receive two million doses a week this month, but Astrazeneca suggested that it may not hit that target until mid-February.

Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine and 100 million of the Oxford one. Ministers had hoped to distribute more than a million this week.

However, last Friday Pfizer said that it was reducing deliveries for the next three to four weeks while it made improvements to its factory in Puurs, Belgium. It said that although the move would lead to a “significant increase” in doses available in late February and March, it would “temporarily impact” shipments this month and in early February.

Pfizer said that it understood the change “has the potential to create uncertainty”. It was committed to delivering the same number of doses between January and March but said they would be “phased differently”.

London and the east of England have been lagging behind in the early stages of vaccination but officials are confident they will catch up within weeks.

At present only seven pharmacies in England have been authorised to carry out jabs. That number will rise by 63 next week and 130 the following week.

Although the government is on track to reach all care homes by next week and all over-80s shortly afterwards, concern is growing over the reluctance of some healthcare staff to accept the vaccine and plans are being made for a new push to counter misinformation.

In some parts of the country all over-80s have been vaccinated and the over-70s are being offered appointments, along with the clinically vulnerable. In other areas fewer than half of octogenarians have been reached.

London and the east of England have been slowest, with only 388,437 and 393,916 first doses administered respectively, compared with 713,602 in the Midlands.

The prime minister’s spokesman insisted yesterday that “all areas have had equal access to supply” but promised that more jabs would go to areas falling behind. “We will ensure that we provide more supply and support to those areas that have more to do,” he said…..

Grim milestone

From today’s Western Morning News:

A grim milestone in the coronavirus statistics has been reached in the Westcountry, with confirmation that more than 1,000 people in Devon and Cornwall have died with the disease.


The fully collated list of figures up to January 16 shows the total number of deaths where Covid-19 has been mentioned on the death certificate was 1,009 for Devon and Cornwall combined.

In all, 600 died in hospitals, 329 in care homes, 73 at home, one in a hospice, three in a communal establishment and three ‘elsewhere’.

New Onward research: Levelling Up the Tax System

The new report by the right-of-centre think tank Onward, produced for the levelling-up taskforce of Conservative MPs, argues that a faster impact can be produced through the tax system, by targeting levies that impose a disproportionate burden on poorer parts of the country.

The paper argues that the Treasury should publish regional distributional analysis at every Budget and Spending Review so that policymakers can systematically examine the regional impacts of different tax changes and to ensure that the levelling up agenda is not held back by the tax system.

www.ukonward.com

The analysis reveals that many taxes are regionally regressive, in that they are borne disproportionately by the less affluent regions. These include taxes such as council tax, some green levies, tobacco and alcohol duty, and VAT. In particular:

  • Average council tax per head in London is the lowest in England (£481), despite house prices being much higher in the capital than elsewhere. Per capita council taxes in London are a fifth lower than in much poorer regions such as the East of England (£593) and South West (£620). Council tax as a share of disposable income (GDHI) in London (1.64%) is the lowest in the UK, and just over half that of Yorkshire and the Humber (3.06%) and the North East (2.91%). 
  • Fuel and environmental duties are skewed towards poorer regions because of different transport patterns and more industrial economies in poorer areas. As a share of post-tax income, fuel duty is four times higher in Yorkshire and the Humber (2.72%) and Northern Ireland (2.68%) than it is London (0.68%), which has more public transport, more cycling and more electric vehicles. 
  • As a share of GDP, environmental levies on business are between a third and half lower in London (0.48%) than in more industrialised places like Scotland (0.99%) and the East Midlands (0.79%).
  • Excise duties weigh most heavily on the poorest regions. Per head the average person in Northern Ireland pays £469 a year in tobacco and alcohol duties combined, while in London it is just £210. Demographic trends have also meant that the capital’s tobacco and alcohol duty contributions combined have fallen by 16%, the fastest fall of any region.

The report also models different tax changes to understand which regions would benefit most from different approaches. The analysis finds that:

  • Reforming council tax could disproportionately benefit poorer regions. Cutting Band A council tax, from 6/9 of Band D to 5/9, for example, would save 54% of households in the North East an average of £147 a year, compared to a saving of £125 for just 4% of households in London. By contrast, increasing Bands F-H would increase tax for 15% of households in London and the South East but just 3% in the North East. 
  • Increasing capital allowances, particularly those for plant and machinery or industrial buildings, would likely generate larger gains for the midlands, the north and Wales. Businesses in places like Warwickshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, the West Midlands, Teesside, East Yorkshire, Northern Lincolnshire and Cumbria, invest the most in such things as a share of their local economy, and would be likely to see larger gains from increasing such tax allowances.
  • Removing the tax advantages for self employed people would disproportionately be borne in more prosperous regions, resulting in a £3,452 tax increase per self-employee worker in London compared to a UK average of £2,344 and just £1,565 per self-employed worker in the North East and Wales. 
  • In cash terms a £1,000 increase in the income tax personal allowance would see the largest gains per capita in London.  But as a share of income the gains would be larger in lower income regions. For Londoners this amounts to a 0.35% boost to income, compared to 0.52% in the North East, the East Midlands and Wales. 

The paper argues that the Treasury should publish regional distributional analysis at every Budget and Spending Review so that policymakers can systematically examine the regional impacts of different tax changes and to ensure that the levelling up agenda is not held back by the tax system.

Statue of fossil hunter Mary Anning to be erected after campaign

A statue to Mary Anning, a fossil hunter and palaeontologist once “lost to history” but now considered a significant female force in science, is finally to be erected after a crowdfunding campaign by a teenage girl.

Caroline Davies www.theguardian.com 

Evie Swire, 13, was nine years old when she first heard of Anning, who was born into a humble family in 1799 near Evie’s Lyme Regis home in Dorset. The schoolgirl was outraged to discover there was no statue.

Now, despite setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic, Evie’s campaign has raised £70,000 – enough to commission the statue. It is hoped it can be unveiled in Lyme Regis in May 2022 on the anniversary of Anning’s birthday.

Anning grew up hunting for fossils in the nearby cliffs to sell to supplement her family’s meagre income. She was responsible for many pioneering finds, including one of the first ichthyosaurus skeletons, and became immensely knowledgable in the then emerging field of palaeontology.

But her finds were often credited to the male collectors to whom she sold her fossils. Her disappointment and frustration was evident in one surviving letter in which she wrote: “The world has used me so unkindly, I fear it has made me suspicious of everyone.” She died aged 47.

Evie launched the “Mary Anning Rocks” campaign with her mother, Anya Pearson. Its patrons include Sir David Attenborough, the academic and broadcaster Prof Alice Roberts and the novelist Tracy Chevalier. The actor Kate Winslet, who stars in Ammonite, a film about Anning, has also pledged support.

The sculptor Denise Dutton, whose recent works have included the Land Girls monument at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, and the suffragette Annie Kenney in Oldham, has been commissioned.

Drawing inspiration from designs submitted by local schoolchildren in Lyme Regis, she has produced preliminary sketches that show Anning striding with her dog, Tray.

“I think it looks really good. It just looks like her from the one picture that we have of her,” said Evie.

Even though Anning was excluded from organisations such as the Geological Society, “it didn’t stop her. She still carried on, even when it became really hard for her,” Evie added. “She was a very important person, but she was lost in history.”

Evie’s mother said that despite the pandemic, which delayed the launch of the crowdfunder, £70,000 of the £100,000 target had been raised, enough to go ahead with the statue. The remaining £30,000, which they will continue to fundraise for, is to cover installation and legal costs.

The statue would be placed somewhere along the town’s sea defence wall, “so she will be looking out towards Black Ven where she did all her fossil hunting”, Pearson said.

“She’s been created so she’s interactive, so there’s no pedestal or podium. She’s on the floor with everyone, so people can put fossils in her basket. Lots of children leave fossils at her grave. So the idea is we put her out on the walk down to the fossil beach and children will start putting fossils into her little basket.”

The campaign has 30,000 followers across social media. “We call them the Anning army, and it really does feel like an army of people who are all equally up in arms that this absolutely incredible woman – working-class, self-educated – has been woefully forgotten,” said Pearson.

Anning is now part of the national curriculum and many children have donated Christmas and pocket money, she added.

Dutton said Anning was “absolutely fascinating” as a subject. Only one painting of her exists, where she is in her Sunday best.

“She was never credited for her discoveries. She sold specimens to male scientists who claimed credit,” said Dutton. She is meticulously researching what Anning would have worn to go fossil hunting and is taking advice from the V&A Museum in London.

What does she want the statue to convey? “Determination, because among everything else, the determination that she had to carry on, to go out – and she went out at the end of storms when it was very dangerous – so there must have been a pig-headedness about her to do that. So, that excitement and that determination,” said Dutton.