Devon has 37 confirmed Covid-19 clusters in latest data

(Owl hopes Simon Jupp keeps testing himself before he goes on his well publicised pub crawl)

Chloe Parkman www.devonlive.com

According to the latest figures, there are currently 37 coronavirus clusters across Devon, with one area of the county containing more cases than any other.

Figures released by the Government on June 16, relating to positive coronavirus cases between June 5 and June 11, show that Exeter has nine areas reporting a cluster.

A cluster is when more than two positive coronavirus cases are recorded in the same seven-day-period in one area.

Central Exeter has the highest case rate across the city, which is divided into 15 Middle Layer Super Output Areas [MSOA], with 15 cases recorded between June 5 and 11, with a rate of 124.1 cases per 100,000 people.

The figures released today (June 16) show Exeter recorded two new clusters, along with one in West Devon, one in Torbay and two in Plymouth.

The MSOA areas which currently contain the most cases in Devon are Exeter Central with 15 cases, Pennsylvania and University with 12 cases and Teignmouth South with 6 cases.

The Government’s coronavirus cluster map splits the country into areas of roughly 7,500 people, based on the 2011 census, known as Middle Super Output Areas (MSOAs).

The map highlights areas where three or more coronavirus cases have been reported for a week period, with the numbers coming off of the map a week after being confirmed positive.

Areas not highlighted do not necessarily have no coronavirus cases in them, as the data does not highlight or count areas with less than three cases in order to protect individuals privacy – meaning that if an area has one or two cases, it will display as 0 to 2 cases.

Below we take a look at the current coronavirus clusters across Devon: New Positives 05-June to 11-June

Note: The figure on the left is how many Covid cases there currently are in the area and the figure in () is how many Covid cases there were in the area yesterday.

Areas in Devon that are not listed below are not currently showing a cluster, but could have up to two positive cases in the seven-day-period.

Exeter / East Devon

East Devon Honiton South & West 3 (0)

Exeter Pennsylvania & University 12 (10)

Exeter Mincinglake & Beacon Heath 4 (4)

Exeter St James’s Park & Hoopern 5 (4)

Exeter Heavitree West & Polsloe 3 (4)

Exeter Heavitree East & Whipton South 5 (4)

Exeter Central Exeter 15 (11)

Exeter St Leonard’s 4 (4)

Exeter St Thomas East 3 (0)

Exeter Middlemoor & Sowton 4 (3)

Mid Devon

Mid Devon Bampton, Holcombe & Westleigh 4 (3)

Mid Devon Cullompton 5 (3)

Mid Devon Crediton 3 (3)

North Devon

North Devon Woolacombe, Georgeham & Croyde 3 (3)

North Devon South Molton 4 (3)

South Hams

South Hams Kingsbridge 4 (4)

Teignbridge

Teignbridge Tedburn, Shillingford & Higher Ashton 3 (3)

Teignbridge Teignmouth South 6 (6)

West Devon

West Devon Okehampton 5(5)

West Devon Lifton, Lamerton & Bridestowe 3 (0)

West Devon Tavistock 3 (3)

Torbay

Torbay Brixham Town 3 (0)

Plymouth

Plymouth Glenholt & Widewell 6 (4)

Plymouth Higher Compton & Eggbuckland 5 (5)

Plymouth North Prospect 3 (3)

Plymouth Keyham 5 (4)

Plymouth Plympton St Mary 3 (3)

Plymouth Plympton Underwood 3 (0)

Plymouth Ford & Blockhouse Park 3 (3)

Plymouth Efford, Laira & Crabtree 4 (3)

Plymouth Plympton St Maurice 3 (3)

Plymouth Mutley 6 (6)

Plymouth Lipson 4 (4)

Plymouth City Centre, Barbican & Sutton Harbour 4 (4)

Plymouth Cattedown & Prince Rock 3 (0)

Plymouth Millbay & Stonehouse 5 (6)

Plymouth Plymstock Hooe & Oreston 3 (3)

After the Great South West economic plan – Simon Jupp launches his vision.

“I’d encourage anyone currently looking for work to take advantage of the opportunities available. Everyone else can do their bit by visiting their local pubs, restaurants, cafés, bars and hotels and supporting them by enjoying a drink or a meal.”

(With scary photo)

No mention of the hospitality industry being seasonal and poorly paid. An example of “I’m all right Jack”? – Owl

Banging the drum for hospitality in East Devon is such an important thing to do

Simon Jupp www.devonlive.com

I have always enjoyed the comforting surroundings of a traditional British boozer. The ambiance, the local chatter, the chance to catch up with friends over a pint and a decent plate of homecooked food. Our pubs are something to be proud of and must be protected.

The hospitality sector has faced almighty challenges over the last year or so. Pubs, bars, cafés, hotels and restaurants have all endured a rollercoaster of a ride as restrictions were put in place to tackle the pandemic.

Venues across East Devon have shown flexibility, ingenuity, and vigour in adapting to the temporary rules to ensure a safe and secure experience for us all.

We have a part to play too. We should be patient when it comes to table service and to understand that staff are doing the best they can to take and deliver orders in good time.

MPs Neil Parish and Simon Jupp at The Greyhound Country Inn at Fenny Bridges.

MPs Neil Parish and Simon Jupp at The Greyhound Country Inn at Fenny Bridges.

Being asked to use your smartphone to register being in a venue or reminded to use a face covering when moving around might annoy some customers, but the staff are simply doing what is being asked of them until the restrictions are removed. Sadly, as we learnt earlier this week, these rules will be in place for a few more weeks.

I have spoken to several owners and managers in the hospitality sector locally and I know finding staff is becoming another challenge that needs to be overcome.

Next time you are out in your part of Devon, look at the recruitment signs on display outside pubs and restaurants seeking staff. Local online websites are also carrying adverts from businesses looking to hire people. It’s not until you start looking that you see the demand is quickly growing.

Hospitality is the backbone of East Devon. Its prominence and contribution to the local economy is vital. I sometimes feel that we do not properly acknowledge the importance of this sector in terms of how staff are viewed or valued. By this, I don’t necessarily mean by their employers, but by us as customers.

In countries such as France or Spain, working as serving staff or behind a bar is viewed as a lifelong vocation. Sadly, I think some people in the UK wrongly view such jobs as simply menial or a stopgap. They simply aren’t. A lifelong rewarding career is possible. We need to change the perception and recognise how hospitality staff are not only necessary to have a vibrant and successful local economy, but also act as ambassadors for East Devon whenever they interactive with a customer or a tourist.

My door is always open to any business in the constituency that requires support or assistance. I am keen to hear of any ideas of how we can beat the challenge of finding and retaining staff in the hospitality sector.

As we head towards summer and hopefully some more fine weather, I plan to visit as many pubs as possible in the patch. I will also be launching a dedicated website featuring all the pubs in East Devon which I hope will allow you to discover a gem or two that you currently may not be aware of.

I am committed to doing what I can to support any hospitality venue or business of any nature in my constituency as I’m acutely aware many financial support schemes taper off soon. If you would like to speak with me or organise a visit, please make contact via my website www.simonjupp.org.uk

Banging the drum for hospitality in East Devon is such an important thing to do. I’d encourage anyone currently looking for work to take advantage of the opportunities available. Everyone else can do their bit by visiting their local pubs, restaurants, cafés, bars and hotels and supporting them by enjoying a drink or a meal.

We have some of the best hospitality businesses in the country, so let’s come together and give them a helping hand when they need it most.

Dominic Cummings: key claims in his latest attack on government

Bruising and deliciously embarrassing, but does this amount to a “smoking gun”?

The big question is why Boris (and Michael Gove before that) hired him in the first place – Owl

Jessica Elgot www.theguardian.com

Dominic Cummings has delivered yet more incendiary claims – backed up with some new evidence – in an attempt to tackle what he says is an “Orwellian” rewriting of history by the government about mistakes made during the Covid pandemic.

In a more than 7,000-word essay published on the online platform Substack, he made a series of allegations under the broad headline: “The PM on Hancock: ‘totally fucking hopeless’”.

Just as he did during his testimony to MPs three weeks ago, Cummings repeatedly accused the health secretary of talking nonsense, being slippery and blaming others for his own mistakes – claims the health secretary has strenuously denied.

Cummings’s key claims included:

Lockdown modelling: late and chaotic

Cummings published three key Cobra documents from meetings in early March which he said showed the government intended to pursue a herd immunity strategy by September.

The first document said the government “seeks to avoid” a high second peak of the virus in the autumn when the NHS would be overstretched and that that would be exacerbated by “very stringent social and behavioural interventions like China” because the virus would surge after lockdown ended.

The second document showed the interventions the government were considering and its effect on intensive care unit capacity. It reveals the most stringent intervention that was modelled was case isolation and social distancing for over-70s. It did not show any modelling for a full “stay at home” lockdown.

A final document suggested there would be 250,000 dead after the “optimal single peak strategy”, with herd immunity by September.

Cummings also published “whiteboard” plans shown to the PM urging a shift to a lockdown strategy on 14 March, as well as mass testing and increasing NHS capacity. Cummings insisted this was the first time a lockdown scenario had been modelled.

He said both Hancock and the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, had wanted to delay the introduction of quarantining those with symptoms because a helpline was not ready and were overruled. “Both of them have misled the public about this,” he said.

Hancock told MPs that a plan for suppression had been published on 3 March – the contain-delay-mitigate strategy, a document Cummings called “embarrassingly awful”.

Testing: ‘Hancock “hopeless”, but PM does nothing’

In his blogpost, Cummings said Hancock’s select committee hearing had “muddied the waters” about the goal – suggesting he had opposed it – and disclosed text messages to prove he had pushed to ramp up testing. “I was pushing the system on testing weeks before Hancock’s announcement and to build a system for 1m per day,” he said.

What he had opposed, he said, was the “chaos” where Hancock “blurted out his 100k target to the media” and said the health secretary had taken the opportunity while both Cummings and Johnson were ill with Covid.

In a text message to a WhatsApp group including the prime minister, Hancock, Chris Whitty, Patrick Vallance and the then director of communications, Lee Cain, Cummings raised the goal of 100,000 tests a day.

Cummings said Hancock had misled the meeting when the goal was agreed, including saying that the current hold-up was with the Treasury. On 26 March, Cummings texted the PM saying that Hancock was falling behind on his testing promises and it would mean tens of thousands of NHS staff could be absent.

The prime minister texted back saying: “Totally fucking hopeless.”

However, Cummings said Johnson never confronted Hancock – “he would never say to him, despite dozens of requests from two cabinet secretaries, me and other ministers and officials”.

Cummings said the 100,000 goal had distracted from other crucial issues including care homes during April – “distorting priorities across the system so that he [Hancock] could hold a successful press conference”.

Care homes: Hancock’s ‘new version of reality’

One of the biggest scandals of the first Covid wave was that hospital patients were being discharged into adult social care homes without being tested for Covid – seeding the virus into vulnerable and elderly people.

Cummings accused Hancock of “creating a new version of reality” by claiming the government “threw a protective ring” around care homes. He said the health secretary “neglected” care homes throughout April 2020 because he was “trying to focus effort on his press conference” at the end of the month, where he wanted to triumphantly declare his testing target had been met.

Having returned to work on 13 April following his Covid illness and trips to Durham and Barnard Castle, Cummings said that despite Hancock’s assurance that people would be tested before being moved from hospitals to care homes, that was not happening and “there was still no plan to do so”.

Two days later, Cummings said, No 10 was told that a lot of tests were not being used because Hancock’s department had “left in place rules that were limiting those eligible for tests, despite care homes screaming”.

Despite this, “the care homes nightmare continued”, said the former No 10 aide.

Then on 3 May, Cummings recalled he wrote to Johnson: “I think we are negligently killing the most vulnerable who we are supposed to be shielding and I am extremely worried about it.” A few days later, Cummings said, he and No 10 dug into Hancock’s denial of any problem – and ended up concluding the health secretary’s “failures and dishonesty made him unfit for his job” given “there was still no serious testing in care homes and this was killing people”.

PPE: the system collapsed

Also vital to stopping the virus spreading in hospitals and care homes, and ensuring staff did not go off sick, was personal protective equipment (PPE).

“The lack of PPE killed NHS and care home staff in March-May,” was Cummings’s blunt assessment. He said Hancock had given a “fictitious” account of the procurement of items such as aprons, gloves and face shields.

He added this was another subject on which Hancock and No 10 were “creating a new version of reality”, saying that the government’s procurement operation had “collapsed” and stuck to old rules when it should have been operating on a “wartime mentality”.

The health secretary insisted PPE was “all under control” on 26 March – leading to wasted weeks where problems were not solved, Cummings said, adding Hancock sought to blame the chancellor, Cabinet Office and chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens.

“The cabinet secretary [Mark Sedwill] told the PM’s office that Hancock’s claims were false,” Cummings said. “The lack of PPE killed NHS and care home staff in March-May.”

Hancock “had to be removed from crucial decisions”, said Cummings, meaning procuring PPE was handed to Lord Deighton – a Tory peer who was judged to have led well the 2012 London Olympics organising committee.

Officials were flatly contradicting Hancock’s insistence that PPE was not running short, Cummings said, with civil servants telling him most deliveries of the items would only arrive after the first wave in April.

By 20 April, Cummings said, Hancock’s department had only just set up a 24/7 payments system for procurement with Asia. “Imagine if NHS staff wearing bin bags had realised that DHSC had not even set up a round-the-clock system at this point, imagine the rage in No 10 when we discovered this,” the ex-aide said.

“At this time NHS staff were screaming for PPE. The dashboard daily meetings showed we were running out of critical items such as gowns. Reports flooded in of hospitals having run out or on the brink of running out and begging for supplies. Hancock caused further chaos by repeated briefing to the media about how new loads were flying in, bluffing his way through meeting after meeting – his whole routine.”

Cummings also teased the release of further information, saying Hancock had given “a fictitious account of what happened on masks” but that he would “leave that to another day”.

Boris Johnson: wants to ‘make money and have fun’

Hancock may have been the main target of Dominic Cummings’s ire, but the spurned former adviser also levels a series of charges at the prime minister. He claimed Johnson’s administration could not be trusted, and would “unravel”, urging Johnson’s opponents to start preparing now for “what comes next”.

Cummings was particularly preoccupied with what he claimed were No 10’s efforts to rewrite the history of the early days of the pandemic, by claiming “herd immunity” was never the government’s plan A.

He lays the blame for what he saw as these lies firmly on Johnson’s shoulders, accusing him of “trying to influence officials/advisers to support the rewriting of history” and “encouraging ministers to give false accounts to parliament”.

Cummings also claimed that what he saw as Johnson’s protection of Hancock sent a damaging signal: that “a secretary of state will be rewarded despite repeated incompetence and dishonesty and the government machine will seek to rewrite history in Orwellian fashion because the PM thinks it in his personal interests to do so”.

Of course, many at Westminster felt Johnson’s protection of Cummings over his lockdown-busting trip to Durham a year ago sent a pretty strong signal, too.

Cummings also said the prime minister had a “clear plan”, not to “go on and on” but to step down two years after the next general election, to “make money and have fun”.

Finally, Cummings gave an excruciating account of the way Johnson chairs meetings – claiming he told rambling stories and jokes and avoided any difficult issues, urging colleagues to “take it offline”, before shouting “forward to victory”, doing a thumbs-up and fleeing the room before anybody could disagree.

Despite Cummings’s lengthy and occasionally rambling analysis, the health committee chair, Jeremy Hunt, pointed out in a Twitter thread that he has yet to produce any evidence that definitively shows Hancock lied to the prime minister.

Progressive Alliance would see 58 seats wiped from Tory majority – poll

Following on from yesterday’s post on main parties in three-way fight for two East Devon by-elections.

A Progressive Alliance between Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens would see 58 seats wiped from the Conservative’s majority, new polling figures have revealed.

By Unibeez www.thelondoneconomic.com 

Electoral Calculus research run on behalf of the Constitution Society found Boris Johnson’s party would return just 307 MPs if the three parties joined forces.

That’s down significantly from the number of MPs they currently have following a landslide election victory in December 2019.

— Election Maps UK (@ElectionMapsUK) June 15, 2021

Oxfordshire

In the local elections in May, Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green councillors in Oxfordshire agreed to “put their differences aside” in the interest of local residents to form a coalition.

With no party winning the 32-seat majority required leaders from the parties have formed the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance that is anchored in “the principles shared across our manifestos, with climate change and the environment at their heart.”

It echoes a similar allegiance struck in Stroud, which was renewed after the May 6th election.

Cllr Doina Cornell said the alliance has “achieved so much for the district over these last nine years, protecting and investing in our communities instead of cutting back.”

Labour drubbings

On the national front, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has embarked on some serious soul searching following drubbings for the party across the regions.

Labour lost control of eight councils and shed some 326 councillors all told, with the biggest defeats coming in Hartlepool, where a Conservative MP was elected for the first time in 62 years, and in County Durham, which saw Labour lose overall control of the council for the first time since 1925.

It follows on from the 2019 general election which saw Labour suffer one of its worst results in living memory.

The election saw much of the so-called Red Wall turn blue, with seats such as Workington, Tony Blair’s former constituency of Sedgefield and Bolsover, which had been Dennis Skinner’s seat since 1970, fall to the Conservatives.

The scale of the defeat, which was underpinned by ongoing Brexit issues, has led many people to suggest that the only way forward for Labour is through an alliance with other parties.