News Flash: John Humphreys stripped of Honour

As expected, John Humphreys has been stripped of his honorary title of Alderman at an extraordinary general council meeting of EDDC. This follows his conviction of sexual offences and subsequent 21 year jail sentence.

Cllr Ian Thomas, in putting the motion, repeated his expression of sympathy to the victims on behalf of the full council.

The motion to withdraw the honour was proposed from the chair which requires no seconder although a number of councillors volunteered.

By a vote of 45 to 1 it was agreed that a recorded vote should be taken and the motion was passed unanimously.

At an extraordinary meeting only one issue can be debated, but a number of speakers raised the need for a review of the procedures for the awarding honorary titles. The Chairman confirmed that this would be dealt during the year.

Cllr David Key (Conservative) also raised the question of DBS checks and the Chairman said he expected the issue to be raised in the future.

The question was also raised by Cllr Eileen Wragg (Lib Dem) as to whether or not the police investigation into Humhreys was known to the Conservative Group at the time his honour was being considered.

(For technically reasons, virtual meetings provide “recommendations” for action by senior officers) ,

The government needs to justify what it did. With evidence.

The government has spun out this legal challenge for an unusually long time, and it all costs money. – Owl

An update from Cathy Gardner. 

Dear Supporter,

Thank you so much for backing my case, I would not be here without you all. Every donation counts, small or large and it’s humbling to be supported by so many people I don’t even know. Many of you were directly affected by the issues underlying this case and we will not stop fighting for the truth.

Of course, the defendants have not made this an easy process. Right from the start they tried to dismiss me on technicalities. Rather than answering the questions we posed they have dissembled and fudged. They claim to be transparent whilst being opaque. A couple of weeks ago we had to go to the High Court to ask for the evidence we need from the government and NHS but sadly and frustratingly, the Judge did not support our request. Now we are asking the Court of Appeal to overturn some of the ruling so we can get the information. 

This case is not a public inquiry, this is about adherence to law. The government must justify the decisions that were made. They should ‘show their working’, providing us with the advice that was considered and why it was (or was not) ignored or changed. It’s not enough to claim that the pandemic was ‘unprecedented’ or even unexpected, because it wasn’t. The role of government is to plan and to protect the population from threats such as COVID. A particular duty is to protect the right to life of the most vulnerable.

What shocked me most after my father died was realising that the government had apparently done nothing to protect him and other residents.  All I found was the flawed hospital discharge policy. That’s despite the infamous statement by Hancock about the ‘protective ring’. That protection appears to be around all of them now.

It is vital in a democracy to be able to hold the government to account. They are bound by law just like the rest of us, although they seem to breach it with impunity. If they are so confident that they acted appropriately last year, why won’t they provide the information we seek? What are they hiding?

It’s very important to keep this case in the public eye because the costs are rising with every new challenge we have to make. If you have a Twitter account or any other social media presence, please share the link and tell people what is happening. 

Thank you, Cathy

Contingency plans for half-term lockdown in October

The Government has reportedly drawn up a plan for a lockdown over half-term in October if hospitalisations with Covid-19 continue to rise.

Neil Shaw

According to a report in The i, the Government has drawn up plans amid fears of increasing pressure on the NHS.

A member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) told the newspaper the UK is about to enter “an extended peak” of infections and hospitalisations.

They said concern is growing that the health service faces being overwhelmed.

The Government has denied the reports, with a spokesman telling the Mirror: “It is not true that the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half term.

“As set out in July, the Government retains contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a range of scenarios, but such measures would only be re-introduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on the NHS.”

Boris Johnson is said to be ready to re-introduce mask wearing and social distancing curbs in public spaces and on transport. There is also a possibility that travel restrictions could return.

As well as plans for a ‘firebreak’ lockdown there could be longer restrictions lasting into November if case numbers become more serious. Half-term could be extended to become two weeks, according to the report.

“This is essentially the precautionary break that Sage suggested last year,” the Sage source told the paper.

“It would be sensible to have contingency plans, and if a lockdown is required, to time it so that it has minimal economic and societal impact.”

Hospitalisations have remained consistently above 900-a-day in recent days.

The Government is now considering spreading the vaccine to children as young as 12 and delivering a booster third jab to the most vulnerable people.

Winter flu season starts in October – which will add to the pressures on the NHS.

The vaccine has successfully reduced the number of deaths in the UK, but the number of people in hospital is putting excess pressure on the NHS

The number of hospitalisations was last week at its highest level since March.

Cases in Scotland have begun to surge with some experts pointing to the earlier return of schools north of the border.

They added: “Hospitals might be overflowing before deaths reach the same level. Acting early will prevent this level.”

The Government scientist added: “If it is a proper contingency plan, then you do need to plan for it. And to have some threshold or trigger for enacting or calling it off.”

When the Prime Minister backed a second lockdown in England on October 31 last year, there were 16,479 Covid infections and 1,461 hospitalisations. The latest figures show infections are almost double at 42,192, while there were 988 hospitalisations on 31 August.

“If you look at the current trends, hospitalisations are on a path to match the levels seen at the end of October last year,” another Government source said.

“While deaths are high compared to last year and are unlikely to hit the levels as seen last autumn because the vaccines are doing their job, it is the admissions that will push the NHS to the brink of collapse if they do not fall soon.

“On top of that we have an expected resurgence in hospitalisations for other respiratory illnesses like flu. If the current high levels of admissions for Covid continue the NHS will not be able to cope, so a firebreak lockdown is by no means out of the question.”

Thank you for visiting Seaton Jurassic

Final sign off from the Devon Wildlife Trust management team. Another problem for EDDC – Owl


My name is Richard and I have been managing Seaton Jurassic over the last three years.

You may be aware that earlier this year, Devon Wildlife Trust made the difficult decision to end its tenure as operator of the centre and has ceased management of the centre from today 6th of September. The unique and unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic combined with the need to undertake significant upgrades to the attraction’s exhibitions whilst concentrating resources on our 58 reserves, are at the heart of this decision. East Devon District Council, who own the building, will be undertaking maintenance of the building and also dealing with queries about the future operation of the centre in due course.

I wanted to contact you to thank you for visiting the centre and for joining us in being transported to a marine world very different to our own. The staff and volunteers at the centre have thoroughly enjoyed meeting our enthusiastic visitors, from the coach groups which delighted in the ‘Seaton Jurassic Tour & Cream Tea’ combo, to the many children who have seemingly absorbed a dinosaur encyclopaedia!

One of the main aims of the centre was to educate and inspire people in the wonders of the Jurassic Coast, and demonstrate how our world has changed and what the future holds for Devon’s wildlife. Although we have welcomed our last visitors to Seaton Jurassic, Devon Wildlife Trust has 58 nature reserves open to visitors all year round, and our Wembury Marine Centre has been engaging visitors for over 25 years. Take a look at our website to find out more.

Seaton Jurassic was certainly one of a kind and we wouldn’t have been able to welcome so many visitors without the support of our staff, volunteers and partners who supported the centre. Take a look at some of our achievements since we opened in 2016 below.

We do hope you will continue to engage your curiosity in the wonders of wildlife, past and present. Thank you once again for your support.

Richard and all the team at Seaton Jurassic 

East Devon District Council, the building owners of Seaton Jurassic, will be carrying out maintenance work and will announce plans for the site in due course. For any enquiries please contact

CPRE releases groundbreaking new research into hedgerows

Our new report investigates the huge environmental and economic benefits of hedgerows and shows that boosting them by 40% would create 25,000 jobs over the next 30 years and yield almost £4 for every £1 invested.

6th September 20216

The new research, undertaken independently by the Organic Research Centre, is laid out in a report published today: ‘Hedge fund: investing in hedgerows for climate, nature and the economy‘.

We’re launching the report in parliament to urge the government to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050, as recommended by the climate change committee – a win-win-win for climate, nature and the economy.

Hedgerows for nature, the climate and people

CPRE has long argued that hedgerows could be champions of climate action and nature recovery. But our new analysis has laid out how expanding hedgerow cover can contribute tens of thousands of jobs to hard-hit local communities.

Investing in 40% more hedgerows would support around 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs in hedgerow planting and management over the next 30 years across both rural and urban areas.

An aerial view of bright green fields with hedgerows around the edges

Hedgerows like this one, in North Somerset, make up the stitching in the tapestry of the countryside | Charles Stirling / Alamy

For every £1 invested in hedgerows, as much as £3.92 is generated in the wider economy due to key environmental and economic benefits provided by hedgerows. We want to see these benefits recognised by the government and clear targets and plans, of the sort already announced for tree-planting, set. Local authorities can support community groups to plant more hedgerows while farmers can help by letting hedgerows grow taller and bushier.

Now’s the time: the UK hosts COP26, the international climate summit, in Glasgow in less than two months. CPRE is calling on the government for a firm commitment: set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050.

Crispin Truman, CPRE’s chief executive, said:

‘Half of our precious hedgerows have been ripped from the landscape since the second world war and we’ve seen a huge decline in nature and soaring carbon emissions. There’s a lot of work to do.

‘We’re calling on ministers to set a target to increase the hedgerow network by 40% by 2050 with improved protection for existing hedgerows. This would be seen as a bold step by the UK government in the lead up to hosting the international climate summit to support nature’s recovery, help grow us out of the economic downturn and tackle the climate emergency head-on.’

The carbon-capturing nature superheroes

Many of the government’s nature-based solutions to the climate emergency to date have focused on trees, but hedgerows are also crucial in soaking up carbon, protecting against flooding and aiding nature’s recovery.

‘Hedgerows are also crucial in soaking up carbon, protecting against flooding and aiding nature’s recovery.’

They capture carbon and store it in their woody plants above ground and their roots in the soil below. This huge carbon lock-up potential can be increased by allowing our hedgerows to become wider and taller.

These innocuous, familiar features of our landscapes also teem with life. They’re essential for biodiversity, with one in nine of the UK’s most vulnerable species significantly associated with hedgerows

Emma Marrington, our expert in landscape enhancement, shared some of these species:

‘These include the charismatic hazel dormouse, the much-loved hedgehog (whose decline has been closely associated with hedgerow loss) and the brown hairstreak butterfly, which lays its eggs on blackthorn and is particularly common in hedgerows.’

Increasing the hedgerow network by 40% could see earthworms increase by 17% – improving soil quality – and pipistrelle bats, the UK’s smallest, increase by 17% as they’re more able to navigate using hedgerow lines.

In its expanse, the hedgerow network is our largest, most connected ‘nature reserve’.

Bats, hedgehogs… and people

And let’s not forget; hedgerows are also important to people. They give the landscape beauty and character and provide tangible signs of seasons changing, as any of us who have picked blackberries can attest.

They also help keep us healthy by capturing the tiny particles that create air pollution. In fact, increasing urban hedgerows by 40% could see reductions in air pollution and associated health costs of £5 million a year – another economic boost.

As Lord Deben, chair of the Climate Change Committee, said:

‘Reintroduction and proper maintenance of hedgerows transform all-too sterile prairie land into the countryside, which we have long loved. But, as this report shows, this is not about romance – the hard facts are that hedges contribute to profit as well as to wellbeing.’

‘The hard facts are that hedges contribute to profit as well as to wellbeing.’

Support hedgerows with us

Want to add your voice to ours as we call for more 40% more hedgerow cover by 2050? Sign up now to receive our monthly campaign emails so you can hear how you can do your bit and be kept updated on our campaign wins. Members will also get hedgerow news in our dedicated and award-winning member magazine, Countryside Voices: join us now.