Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 13 September

East Devon reports rise in Covid cases

Covid figures continue to fall throughout most of Devon and remain well below the national average – although East Devon has reported an increase in cases. 

In the week up to Sunday 19 September, the average rate of infection across all of Devon’s councils was 265 per 100,000 people, down from 295 the week before.

In the Devon County Council area, which excludes Plymouth and Torbay, the most recent stats show an infection rate of 233 per 100,000 a fall of 20 from the previous week.

In contrast, the average infection rate across the country is 313 per 100,000 of the population. However, this, too, has dropped from 337 the previous week.

The only council areas to report a rise in cases in the county were East Devon and West Devon. 

The former recorded 356 cases, 14 [or four per cent] more than the previous week. The infection rate in East Devon is now 240 per 100,000 people.

West Devon’s cases spiked, with 152 new infections, 42 [or 38 per cent] more than the previous week. The case rate in the district is now 271 per 100,000 of the population.

Mid Devon now has the lowest infection rate in the county, with 168 per 100,000 of the population infected. Cases in the district dropped by almost a third (30 per cent) – 55 cases – in the most recent weekly data. The area recorded 152 new cases.

Plymouth registered 747 new cases, 77 [or nine per cent] fewer than in the previous week. The rate of infection in the city is now 284 per 100,000 of the population.

It was similar in Torbay. Its 392 new cases (288 per 100,000 of the population) is a nine per cent drop on the previous week. 

High infection rates in August meant both Devon and Cornwall were given extra support – called ‘enhanced status’ for five weeks. It means extra testing and measures such as making children at secondary school or college continuing to have to wear face coverings in communal areas. 

However, it was announced this week that special measures to combat rising numbers of covid cases in Devon are unlikely to be extended. Devon County Council’s director of public health says it is unlikely Devon’s status as a coronavirus enhanced response area will continue into October.

Nevertheless, fears remain that cases could rise this winter, with the potential of some restrictions being reimposed. 

The decline in infection rates in Devon has continued to translate into a reduction in people being admitted to hospital with covid. The latest figures [to Tuesday 21 September] show that across Devon, 98 people are in hospital as a result of covid, 30 fewer than the previous week.

Of these, 12 patients are at Derriford, 28 are at the RD&E, 16 in Torbay, while 12 are being cared for at North Devon District Hospital.

Ten of the patients in hospital with covid are on mechanical ventilation beds, down from 14.

Deaths have fallen in Devon in the most recent seven-day period (up to and including Sunday 19 September). Fifteen people died within 28 days of a positive covid test, 14 fewer than the previous week.

Eleven people died in the Devon County Council area, which excludes Plymouth and Torbay.  In Plymouth, three people lost their lives with covid, whilst one death was recorded in Torbay.

The total number of people in Devon who have died of covid since the pandemic began is now 1,198.

Eighty-seven per cent of people aged 16 and above have had their first dose of a vaccine in the Devon County Council area, which excludes Plymouth and Torbay, with 82 per cent receiving both doses.

In Plymouth, 84 percent have had one dose, while 77 per cent have had both.

In Torbay, 86 per cent have received one dose, while 79 per cent have had both jabs.

This means that vaccination rates in Devon are slightly behind the rest of the UK.  Ninety per cent of people aged 16 and above have had one dose, while 82 per cent have had both jabs.

The UK’s vaccination drive will continue this autumn winter as the NHS starts rolling out booster shots to the over-50s, younger adults with health conditions and frontline health and care workers.

There was yet another big moment for Margaret Keenan, 91, from Coventry this week as she received her first vaccine booster shot. Ms Keenan became the first person in the world to have a Pfizer jab when she received the vaccine in December of last year. The first man to receive a covid jab, William Shakespeare, has since died, but did not have covid.

Seaside towns in Cornwall and Devon decimated by rent shortage

Seaside resorts in Cornwall and Devon have been hit the hardest by the property shortage this year, data has shown.

Tianna Corbin

Compared to the summer of 2019, the number of properties by the sea available for long-term rent has fallen by more than 75%, while competition has increased 345%.

Property website Rightmove compared the available rental stock in June and July 2021 with June and July 2019.

Their analysis showed that in Cornwall, the number of available properties by the sea fell by 72%, with competition up 345%.

In North Devon the number of available properties fell by 80%, with demand up 292%.

In West Devon, the demand had risen 264%, while the amount of properties available had fallen by 76%.

Rightmove’s Director of Property Data, Tim Bannister said: ” Landlords in the typical tourist destinations around Britain have been chasing the huge surge in demand for holiday lets this summer, which has led to a temporary drop in the stock available for permanent tenants.”

He continued: “As the summer holidays are coming to an end, agents are now reporting more landlords turning their attention to longer-term tenants as a more secure and stable option for the rest of the year and into 2022.

“The value of a good tenant should not be underestimated, and with the competition for rental properties in these areas so high right now, it could be a good time for landlords to take stock and consider their best longer-term option.”

Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring

Could Boris Johnson’s government pass the “able to run a whelk stall” test?

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, sparked anger when he claimed industry leaders were responsible for the chaos, despite the government having admitted to a lack of lorry drivers.

Army could be called in as half of local petrol stations out of fuel

More than half of all non-motorway petrol stations have run dry after a weekend of panic-buying by spooked motorists, forcing ministers to consider putting the army on notice to drive tankers to forecourts.

The government has suspended competition laws to allow fuel companies to co-ordinate deliveries, and Boris Johnson is set to decide on Monday whether to send in soldiers to ease the crisis.

The Petrol Retailers Association reported alarming shortages among its independent members as oil giant BP warned that almost a third of its sites had no supplies.

Government pleas for drivers to stop filling their cars “when they don’t need it” fell on deaf ears as long queues formed at forecourts, operators rationed supplies – and police were called to one scuffle in London.

With Christmas just three months away, shoppers were also warned of turkey shortages, while toy sellers report delays and higher prices shipping goods into Brexit Britain.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced at 9pm on Sunday that petrol firms are temporarily exempt from the Competition Act 1998. Officials said the “Downstream Oil Protocol” would make it easier for firms to share information and prioritise delivery of fuel to parts of the country most in need.

Brian Madderson, the PRA’s chairman, revealed a survey of its members, who make up the majority of the UK’s 8,000-odd petrol stations.

“They serve the main roads, the rural areas, the urban roads, and anywhere between 50 per cent and 90 per cent of their forecourts are currently dry – and those that aren’t dry are partly dry and running out soon,” he told the BBC.

“One of them mentioned to me that yesterday they had a 500 per cent increase in demand compared to a week ago, which is quite extraordinary.”

BP, which operates 1,200 petrol stations, said: “With the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30 per cent of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel.”

Earlier, Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, sparked anger when he claimed industy leaders were responsible for the chaos, despite the government having admitted to a lack of lorry drivers. He was accused of a “disgraceful attack” on hard-pressed hauliers and of “shamefully passing the buck” for the queues.

The row blew up after The Mail on Sunday quoted a government source claiming the Road Haulage Association (RHA) is “entirely responsible for this panic and chaos”.

The transport secretary backed the claim, saying: “There was a meeting which took place about 10 days ago, a private meeting, in which one of the haulage associations decided to leak the details to media.

“And that has created, as we have seen, quite a large degree of concern as people naturally react to those things.”

Calling the leak “irresponsible”, Mr Shapps told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “The good news is there is plenty of fuel. The bad news is, if everyone carries on buying it when they don’t need it, then we will continue to have queues.”

But the RHA hit back quickly, pointing out its managing director Rod McKenzie had not even been at the meeting where a BP executive had discussed stock levels.

“He was not, as the government source claimed, “aware of the comments” and certainly did not “weaponise” them in subsequent TV interviews,” a statement said.

“Indeed he repeatedly stressed the need not to panic buy and that there were adequate fuel stocks.

“The RHA believes this disgraceful attack on a member of its staff is an attempt to divert attention away from their recent handling of the driver shortage crisis.”

Sarah Olney, the Liberal Democrat business spokesperson, said: “Grant Shapps is shamefully passing the buck for the government’s own failures.

“The Conservatives have repeatedly ignored calls from businesses to address the shortage of drivers. It is a bit rich for ministers to now blame the public and the road haulage industry for the mess we find ourselves in.”

Mr Shapps’s comments came after the announcement of emergency visas for foreign lorry drivers to come to the UK to ease the crisis was dismissed as a damp squib.

As expected, the offer will be made to 5,000 HGV drivers – plus 5,500 poultry workers – but the visas will run out on Christmas Eve, triggering criticism they are too little, too late.

Keir Starmer suggested 100,000 foreign drivers are needed – the RHA estimate of the shortfall – saying: “We are going to have to do that. We have to issue enough visas to cover the number of drivers that we need.”

The Labour leader said: I’m astonished the government, knowing the situation, is not acting today. The prime minister needs to say today what he is going to do.”

Meanwhile, a poultry association said big firms have already scaled back production of turkeys for the festive season, because they would not have enough staff to for more orders.

Kate Martin, chairwoman of the Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association, said: “It’s looking like there is a national shortage of turkeys when we’re talking about supermarket shelves, rather than buying direct from your farm.”

Footage circulated on social media showed two men in helmets tussling with each other at a petrol station in north London, before the police were called to the scene.

A man was arrested on suspicion of assault and taken into custody, but no injuries were reported.