Chair of the East Devon Alliance, Martin Shaw, on politics in the district and beyond…
As it became clear that Boris Johnson was potentially lying about the lockdown-busting parties he attended, it was good to see a local Conservative MP organising the campaign to remove him, while another lost the whip to support removing VAT from our soaring energy bills (she must have read my last column).
Unfortunately, the MPs in question were the members for West Dorset and Newton Abbott respectively, not those for our district.
Instead the members for East Devon, Simon Jupp, and Tiverton and Honiton, Neil Parish, have avoided criticising Johnson. They also voted down the move to help people with their energy bills.
I suspect that many residents will be very unimpressed that Messrs Jupp and Parish have not spoken out and expressed what local residents feel about the hypocrisy coming from Number 10.
Their only possible excuse might be, I suppose, that they fear that funding for their constituencies might be withdrawn if they spoke out, since the Tory chair of the Commons Constitutional Affairs MP, William Wragg, has alleged that the Tory whips are using this threat to ‘blackmail’ MPs into supporting Johnson.
If either Mr Jupp or Mr Parish has been targeted in this way, they have a duty to let us know. Even if they have not personally experienced this, this allegation must surely make them realise that Johnson does not merit their continued support.
This represents an appalling level of corruption, but it follows numerous other instances.
The Levelling Up Fund was used to support marginal Conservative constituencies and even those of two ministers in the department running it – Axminster lost out, presumably because Tiverton and Honiton was thought too safe.
The government ran a VIP ‘fast lane’ to enable Tory cronies to obtain pandemic contracts, and this has been ruled unlawful by the High Court, in a case brought by the excellent Good Law Project.
In a memorable recent video take-down, Line of Duty’s AC-12 team told Boris Johnson that ‘your corruption was mistaken for incompetence’.
However the charge applies to the whole government, not just the charlatan-in-chief, and to the Conservative Party, since not one minister or backbencher has challenged it.
It is also shocking that in his desperation to cling to power, Boris Johnson has prematurely ditched the remaining Covid protections and slashed the isolation period for those who have the disease to five days – against scientific advice that one-third of people are still infectious.
The timing of the loosening is bizarre from a public health point of view, with 1,000 deaths a week, hospitals still struggling with nearly 20,000 Covid patients, and cases going up again in primary schools.
It has all been rushed out to buy the support of the anti-health faction in the Tory party, which Mr Jupp supported in December’s votes.
It’s great news for Seaton that East Devon District Council have found the money to implement the Beach Management Plan, which community representatives helped them draw up.
This will renew the protection which is keeping coastal erosion at bay, and the work will begin in late 2023.
But we also need movement on the Seaton Seafront Enhancement scheme, which will smarten up the area around Fisherman’s Gap, the sea wall and the Moridunum.
EDDC and our MP are willing to promote the scheme and it is now time for Seaton Town Council to resubmit the application for planning permission, which was unfortunately allowed to lapse.
It’s less good news, moreover, that the Environment Agency is now so underfunded that it can no longer monitor smaller waterways.
I recall how the EA worked with a local farm to eliminate slurry spills into the stream which flows to Seaton Hole, which showed how valuable their work is.
On top of the revelations about sewage outflows polluting local rivers and beaches, we need a radical shift in policy and resources to keep them safe.