An open letter to my MP, Simon Jupp, from a Budleigh Correspondent:
As a Times reader I was horrified to discover the long list, compiled by Alice Thomson, of Southwest neglect compared to the rest of the country. (Tory voters in the seat vacated by Neil Parish feel abandoned: education, transport, housing and health are all below par) I would like to know what you are doing to rectify this.
Here is a list compiled from the article of neglect, supplemented by my some of my own.
House prices have soared in the area generally. Recent figures for February 2022 show the Southwest and the East have the highest increase in the country, pricing many locals out of the market.
Long term rentals have now come to a frightening low number. Alice Thompson quotes only four homes for rent, compared with 326 airbnbs, in Ilfracombe. In Budleigh Salterton there were two properties for rent compared with 60 airbnbs when checked a couple of weeks ago; and BS is not the most popular coastal hotspot.
We have the highest number of universal benefit claimants in work.
The area has the worst educational outcomes for disadvantaged young people.
17% of disadvantaged pupils go to university. 45% do in London according to a report by Professor Lee Elliot Major and Dr Anne-Marie Sim of Exeter University.
School attainment levels between poorer pupils and others are the largest for all English regions.
The problems of high speed broadband are well known. Alice Thompson: “As Parish regularly explained in the Commons, there is no fast broadband in many areas — except in the prime minister’s holiday cottage where they have spent a fortune laying cable along his family’s remote valley.”
We have only one major train line into London which gets flooded at Dawlish, cutting off the peninsula. (The Waterloo line cannot call itself a “major” line when it is only SINGLE track in places). As I write this I hear that Crossrail is about to open at an estimated final cost of £19bn.
The motorway stops at Exeter.
Investments in transport is £308/head compared to the national average of £474. In a rural area where cars are often the only way to get to work.
The number of hospital bed /head of population is the third worst in the country – 9,916. The North West has the best with 15,212. But the Southwest has the oldest population and lowest number of critical care beds per head of population
Life expectancy is low in coastal towns.
No NHS dental appointments available in the region.
South West Water discharges sewage into the sea at popular bathing beaches. Alice Thompson mentions South West Water’s 43,901 hours of discharges into bathing beauty spots. In Budleigh Salterton in 2020, 83 episodes lasting 850 hours Perhaps one of your many tasks could be to regain a functioning prediction board on the parade.
The southwest was mainly a Brexit voting area and yet Cornwall will only have half of its EU funding replaced by the government.
Finally, with this by no means exhaustive list, the area has been subjected to a colossal amount of house building with no new infrastructure. How long has Cranbrook had to wait for a thriving town centre? Has this resulted in affordable homes for those locals who need them? No, great swathes of valuable farming land has been built on. Developers, use their economic viability “get-out” clauses, to reduce the proportion of affordable homes in a development as the outline permission is “refined”. Despite all the building around Exmouth we still have a shortfall of 591 affordable homes for Exmouth. For example, Goodmores Farm affordable homes requirement has been successively reduced from 88 to 33.
AND YET, Simon, our local growth fund is £134.40 and the Northern Powerhouse is getting £210.80.
Finally, can I express my disappointment that more urgent matters called you away from your long standing appointment to discuss how to help with local problems with the Leader and CEO of EDDC?
I feel I am being taken for granted.