Second and third home owners to scoop almost £700 million in windfall

Further to Owl’s earlier post:

The Times www.thetimes.co.uk estimates about 772,000 households with two homes will receive an £800 discount on their energy bills (£620 million windfall).

With about 61,000 people owning three homes in line for payments totalling £1,200 ( a further £73 million windfall).

The Tory MPs calling on Boris Johnson to resign – and what they said

Includes two Devon MPs – Owl

Here is the full list of Tory MPs who have urged the prime minister to stand down, though some say they have not written letters to Brady. Several other critical MPs say they will not reveal whether they have sent a letter – so the true number is likely to be higher.

Jessica Elgot http://www.theguardian.com 

Boris Johnson was warned he would face a string of no-confidence letters after the Sue Gray report into Partygate concluded. In order for a vote of no confidence to be triggered, the chair of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, must receive letters from at least 54 Conservative MPs – 15% of the parliamentary party.

No confidence in the PM

William Wragg

Hazel Grove

I cannot reconcile myself to the prime minister’s continued leadership of our country and the Conservative party. I say this by means of context, so that everyone, particularly my constituents and colleagues, can understand my position, without hiding my views with ever more elaborate disguises.

Gary Streeter

South West Devon

I cannot reconcile the pain and sacrifice of the vast majority of the British public during lockdown with the attitude and activities of those working in Downing Street. Accordingly, I have now submitted a letter seeking a motion of no confidence in the prime minister.

Anthony Mangnall

Totnes

Standards in public life matter. At this time I can no longer support the PM. His actions and mistruths are overshadowing the extraordinary work of so many excellent ministers and colleagues. I have submitted a letter of no confidence.

Tobias Ellwood

Bournemouth East

I have made my position very clear to the prime minister: he does not have my support. A question I humbly put to my colleagues is: are you willing, day in day out, to defend this behaviour publicly? Can we continue to govern without distraction, given the erosion of the trust of the British people? And can we win a general election on this trajectory?

Peter Aldous

Waveney

After a great deal of soul-searching, I have reached the conclusion that the prime minister should resign … Whilst I am conscious that others will disagree with me, I believe that this is in the best interests of the country, the government and the Conservative party.

Roger Gale

North Thanet

It’s absolutely clear that there was a party, that he attended it, that he was raising a toast to one of his colleagues. And therefore, he misled us from the dispatch box. And, honourably, there is one answer.

Steve Baker

Wycombe

Having watched what I would say was beautiful, marvellous contrition … the prime minister’s apology lasted only as long as it took to get out of the headmaster’s study. That is not good enough for me, and it is not good enough for my voters. I am sorry, but for not obeying the letter and the spirit of the law – we have heard that the prime minister knew what the letter was – the prime minister should now be long gone. Really, the prime minister should just know that the gig is up.

John Baron

Basildon and Billericay

Parliament is the beating heart of our nation. To knowingly mislead it cannot be tolerated, no matter the issue. Whether or not the prime minister is an asset to the party or the country is of less importance. Having always said I would consider all the available evidence before deciding, I’m afraid the prime minister no longer enjoys my support – I can no longer give him the benefit of the doubt.

Aaron Bell

Newcastle-under-Lyme

I wrote my letter following PMQs on 12 January, when I could not square the prime minister’s words from the dispatch box with his previous statements to the house before Christmas. Subsequently I have also struggled to reconcile assurances given directly to me with the implications of Sue Gray’s interim findings.

Karen Bradley

Staffordshire Moorlands

I am proud of the British values of democracy, individual liberty, mutual respect, tolerance and the rule of law and have been privileged to promote those values around the world as an MP and during my time as a government minister. But we will lose the right to promote those values if we do not uphold them ourselves. I do wish to make it clear that if I had been a minister found to have broken the laws that I passed, I would be tendering my resignation now.

Nick Gibb

Bognor Regis and Littlehampton

The prime minister accepted the resignation of Allegra Stratton for joking about a Christmas party that she hadn’t attended, but he won’t take responsibility for those that he did attend. I am sorry to say that it is hard to see how it can be the case that the prime minister told the truth. To restore trust, we need to change the prime minister.

Mark Harper

Forest of Dean

I have formally submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister to Sir Graham Brady MP. This was not an easy decision for me – I have been a member of the Conservative party since I was 17 years old and will remain in the party I love until my dying day.

Tim Loughton

East Worthing and Shoreham

The reason for my conclusion in calling for him to stand down is the way that he has handled the mounting revelations in the last few weeks. Obfuscation, prevarication and evasion have been the order of the day when clarity, honesty and contrition was what was needed and what the British people deserve.

Nigel Mills

Amber Valley

He’s been fined, I don’t think his position is tenable. I think people are rightly angry that at a time when they were observing the very strictest of the rules people who were making the rules didn’t have the decency to observe them.

Andrew Mitchell

Sutton Coldfield

I think this is a crisis that is not going to go away and is doing very great damage to the party. It is more corrosive, in my judgment, than the expenses scandal was, and it will break the coalition that is the Conservative party.

Caroline Nokes

Romsey and Southampton North

I have been very clear that I believe the PM’s conduct fell far short of what my constituents have every right to expect. I do not need to write a letter of no confidence to the chair of the 1922 Committee – mine was in a very long time ago.

David Simmonds

Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

It is clear that while the government and our policies enjoy the confidence of the public, the prime minister does not. It is time for him to step down so that new leadership can take forward the important work of the government in ensuring that our people and country prosper.

Julian Sturdy

York Outer

It is clear discussions about parties in Downing Street remain a damaging distraction at a time when our country faces massive challenges with war returning in Europe, a global cost of living crisis and our recovery from the pandemic being more important than ever. This is clear a time when we cannot have any doubt about the honesty, integrity and personal character of the prime minister.

Stephen Hammond

Wimbledon

I am struck by a number of my colleagues who were really concerned that it’s almost impossible for the PM to say I want to move on, as we cannot move on without regaining public trust and I am not sure that’s possible in the current situation. All I can do as a backbencher is speak out and submit a letter… I have said for several months I already have done all I can as a backbencher.

Calls to resign – but say no letter sent

Neil Hudson

Penrith and The Border

The situation is untenable moving forward. That said, I do not believe it would be prudent or responsible to change the leadership of the government in the midst of the international crisis. I will therefore be looking to the prime minister to show the statesmanship he has been showing with Ukraine, and outline a timetable and process for an orderly transition to a leadership election as soon as the international situation permits.

David Davis

Haltemprice and Howden

I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take. Yesterday he did the opposite of that. I will remind him of a quotation which may be familiar to his ear: Leopold Amery to Neville Chamberlain. “You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.”

Craig Whittaker

Calder Valley

It is my belief that they should both [Johnson and Rishi Sunak] resign. The PM and chancellor should not be an exception to the rules they set to protect us all. I’ve been asked by many of my colleagues and constituents whether I will submit a letter to the chairman of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady. The answer is “no”. I believe it should be down to the British people, and the British people alone.

Unclear if letter sent

Angela Richardson

Guildford

Trust has been broken and it saddens me that the culture in No 10 and the length of time the inquiry has taken has eroded trust in your political representatives. It reflects badly on all of us. Sue Gray reflects many people’s view when she says: “The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility.” I am clear that had this been a report about my leadership, I would resign.

Letters withdrawn

Andrew Bridgen

North West Leicestershire

It would be an indulgence to have a vote of no confidence at the time of an international emergency, and this is not going to go away quickly.

Douglas Ross

Moray and Scottish Conservatives leader

I’ve said previously that the prime minister’s position was untenable, and I’ve only changed that because of the situation in Ukraine. Sadly, since the report has been published, the situation in Ukraine has not changed.

Quote of the week

Sir Keir Starmer at PMQ:

“What is it about the Sue Gray report that first attracted him to a U-turn this week?”

The previous week Boris Johnson had ordered his MPs to vote against the idea of a windfall tax on fuel profits. This included our own “Jumping Jupp Flash”.

How do you explain yourself Simon?

Rishi Sunak offers tax incentives to fossil fuel firms despite climate emergency

More unintended, or should that read intended, consequences of the latest screeching U-turn? – Owl

Rishi Sunak has been accused of risking Britain’s reputation as a climate leader by announcing tax relief measures that will encourage energy firms to invest in fossil fuel extraction during a climate emergency.

Saphora Smith www.independent.co.uk

Climate groups and opposition politicians rebuked the chancellor for incentivising oil and gas extraction when climate scientists, the United Nations and the International Energy Agency have made it clear that the world needs to stop new investment in fossil fuels.

“It’s bone-headedly stupid, even by this government’s low standards, not only to allow but in fact to incentivise the production of new climate-wrecking fossil fuels, rather than keeping them firmly in the ground where they belong,” Green MP Caroline Lucas told The Independent.

“This measure will not only make absolutely no difference to families’ soaring energy bills, [but] any new fossil fuel production acts as a wrecking ball to our net zero climate targets, and makes us an embarrassment on the world stage, particularly while we still [retain] the Cop26 presidency.”

Rishi Sunak announces £15bn package for cost of living crisis

The incentive came as part of a package of announcements to tackle the cost of living crisis in Britain, which included a temporary 25 per cent windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies to help support struggling households.

In order to ensure that companies are not deterred from investment by the new levy, Mr Sunak announced that those that invest in oil and gas extraction will be entitled to hefty tax relief on that spending.

“The UK government’s position breaks the pledge it made at the climate talks last year to phase out subsidies for oil and gas projects,” Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, a group that campaigns for a just and fossil-fuel-free UK, told The Independent.

“It is also completely contradictory when it comes to both heading off the climate crisis and tackling the cost of living crisis,” she said. “Fossil fuels are at the heart of both, and yet the chancellor is doubling down and encouraging companies to extract more.”

Analysts and oil executives suggested the measure wouldn’t fundamentally change energy companies’ investment strategies, as the investment tax break, along with the tax on their profits, is due to expire in 2025.

“That’s quite a short time for companies looking at investment in the North Sea,” said Sam Alvis, head of economy at Green Alliance.

An energy company executive who spoke to The Independent on the condition of anonymity said the announcement wouldn’t change the course on net zero in a big way because the firm’s investment horizons are mostly five or 10 years.

Nevertheless, the executive described the move by the government as “messy” and “confusing”.

“We are trying to sell a message to our shareholders – that investment and dividends will have to be shaped by, focused on, ensuring a net-zero-compatible future,” the executive said.

“This muddies the waters, with a mixed message on where investment should be focused from the government.”

Companies can get tax relief for investment in renewables through the super-deduction mechanism. This gives businesses tax breaks on investment in physical capital.

However, the mechanism can also be used to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure, according to Mr Alvis.

Ami McCarthy, political campaigner for Greenpeace UK, described the tax break announced on Thursday as “utter stupidity”. “The Chancellor is either in the pocket of the oil and gas industry or is simply happy to see the world burn,” she said.

Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that in order to reach net zero, the country needs to go “hell for leather for renewable power”.

“We should be cracking down on new exploration because it’s not needed,” he said. “If you were serious about getting to net zero, if you were serious about protecting us from climate change, if you were serious about making sure our country was independent of Russia and other people, you would go far more into renewables. So why aren’t they doing that?”

A Shell spokesperson said that the company had “consistently emphasised” the importance of a stable environment for long-term investment. “The chancellor’s proposed tax relief on investments in Britain’s energy future is a critical principle in the new levy,” they said.

The spokesperson confirmed that Shell still intends 75 per cent of its planned £20-25bn investment in the UK energy system to be in low- and zero-carbon products and services, including offshore wind, hydrogen, carbon capture utilisation and storage, and electric mobility.

A spokesperson for BP said: “As we have said before, we see many opportunities to invest in the UK, into energy security for today, and into energy transition for tomorrow.

“Naturally we will now need to look at the impact of both the new levy and the tax relief on our North Sea investment plans.”

The Treasury declined to comment.

U-turn on energy profits flags up Sunak’s lack of long-term plan

“He’s out-Laboured Labour” was the verdict of one upbeat Tory aide after Rishi Sunak announced £15bn worth of handouts to UK households in what was, to all intents and purposes, an emergency budget.

Heather Stewart www.theguardian.com 

The scale of the package was larger than many in Westminster had expected. But when Sunak decides to do a U-turn, he tends to go big.

The “temporary targeted energy profits levy” – don’t say windfall tax – raises significantly more than Labour’s would have. And the cost of living payments were more targeted, and much more generous, than the measures in the spring statement.

As Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, put it: Sunak’s overall approach – taking this announcement along with other recent outings – is “hugely redistributive, taking from high earners and giving to the poor”.

After the punishment beating Boris Johnson’s Tories have taken over Partygate, the announcement will have done him no harm with backbenchers fed up with having no answer to constituents struggling to heat their homes or feed their kids.

Backbench MPs from across the party had been putting pressure on the Treasury to act and in the absence of a clear steer, floating their own widely differing plans for tackling the crisis.

Johnson was widely ridiculed earlier this month when he responded to a heartbreaking story from a Good Morning Britain viewer, Elsie, about riding around on buses to save on energy bills by boasting about the Freedom Pass.

Next time he is asked, Sunak’s package will give the prime minister something concrete to say.

After many months of being the leading contender to succeed Johnson, Sunak’s ham-fisted spring statement, combined with negative stories about his personal tax affairs and those of his super-rich wife, had led many to write off his leadership chances.

But the blizzard of slick social media messaging that poured out alongside the statement – complete with Sunak’s signature – suggested the one person who hasn’t written off his chances is the chancellor himself.

The lofty tone of his speech in the chamber harked back to Sunak’s greatest political hit, the furlough scheme, as he promised, “this government will not sit idly by whilst there is a risk that some in our country might be set so far back … they might never recover”.

Yet when you look back on the past six months, the overwhelming impression is of a government without what George Osborne used to call a “long-term economic plan”.

They were against a windfall tax, now they have implemented one. Sunak claims to be a tax-cutting chancellor, but the tax burden is rising. He thinks tackling the deficit is a “moral responsibility”, but two-thirds of Thursday’s £15bn package is unfunded or, in other words, paid for by increased borrowing. And he repeatedly implements policies that are partly – or fully – reversed, sometimes just a few months later.

The £20 universal credit uplift was scrapped, but then part of the cut was handed back to low-income households with a cut in the taper rate. The hard-fought health and care levy was partly handed back with the increase in the NICs threshold. And a widespread backlash has led Sunak to cancel plans to claw back October’s energy bill rebate –while doubling its value. Putting it politely, he’s all over the place.

Cabinet ministers put these zigzags down partly to wrangling between Sunak and Johnson, who are very different Conservatives without a shared political project – if indeed Johnson has a project at all, aside from keeping himself in No 10.

But many Conservative MPs say they struggle to discern what it is the chancellor stands for either, aside from burnishing brand Rishi. Thursday’s statement, embracing a policy he had previously scorned, and all but conceding that the spring statement fell way short of the scale of the crisis, did little to change that.

Windfall for second homers

They get second dibs on the £400 household fuel discount because there is no way of distinguishing them.

Is this an illustration of “unintended consequences” from a government caught unawares, having to devise support policies overnight?

Or, perhaps not…..

From a government ideologically opposed to increasing targeted redistribution mechanisms such as universal credit and having a strong personal interest in second homes; think “Three homes” Jenrick.

(This windfall will be part funded by a TTEPL “temporary targeted energy profits levy”)

Tory backbenchers can no longer ignore that a liar is sitting at the heart of government

The most pithy comment so far – Owl

It’s all falling apart for them. You can see it in the faces of the Conservative parliamentary party, as they sullenly watch Boris Johnson defend himself over Partygate. You can see it on the empty benches, as they scurry from the Chamber rather than defend the indefensible. The Government has entered a period of sustained decay. It is a moral decay. But it is also an electoral decay.

Ian Dunt inews 1 day ago www.msn.com

If those MPs were honest with themselves, they would have found a reassuring truth in the Chamber today: the Conservative party’s interest and the national interest are perfectly aligned. The Prime Minister must be removed from office. He is a threat to their election prospects and his continued presence in Downing Street degrades the basic legitimacy of British governance.

Sue Gray’s report was finally published today, after months of waiting. It confirmed, in forensic detail, the stories we’ve seen emerging from journalists since Partygate broke. Late night parties in No 10 and the Cabinet Office during lockdown. Vomiting, fights, karaoke sessions, red wine spilled all over the walls, broken children’s swings in the Downing Street Garden. Security and cleaning staff treated with sneering disdain by staff.

They knew what they were doing and what people would think about it. “A 200 odd person invitation for drinks in the garden of No 10 is somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment,” Lee Cain, No 10 director of communications, emailed his colleagues on 20 May 2020. After the party, Martin Reynolds, the Prime Minister’s principal private secretary, was pleased to have escaped any media scrutiny. “A complete non story,” he said, referring to some other issue, “but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with)”.

A culture had taken root in Downing Street. It was one of boozing and misbehaviour, sure. But far more importantly, it was a culture of lawbreaking. A kind of feudal court, in which the rules which apply to others do not apply to the leadership caste.

Cultures like that come from the top. But when Johnson arrived in the Commons an hour later, he told a different story. It was lawyered to within an inch of its life. It sounded like a defence barrister casting doubt in the jury’s mind about whether the defendant was close to the scene of the crime.

No 10 is a big building, he said. 500,300 metres square over five floors, excluding the flats. He’d attended the birthday party in the Cabinet room and been fined. But the other events were leaving parties for members of staff, which he only popped in on. “I briefly attended such gatherings to thank them for their service, which I believe is one of the essential duties of leadership.”

He’d had nothing to do with the late evening debauchery that followed and wasn’t even aware it happened. “I have been as surprised and disappointed as anyone else in this House,” he said. “I have been appalled by some of the behaviour.”

By some miraculous turn of events, he had not heard these parties as they happened, despite the report stating that during one gathering: “people working elsewhere in the No 10 building that evening heard significant levels of noise”. He had not been informed they happened, despite repeated communication about them from senior members of his staff. And he had not realised they were against the rules, despite the people around him clearly joking about it in written communication.

And anyway, reforms had now been put in place. The No 10 operation was being rejigged. “The entire senior management has changed,” he said proudly. Everyone, that is, except him.

This was operation “Save Big Dog” – reportedly the name he himself gave the rescue operation for his career. First, he denied the parties ever happened. Then he lied about it. Then he insisted he could not talk about it because of the Gray report. And then finally, once it was published, he was prepared to speak about it only for as long as it took him to misrepresent it. After that, as he said at the close of his statement, it was time to “move on”.

A few Tory MPs dutifully got up to lip-sync No 10’s position. Most trooped out in the early stages of the debate. There were just a few brave souls on the government benches prepared to grapple with reality.

Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood spoke directly to his colleagues. “Are you willing, day in and day out, to defend this behaviour publicly? Can we win the general election on this current trajectory?” He was breaking the omerta. He was refusing to go along with the conspiracy of silence and inaction. So they tried to shout him down. “I’m being heckled by my own people,” he said desperately.

They should have listened carefully, because amid a spectacle of lies here was one man who was prepared to speak the truth. Johnson’s excuses were literally unbelievable. He would sacrifice anyone for his own advancement. He was bringing his office into disrepute and disgracing the party he leads. But it is not a truth the Tory party is prepared to hear.

Instead, they go grimly on. A zombie party, knowing what has happened is intolerable, and yet unable to admit it or act upon it. Every day they fail to do so, they take Johnson’s moral culpability and slather it on themselves.

Tory MPs suspect cover-up over ‘Abba party’ in Boris Johnson’s flat

Conservative MPs fear a “cover-up” over potentially the most damaging event of the Partygate scandal after Sue Gray admitted she did not fully investigate an alcohol-fuelled gathering in the flat shared by the prime minister and his wife.

Aubrey Allegretti www.theguardian.com 

The six-month inquiry concluded with an acknowledgment from Gray that little was known about what took place in the flat above 11 Downing Street on 13 November 2020, with food, alcohol and loud Abba music reported.

Gray said it would not have been “appropriate or proportionate” to continue her inquiries into the gathering after they were paused to make way for a Scotland Yard investigation.

Her report said a “meeting” was held in the Downing Street flat involving Johnson and five political special advisers to discuss the resignations of two senior No 10 aides that day – Johnson’s chief of staff, Dominic Cummings, and the director of communications, Lee Cain.

‘Absolutely shameless’: MPs grill Boris Johnson over Sue Gray findings – video

Gray said the meeting began after 6pm and Johnson joined at about 8pm, and the discussions “carried on later into the evening” with food and alcohol available.

But she admitted her knowledge of the gathering was limited because she had only just started collecting evidence about it before the Metropolitan police announced its own Partygate investigation in January, prompting her investigation to stop to avoid prejudicing officers’ inquiries.

When the Met’s Operation Hillman came to an end last week, with 126 fines handed out, Gray said she “considered whether or not to conduct any further investigation into this event but concluded it was not appropriate or proportionate to do so”.

One senior Tory MP told the Guardian they believed it amounted to a cover-up. Another said it had the potential to be “the most damaging event of the bunch for Johnson personally” and suggested it was highly suspicious the event had not been looked at, given several of the people present are believed to be friends of Johnson’s wife.

A frontbench Conservative MP also said they were disappointed the Gray report “doesn’t clear up what parties did or didn’t happen in his flat”, and added: “I think he’s getting away lightly.”

Another Tory MP argued: “The report makes clear the PM attended party after party in his frat house.

“While he partied in his, others were domestically abused or isolated in theirs. The failure to investigate the infamous Abba party is a failure of courage and duty on the part of Gray.”

Chris Bryant, a Labour MP and chair of the Commons standards committee, said he was “mystified why this hasn’t been investigated by Sue Gray”.

Several MPs tackled Johnson directly about it in the Commons chamber. Justin Madders, a former shadow minister, asked: “Can he confirm for the record everyone who was there that evening and [that] there was no alcohol, no music, or anything else that people might reasonably conclude constituted a party?”

Johnson declined and said he had “nothing to add” to Gray’s findings.

Joanna Cherry, an SNP MP, also said she was “puzzled as to why the Abba party in the prime minister’s flat had never been investigated either by Sue Gray or the Met police”. She added: “So can I ask the PM what can be done by way of an independent investigation to assure me and my constituents that the Met police have not been nobbled?”

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In response, Johnson told her to “look more closely at Sue Gray’s report because I think she will find the answer she needs”.

Pressed further on the flat party at a press conference on Wednesday, Johnson said Gray had pointed out the Downing Street flat had a “dual use”. He added: “Historically, prime ministers have used it for meetings. The event in question was a work meeting and the Metropolitan police did investigate it and that was certainly the outcome of their investigation.”

Major plan for eight mile route near Exeter

A public consultation has been launched over plans to create a new eight-mile scenic trail between Topsham and West Clyst. The route through parkland and river valleys will be accessible for walkers, cyclists, mobility scooters and, where feasible, horse riders.

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com 

More than 40,000 people will be able to benefit from the Clyst Valley Trail which will link Pinhoe in Exeter with the Exe Estuary Trail. It will also connect to 12,000 new homes and businesses near the Exeter and East Devon Enterprise Zone, as well as nearby towns and villages including Clyst St George, Clyst St Mary, Sowton, Clyst Honiton and Cranbrook.

East Devon District Council is currently in the early stages of designing the multi-use route. It will enable people in and around Exeter to enjoy the new Clyst Valley Regional Park and East Devon. The consultation will run until Friday, June 10.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, cabinet member with responsibility for cycling, said: “The Clyst Valley Trail is a high priority route as part of the delivery of Devon County Council’s multiuse trail strategy and this consultation is a good opportunity for people to have their say and help us refine the proposals at this stage. The trail will promote leisure trips to the East of Exeter which will support local tourism, recreation and hospitality businesses.

“It will also encourage sustainable commuter travel, providing health and well-being benefits to local communities and supporting carbon reduction targets.”

The Clyst Valley Trail would be delivered in three sections. The route will be well served by bus with West Clyst, Clyst Honiton, Clyst St Mary and Topsham all having several buses per hour into Exeter. There are also railway stations at Pinhoe, Cranbrook, Digby Sowton and Topsham, which are all within 2km of the trail.

The proposed Clyst Valley Trail route towards the Exe Estuary

The proposed Clyst Valley Trail route towards the Exe Estuary (Image: DCC)

Councillor Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for coast, country and environment, said: “I am really excited to see the plans for the Clyst Valley Trail. As a ‘multiuse’ trail it will benefit everyone: walkers, people with disability, cyclists, families and horse riders too.

“The trail will take people from their front doors into work, places of historic interest, our fabulous countryside and country pubs. So, if you’re young or old, or need the help of an e-bike (like myself!) please support the creation of this new trail and enjoy the benefits it will provide.”

Part of the proposed Clyst Valley Trail from Clyst St Mary to Topsham

Part of the proposed Clyst Valley Trail from Clyst St Mary to Topsham (Image: DCC)

The consultation team will attend a parish council meeting Bishops Clyst (Clyst St Mary and Sowton) on Wednesday, June 1, at 7pm at Clyst St Mary Church. Other meetings have previously taken place.

Following the consultation, the scheme plans will be updated before approval is sought through the county council’s cabinet and East Devon District Council’s strategic planning committees.

To comment on the proposals complete the online consultation survey. Paper copies of the consultation leaflet, maps and survey can be requested by emailing transportplanning@devon.gov.uk or by writing to: Transport Planning, Devon County Council, Matford Offices, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD.

“Old Muck Spreader” explains why he’s not standing

“I was just a lilttle bit worried that somebody might come in from London that would not be suitable for Tiverton and Honiton because not only do you need a good parliamentary representative in London, it’s a seat that wants a good local representative as well and I tried to be that over the years.”

(Of course! – Owl)

Neil Parish not standing for re-election

Joe Ives, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk

He’d worried about national candidate entering fray

After much speculation, otherwise, disgraced former Neil Parish MP, who resigned following revelations that he had watched pornography in the House of Commons, will not be standing in the upcoming Tiverton and Honiton by-election.

Speaking with the Local Democracy Reporting service Mr Parish said he had had “a lot of support” from constituents including more than 100 letters to his house and lots of emails but said he now feels “happy” with the Consevative candidate, local ex-headteacher Helen Hurford.

He continued: “I was just a lilttle bit worried that somebody might come in from London that would not be suitable for Tiverton and Honiton because not only do you need a good parliamentary representative in London, it’s a seat that wants a good local representative as well and I tried to be that over the years.”

Mr Parish said he would be “very happy” to campaign with Ms Hurford but added that it would be a will be a decision for her and the Conservative Party.

“But I am here,” he continued. “ I will be talking to people that have supported me in the past.

“I’m very happy to introduce her to people if she wishes me to do so but I’m entirely really now in the hands of the party.

“Naturally It’s her decision very much how she runs her campaign  and I do wish her every success.”

Mr Parish said it is important to have a female candidate, partly “because of the circumstances” of his own exit.

He added: “I think it’s probably quite fitting now that after 12 years of a man representing the constituency it’s really good to have a very able woman.” 

He said the quality of the Conservative candidate is the main reason why he won’t be running for his old seat as an independent. 

Mr Parish explained that he and his wife feel he has contributed a lot to his local constituency and to parliament, adding: “I think what I need to do now is let somebody else get on with that work and I need to concentrate on my family, my wife, who’s been so supportive, and also I can do some more farming.” 

Mr Parish wants to “keep his brain alive” by focusing on food production, farming, animal welfare, the environment and farming charities. “[There’s] lots of things I get my teeth into” he added.

Mr Parish continued: “I’ve really appreciated the support that I’ve been given in the constituency. I tried to work hard over the last 12 years and I hope that’s paid off and I really have been glad of the support.

He said he was sorry he had to leave his post “in such circumstances.” 

The former MP now expects his role in the Conservative Party to be “very limited, especially to start with” but does see a more background role for himself in the future “once the storm is over – and the storm is dying down now.”

The Tiverton & Honiton by-election will be held on Thursday 23 June.

As well as Helen Hurford for the Conservatives, businesswoman Liz Pole, who also ran in 2019,  will stand for Labour, and former army major Richard Foord,  will be the Lib Dems’ candidate.

Reform UK, formerly known as the Brexit Party, have named Andy Foan as their candidate.

The Conservatives are defending a majority of more than 24,000 votes from the 2019 general election.