New coronavirus cases confirmed across Devon and Cornwall double

The total number of new coronavirus cases confirmed in the last seven days has more than double across Devon and Cornwall – but some areas have seen a fall.

Daniel Clark 

Government statistics show that 365 new cases have been confirmed across the region in the past seven days in both pillar 1 data from tests carried out by the NHS and pillar 2 data from commercial partners, compared to 155 new cases confirmed last week.

The number of new cases confirmed in Cornwall has tripled, going from 60 to 179, while Plymouth has seen a small rise from 45 to 74. In Torbay, cases have increased ninefold, although from a 2 to 18, while in the Devon County Council area, they have nearly doubled, from 48 to 96.

Of the 365 new cases, 179 were in Cornwall, with 11 in East Devon, 50 in Exeter, 2 in Mid Devon, 6 in North Devon, 74 in Plymouth, 15 in the South Hams, 7 in Teignbridge, 18 in Torbay, 1 in Torridge, and 2 in West Devon.

Mid Devon and Torridge have seen a fall in cases compared to the previous week, while numbers for Teignbridge and West Devon have remained the same.

Those four areas, plus North Devon, are among the lowest ten places in the country in terms of cases per 100,000 population.

Of the 365 new cases confirmed, 303 of the cases have a specimen date of between September 18 and September 24, with some of the other 62 cases dated back to August, although the majority had a specimen date between September 14-17.

Of the 303 of the cases had a specimen date of between September 18 and September 24, 147 of Cornwall cases occurred in that period, with 9 in East Devon, 47 in Exeter, 5 in North Devon, 14 in the South Hams, 6 in Teignbridge, 61 in Plymouth, 12 in Torbay, 1 in Torridge, and 1 in West Devon. Mid Devon has not seen a case by specimen date since September 17.

By specimen date, the most recent case in Torbay is September 24, Cornwall, Plymouth, Exeter, North Devon, the South Hams, Teignbridge and Torridge from September 23, East Devon and West Devon September 21, and September 17 for Mid Devon.

While the number of cases in Devon have significantly risen, more than half of the cases are linked to students at the University of Exeter, who recently arrived for the start of term already having the virus, and who have inadvertently passed it on to their housemates.

All of the Exeter cases, and their households, are self-isolating and following public health advice, and there is no evidence at this stage of the virus spreading into the wider community.

While in Cornwall, a large number of the cases, up to 88, are believed to be linked to an outbreak last week at the Pilgrim’s Pride factory in Pool.

Of the cases with a specimen date of between September 15 to 21, there are currently 23 clusters where three of more cases have been confirmed in a Middle Super Output Area – three in Devon, eight in Plymouth, and 12 in Cornwall.

There is a cluster of four cases in Totnes Town and three in Yealmpton, Modbury & Aveton Gifford in the South Hams, and 23 in Pennsylvania and University in Exeter.

In Plymouth, Plympton Chaddlewood, St Budeaux, Cattedown & Prince Rock, City Centre, Barbican & Sutton Harbour have clusters of 3, with Southway and Derriford and Estover 4, Keyham 5, and Mutley 11.

In Cornwall, there is a cluster of 3 in Bodmin East and St Agnes & Mount Hawke , 4 in Redruth North, Lanreath, Pelynt & Polraun, Crowan, Wendron & Stithians, and Illogan & Portreath, 6 in Camborne South, 7 in Camborne West and Redruth South, 13 in Camborne East, 16 in Kingsand, Antony & Maryfield, and 23 in Pool & Illogan Highway.

And while there has been a rise in cases across the region from previous figures, the number of people in hospital with coronavirus has continued to remain relatively low compared to the rest of the country.

In the South West, the figure has risen from 15 as of last Friday to 34 as of today, with only three patients on ventilation. That figure on Wednesday had risen to 36, and new admissions have fallen from numbers earlier in the week.

No new deaths across Devon and Cornwall were recorded in the most weekly ONS figures.

The R Rate for the South West is now being estimated as between 1.1 and 1.4,

In total, Torridge has had 71 positive cases, West Devon 81, with 142 in the South Hams, 153 in North Devon, 241 in Mid Devon, 256 in Teignbridge, 294 in East Devon, 338 in Torbay 353 in Exeter, 912 in Plymouth and 1265 in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Torridge remains the place in England with the lowest overall positivity rate, and is 3rd in the overall table behind Na h-Eileanan Siar (Outer Hebrides) and the Orkney Islands.

Including Scotland and Wales as well, West Devon is 6th, North Devon 8th, South Hams 9th, Teignbridge 11 th , East Devon 14 th , Cornwall 16 th , Torbay 24th, Exeter 32 nd Mid Devon 43rd and Plymouth 63rd of the 369 regions.

The COVID-19 cases are identified by taking specimens from people and sending these specimens to laboratories around the UK to be tested. If the test is positive, this is a referred to as a lab-confirmed case.

Confirmed positive cases are matched to ONS geographical area codes using the home postcode of the person tested.


Rapid rise in cases takes numbers back to May levels in just 3 weeks /post/incidence-update-sept-25

According to the latest COVID Symptom Study app figures, there are currently,16,130 daily new symptomatic cases of COVID in the UK on average over the two weeks up to 20 September (excluding care homes). The number of daily new cases continues to climb in the UK, with the highest numbers still in the North of England and the Midlands with London playing catch up.

The R values for the UK are currently England 1.4, Scotland 1.3 and Wales 1.4.

The latest figures were based on the data from 6,847 swab tests done between 7 September to 20 September.

Prevalence figures

The latest prevalence figures estimate that 147,498 people currently have symptomatic COVID in the UK, this figure has more than doubled since last week (69,686), for the second week in a row. This figure does not include long term COVID sufferers. Worryingly, in the North West, numbers have tripled in the last seven days from 12,544 to 36,316 estimated cases. In the North East and Yorkshire numbers have more than doubled from 12,916 to 27,731. This doubling of cases is also seen in London where cases have gone from 9,291 to 18,200 a significant jump in numbers. A full regional breakdown can be found here.

COVID Symptom Study Watch List

The COVID Symptom Study app’s Watch List this week has been extended to include 25 regions of the UK. All 25 regions have seen a huge increase in the number of COVID cases, meaning that all areas are of concern with many like Manchester and Glasgow affecting 1 % of the population. As COVID-19 continues to spread widely across the UK the COVID Symptom Study app Watch List will become less relevant.

Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, comments: 

“The number of cases in the UK continues to rise at an alarming rate as we are seeing figures doubling weekly across the country, in particular we are worried about places like London and other major cities like Manchester, Belfast and Glasgow where cases are surging and the R value is around 1.4.

The government has confirmed that our data from our loyal app users  is playing a critical role and currently providing the most up-to-date figures. This is down to the way our app works, as a survey with millions of data points, we are able to produce data approximately 3 days ahead of the ONS’s household survey. We also have a greater number of positive swab tests, 151 positive tests in two weeks, around three times more than the ONS survey.

Having more positive swab tests and millions of people logging in everyday builds a clearer picture of what is happening in the different regions. We need as many people as possible logging in  the app right now, the more we have the better our data will be. We are urging people who want to help us track the progress of this second wave to download the app and log for themselves and their families.”

Algorithms? No just calculus this time!

Rishi Sunak’s Job Support Scheme took two minutes to unravel 

Tom Peck 

As all five feet six of Rishi Sunak rose to his feet at the despatch box of the House of Commons, gaining no perceptible altitude as he did so, it was as fine a moment as any to take stock of how we got here.

The empty air weighed heavy upon him. The hazard tape still stuck down to the floor of the chamber a reminder that these remain very dangerous times.

Can it really be a mere six months ago, in this room, that he was delivering his first Budget? Back then, a government minister, Nadine Dorries, had tested positive for Covid-19 a matter of hours before. Makeshift police tape had been placed over the door to her office, but everyone just crammed in regardless.

Sunak announced, to genuine cheers, that he had allocated fully £12bn to sort out this coronavirus business. This has turned out not to be enough, by somewhere in the region of £379bn.

Perhaps, in hindsight, it might have been then that it should have become clear that the government didn’t really have a clue what it was doing. But then, it’s easy to say with hindsight. Of course, many people said as much with foresight as well, but let’s not get too bogged down in all that.

He wasn’t delivering a Budget today. That quite rightly had to be cancelled. A “Budget” is just not the right word for the days in which we now live. Budgeting involves setting a spending limit and sticking to it. Budget hotels and budget car rentals tend to imply value for money.

There’s nothing budget about Covid-19. Oh no. That’s why this had been called merely a Winter Economic Plan, and it served to remind that, oh yes, winter is coming.

The furlough scheme, coming in at £4bn a month for the last seven months, was coming to an end, to be replaced by the Job Support Scheme. This was radical, in that it would involve actual employers paying their own staff to do actual work, rather than the government. Well, it would in theory.

For those of us whose job it is to attempt to find humour in chafingly dry fiscal statements like this, the smart move for some years now has been not to worry too much about the speech itself, but just wait for the aftermath. For most of the last 10 years, it has been possible to time, almost in seconds, how long it takes for a Budget to unravel, once the economists and the financial analysts get hold of it, clear out the smoke and shatter the mirrors.

The Job Support Scheme took about two minutes to collapse as a viable proposal. Its central premise is that companies can pay their staff a third of their wages to work a third of their hours, and then the remaining two-thirds, or 66 per cent of the cash, will be borne in equal 22 per cent chunks by the employee, who’ll simply lose it, the employer and the government.

It means that companies will be required to pay staff 55 per cent of their wages to do 33 per cent of their work. Alternatively, they can sack them, and hire somebody else on a part-time basis. It is hard to see this not happening. It is even harder to see how a waiter, a DJ, an airline pilot, a shop worker or anyone involved in, say, the events industry, can even hope to do 33 per cent of their job, when a pandemic has made it close to impossible to provide their services to customers who don’t want them anyway.

It was, however, good while it lasted. Some months ago, one of Sunak’s predecessors, George Osborne, pointed out that a popular chancellor is a chancellor who’s not doing his job properly.

If the halo slips on Sunak, it will also mark the daylight being let in on the magic. The magic money tree, to be precise, which has a decidedly autumnal look about it, and we all know what comes next.


OPINION: Is Honiton Town Council serving the community?

Compared with other town councils, Honiton Town Council sees a lot of action. Not so much the positive action many would like to see; but more legal action and active disputes, which show little sign of resolve.

Hannah Corfield

At just seven members strong, out of a possible 18, with one member unable to participate due to ill health; one might call into question the decision making capabilities of the six remaining councillors.

Another cause for concern is the fact that nine councillors, who appeared to have Honiton’s best interests at heart, were seemingly forced from their positions citing various problems with the current incumbents at HTC.

Added to that, at least two members of staff have been signed off sick amid allegations of bullying in the workplace.

It does not paint a pretty picture, by anyone’s standards. Especially given that we are experiencing the worst crisis in living memory. Strong, proactive, united communities are what will carry us through adversity; is that what Honiton Town Council currently stands for?

Former town councillor, Duncan Sheridan-Shaw commented: “When I first joined Honiton Town Council it was always my intention to understand what the community wanted and needed.

“I feel that if you choose to become a public servant you should choose a life of service – feet to the floor, digging in and sweeping up.

“Honiton Town Council does not currently fulfil this ideal, a professional and proactive organisation should become involved at a grassroots level and get their hands dirty, both metaphorically and physically.

“We do not see a council that is out and about, we do not see a council that holds open meetings just for the sake of doing it, we do not see a council giving up time to sweep up or clean down.

“I feel a productive council should be made of representation FROM community groups and not become representatives TO community groups.

“Our council do not host gala evenings or fund raising events; our council do not join in on fun runs; our council do not hold up the standards of Brand Ambassadors for our community – and for this I am abundantly embarrassed of our town council.”

In response, Mayor John Zarczynski said: “There are a small group of people making false accusations and sharing misinformation on social media.

“An independent investigation is currently underway into complaints made against HTC and I look forward to publishing the results, as this will vindicate the council.

“The councillors who have resigned, making various allegations that are totally untrue, should have stayed on to fight their corner, as they will now cost tax payers £10,000 in by-elections.

“HTC are working on many projects for the community; such as a Neighbourhood Plan, drainage on the High Street, allotments, reopening the market and the proposed Town Park.”


More Lowlights from Sasha Swire’s Diaries – second half packed with local refences

Extracts from the second half – so juicy readers are advised to take a shower to cleanse themselves after reading.

We are indebted to Owl’s correspondent for summoning up the stamina for tackling the second half so soon after the first, in the public interest naturally – read on:

Swire Diaries episode 2 – Lowlights 50-100%

Numbers relate to location in Kindle book

2018 continued

4531 – Constituent asks for steel street furniture to avoid a terrorist attack on Sidmouth prom – says hundreds could be killed as they are too arthritic to do a quick dive into the sea.  Sue [H’s secretary] and I have a laugh – as if ISIS is going to attack East Devon for God’s sake.  The only real threat of an incident happening there is with a trembling pair of hands of the gears of an out-of control mobility scooter [Remember that a young man, under terrorist influence, did plant a bomb at a restaurant in Exeter and it was only luck that meant it did not go off].

4591-  Jacob Rees Mogg “speaks like a plum orchard”.

4729 – West Hill Harvest supper.  People friendly.  H makes a long speech Colonel Peter Morrison very pro-Trump.  Fed up with local anti-Tory press, H asked how many of the 100 or so people have written to the press – 2 hands go up.

4779 – Commons sex scandal “Hugo assures me that he has not partaken in groping himself [!].  Time will tell.  He is at that age where he needs more of it and is getting less.

4791 – SS sets up anon Twitter account@torympwife.  H “understandably nervous”.

4828 – Megan Markle “a mixed-race American divorcee”.

4927 – The Dorchester all-male ball, where waitresses are told to wear skimpy clothes and made to sign non-disclosure agreements. H says he “can’t see what’s wrong with men flinging themselves a scantily-clad young girls (sic) – how else are they  expected to score and keep the human race from going extinct?

5047 – “Rather unimpressive Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon Alison Hernandez gave a radio interview telling people to write to Hugo re parking on pavements.  He tells her that (a) you are the PCC (b) this is a matter for the local authority and (c) not a matter for MPs and is not a good use of their time – his PA amends it before it goes out and she does with many of his letters.

5063 – West Hill branch AGM and dinner.  Usual stuff.  When H thinks he may be dangerously right-wing, “attending the West Hill AGM always cures him of such concerns”.

At the meeting a man asks a question and H replies in his “most oleaginous Sergeant Wilson manner …”

5976 – Budleigh Salterton AGM.  No more than 20 in the hall.  Jeremy asks for apologies, Jill Elson says my sister as she is stuck in Tesco’s.

5096 – H trying to get back to mid-Devon in snow.  Gets to Exeter, plans to walk to home.  SS says it “illustrates how thick he can be .  He is the type of person the emergency services want to kill rather than pick up”.  [a volunteer driver of a 4-wheel drive vehicle picks him and others up and takes them home – driver not impressed that he is an MP].

5107 – H agrees to host 3 lunches a year for “moribund association”.  Amber Rudd [Home Sec at the time] agrees to attend but cries off and so he gets Arlene Foster (DUP).  Tom Wright, a councillor from Budleigh Salterton was accompanying Alison Hernandez and furious it wasn’t going to be Rudd  “It was to be his moment in the sun” and threatens not to attend.  Turns out he thought it was Arlene Phillips of “Strictly Come Dancing” who was expected.

5129 – Much bickering about whether to buy a photocopier locally or online.  Treasurer behaving like Scrooge.  Jill Elson (for local) said she had a friend called Reg who can fix anything in his shed.  H finally bought it and donated the money for it.  “It’s like a war zone in East Devon” says SS.

5147 – H appointed a Commons fire warden.  What if I am not in my office?  “Since he hates his office and is never in it, I doubt his skills will ever be tested.

5239 – [Amber Rudd – currently one of SS’s best friends – although this changes – “misleads Parliament].  SS and HS put out a tweet: “Home office is and always has been a dysfunctional department filled with large numbers of left-leaning anti-Tory civil servants, who are prone to leaning … The Twittersphere goes bananas, particularly the civil service union representatives and Claire Wrong’s cronies, of course”.

[A Rudd resigns]

5269 – SS describes in detail and gynae problem that takes her to hospital.

5313 – “None of H’s deals are coming to fruition – he says he feels that he is ‘just a bed-blocker’ in the Commons”.

5434 – “He feels trapped by the institution that he now loathes and wants to get a Harley-Davidson, get stoned, have an affair and … horrify his constituents”.

5453 – [This entry really needs putting out in full as SS describes in horrifying detail how her husband tries to sabotage Claire Wright]  H has been trying to work out what would really piss off Miss Wrong.  I know, he says, let’s save Ottery St Mary Hospital.  Ottery St Mary is Wrong’s territory – we can’t do anything to Wright there, she has the whole place sewn up. [long rant] … I’m not saying she doesn’t have a point, but she has been telling them the hospital is going for nigh on 10 years.

H invites Matt “Hand on Cock” [her words] to visit, tips off ITV but not CW but ITV tells CW and she rallies her troops.

CW goes into full battle mode with her supporters … eventually Matt has to dive into his car.  Claire is outraged and rushes up to H “Did he give any guarantees Mr Swire” she says.  Sasha is incandescent with rage that she doesn’t call him Sir Hugo and thinks it all went swimmingly until they view the media coverage, very positive to CW so they complain to ITV.  “Are we ever going to be rid of this woman”.

5564 – H calls the East Devon Conservative Association to discuss Brexit.  About 8 turn up.  “Let everyone have their say” says Jill Elson, which always refers back to the fact that she was once, aeons ago, made redundant by Clark’s Shoes in Seaton and blames this on the ERM, John Major, Maastricht, the weather …”  Lovely Lynn, her sister, says “ordinary people at the pub etc.are complaining about the cuts.”  Jill Elson threatens to resign and hisses and fumes at Jacob Reees-Mogg … in the absence of Christine Channon (who has it in for Hugo at the moment) Jeff Tait (Mayor of Exmouth) reads his contribution out slowly.  They then competed about who was saying what about at the pub, no-one any the wiser.  H has come to the conclusion that either they are all mad or he is, and he thinks on balance it is probably him.

Gove and H meet and speculate what might have happened if H had married Jerry Hall [who he dated for a very short time and SS says it was just to make Mick Jagger mad] and they talk about having her over a barrel.

5707 – “H is becoming like Victor Meldrew”


5842 – H has been putting lens cleaner in his mouth and air freshener on his spectacles.

5874 – H speculates why his chickens are not laying.  A [real country person) says it is because only one cock should be with them and there are 3.  H cannot bring himself to wring the cocks’ necks so decides to shoot them.  He misses one and gets a chicken.  “He then goes all Rambo and uses so much lead [to kill the birds] they are inedible.

5913 – Another West Hill AGM [it seems these are popular as this branch produces most money for the coffers] in their “Fuhrerbunker” (the village hall)  Colonel Morrison features again … “Watching them  vote is excruciating – some unable to lift hands, others shaking one using one arm to raise the other – a portrait of our current membership”.

6141 – Phone call with our builder/shooter friend who tells H to do something about not being allowed to kill pests on his land.  “The green blob, led by Chris Packham have finally infiltrated DEFRA”.

6191 – 3 May election – “worst news – Indies have taken control of East Devon.  Claire Wrong is crowing from the rooftops because they are all “her people” – by that I mean of her left-wing persuasion.

6471 – Raab C Brexit (Dominic Raab) made Foreign Secretary and Deputy PM.  H really did help to put him on the map …Matt Hand on Cock still there, probably warming the PM’s loo seat).

6481 – “We all know Cummings is stark raving mad …”

6495 – Dinner at No 10, SS shouted at HS not to drink or use salt on account of his blood pressure which “for the last 2 days has been telling us he is headed for the exit …”

6502 – August 2019 – “Liam Fox is writing a book on pandemics …”.  H tells BJ that he is off at the next election.  BJ knocks back the plonk at an alarming rate.

6562 – Why did Boris and Carrie get a puppy when they have Hancock?

6633 – 12 September – H announces to Association Executive he’s off.  H says not a single person thanked him for his 20 year service.

6641 – C Wrong can’t believe her luck – SS thinks CW should have been nicer to Hugo about his leaving.  SS says:  “I feel elated that we don’t have anything to do with that cow again[Anyone notice a contradiction here with the entry above?]

6697 – “Everyone knows Boris is a sex addict …”

6735 – “Boris treads over the dead bodies of Extinction Rebellion protesters”.

6755 – H has 2 accidents with his new tractor.  “It doesn’t occur to him that it would be highly inconvenient for me to become a widow quite yet. Particularly as the life insurance I took out on him is about to run out.

6931 – Association have selected Simon Jupp.  Jupp – Raab C. Brexit’s media spad – is virtually being given the seat without much of a competition.

6938 – “Jupp comes from a much more humble background …”

6940 – in the past if you had brown sauce with your sausages, you voted Labour; if you holidayed in Tuscany you were New Labour or Conservative, but Brexit has smashed all those certainties.

6944 – H has conversation with John Humphries … H bursts into tears… because he said thank you and H is proud to have made [John and David’s wedding] happen.

6951 – H out doing last Remembrance Sunday [he is no longer an MP at this point just before the election] but it “gives him a chance to wear his KCMG”.

6976 – … we have decided not to go canvassing unless asked by the new candidate.

7022 – “H goes out canvassing in Budleigh Salterton for Jumping Jupp Flash, who tells H that he is having a torrid time with Claire Wrong’s followers.  All his posters are being ripped up and the abuse on his social media has been so bad he has had to shut his Facebook page down”/

… She goes around saying that she is fighting a clean campaign.  Maybe, but not all her supporters are.

7042 – “H flies back from Hong Kong.  He has become a non-executive for a large conglomerate that builds and places large storage facilities around Asia.

7050 – 10 December.  Remainer maniac menace Hugh Grant turns up in East Devon … surrounded by lefties from Claire Wright’s cult [another long rant from Sasha follows – saying he once nuzzled her and told her her perfume was wonderful].

7073 – OMG she’s going to get it … ? because H didn’t pass on his lucky rosette to Jupp (H searches for it).  He is convinced Jupp will lose.

13/12 – 80 Seat victory – amount of publicity CW received was unprecedented.

7132 “Jupp done it, babe”.

“A few days ago we got Twitter private messages from Rylance (Lib Dem) and Wilson (Labour) who admitted they’d rather we won due to her level of abuse and the trolling they had been getting from her supporters.

7139 – “I weirdly feel some sympathy for her … her vanity superseded a rational take on facts.

[Go now and cleanse yourselves with a hot shower] …..

Two massive cliff falls in Sidmouth ‘in just half an hour

Huge plumes of red dust have loomed over Sidmouth today [Thursday – Owl] following two cliff falls in the space of 30 minutes.

[See devonlive for photos and video]

Chloe Parkman 

Jenny Pleasants, who captured the natural phenomenon on camera, was stood along the seafront when she noticed the huge dust cloud coming from Jacobs Ladder.

One eye-witness said: ”[There has] been two in half an hour now.”

This appears to be the first significant cliff fall in just over a month after a local resident captured an enormous landslide in the town back in August.

Devon Live has reported on numerous cliff falls within the town over the last few months.

In May, the area saw five separate cliff falls of note, with three taking place within 24-hours.

A spokesperson for East Devon District Council (EDDC) said: ““Cliff falls are a natural and unpredictable occurrence along the East Devon coast, this is because the rock from which the cliffs are formed is soft and therefore prone to rock falls and landslides, which can happen at any time, although periods of heavy rainfall such as the wettest February on record and now a long dry period, can cause an increase rate of falls.

“The Sidmouth and East Beach Management Plan (BMP) scheme aims to reduce the risk of flooding to Sidmouth by maintaining the standard of defences along Sidmouth Beach, and to reduce the rate of erosion to the cliffs to the East of the town (and therefore the rate of exposure of the East side of Sidmouth to coastal conditions).”

Ian Barlow said: “For now the simple message is unchanged from previous years keep off east beach it is dangerous.

“We are lucky to have miles of beaches around with the best water quality available for people to enjoy the seaside safely even with social distancing!”


Robert Jenrick ignored civil servants to spend Towns Fund millions on Tory marginals

Another of “three homes” Jenrick’s achievements – Owl

Ministers ignored the advice of civil servants before ploughing millions into marginal constituencies, a cross-party group of MPs has been told.

George Grylls, Esther Webber 

Last September, weeks before the general election, Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, announced that he would award £25 million each to deprived areas under a regeneration scheme called the Towns Fund.

Mr Jenrick and Jake Berry, a junior housing minister, chose 61 of the 101 towns. Analysis by The Times found that 60 of the areas they selected were in Conservative-held seats or Tory targets. The average majority in those towns was just 3,000. Mr Jenrick also chose his own seat of Newark — one of only two with a majority of more than 10,000 to receive funding.

The government initially refused to publish details of the selection criteria, but was overruled by the National Audit Office (NAO), leading to accusations by the public accounts committee that the government had used “flimsy, cherry-picked evidence” to choose the towns.

Appearing before the committee, Jeremy Pocklington, permanent secretary at the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), said that ministers were given an analysis of the relative deprivation of towns, but had chosen “to apply their own qualitative assessment”. He insisted that the government had adopted a “robust, evidence-based approach” in distributing the total sum of £3.6 billion.

Stephen Jones, director of the Cities and Local Growth Unit, told MPs that ministers were advised to consult with mayors during the selection process, but decided not to, saying that they “wanted to do that themselves”. A source close to the process rejected that assessment, saying that ministers had not refused to consult with mayors, but had simply never replied to the suggestion.

Meg Hillier, the Labour chairwoman of the public accounts committee, said the decision not to consult mayors was “very short-sighted”, adding that there were questions about the funding criteria that “still need answering”.

During the campaign, Mr Jenrick promoted the Towns Fund when visiting marginals including Broxtowe, Ipswich and Penistone & Stocksbridge.

The day before the vote, appearing alongside Darren Henry, now the MP for Broxtowe, in Stapleford — a town deemed low priority by civil servants — Mr Jenrick said that the government would “only” commit £25 million to the area if there was a “Conservative majority government” and Mr Henry was “elected to parliament tomorrow”.

A recent National Audit Office report found that ministers had selected all 40 towns deemed a “high priority” on a range of deprivation measures, but that they had also given money to 12 low-priority towns for which the rationale was “varied”.

An MHCLG spokesman said: “The report showed that the more affluent towns were ruled out, and the 40 most deprived towns were rightly favoured, with the remainder selected from a shortlist that considered a wide range of evidence.”


Devon and Cornwall the worst area for COVID-19 rule breaking in UK

More people in Devon and Cornwall flouted coronavirus lockdown regulations more than any other part of the UK, research has revealed.

George Thorpe

Freedom of Information requests submitted by The University of Law (ULaw) show that between March 23 and June 30, there were 956 cases of rules being broken across the two counties, equating to 21% of the 4,490 offences dealt with by the authorities.

It puts the area at the top of the list for UK by some distance with Derbyshire second on 570 and Leicestershire third with 479.

Northamptonshire and the West Midlands complete the top five with 436 and 376 offences respectively.

Speaking about the research’s findings, Jennifer Schmidt-Petersen, programme and student lead for policing programmes at ULaw, said: “In September, we’ve seen many people return to work and children return to school with a heightened appreciation for our emergency services.

“While public authorities were already under immense pressure during lockdown earlier in the year, it is shocking to see this research highlighting the huge number of those defying lockdown rules set by the Government, which were there to protect us.

“During this same timeframe, public authorities around the UK also dealt with a total of 68,747 general crimes, further putting pressure on their resources.

“Lockdown was hard for many people and the laws were put in place in order to slow the spread of the virus, as is shown with Leicestershire, not abiding by these lockdown rules may result in us being placed under tighter restrictions once again right across the UK.

“Getting caught in breach of the lockdown restrictions can put you at risk of ending up with a criminal record, which will have a serious long-term impact on your life.

“With new restrictions now coming into play, we’d encourage the public to take note and make sure they are fully informed when it comes to the powers of the police and their local authorities.”

From today (September 24), new COVID-19 restrictions introduced by the Government will require hospitality and entertainment establishment such as pubs, restaurants and bowling alleys to close at 10pm and not reopen until 5am.

Pubs, bars and restaurants must also offer table service only.

People are also being encouraged to work from home if possible while a maximum of 15 people will be allowed to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions from Monday.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also unveiled a series of financial measures aimed at helping the country’s economy including VAT cuts and wage subsidies.


Lowlights of Sasha Swire’s Diaries – the first half

“there is even a website (East Devon Watch)  which perpetuates a new type of politics – one that encourages paranoia and hate.  We need to expel this extremism …!”

(The Toilet Seats are identified in this half)

Lowlights of Sasha Swire Diaries – first 50%

One of Owl’s correspondents kindly offered to undertake the onerous task of reading the “salacious” diaries.

Here is a summary of the lowlights of the first half of the book.

(Owl’s correspondent now deserves to lie down in a darkened room for a while).

Year 2010

Kindle version – numbers relate to Kindle location

92: Men + power = whores

110 Hugo liked being called Minister very much and kept asking S to say “Yes Minister

126 – loved having two bodyguards

232 – when he asks her to do something she doesn’t want to do, he says he should because she is his wife.  She retorts that the taxpayers pay her and he can see her contract if he wishes

257 – people ignore her because she is just an MPs wife – but she “carries revenge in her heart forever”

294 – her mother-in-law, the Dowager Marchioness Townsend informs her mother that she will be accompanied by her butler on a visit.

(Various) many bigwigs entertained at the rented home in Sidbury including PM, Gove, Osborne, etc where they often seem to get very drunk (472)

546 – He spends 3 days a week in Northern Ireland.

658 – the Queen ignores her, S thinks she is seen as “small and irrelevant.

745 – Hugo buys a Jeep Cherokee “for image reasons”.

783 – he and Cameron and Osborne stay up to watch Keira Knightley’s nipples in a film

816: Forestry Commission – biggest despoilers of land.

899 – finds out a “smelly Libdem” has stayed in their Government-owned and allocated flat in Northern Ireland.

1049 – the testicle-grabbing incident (grabbed by Sasha).

“324 – H’s new job in FO described as “running the world”.

1879 – West Hill Conservatives AGM – members complain it is like Hugo “has disappeared off the planet” as “not seen all year.  Average age: 70s, they by and large “hate foreigners, Europe, defence cuts, gay marriage, Liberals, BBC, Germans, Japanese and garlic”.  “H has fallen out of love with these people.

1969 – East Devon Scouts Day – the toilet seats are Anne and Graham Liverton because they are always “up and down at town (sic) council meetings”. [Owl flushes out a relevant local news story “Councillor quits over humiliation of wife”]

1991 – Graham Liverton “a symphony in green … think John Inman in “Are You Being Served”.

2129 – it’s 2014 and H wants to go – sounds out a headhunter about other jobs.

2460 – Claire Wright causing no end of trouble, quite a good operator, attacks Hugo personally, infuriates Sasha.

2500 – First pre-election hustings – H says hello to everyone except Ms Wright.

2522 – the notorious “benefits auction” where H makes joke about those on benefits not being able to buy his honey, a jar of which sells for £15,000.

2532 – Claire Wright exploits it “like a rat up a drainpipe”

2572 – Hustings in East Devon “quite tiresome” H tries not to be riled by Claire Wright.


2572 – Claire Wright’s supporters intimidating officers regarding postal votes.  [EDDC CEO and Returning Officer] Mark Williams “irritated”.  East Devon Alliance is “causing no end of trouble.


3317 – Claire Wrights supporters are “intolerant” – “there is even a website (East Devon Watch)  which perpetuates a new type of politics – one that encourages paranoia and hate.  We need to expel this extremism …!

3542 – (post-election) Hugo is miffed that he is to be sacked by May.  Defies the whip to “return to mid-Devon as he wants to have a good summer”.

3654 – Fundraiser at Woodbury Golf Club – “hideous development”, poor turnout (52).  All stand for the loyal toast except Jill Elson and her sister who try but fail to stand up.

3647 – They have ended their relationship with “Express and Echo” because it is too pro-Claire Wright.  But S says they no longer need them.

Darryl Nicholas (Mayor Exmouth) wants to be new MP.  S notes that Darryl’s “chaotic love life” has settled down.

S dances with the “alarmingly right-wing Colonel Peter Morrison from Westhill.

Graham Liverton draws the raffle – in a high camp manner like the dame he is going to play in pant.

But …”we do love each and every one of them”.

3985 – Bloody year .. the Claire Wright agenda and worse.


Hugo is at a dinner with Duchess Camilla, he drinks too much, she congratulates him on his election, he says “Do you mean my erection?” and she is not amused.

4208 – the terrorist attack outside Parliament – MP Tobias Ellwood goes out and gives first aid to a policeman, Hugo wishes it was him

4261 – Another election in the offing but “H doesn’t have all his ducks in a row [to stand down]” and “we have to take on Claire Wright again with all her cronies spreading their bile about us”.

4322 –  11 May Claire Wrong (stet) is up and running … even has a Campaign Manager, pitching it as a David and Goliath contest, which is hilarious since she has well over 500 helpers and we have one: Toby.  She’s energetic, she gets herself around social media nimbly… We still have the same bunch we had 20 years ago, now 89-99.  Hugo incandescent – one email sent out [by his “campaign”] says he will be on the campaign trail every day – except they sent it to Wright herself”.

4344 – Peter Faithfull – a shiny new nutter – also standing.

4382 – why don’t I canvass with Hugo “I can’t bear the aggression to H”.

Mother-in-law canvasses for H – “gets the usual 20% negative – we never see him around here”.

4415, Election night, Sidmouth.  SS doesn’t have her HRT patch on her leg.  Express and Echo tells her to “go away” when she tries to woo them away from Claire Wright.

Claire Wright also tells H to go away while she is doing an interview and he wants to interrupt her.  “Claire Wright’s henchmen start to circle around me.  Clean fight my arse …”