Might there be a General Election soon? Swire’s e-bulletin might be a hint!

Swire’s “e-bulletin” messages have been few and far between recently. Perhaps his wife has been busy (as he says she helps with his digital presence).

We have seen the following e-bulletins:

Aug 2014, Nov 2014, Mar 2015, Aug 2015, Dec 2015
Apr 2016, Aug 2016, Dec 2016
Apr 2017, Nov 2017
and now
Jul 2018

So apparently now less than half-yearly.

Of course, now he is no longer a Cabinet Minister we can fully understand why he has LESS time to devote to constituents – it’s all those other jobs he has which take up so much time:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/180702/swire_hugo.htm

But Owl does fantasise (just a bit) about whether issuing this now is actually a response to the deteriorating political situation for his party – or perhaps Claire Wright’s hard work locally and her recent activities in Westminster getting him increasingly worried.

If you want to read it, go to his web page but Owl has a few observations. However, here is Owl’s summary:

Whatever happened to the Sidmouth Survey he mentions?

He writes extensively about English Tourism Week – yet he does more and speaks more in more in Parliament for tourism in the Middle East.

He boasts about his army service – probably worth reminding people that it was both short and completely devoid of active service in e.g. Afghanistan or Kuwait or the Balkans or any other real hot-spot.

Then he has another boast about his Middle East work.

Next he boasts about his work with CPRE – and having attended one public meeting at their invitation.

Then, we get to THE MOST IMPORTANT TOPIC of his e-bulletin which is SO IMPORTANT it gets a boastful video rather than just a boring old boastful photograph. Yes – you guessed correctly – it’s unemployment? … health care? … social care? … infrastructure? … impact of Brexit? … tourism? … no actually its Protecting British Flora from Imported Diseases.

Next up, he has piggybacked on the efforts of Cllr Elli Pang and Philip Algar and other locals (including Claire Wright) in Ottery St Mary who have been campaigning ceaselessly about Ottery Hospital for decades, to claim to be vitally interested in what happens to it.

Then it’s back to nature topics again to use two columns to double up on his concerns about Sea Horses.

So, there you have it.

Owl’s suggestion: go here instead for a more comprehensive and meaningful view on local issues: http://www.claire-wright.org/

Claire Wright concerned about unpaid carers – asks for them to contact her

Could you imagine Swire being concerned about this – concerned, not just anodyne words.

“Some of Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee will visit Westbank League of Friends to hear from staff who support unpaid carers, later this month, following my proposal for a spotlight review into how unpaid carers who look after friends and family members are faring.

I have seen a confidential report of a focus group meeting that took place last year, which indicates that the 24 people in Devon who took part, are suffering from a lack of support, a lack of money and a lack of respite care….. many reported that their mental and physical health was suffering as a result.

I asked for the (anonymised) report to be published with the June health scrutiny papers, but this was refused as the focus group report was not ever intended to be made public and consent had not been given. Instead a rather more neutral version of the report was published, but as I told the committee, this did not reflect the original report and I don’t believe people’s voices have been heard.

The media reports today that unpaid carers save the economy a massive £60bn a year – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40560827 – here’s the BBC story on the subject.

Anecdotally, my conversations with local people 100 per cent support the findings from Devon County Council’s focus group. Many unpaid carers are at their wits end.

I did propose a spotlight review into how unpaid carers are faring but this was not voted on unfortunately. There didn’t seem support from around the room. However, the issue will return to the agenda in September and I will pursue it then.

If you are an unpaid carer and wish to get in touch I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Email me at claire@claire-wright.org

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/unpaid_carers_are_they_getting_the_support_they_need

Devon County Council Tories kill off community hospitals

From the blog of Claire Wright:

“Seven Conservative councillors today block voted down my proposal to “strongly support” retaining all Devon community hospital buildings and to “strongly oppose” any potential plans to declare them surplus to requirements.

And in what became a rather heated debate, one conservative, Cllr Richard Scott, disgracefully accused the assiduous and polite Independent Seaton councillor, Martin Shaw of abusing his right to address councillors.

I had requested an item on community hospital buildings at today’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting, as there is a continual threat in the air of the possibility that the buildings may be declared surplus to requirements and be sold off. There remains anxiety and concern in local communities as a result.

Last month, NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group was forced to deny they had “any plans” to declare Honiton and Seaton Hospitals surplus to requirements, following comments made at a campaign meeting.

Dr Simon Kerr, the GP who was quoted in the notes published, later said his comments had been misinterpreted.

The Estates Strategy, which will set out what is proposed to be done with the buildings owned by the local NHS, is due out soon, possibly as early as next month.

In presenting my case I set out how the committee had been unable to secure assurances from health service managers for a long time that buildings were safe, that Dartmouth Hospital is being sold off and that the ownership of 12 community hospitals in Eastern Devon was in the hands of NHS Property Services which was charging over £3m rents for the upkeep of the buildings.

I believe these rents are still being met by NHS England, but this is only a temporary measure and soon the bill will fall on the doormat of the deeply in deficit NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group.

Cllr Brian Greenslade seconded my proposal.

Speaking in support were also Cllr Carol Whitton (Labour) and Cllr Nick Way (Libdem).

For some reason the conservative councillors were all opposed to my proposal. Several said there was no evidence, that it was just speculation that there was even a risk to the buildings.

Conservative councillor, Jeff Trail, didn’t appear to like my proposal but said he thoroughly supported Cllr Carol Whitton’s position, which was rather confusing as she had just said she backed me!

Cllr John Berry didn’t like my recommendation because the committee didn’t own the buildings. He wanted us to write to the CCG to ask what the status of the buildings was instead.

Cllr Sylvia Russell thought she had heard an NHS manager say at some point at today’s meeting that the buildings were safe so there was nothing to worry about. No one else seemed to recall this.

Cllr Richard Scott dismissed my proposal as “speculation” and claimed there was “no evidence” to back up my concerns.

Referring to Cllr Martin Shaw, who had just set out calmly and eloquently the concerns of his own community of Seaton, Cllr Scott added: “In some respects this is an abuse of a right to speak at this committee. There’s nothing here to consider.”

Chair, Sara Randall Johnson, wanted to take account of Paul Crabb’s view, which was that some hospitals might be old and in a poor state of repair, but I said we should have a simple and clear proposal or the CCG would drive a coach and horses through it.

I reminded the committee (yet again) that our committee was the only legally constituted check on health services in the county and it is our job to act on issues of public concern, which this very much was.

I added that it was important to take a position now and before the Estates Strategy was published so our views could inform the strategy.

My words fell on deaf ears. I had genuinely thought, that despite all the past political shenanigans on that committee – and there have been many – that the Conservatives might have backed this one, as not a single member of their own communities would have surely wanted them to vote a different way.

There was every reason for the entire committee to be unanimously in favour of my proposal.

What a huge shame.

Voting in favour: Me, Brian Greenslade (LibDem – Barnstaple North), Nick Way (LibDem – Crediton), Carol Whitton (Labour – St David’s and Haven Banks).

Voting against: (All Conservative): John Berry (Cullompton and Bradninch), John Peart (Kingsteignton and Teign Estuary) Sylvia Russell (Teignmouth) Richard Scott (Lympstone and Woodbury), Paul Crabb (Ilfracombe), Andrew Saywell (Torrington Rural), Jeff Trail (Lympstone and Woodbury)

The debate is available to view at item 10 from this link – https://devoncc.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/325480

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/health_scrutiny_conservative_councillors_block_vote_down_proposal_to_protec

Still time to register for the East Devon Alliance conference on Saturday 26 May

EAST DEVON ALLIANCE PEOPLE’S CONFERENCE
“TIME FOR A CHANGE”
SATURDAY 26TH MAY 10am-1.30pm
BEEHIVE, HONITON

All across East Devon people are worried about their HEALTH, their HOMES and their JOBS. Never has it been more important to involve yourself with local democracy in your district.. YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.

The EAST DEVON ALLIANCE is trying to help with all of this, an umbrella group of Independent people, who since 2015 have won 7 district council seats and 1 county seat. The EDA is free from the negative influence of national parties who – at East Devon District Council – have acquired the arrogant habits of a Conservative one-party state.

This conference is for YOU. Speakers will include County Councillors CLAIRE WRIGHT and MARTIN SHAW, and PAM BARRETT, Chair of the Independent Buckfastleigh Town Council and regional expert on transforming democracy from the bottom up.

In two sessions you will be able to hear our experience and then CONTRIBUTE your own personal views:

a) how did the democratic deficit in East Devon happen? Or – the problem.

b) what can we do about it through democracy in our parishes, towns and district. Or – the solution.

Please come. We are all volunteers but if we band together now to fight for hospitals, homes and jobs we have a chance to change how our local area is run.

Parking: nearest is Lace Walk. 2 minute walk. If full, New Street, 5 mins

Reserve a free place now!
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/east-devons-time-for-a-change-peoples-conference-tickets-45482525458

Claire Wright responds on threat to close Honiton and Seaton hospital day services

“Seaton and Honiton Hospitals may be at risk, local GP and chair of the NEW Devon CCG’s Eastern Locality, Dr Simon Kerr reportedly revealed at a meeting with health campaigners last month.

Dr Kerr was apparently speaking of the long-awaited Estates Strategy, which will list all the assets held by the local NHS and what it plans to do with them.

NEW Devon CCG is in considerable financial difficulty. Devon is one of three most financially challenged health trusts in the country.

The background is that 12 community hospitals across Eastern Devon were acquired by the private company (wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health) NHS Property Services, last year.

As yet, we haven’t heard about the fate of the remaining 10 community hospitals now in the ownership of NHS Property Services. This of course, includes our beloved Ottery Hospital, as well as Exmouth, Sidmouth, Whipton, Okehampton and Crediton.

Many of these hospitals, including Seaton, Honiton, Ottery St Mary and Okehampton and Whipton, have sadly now been stripped of their beds in cost cutting measures. But they still are home to a range of services and clinics that are very much needed locally.

Up until now, NHS England has been picking up the tab for the extortionate rents charged by NHS PS, of well over £3m a year, across the area.

A stupid stupid system, set up to fail. All over the country health trusts are being forced to sell off estate because it can’t afford the ridiculous rents charged by NHS PS for a building that used to be in NHS ownership.

Honiton Hospital has a treatment centre and is home to East Devon’s out of hours GP service.

The idea that the building could be lost and with it the treatment centre and out of hours service is totally ludicrous and appalling. The RD&E’s A&E department is full to capacity much of the time and staff are struggling to manage the volume of patients.

It means someone unwell living in the far east of the area – Axminster, for example, would have to travel around an hour to Exeter, to be seen by a GP if they were unwell out of working hours. It is quite unacceptable.

The amazing maternity unit which has been ‘temporarily’ closed for the best part of a year, was also based at Honiton Hospital.

There are so many cuts to the health service now it is difficult to keep up with them, let alone fight them.

Cllr Shaw has written to the CCG chair, Dr Tim Burke demanding assurances that the buildings remain open.

I have asked for an urgent item on the next Health and Adult Scrutiny Committee agenda, which is held on Thursday 7 June.

I will keep you posted.

Here’s Cllr Shaw’s blog – https://seatonmatters.org/2018/05/14/ccg-chair-says-seaton-and-honiton-hospitals-at-risk-of-closure-in-local-estates-strategy/

http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/seaton_and_honiton_hospitals_at_risk

East Devon Alliance “Time for a Change” public conference 26 May 2018

Venue: Beehive, Honiton

Free places can be booked at:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/east-devons-time-for-a-change-peoples-conference-tickets-45482525458

Attendance needs to be monitored as the hall has a maximum capacity.

DETAILS:

All across East Devon people are worried about their HEALTH, their HOMES and their JOBS. Never has it been more important to involve yourself with local democracy in your district.

YOU CAN MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.

The EAST DEVON ALLIANCE is trying to help with all of this, an umbrella group of Independent people, who since 2015 have won 7 district council seats and 1 county seat. The EDA is free from the negative influence of national parties who – at East Devon District Council – have acquired the arrogant habits of a Conservative one-party state.

This conference is for YOU.

Speakers will include County Councillors CLAIRE WRIGHT and MARTIN SHAW. In two sessions you will be able to hear and then CONTRIBUTE on:

a) how did we get where we are now?
b) what can we do about it through democracy in our parishes, towns and district.

Please come. We are all volunteers but if we band together now to fight for hospitals, homes and jobs we have a chance to change the face of how where you live is run.

We are making no fixed charge for the event but a donation on the day would be much appreciated to cover the cost of venue hire. Thank you. See you there.”