Claire Wright (Independent DCC councillor) asks unpaid carers in Devon to contact her

From Independent DCC Councillor Claire Wright’s Facebook page*

“I am chairing a scrutiny review into how unpaid carers in Devon are managing and would really like to hear from you if you are caring for a relative, spouse or friend.

It has taken quite a bit of pushing to get the review to take place. It was finally agreed at last September’s Devon County Council Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting… and then it has taken a while to get the first meeting set up.

To recap, I last raised the issue as a matter of concern at committee over a year ago after seeing the results of a local focus group which indicated that unpaid carers were feeling exhausted, short of money and stressed from a lack of respite care.

I am pleased to report that the plans for a review now seem to be progressing well and there is some survey work to be undertaken before face to face discussions can begin.

The first review meeting will take place in July (after a local carers survey has been analysed) and the plan is for members of the spotlight review to travel to local carers groups and hear firsthand how people are managing.

The review is scheduled to report back to the September Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee, hopefully with some useful recommendations.
If you’d like to take part, I would love to hear from you in writing and/or in person.l

Please get in touch with me in the first instance by email at

Thank you!

Lib Dems will not contest seats of Independents who have left other parties – so what about Claire Wright?

Sir Vince Cable has said that Lib Dems will NOT contest seats of the (so far 11) MPs who have broken from their parties to become independent in the last few days

Owl assumes that Sir Vince includes Claire Wright – the most popular independent in the country – in this sensible decision, especially as polling shows she could unseat Hugo Swire this time round.

Looking forward to Sir Vince’s confirmation.

One (Tory) councillor nearly sabotaged a highways safety project in Otterton

Honestly, EDDC Tories will stop at nothing to try to stop Claire Wright …. even if they cut off their own noses to spite their faces!

EDDC Councillor Tom Wright thinks he knows better than Otterton residents. Perhaps residents angry at his intervention should ensure they DON’T tick HIS box in local elections on 2 May!

Blog of Claire Wright.

“Otterton Parish Council has agreed to part fund a 20mph limit through the village, at a packed and testy meeting last night.

[This is the road being discussed below]

The agreement was made, despite a Conservative councillor selected to stand for Otterton in the East Devon District Council May election suggesting repeatedly during the meeting that the 20mph limit was a waste of time.

This did not go down with residents who made it clear they disagreed with him.

The vast majority of the village of Otterton wants a 20mph limit. I have carried out a consultation, had a public meeting and made a case based on the policy requirements.

Also backing the proposal is the Otterton Primary School headteacher.

And the parish council wrote to Devon County Council highways officers last year to support the case.

I have worked towards this over the past year or so, but despite meeting virtually all the policy requirements, the scheme fell recently as there has not been a speed related death in the village. A traffic accident resulting in a death, yes. But not a speed related death.

This very silly rule will hopefully be overturned thanks to a new government report which a Devon County Council highways task group is currently working on. This very much emphasises a ‘can do’ approach to 20mph limits as they are beneficial in slowing traffic and

Despite having no jurisdiction over Otterton – neither a resident nor a councillor representing the village, EDDC Conservative, Tom Wright continued to pour cold water all over the plans for the revised speed limit and claimed it was a waste of money.

At one point he even accused me of blogging that I would fund the entire project myself.

I replied that this was never the intention, as the upper limit cost would use up half my entire locality budget!

I also said it was quite wrong for him to be trying to undermine my work and the wishes of the vast majority of residents of Otterton.

Nevertheless Cllr Tom Wright, backed up by two managers attending from Ladram Bay, attacked me several times for this.

The Ladram Bay managers were on the warpath because I had asked them to fund a third of the scheme, given that a significant proportion of traffic travels to Ladram Bay. Local traffic surveys have confirmed this.

Otterton Parish Council Chairman, John Fudge received a statement from Ladram Bay about an hour before last night’s meeting which he read out.

It has taken about six months for the company to produce a response following my initial approaches to them, which they ignored.

The parish council clearly had reservations about the cost and the implications on the precept so I increased my offer to half funding the scheme. This will be decided at a later date, assuming the scheme finally gets approval.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Otterton Parish

Regarding the proposed introduction of an 20mph speed limit and the request of Councillor Claire Wright for Ladram Bay to part fund.

All the present information leads to the ineffectiveness of such an initiative, during a meeting in 2018 that was held in Otterton, with the Parish Council and the Highways Authority, it was communicated by Highways that a 20mph scheme without any relevant traffic calming measures would have absolutely no effect on speed reduction. This is also backed up by the latest government research study (Nov 2018) that confirms “no significant safety outcome in terms of collisions or casualties have come following the implementation of a 20mph zone” Unfortunately no scheme can legislate against the mindless minority who unfortunately drive recklessly.

Should Devon County Council support and approve such a scheme, or come up with a different scheme with proven results, then we will certainly consider funding part of the project in conjunction with other businesses in Otterton, if approached by the Parish Council.

Please can it be noted that we, like many residents, are vexed that Councillor Claire Wright has reneged on her promise at the public meeting January 2018 to fund the scheme in it’s entirety.

Ladram Bay Holiday Park

Thank you to Otterton Parish Council for agreeing to contribute to the costs of the scheme, should it be approved. We now await the results of the Devon County Council taskgroup, which should report its findings back in the next few weeks.”

Research shows Swire could lose his seat to Claire Wright!

“The Conservatives would win a working majority if a general election was held now, according to YouGov modelling.

Theresa May’s party was forecast to win 321 seats – up from 317 at the last election – while Labour would lose 12 seats, the research for The Times suggested.

The SNP and the Liberal Democrats were each predicted to gain four seats, while Ukip would again win nothing.

But the market research company, which correctly forecast the 2017 result, predicted the Tories would see a fall in their estimated vote share, from 43.4% in 2017 to 39.4%, if an election was called this month.

Jeremy Corbyn’s party would also see a drop, from 41% to 34.2%, while the Liberal Democrats and Ukip were forecast to see a rise in vote share.

YouGov polled 40,119 people between February 2 and 7.

The pollsters found Labour was most likely to lose Sheffield Hallam – Nick Clegg’s old seat which was won by Jared O’Mara in the last election – as well as disgraced ex-Labour MP Fiona Onasanya’s Peterborough seat.

The Conservatives would lose Zac Goldsmith’s Richmond Park seat and Sir Hugo Swire’s East Devon, according to the research.”

Ottery Town Council (particularly Councillor Carter) makes itself a laughing stock (again)

Owl says: It is well-known that Councillor Carter (one of the Greendale Carters) has no love for independent councillors!

From the blog of Independent Councillor Claire Wright:

“Ottery St Mary Town Council revisited the contentious issue of whether it should support setting up a group to ensure the future of Ottery Hospital at yet another fraught meeting on Monday 4 February.

A bit of background information – at the town council meeting on 6 November a similar proposal was agreed by three votes to nil. Subsequently the town council abstainers (who thought that they had won) called for an extraordinary town council meeting to overturn the decision, which took place on 29 November.

Subsequently it became known that two members of the Health and Care Forum had established a limited company whose purpose is unclear.

I still find it hard to believe that a proposal to set up a working group to help retain the hospital, by a councillor – Geoff Pratt, who was asked as to help by the Health and Care Team Chair, has resulted in a bitter row lasting four months.

Our offer of help has been sullied, dragged through the dirt and subject to chicanery by political opponents who appear to be engaging in some kind of strange game of cat and mouse. I have been insulted on social media and mine and the town’s residents continued efforts over the years to retain the hospital and its beds have been rudely ridiculed and dismissed.

Myself and Dr Margaret Hall, who was also subject to unpleasantness, have both pulled out of any potential group as a result. It was difficult to believe the level of vitriol from a minority of people.

On Monday evening the town council finally agreed to meet with the hospital League of Friends Chair, Adrian Rutter, who came across as the voice of reason on Monday evening. However, as soon as the row seemed to abate, Cllr Paul Carter bizarrely decided to reignite it by insinuating that our offer of help was a bid to cause trouble.

One councillor announced that she didn’t think Mr Rutter should be allowed to speak as he hadn’t asked to do so at the beginning of the meeting!

Cllr Carter then accused me of smirking (I was doing anything but smirking!) and the mayor refused to let me respond. I did, however, manage to ask Cllr Carter why he was trying to reignite the row again.

Once again there were raised tempers, including from members of the public. One of whom told me afterwards it was one of the worst town council meetings he had ever attended.

It was not very clear what was agreed, but I believe the town council deferred a decision to establish the working group.”

Are DCC councillors refusing to let Claire Wright’s star shine before local elections?

Owl says:

Local council elections: 2 May 2019

Greater Exeter Strategic plan:
not going out for consultation until June 2019

Claire Wright’s long-promised inquiry into how Devon carers are coping:
Delayed by at least a year to June 2019 at the earliest

Anyone smell rats (on a sinking ship)?

“My efforts to get a spotlight review into how Devon carers are faring seems to have hit another delay.

I first proposed a review at the April Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee meeting of last year, but the vote was delayed until councillors had visited the contractors who look after the service, Westbank League of Friends.

My interest in the subject was sparked after reading a report which indicated that many carers were feeling exhausted, ill and short of money. Here is the background –

After a useful meeting at Westbank, I duly proposed a spotlight review once again at the September meeting. It was agreed this time.

I have now enquired twice when this review is going to have its first meeting but have had unsatisfactory answers.

At yesterday’s committee meeting I asked again when the first meeting was going to take place.

I was told that it wouldn’t take place until at least June as more information was needed.

I pointed out that this was almost a year after I had proposed the review (actually it is longer as I originally proposed it last April but it was not agreed then).

But the chair said the information was required before a spotlight review was held.

This is deeply disappointing and feels as though the issue is being kicked into the long grass.

I know many carers out there are struggling and to defer this issue is unfair and wrong in my view.

I will definitely be pursuing this.”

Newton Poppleford bus fares: Claire Wright has constructive meeting with Stagecoach (says Stagecoach)

Owl wonders when Swire last got on a bus … or cared about bus fares.

“The Stagecoach South West managing director has agreed there is work to do after a ‘constructive’ meeting with the Ottery Ward councillor. …

The issue of high bus fare prices in Newton Poppleford was highlighted by resident Helen Buttery.

She helped organise a protest in the village in November and said prices in the area were ‘crazy’.

The protest was joined by parents and children from the local school as well as the chair of the Newton Poppleford Parish Council, Hazel Jeffery, who said that the increase of housing means the need for affordable travel is growing.

The protest sparked a meeting between councillor Claire Wright along with Helen and the Stagecoach South West managing director Bob Dennison in December to discuss the issue.

Claire noted that the disproportionately expensive fares were caused by historical zone charges.

In the meeting, Claire said the managing director agreed to look at these zones with a view to making the situation fairer for Newton Poppleford and to also check whether numbers had altered since the scrapping of the ‘child add on’ fare in May last year.

Mr. Dennison told The Herald: “I had a very constructive meeting with Councillor Wright and one of her constituents in December and agreed to look into a number of points she raised about our Newton Poppleford services.

“We have since been analysing current patronage levels and trends in the area and also included information from a focus group and survey focussing on broader issues.

“However, there is still some work to do and the feedback will then require detailed analysis and discussion before we will be in a position to make any firm proposals.”

At the price of £16.60, five adults travelling across Devon for the day costs the same as one adult and two children purchasing a return to Sidmouth.

At the protest, Helen said the removal of the £1 child add on fare, which was available when bought with an adult ticket, means it now costs £4.80 for a child to travel from Newton Poppleford to Sidmouth. …”