SWIPE – South West Independent Party for England! A pipe dream …?

A post from East Devon Watch August 2015 is recently seeing revived interest from readers. Here it is again – the points it makes no less relevant now:

“Following on from our post about how much the South-West loses out to other areas of Britain, particularly the South-East, we have been considering the suggestion that we should create in this region a party similar to (but definitely not the same as) the Scottish National Party – a party representing an area which finds itself time and again the poor relation to other areas.

One should recall that the South-West has had a long tradition of non-conformity. Indeed, search on the words “south west england” and “nonconformity” and a whole host of links will turn up. Devon County Council even has web pages for it:

http://www.devon.gov.uk/index/councildemocracy/record_office/north_record_office/leaflets/sources_for_history_of_nonconformity-2.htm

Admittedly, this refers specifically to religious non-conformity. But the South-West showed its independent thinking by being a hotbed of liberalism when liberalism was something more than Nick Clegg getting into bed with the Tories. From Yeovil to Cornwall, this area steadfastly refused to be buttonholed into conformity to the pendulum swings between Labour and Conservative.

So, given that the area is now so definitely politically blue, are we getting a better deal? The post from earlier this week shows very definitely that we are not:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/07/31/is-it-time-the-west-country-had-its-own-party/

So, Owl thinks it is time we started thinking about alternatives.

Firstly, what is the South-West? Officially (for political and statistical purposes) it consists of nine official regions of England: Gloucestershire, Bristol, Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The Owl thinks that we can discount Gloucestershire (hunting, shooting, fishing, the residences of Prince Charles and the Princes Royal and MI5 keep them firmly blue!) and Wiltshire seems just a little too close to the Home Counties and includes Swindon – definitely out. Dorset we dismiss too – they are totally conformist (see Letwin, Oliver and Grand Designs)!

That leaves Bristol, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Bristol has gone extremely green over recent years and are likely to remain so (hopefully) and the Isles of Scilly have always done their own thing and have never considered themselves part of mainland life, but they can have the option of joining us within Cornwall (as at present). This leaves Devon, Cornwall (including the Isles of Scilly if they so wish) and Somerset. These three counties have so much in common. Long sea coasts, poor infrastructure and transport links, large retirement communities, large number of second homes, tourism forming an important part of economic life, a history of being overlooked when the honey pot is being shared out.

Imagine a specific party for Devon, Somerset and Cornwall! Imagine what a group of people from this area who held the balance of power in Parliament could achieve. Imagine just how powerful that could be.

And the acronym: South West Independence Party England – SWIPE!

Take a SWIPE at London-centric politics – devolution for the Cornwall, Devon and Somerset region!

Alas, just a pipe dream – for now …”

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2015/08/02/swipe-south-west-independence-party-england/

Swire’s mate and co-director “shames himself”

It seems the national press is reluctant to point out that Lord Barker is in the energy business with our own Hugo Swire:

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/05/20/swire-and-lord-barker-linked-to-russian-military-and-oligarchs-appear-to-be-in-business-together-a-business-apparently-not-on-his-register-of-interests/

“A Tory peer has “shamed himself” by ­lobbying for a Russian energy giant that had sanctions imposed after the Salisbury attack.

David Cameron’s ex-Energy Minister Greg Barker met with the Irish government last month in a bid to enlist its support for En+.

Lord Barker is chairman of En+, which is majority owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Vladimir Putin.

En+ and Mr Deripaska were slapped with sanctions after the murder plot against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

The meeting can be disclosed today by the Mirror.

In response, MPs called on Theresa May to launch an inquiry into Lord Barker’s business dealings.

In April, Donald Trump imposed sanctions against billionaire Mr Deripaska and the companies in which he is a large shareholder.

His firms include aluminium producer, Rusal, and its parent firm En+. Rusal is the parent company of Aughinish Alumina in County Limerick, which employs 450 workers.

Lord Barker’s meeting with Irish Business Minister Heather Humphreys will raise ­questions about Tory links to Russia after the PM blamed the Salisbury attack on Moscow.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake said: “He has shamed himself and the office he held.”

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, added: “It stinks.”

The Irish government said it remained “concerned” about the impact of sanctions.

There is no suggestion Lord Barker is in breach of the Lords’ code of conduct.

Neither he nor En+ would comment.”

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/tory-shamed-himself-lobbying-russian-12718297

“Free speech” at Devon County Council – only for Tory councillors?

From Martin Shaw, East Devon Alliance for Seaton and Colyton councillor at Devon County Council:

“Conservative Councillor Richard Scott from Exmouth – where the hospital is safe because it’s kept its beds – accused me of ‘abusing the procedure’ when I went along and argued why Seaton and Honiton hospitals, which my constituents use, need to stay open with all the services and clinics currently provided – and more.

Seaton and Honiton were named by Dr Simon Kerr of NEW Devon CCG as being ‘at risk’ in the CCGs’ forthcoming Local Estates Strategy. Although the CCG has denied it has plans to close the hospitals, all local hospitals which have lost their beds – including Axminster, Ottery St Mary and Okehampton – could still be closed.

I was fully within my rights to speak up for my constituents and this was an unworthy personal attack. ClaireWright and deputy chair Nick Way (Lib Dem) both defended me.

When Claire Wright put her motion for the Committee to protect ALL community hospitals, all the Conservative members voted against this and it was defeated.

Martin Shaw
Independent East Devon Alliance County Councillor for Seaton & Colyton

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

Swire: asking those questions East Devon needs answers to …. no, his other interests

Recent parliamentary questions from Swire:

Customs and Borders (26 Apr 2018)
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2018-04-26a.1053.0&s=speaker%3A11265#g1062.2
Hugo Swire: I am listening closely to what the right hon. Lady is saying, but there are already cameras for number plate recognition at all the ports on the UK mainland, recording traffic to and from the island of Ireland.

Customs and Borders (26 Apr 2018)
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2018-04-26a.1053.0&s=speaker%3A11265#g1077.1
Hugo Swire: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Customs and Borders (26 Apr 2018)
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2018-04-26a.1053.0&s=speaker%3A11265#g1089.0
Hugo Swire: As we head towards our departure from the European Union in just under a year, I believe that our future trading arrangements are more important than ever. As deputy chairman of the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, I was involved in last week’s Commonwealth business forum, before the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which was an important event for discussing…”