Drive-in McDonalds outlet for A30 Daisymount

“A new drive-thru McDonalds is set to be built in East Devon.

Plans have been submitted to bring the fast food giant to the region as part of a scheme that would also see a roadside service and petrol station built next to the A30.

The site at Straightway Head Junction, next to the Daisymount roundabout, near Ottery St Mary, would see the proposed McDonalds restaurant include seating for customers and 47 car parking spaces, involves HGV and coach parking, and the petrol filing station would contain five pumps and a forecourt with 34 car parking spaces.

Access to the site will be from the B3174 London Road which runs between Ottery St Mary and Rockbeare.

The application says that the amount of development proposed for the site is appropriate and that the McDonalds offer is entirely consistent with many food offers up at down the country. …”

“Universal broadband speed plan ‘unambitious’, say Lords”

“The government has been told to “up its game” over plans to guarantee a minimum internet speed for all broadband users.

Peers said the current Universal Service Obligation (USO), which will entitle consumers to a minimum internet speed of 10Mbps, was “unambitious”.
But the government said the USO was a “safety net” and it had “much greater ambitions”.

“The USO has an important part to play in ensuring that no-one is left behind,” it added.

Labour spokesman Lord Stevenson of Balmacara opened the debate by sying the House had previously asked for the USO to specify a download speed of 30Mbps, but the general election halted work on the issue.
He said the current USO plans contradict other government initiatives.
“Surely the architecture of the USO has to be consistent with the government’s productivity plan, the industrial strategy and the national infrastructure plan.

“The argument is that without some ambition the USO itself may become a constraint on all these important challenges,” he said.

Liberal Democrat Lord Foster of Bath said the current plans would see a continuation of the “digital divide”.

A ‘smokescreen’

Conservative backbenchers also expressed frustration, with Earl Cathcart complaining about the “appalling” speeds he receives at his home in Norfolk.
He told of being unable to download a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs report.

He added: “So I have to ring up my agent in Norwich, get him to print it out and send it to me in the post.

“That’s hardly 21st Century communications, but at least the post is reliable.”

In the same debate, crossbencher the Earl of Lytton called for a ban on using the term “up to” in advertised internet speeds, labelling them “a smokescreen of the first order” that allowed providers “to conceal poor performance”.

Digital minister Lord Ashton of Hyde said: “The USO has an important part to play in ensuring that no-one is left behind,” and the present minimum specification was being kept under review.”

Local buses – one town’s successful fight

It’s a lovely story BUT people work up to 60 hours a week for nothing but Owl can’t help thinking that, because of that, this solution still makes it part of the problem – if you want it, pay for it and get volunteers to work for it for free to keep it going. Bet Chris Grayling, the (non)Transport Minister and Sajid David (Communities) adore it.

“… Witney’s town service had been run by Stagecoach for a fee of £95,804 per year, according to documents published in March 2015. Without that public money, the transport giant wouldn’t run it. (Like the council, Stagecoach refused to comment on subsidies but says: “Oxfordshire county council has made changes to its own contracted bus services.”)

Months before the service shut, Labour’s Price hoped to whip up some opposition. The reaction surprised even her. Public meetings were packed out, with passengers, shopkeepers and young people fretting about their grans. “I’ll always remember one lady – she was almost in tears every time she spoke.”

This made her wonder: why not take over the service? Sure, it was a bit of a left turn for her – the 38-year-old’s CV could be summed up as: worked in publishing, DJs northern soul records, raises a nine-year-old boy. No sign here of buses as a Mastermind subject. But “when your residents are crying because they’re going to be trapped in their homes, it’s not enough to say, ‘Aren’t the Tories evil?’ This felt like that one opportunity to do something practical while in opposition.”

Others soon got onboard, such as bus expert Miles, who now helps with timetabling and routes for free. Frantic tin-rattling raised the 18 grand that bought an old bus, and at the start of 2017 West Oxfordshire Community Transport (WOCT) was on the road. From the start Price wanted the venture to be a co-operative: “We need people to understand they’ve got a stake in making it work.” Anyone paying a quid can be a voting member, drivers get a proper living wage, and whatever profits might turn up are reinvested in the business.

The result is a mini-miracle, made of love and sweat. Price and a handful of others give their time for free. If a driver goes off sick, one of the directors gets behind the wheel. There’s no bus depot, just a corner of a yard rented cheap. Even though he’s paid only a part-time wage, the operations manager, Andrew Lyons, works 60 hours a week and will nip off on a Sunday to wash the buses. At 52, he supplements his earnings by driving a minicab; the day we meet, he’s booked to do a midnight run down to Gatwick. …”

Surprise, surprise – no new GP surgery in Newton Poppleford even after houses linked to its construction are completed!

Press Release:

“Statement From Coleridge Medical Centre and Clinton Devon Estates

To: Newton Poppleford Parish Council, District and County Council Representatives

Dear Paul

Please distribute to all Parish Councillors/add to Parish Council website/Newsletter

A statement from the Coleridge Medical Centre and Clinton Devon Estates regarding the proposed new medical centre in Newton Poppleford, near Sidmouth.

The Ottery St Mary-based Coleridge Medical Centre has withdrawn its interest in renting a proposed new GP surgery in the East Devon village of Newton Poppleford which was to be built by the landowner Clinton Devon Estates near to a development of 40 new homes at King Alfred Way.

A spokesman for the Coleridge Medical Centre said:

“It is with some regret that we have made a decision to withdraw from the intended move to new premises at King Alfred Way. Since 2012/2013, when this project first started, GP care and strategy for premises has evolved considerably across the country with much more emphasis on innovative ways of working and a broadening range of co-located staff to provide specialist support and in shared premises. Any changes to the existing premises landscape are referenced to move us towards, rather than away from, that deemed nationally as best practice for our populations.

We would like to thank the residents of Newton Poppleford for supporting the provision of a new branch surgery and to Clinton Devon Estates for committing to provide a building. We would also like to thank NHS England and NEW Devon CCG in assisting us reach this decision.

We are currently working with commissioners at NHS England and NEW Devon CCG to consider how best to meet the needs, not only of the people in the Newton Poppleford area but to our wider practice population. At this time we intend to continue to run the existing branch surgery within the village, while reviewing options for developing and integrating services in the longer term as the population grows and general practice continues to evolve.”

Planning approval for the GP surgery near to 40 new homes, 16 of which are designated as affordable housing for local people, was granted by the Planning Inspectorate in March 2017.

Leigh Rix, Head of Property and Land for Clinton Devon Estates, said: “As an organisation that has a very long association with this area we strive for sustainable development to help communities prosper for years to come. As well as providing a good mix of new open market and affordable homes, we had been very keen to provide a modern GP building for the village.
“After almost six years of jointly developing plans and specifications for a new surgery, it is understandably very disappointing that the Coleridge Medical Practice have felt unable to proceed in the current circumstances.

“Over the coming weeks, we will review the options available to us with our development partner Cavanna Homes.”

Truth in Broadband advertising

“From today, new advertising rules will force internet service providers (ISPs) to be more upfront about exactly how fast your connection should be. Previously, broadband providers could entice people with tantalisingly fast “up to” speeds so long as they were available to at least ten per cent of customers at any time of day. The new average speeds must be available to at least 50 per cent of customers at peak times – i.e. when you’re actually at home trying to stream Netflix in 4K or make a Skype call that doesn’t drop out every two minutes.

Take Sky Broadband as an example. It’s already adhering by the new Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) rules and as a consequence its 17Mbps service is now billed as 11Mbps. Add in the usual caveats of poor Wi-Fi signal, bad wiring and other interference and that number will fall further still. But honesty doesn’t address the underlying issue: the UK’s broadband infrastructure remains a cheap, outdated mess.

Think you’ve signed up to fibre broadband? Think again. Unless you’ve got fibre to the home, then your connection is actually a mix of fibre and copper – fibre all the way to the nearest roadside cabinet and copper up to your front door or building. So while everyone will now have to be (more) honest about speeds, they can still be economical with the truth when it comes to exactly how your home is hooked up.

And that makes a big difference. The UK’s fibre to the home infrastructure is so poor it’s out-performed by almost every other country in Europe (Latvia, with 50.6 per cent fibre coverage, ranks first in terms of market penetration). The number of fibre subscribers in Europe increased by 20.4 per cent to 51.6 million in 2017. Of the major European countries, Spain (17.5 million) and France (14.9 million) are the major success stories.

Across Europe, the number of fibre to the home and fibre to the building subscribers reached 51.6 million. In total, more than 148 million homes now have the ability to access such connections.

Part of that is down to the realities of bricks and mortar. Fibre to the home is easier to install in big apartment blocks, which are more commonplace on the continent than in the UK. The makeup of who runs and owns the infrastructure also plays a part. In the UK, that’s (mostly) Opeanreach, which until recently wasn’t keen on sharing. Recent regulatory changes mean it now has to let providers other than BT use its underground ducts and overhead poles to install their infrastructure. …”

“East Devon villages urged to apply for buildings grants”

“East Devon District Council is urging rural communities who are planning capital building projects or refurbishments to apply for financial help.

Grants of up to £5,000 are available from its Community Buildings Fund for projects involving halls, public buildings and community shops in villages and rural areas.

The scheme provides cash for schemes such as new or improved toilet facilities, kitchen facilities, roof repairs, heating and new door fixtures.

Closing dates for applications is Friday, June 29, at 5pm and Friday, January 11, at 5pm. There is only limited funding available so if all is granted in June there will be no funding available in January.

Examples of some previously funded projects included Peek Hall, at Combpyne Rousdon, which received £1,675 towards repairing the floor in the main hall.

Interested applicants can find all the information they need, including application forms, on the East Devon website:

Cllr Ian Thomas, chairman of the Community Buildings Fund, said: “We have helped to fund some urgently needed projects in the past, so I’m proud that we can continue to offer this funding to support a vital services, venues and meeting places in our more rural communities. I urge East Devon’s community buildings, village halls and community shops to apply if this funding would be of help.”