Could it (should it) be time to have a congestion charge for commuters to Exeter?

And what about “funnel roads” such as that running through Sidbury and Sidford – should they have exclusions from plans for more and more polluting vehicles passing inches away from residential properties – where children and vulnerable older people live?

“Dozens of councils could face legal action over delays in tackling toxic gas from diesel vehicles.

Only London and Birmingham have imposed or promised charges on the most polluting cars while other cities allow drivers to emit harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) without any fee.

Many local authorities, including those covering Manchester, Bristol, Southampton, Newcastle, Bath and Derby, have missed legal deadlines set by the government to submit plans to clean up their air.

ClientEarth, the campaign group that won three legal cases against the government over illegal levels of air pollution, has written to 38 councils in England and Wales warning them of the legal risk of failing to act.

Katie Nield, a ClientEarth lawyer, said: “We are extremely concerned given the urgency of the situation at the glacial progress of action from local authorities. It is now almost a decade since legal limits came into place and they are still being broken in large parts of the country. Every week that goes by without action is another week where people are breathing in harmful air pollution which damages their health. This is particularly true of vulnerable groups like children.”

Tackling air pollution was ultimately the government’s responsibility but local authorities “should not be using government inaction as an excuse not to do all they can to protect people from breathing dirty air”, Ms Nield added.

Air pollution contributes to far more deaths than previously thought, according to a study last week which said it had shortened the lives of 64,000 people in the UK in 2015.

Clean air zones, in which polluting vehicles are charged a daily entry fee, are the fastest way of reducing NO2 to within legal limits, according to a Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) report in 2017.

Cars are the biggest source of NO2 in cities but London and Birmingham are the only cities committed to charging pre-2016 diesel and pre-2006 petrol models. Manchester, Bristol and Bath had been considering car charges but dropped the idea after being accused of penalising drivers on low incomes.

The High Court ordered the government in 2016 and again last year to take stronger action on air pollution, prompting ministers to order councils to produce plans to comply with the legal limit in the “shortest possible time”.

The councils have spent the past year discussing how to tackle pollution but most have repeatedly delayed taking action and missed deadlines for delivering final plans for Defra approval.

Jenny Bates, of Friends of the Earth, accused councils of “running scared of the motoring lobby” by refusing to start charging polluting cars.

Bath and North East Somerset council is planning a clean air zone in Bath, charging buses, lorries, vans and taxis “by the end of 2020” but cars will be exempt. It said many residents had objected to a £9 daily charge.

A spokesman for ten local authorities in Manchester, which has more than 150 roads with illegal levels of NO2, said it also planned to exempt cars from charges phased in by 2023. He said computer modelling had shown its plans would reduce NO2 to within the legal limit by 2024. Derby city council said it would submit plans for tackling air pollution to Defra next Tuesday.

Bristol city council said its mayor, Marvin Rees, recently had a “conversation with the minister” about tackling air pollution. Thérèse Coffey, an environment minister, wrote to Mr Rees in January saying she was “absolutely astonished at your delay in improving air quality for the people of Bristol as quickly as possible”.

Newcastle city council expected its air quality plan would be implemented “in late 2019 and into 2020”. Other councils sent the legal warnings by ClientEarth include Cardiff, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Leicester and Liverpool.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

Local elections: Many independents throw their hats into ring in Sid Valley

“Sid Valley Democracy is calling for residents to stand as councillors in May for the 19 seats available.

The initiative says it wishes to ensure enough candidates for the seats to be contested after previous elections where there were not enough people, resulting in automatic appointment.

The informal group says 17 people have expressed an interest so far and have hosted meetings for prospective candidates to meet and find out more about the role.

On its Facebook page, the group said: “In most recent elections, so few candidates came forward, they were all automatically appointed – this has been the same for many town councils.

“The people behind this initiative believe that this is wrong.

“So without passing any judgement on the effectiveness of Sidmouth’s current town council, or indeed how democratically it operates, we have started the initiative to see if more people are interested in standing for election, giving Sid Valley residents a real choice come May 2.

“As well as candidates we’re also keen to get more people to vote, turnout at local elections is usually very low.”

The page has announced Charissa Evans, Peter Blackmore, Deidre Hounsom, John Loudoun, Denise Bickley, Cathy Gardner and Marianne Rixson plan to stand for seats.

Nomination packs are now available from the district council for those wishing to stand in district, town and parish elections.

Candidates must complete the forms and send them to the returning officer of East Devon District Council by 4pm on Wednesday, April 3.

The electorate will head to the polls to vote in district and town and parish elections on May 2.

The counting of the votes will take place in two locations at EDDC’s headquarters at Blackdown House, Honiton, and at Exmouth Town Hall.

District council votes will be counted and the results declared on Friday May 3, with contested town and parish elections, counted and announced on Saturday May 4.

If you would like a nomination pack, please contact the electoral services team on 01395 517402.”

“Sidmouth doctor speaks out over struggling GPs and lack of extra funding”

“A struggling Sid Valley GP surgery missed out on extra funding after it all went into secondary care, prompting a Sidmouth doctor to speak out.

Doctor Joe Stych, a practice partners at Sid Valley Practice, has voiced his frustration after a funding bid was denied to redevelop Blackmore Health Centre which was rated as ‘unfit-for-purpose’, by regulators the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Dr Stych said Sidmouth GPs had been working hard on a plan to future proof GP services in Sidmouth for the last two years.

The latest setback follows the disappointment in 2016-17 when a plan to buy and redevelop the centre was turned down.

Dr Stych said a plan to extend the Beacon Medical Centre and move GP services from Blackmore Health Centre to Sidmouth Victoria Hospital was proposed, helping support the hospital’s medical Ward.

He added: “It was ranked by Devon CCG as the third highest priority project for funding needed locally, but it was overlooked.

“Funding went to the first, second, fifth and eighth ranked projects.

“All funding in Devon has gone to secondary care.

“No funding has been assigned to struggling GPs.

“It is ludicrous that this scheme has been unsuccessful. It makes no sense to me.

“It would increase capacity and improve patient care at the same time as saving the NHS money.

“The overall scheme cost was small at £1.3million but would have made a huge difference.”

Dr Stych said the Government had since revealed its ‘10 year plan’ for the NHS with focus on moving more work out of hospitals into GPs and the community.

He added: “Without the infrastructure to support existing health services, let alone an expansion into the community, even more challenging times lay ahead.

“The reality is that we are already working at capacity and have no room to expand.

“We are already limited in what we can achieve by space constraints.”

He said the practice has an enthusiastic team with GPs in extended roles, operating on skin cancer and performing carpal tunnel operations so patients do not have to travel to Exeter.

They are involved in research to offer new and developing treatments to patients and train medical students and junior doctor.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The latest round of funding applications were highly competitive and the funding was prioritised on the strength of bids received from local NHS teams.

“The Devon STP (Sustainability and Transformation Partnership) will benefit from more than £50million to transform services for patients.”

The spokesman added that the funding was not allocated proportionally but on the strength of bids received.

Each was evaluated against six criteria – deliverability, service and demand management, transformation and patient benefit, financial sustainability, value for money and estates.

The Devon funding will go towards University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust – with £29.7million going to transforming urgent and emergency care, £9.3million to Devon imaging facilities and £3.5million to digital histopathology.

A further £8million was given to Devon Partnership NHS Trust for adult acute mental health service across Devon.

The spokesman said: “GPs are the bedrock of the NHS, and the ‘long term plan’ makes clear our commitment to the future of GPs, with primary and community care set to receive £4.5billion more in real terms a year by 2023/24.

“Last year a record 3,473 doctors were recruited into GP training and the new five year contract for GPs will see 20,000 more staff working in GP practices – helping free up doctors to spend more time with the patients who need them.”

A spokesman for the NHS in Devon said: “The Sidmouth scheme was a high priority for the Devon Sustainability and Transformation Partnership and we are still working with the practice and our partners to explore other options.”

“Regional” chain restaurant chosen as preferred bidder for Sidmouth Drill Hall

Mitch Tonks Rockfish?
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall River Cottage?

Not allowed to know.

K’ching! 3 bids in for Sidmouth seafron Drill Hall

“East Devon District Council has received three ‘interesting and diverse’ bids for the site following the consultation period, which ended on Friday, February 4.

A core group made up of Sidmouth and East Devon town and district councillors are now considering the bids, working with property agent JLL which has managed the marketing.

A council spokesman said at the moment the details of the bids must remain confidential and recommendations will be made for East Devon District Council’s cabinet for approval at a later date. …”

Sidbury, Sidford and snow – a lethal combination for the A375

Developers take heed!

Last weekend, a car slid off the road into the dip alongside the bend in central Sidbury, smashing its windscreen and narrowly missing a row of lowlying cottages.

Radio Devon travel news announced (2nd February) that the Sidford-Sidbury Road (A375) was turning into a skating rink.

Radio Devon travel news announced A375 was closed due to burst water main.

Imagine of that car had been a lorry …..