Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 11th March 2018
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I want to start by saying a huge thank you to everyone who helped North Devon through the snow crisis last week. When the Beast from the East clashed with Storm Emma, the effects on some isolated communities were particularly serious.
I kept in close touch with the situation in Lynton, which was cut off by huge snowdrifts blocking the roads in all directions. Blackmoor Gate, an important crossroads on routes to and from Barnstaple, Ilfracombe, South Molton and the Exmoor coast, was impassable for a time. And there were many other reports of serious incidents across the area.
The community pulled together brilliantly. Can I take this opportunity to thank all the emergency services, military personnel, council staff and contractors, health and education professionals and all other workers who went above and beyond the call of duty.
And to the volunteers: farmers, 4WD owners, charities and neighbours who reminded us all how lucky we are to live in such a community-minded area.
Let's hope Emma and The Beast don't ever get together again.
Combe Business / Barnstaple Chamber of Commerce
One of the many events that fell victim to the weather was the Combe Business exhibition in Ilfracombe. This annual event brings together the small and medium sized enterprises which form the backbone of the area's economy, linking them with customers, clients and each other.
I've always attended, and occasionally brought a government minister with me too. This year's event was due to happen on Friday last week, at the height of the snow crisis, but was wisely cancelled.
I'm delighted that the organisers have just confirmed it's been rescheduled for Friday April 20th. For details, search Combe Business on social media. I look forward to taking part in this important event, albeit slightly later than planned.
On the same subject, this Friday I was delighted to be invited to speak at the Barnstaple & District Chamber of Commerce business lunch.
We discussed a range of issues; yes, Brexit was never far away, but there was much else besides. Overall I was stuck by the continued push to innovate and 'push the boundaries' which have always been hallmarks of the North Devon business community. As I said, and have said for a long time, we just need to shout about it more.
North Devon is a great place to invest, to do business, and to work. Let's get the message out there!
One of North Devon's most contentious planning issues took an unexpected and welcome turn this week. Mannings Pit is a beautiful area of open countryside on the outskirts of Barnstaple. It's been enjoyed by generations of families, inspired artists and authors, and is recognised as an environmentally-significant landscape.
And yet developers had applied to build there, giving rise to a long-running and vociferous community campaign.
This week we heard the welcome news that the planning application has now been withdrawn. This is a victory for the Friends of Mannings Pit campaign group and for the whole community who have fought so hard to achieve this outcome.
I have always opposed any development at this beautiful location, and indeed arranged for the Environment Agency to visit the site to strengthen our arguments against the plans.
However, we must be on our guard. These plans have not gone away for good. I feel sure the developers will not give up and will want to build houses there one day. We must be ready to keep fighting.
But, for the moment, this shows how much a good community campaign can achieve, and I congratulate everyone who has made it happen.
Intrigued? Wondering why a Conservative MP would be writing about something called RED January? In March? And why this week's photo shows me sporting a distinctly un-parliamentary T-shirt?
To discover what it's all about, please follow this link to the article I've written for a mental health campaign group:
And you may want to watch the brief video on my website:
This is part of the work I'm undertaking to try and push mental health issues up the agenda. It's something in which I take a particular interest, and will be doing more so in the future.
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
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Mail: 1st Floor Office Suite, Church House, Church Lane
Barnstaple, North Devon, EX31 1DE
Telephone: 01271 327990