Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 1st December 2018
Welcome to my latest newsletter, and thank you for subscribing. Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested, and point them towards my website where they can sign up to receive it directly. Please get in touch if I can assist in any way; all my contact details are below.
I won’t write anything more about Brexit now, because the last newsletter set out my position at some length, and nothing has changed. You can read it on my website here:
Can I say thank you to the many people who’ve been kind enough to contact me to say they found the newsletter helpful. Even if they didn’t agree with my position, they appreciated how I’d come to that conclusion.
The coming days and weeks will be rocky and unpredictable. Nobody will get everything they want. How things will turn out, nobody can say. But whatever lies ahead, I promise to vote and act in the way I believe will achieve the best possible outcome for North Devon and the UK.
I warmly welcome the news that Devon is to receive record-breaking government funding for road maintenance, with pothole repairs to be the number one priority.
This week, as the photo shows, I met the leader of the County Council, John Hart. It followed the announcement that Devon is to get an extra £18.75 million – the biggest payout for any local authority in the country. We met to discuss how the money will be used, and I lobbied hard for North Devon to get its fair share.
In the Budget, the Chancellor announced a cash injection of £420 million for road maintenance across England, but it was unclear at first how much Devon would get.
It's obvious that all the lobbying has paid off because we now know Devon will get more than any other local authority in the country. Our record-breaking grant of almost £19 million is very welcome indeed.
Potholes are often the bane of people's lives, and the problem has been particularly bad recently because of the freezing winter and baking summer which damaged road surfaces.
The County Council has reduced the number of potholes recently thanks to extra government funding. But this new money – which can also be used for other minor roadworks and local bridge repairs – will mean yet further improvements are possible.
John and I agreed that this news was extremely welcome, and I impressed on him the importance of North Devon getting our fair share. I look forward to significant improvements to our roads – especially in rural areas – very soon.
On Monday I again raised the future of Royal Marines Base Chivenor in the House of Commons. You can see my question and the Defence Secretary’s answer here (please note the video may not play on all devices):
Just a reminder: In November 2016, the Ministry of Defence announced plans to close RMB Chivenor. I arranged a visit by the then Defence Secretary, during which he agreed to review the decision. But, more than two years later, there's still no final announcement.
It means huge uncertainty for the local area, fuelled by rumours and counter-rumours. This has to stop. We need a firm commitment now that Chivenor will remain open.
It’s been part of our community for more than 70 years. To lose it would not only hit everyone who lives and works there, but would seriously impact our local economy. That would affect us all, whether or not we have any direct connection with the base. And in these uncertain times, surely we shouldn't be closing an important military and defence establishment?
I want to ensure the Defence Secretary knows the strength of feeling in our community. I want him to understand that RMB Chivenor should not close, and that he should even consider expanding the base's operations to secure its future.
Therefore I’ll be going ahead with his offer of a further meeting, made in his response to my question, and looking to ramp up the campaign even more. Watch this space.
Other Parliamentary Business
On Wednesday last week there was an Adjournment Debate in the House about the ongoing campaign to cut VAT for tourism businesses. I intervened to show my support and to promote North Devon – which I never miss an opportunity to do! See my question and the minister’s response here:
And a couple of weeks ago (but it didn’t make it into the last newsletter), I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate about the economic benefits for North Devon from the Hinkley Point development:
I hope all businesses, contractors and others will take advantage of the opportunities presented by this huge project on our doorstep. Having toured the site, it needs to be seen to be believed.
The contractors also run a very good programme of educational visits and workshops about future employment, which I would encourage schools and colleges to explore.
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
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Mail: 1st Floor Office Suite, Church House, Church Lane
Barnstaple, North Devon, EX31 1DE
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