Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 21st October 2017
Welcome to my latest newsletter. If you know someone who does not subscribe but might like to receive it, please do forward this to them and point them towards my website where they can sign up to receive it.
North Devon Link Road
Last Wednesday, Devon County Council's cabinet approved a strategy for major improvements to the North Devon Link Road. The vote clears the way for a funding bid to be made to the government for phase one of the works, costing about £88 million.
I'll now work closely with the County Council to ensure the bid is as good as it can possibly be, and made with the minimum of delay. Indeed just yesterday I was in Exeter to meet senior highways officers and discuss how I can support the next stage of the process.
I have already had many meetings with ministers - most recently last week when I met a senior Treasury Minister to lobby for this project. I've made clear at every stage that North Devon desperately needs this investment, and I'm confident that the government will consider this bid very seriously indeed.
This decision is a real milestone and I’d like to thank everyone involved for all the hard work which has made this possible. We've made more progress on this project in the last two years than in the previous twenty. This is a vital scheme for our area and I will continue to work hard to make sure it can be delivered.
I mentioned I was in Exeter yesterday, and one of my other engagements in our county town was the South West Growth Summit. This is an annual event which brings together businesses, councils, third sector organisations and others to discuss how best to promote our region.
It was inspiring to hear how much enthusiasm and optimism there is in the south west. We already know our region is a fantastic place to live, work and retire, but how can we make it even better, especially when it comes to growing our economy?
One of the recurring themes was connectivity – we need better transport links and better digital connections. I’m working on these matters as a priority; indeed one of the main reasons we need to improve the Link Road is because it’s currently hampering economic investment in North Devon.
While at the summit, I took the opportunity to discuss our challenges with neighbouring MPs, Devon County and North Devon Councils, and the Local Enterprise Partnership as well.
We will be working closely together to make sure our region gets its fair share of funding, and I’ll be making sure that North Devon is front and centre as the South West forges ahead.
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Webb, a school caretaker from North Devon who visited Parliament to be presented with a national award for his unique role in promoting the protection of otters. This week’s photo shows us on the terrace of the Palace of Westminster.
Dave, from West Buckland, was given the award by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. He was presented with his prize by naturalist and comedian Bill Oddie at the House of Lords, and I was fortunate to be at the ceremony to congratulate him.
Working actively to protect otters for more than 40 years, Dave is the founder of registered charity the UK Wild Otter Trust. It works with the angling community and fishing industry to dispel myths about the otter being a pest to fish, and to stop cruelty and persecution of the mammals.
Dave has successfully secured the UK’s first humane trapping licence for otters, enabling the UK Wild Otter Trust to humanely trap and move otters to other areas of their river out of harm’s way. The granting of this licence is regarded by many wildlife experts as a ground-breaking step for otter conservation in the UK.
This is a major achievement and Dave thoroughly deserves the recognition of this national award. I have spoken to Dave at length about his work and it’s hugely impressive.
North Devon is the otter’s spiritual home, thanks to our Tarka connections, so it’s fitting that Dave has established his organisation here. I’ve pledged to do what I can to support his wonderful work.
Trick or Treat?
While Halloween can be fun for many, not everyone enjoys this time of year.
Our local police are reminding trick or treaters that some people, particularly if elderly or vulnerable, might be distressed by strangers knocking at their door wearing spooky costumes.
Their campaign encourages people to print out and display a poster on their homes, or the homes of elderly friends, neighbours or relatives, if they don't want trick or treaters calling on them.
The police are also sharing these six top tips for young people at Halloween:
Always be accompanied by an adult when you are trick-or-treating.
You should only go to houses of people that you know and who are happy for you to call.
Stay safe, keep to places that you know and are well lit. Do not take short cuts through gardens, alleyways or parks.
Watch out for traffic - drivers might not see you.
If you are wearing a mask make sure that you can see where you are going and are aware of your surroundings.
Carry a torch and a fully charged mobile phone.
I thought it would be useful to provide a link to the poster which you can print for yourselves or for a neighbour who maybe doesn’t have internet access. It’s not about being a killjoy; it’s just making sure that everyone, young and old, has a happy Halloween. The poster is here:
I was looking back at my diary for the last couple of weeks and was struck by the sheer variety of events, meetings and visits I’m fortunate to undertake here in North Devon.
In the last eight days alone, highlights have included:
A meeting at Petroc to discuss the brilliant Care Academy, which provides students with work experience at North Devon Hospital;
A visit to Barnstaple Library to meet the head of the county’s library services and hear about their exciting plans for the future;
A trip to a care home in Heanton to meet staff and residents and gather more information for my campaign to improve the CQC’s regulation and complaints system;
A busy residents’ surgery, at which issues raised with me included road safety, workplace harassment and the current glut of pheasants;
A slightly muddy but very enjoyable trip to an award-winning organic farm near Burrington to discuss the challenges facing the farming industry;
And, to take us full circle, hosting a visit to North Devon by the roads minister to lobby for the improvements we need to our Link Road.
Finally, I must mention again the brilliant Two Moors Festival, which saw me over the county border in Dunster this morning. The young musicians’ competition was a joy, and it was great to be able to present the prizes.
It really is a privilege to have a job which allows me to meet so many people in such a wide variety of places. The real challenge is squeezing it all in the diary!
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