Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 28th July 2018
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North Devon Show
The House of Commons has begun its summer break after what has certainly been a turbulent few months. But, as I find myself saying a lot at the moment, this doesn’t mean MPs are on a long holiday.
I’m now able to undertake far more meetings, visits and events here in North Devon without the need to travel back and forth to Westminster twice a week.
It means, for example, next Wednesday I can attend one of the highlights of the year – the North Devon Show at Umberleigh. After weeks of dry weather, heavy rain is forecast for the next 48 hours, but thank goodness there seems little prospect of a repeat of last year when the Show had to be cancelled. I’m looking forward to visiting as many stands as possible, including the South Molton Business Association and the National Farmers Union, among others.
If you’re going to the North Devon Show, either as a visitor or exhibitor, let’s hope for a happy, successful and dry day.
In the House
Before the parliamentary recess began, I took a number of opportunities in the Commons to raise issues on behalf of North Devon.
Last Thursday, for example, in the first question session taken by the new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, I asked about our farmers. I wanted an assurance that the government would be supporting them through and beyond our divorce from the EU.
You can see my question and the minister’s reassuring answer here:
Yesterday, as this week’s photo shows, I had the pleasure of cutting the ribbon to officially open the new offices of a rapidly-growing business in Barnstaple.
Lineal, a software solutions company, has expanded its operation, moving into Commercial House on The Strand.
The building will be home to Lineal’s team of over twenty IT support and software development staff, including three apprentices from Petroc.
I first met Lineal's founder, Mike Matthews, four years ago when he was operating from a converted barn in his back garden. The expansion since then has been incredible. The fact that this growing business is moving into the centre of Barnstaple is excellent news for the town and shows how robust our local economy really is.
Their close ties with Petroc and Pluss, allowing young people to get their first taste of the world of work, is something I particularly support. I wish Lineal many more years of success and growth in their excellent new home.
Public Sector Pay
There was a flurry of announcements in the last couple of days before the Parliamentary recess. So many, in fact, that you may have missed the most significant.
On Tuesday the government announced a raft of pay rises for public sector workers. These are the biggest pay awards in almost ten years, recognising the vital work that teachers, the police, our armed forces, prison officers, doctors and dentists do.
Key facts on the pay rises are as follows:
· Teachers earning under £35,000 will get a pay rise equivalent to £800 in 2018-19.
· The average member of the armed forces will get a pay rise worth £980.
· A police constable on an average wage will get a pay rise worth £760.
· A salaried GP with a median taxable income of £52,600 will get a pay rise of up to £1,052.
· And many prison officers will get a pay rise worth 4.1 per cent on average.
These of course come on top of the significant pay rises agreed for NHS staff earlier in the summer.
We’ve had a difficult few years of ‘austerity’, but the economy is strong and employment is at record levels, allowing the government to give public sector workers the pay rises they deserve.
Summer and the Tourist Industry
Finally, with the holiday season upon us, I want to acknowledge everyone who’ll keep working throughout the summer in North Devon when many others are enjoying a break.
I think particularly of all the employees in our tourism, visitor and hospitality industries which are absolutely vital to the region’s economy. This, of course, is peak season and so the long days and hard work will just be beginning.
Yesterday I met the new head of our region’s Local Enterprise Partnership – that’s the body that works to bring investment, jobs and growth into the local economy. Tourism was one of the sectors we made a point of discussing, because it’s so important.
I’ve invited the Tourism Minister to North Devon to see for himself how well we do here; I was hoping he’d come during the summer, but we heard this week it’s going to be later in the year.
When he does come I am sure we’ll have a strong tale to tell of a successful season, and that’ll be down to the many people who work so hard in the coming weeks. Thank you and have a great summer!
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
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Barnstaple, North Devon, EX31 1DE
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