Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 3rd March 2019
Thank you and welcome to my latest Newsletter. Please do forward this on to someone who you think may be interested, and urge them to sign up.
I try and make it non-party-political: it’s about my work as North Devon’s MP.
RMB Chivenor - We Did It!
In November 2016, the Ministry of Defence announced it planned to close Royal Marines Base Chivenor. But the North Devon community decided we wouldn’t give up without a fight, and a huge campaign swung into action.
Last Thursday, we won. The Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, wrote me a letter confirming the Base would, after all, stay open. One of his ministers made the formal announcement in the House of Commons that morning, and in the afternoon Mr Williamson flew into RMB Chivenor to help the community celebrate. The photo shows the Defence Secretary and I with Cllr Andrea Davis, the area's District Councillor, and Cllr Des Brailey, Leader of North Devon Council.
We received widespread media coverage; the photo is just a snapshot of what was an extremely busy and exciting day.
RMB Chivenor – how we got here.
We had known for many months that the original decision to close the Base was being reviewed, but we kept waiting for a firm decision and a formal announcement. At last, we’ve achieved just that.
It’s come after a brilliant cross-community campaign, involving many councils, businesses, organisations and individuals. I would personally like to thank the nearly 5,000 residents who responded to my call to write to the Defence Secretary demanding an end to the uncertainty.
This is a huge vote of confidence in the military personnel at Chivenor and a big relief for their families. It’s a welcome boost for the local community who are so proud of the Base and its historic links to North Devon. It’s also good news for the wider North Devon economy which would have suffered if RMB Chivenor had closed.
I am delighted that all the lobbying has paid off and that, once again, the voice of North Devon has been heard loud and clear at the most senior levels of government. The community should be extremely proud of this outcome.
You can read the Defence Secretary’s letter to me on my website, here:
Yelland Power Station Development
At breakfast time on Friday, I donned my Wellington boots and joined about 30 people on the site of the former Yelland power station to hear their concerns about plans to develop this huge area. It's one of the biggest - and most controversial – planning applications currently being considered by North Devon Council.
If you think this sounds familiar, you're right. The plan, or something like it, has been on the drawing board for several years. Now, however, revised proposals are about to be decided upon by the planning committee.
The application envisages houses, a hotel, employment land and leisure facilities on the brownfield site by the side of the estuary between Barnstaple and Instow. Opponents say it would create too much extra traffic, put pressure on local services and be damaging to the environment, and believe the land is unsuitable for development due to contamination. The applicants, who were present at the meeting, say the principle of developing that land has already been agreed in the Local Plan, and argue that it's the only brown field site available to help North Devon meet its housing targets.
There were strong views expressed on both sides, but it was a polite and constructive meeting. Of course, MPs have no say over the outcome of individual planning applications. My job is to represent the views of local residents and to ensure their voices are heard when the planning committee makes its decision. That was due to happen this month, but I understand won't now happen before the summer.
A brief update on where we are. The Prime Minister has said the House of Commons will have a further 'meaningful vote' on the withdrawal agreement by 12 March. By then, it's hoped the UK and EU will have agreed changes to the Northern Ireland 'backstop', which is the part of the current deal that many people dislike.
If the amended agreement is rejected by the House, there will then be subsequent votes to decide whether a 'no deal' Brexit should be ruled out, and whether the UK's departure from the EU should be delayed.
My position is clear and consistent. I believe the UK should leave the EU - with a deal - on 29 March, and I have voted to secure that outcome at every opportunity. I hope we can now deliver that, because the current uncertainty has to end. It's going to be an interesting few days.
My annual report for 2018/19 is being delivered at the moment. There are more than 40,000 copies going to households right across North Devon. If you haven't received yours yet, we're getting there!
This time it includes a whole list of useful community phone numbers, because even in these days of digital communication, many people still rely on the telephone, especially in emergency situations.
There's also a lot of information about my activities as North Devon's MP and of course all my contact details. I hope you find it informative and useful.
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