Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 12th August 2018
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Events, dear boy, events…..
A slightly different newsletter this week. As I said last time, the parliamentary recess provides even more opportunities for visits, events and meetings here in North Devon. So I thought it would be interesting to provide a snapshot of some of the many constituency activities I’ve undertaken since the Commons started its summer break.
National Citizen Service
As the photo shows, yesterday I had the pleasure of dropping in on some fantastic young people taking part in the National Citizen Service. This is a government scheme where teenagers take part in community projects as well as attending activity days and team-building courses.
There have been many teams taking part in North Devon, and I wish I could have visited them all. The one I went to was at Bicton Street in Barnstaple, where the group have done brilliant work refurbishing the play area. They’ve repaired and painted fences, cut back vegetation, fixed the play equipment, cleared graffiti and even painted a mural.
It’s a great example of our younger generation being involved with their local community, and it was a pleasure to meet them all…even in testing weather conditions!
As you may have seen in this week’s Journal, I had the pleasure of opening a major new training facility at Dogs Trust Ilfracombe. This is a major investment in the area – the project has cost about half a million pounds, and will make a real difference to the way dogs can be prepared for the day they find new homes.
The staff work so hard to ensure the dogs in their care are well looked after, but it’s vital to work on their training and behaviour. Up to now, facilities at the site - in a valley on the main road between Braunton and Ilfracombe - have been somewhat cramped. But this state-of-the art new building transforms the service the charity can provide. It’s always a pleasure to visit the Trust and meet new friends – two-legged and four-legged!
Also in the Journal (apologies, there was a lot of me this week!), you’ll have seen that last Wednesday I attended a ceremony to present a company in Roundswell with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
Turnstyle Designs make door-handles. It may sound a bit unglamorous, but believe me these are door-handles of top quality and stunning design, and there are thousands of different models. The company have been incredibly successful in international trade, which was the reason they received the Award from Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for Devon.
To have this kind of recognition is great, not just for the individual company, but for the reputation of North Devon’s business community as a whole. Well done.
North Devon Show
Later the same day, it was off to the North Devon Show near Umberleigh. Fortunately, the weather was just about perfect: the heatwave had passed but there was no repeat of last year’s wash-out.
I made a point of visiting a number of stands and displays, among them Airband – that’s the company with the public contract to provide high-speed broadband in North Devon. Whilst I’m pleased that some progress is being made, I was clear that more areas need more coverage, and more quickly. It was also good to drop in on the North Devon Forum for Autistic Spectrum Conditions, the South Molton Business Association, and the National Farmers Union, among others.
It was so good to be back at the Show after last year’s enforced break, and thank you to the many people who took the time to come and say hello.
Another meeting with our farming community came on Thursday night, when I was asked to speak at the annual meeting of the Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund group in Braunton.
This not-very-catchy label doesn’t do justice to the fact that local farmers, landowners and managers have come together to do great work, sharing best practice in caring for our environment.
The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project is the main organiser, and regular readers will know that I’m heavily involved with this group. It’s my pleasure to be National Species Champion for the Greater Horsehoe Bat. A few weeks ago I was honoured to be presented with an award as the MP Champion with the ‘muddiest boots’ – which I’m assured is a good thing.
The meeting went way beyond bats – there were challenging questions from farmers about payments, prices and Brexit of course. I’ll be taking up their points with the government.
On Saturday I held a constituency surgery in Barnstaple. No fewer than fifteen people came through the doors. Topics discussed ranged from drugs policy to the future of indoor bowls.
I also met the Trustees of Age Concern Barnstaple. They recently had to write to all their clients and volunteers warning that the service may have to be discontinued unless new funding can be found. I have agreed to do all I can to help, and indeed have already raised this matter with Devon County Council. I hope we can find a way forward.
This gives me an opportunity to say we’re just finalising the surgery dates for the rest of the year and they’ll be advertised soon. Surgeries are by appointment only: this is not only to save people an unnecessary wait on the day, but also because we can often start work on resolving your issue straight away, the moment you contact the office. Do get in touch if you would like any assistance, and I and my excellent team will be pleased to help.
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
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Barnstaple, North Devon, EX31 1DE
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