Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 18th November 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.
Brexit and North Devon
This week we had the first two days of parliamentary scrutiny of the EU Withdrawal Bill. They were late night sittings – until nearly midnight on Tuesday – but it's right that we look at this incredibly important legislation line-by-line.
I've been contacted by many people seeking my views on a number of the proposed amendments. My current position, having studied the proposals carefully, is that I am minded to vote for the Bill as it stands.
The main reason is that if any parts of the Bill are defeated, or amendments are made, it will mean potential delays to the whole Brexit process. It would also weaken our negotiating position if our EU partners know that parliament is not fully behind this legislation.
I am monitoring the Brexit negotiations very carefully, particularly in relation to our farmers.
Last Friday in South Molton I had a meeting with the chairman of North Devon NFU and four other farming representatives to discuss exactly these issues. We had a very productive meeting in which we agreed, in effect, a shopping list for me to take back to government setting out what the farming community wants.
The chief element is that financial support must still be there for farmers post-Brexit. Another priority is to ensure environmental regulations are transferred from the EU into UK law to allow farmers to continue to deliver their excellent stewardship of the countryside.
I will take these issues away and bring them to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the EU negotiation team. It's vital that the farming, rural and agricultural community is front and centre as we move towards March 2019.
Questions in Parliament
This week I've asked questions in the Commons on two issues which I wanted to highlight with ministers.
One was the North Devon Hospital. You'll know that NHS England's review of health services in Devon – known as the STP – decided that all our acute services should be retained in Barnstaple.
The challenge now is to ensure that we have the resources to do so. This doesn't just mean money; it also means staffing and logistical arrangements.
Follow this link to see my question and the minister's reply:
The other issue I raised in the House was the continued detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe – the British mother currently in prison in Iran accused of spying.
There was much publicity about this case when the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, made comments which many regarded as unhelpful. It caused a political storm which distracted from what should be our primary focus – working to release Nazanin as soon as possible.
I made this point to the Foreign Secretary on Monday. You can see our exchange here:
Last Friday, as the photo shows, I helped cut the first turf marking the start of work on nearly 200 new homes at Anchorwood Bank in Barnstaple – North Devon's biggest development project.
The scheme, by North Devon Homes and Pearce Construction, is part of the massive regeneration of the riverside site. We already have the supermarket there, and shops, restaurants and a riverside walk are on the way. But the housing is a crucial element of the whole scheme.
Not only will it bring 172 new homes there, but all profits from the site will be ploughed back into providing more affordable housing elsewhere in North Devon.
Anchorwood Bank is the largest single regeneration project ever undertaken in Barnstaple with an investment of £60 million. The scheme will create 172 new homes comprising 135 for open market sale and 37 affordable properties.
This is so significant for the whole of Barnstaple and North Devon. It will kick start the provision of homes right across North Devon and is vitally important, not only for those that need the housing but also the economic investment going into the area.
I look forward to seeing the work progress and this exciting development really start to take shape.
Square Deal for Surf...and Football
I was delighted to hear this week that two groups who provide vital life-saving cover on North Devon's beaches have shared more than £11,000 in government funding.
The Saunton Sands Surf Life Saving Club and the Surf Life Saving Devon Flood Resilience Unit have received the grants.
In total, 13 South West projects received over £230,000 via the Inshore and Inland Rescue Boat Grant Fund, administered by the Department for Transport.
This is really welcome news. Since its launch in 2014, the grant has provided water rescue services up and down the UK with funding for new boats, vehicles and equipment.
Support for Surf Life Saving is something I am particularly pleased to see happening here in North Devon. When I worked in Australia a decade ago, I saw how similar clubs on Sydney's northern beaches - the epicentre of the 'Home & Away' surf culture - played such a vital role in the community.
It is great to see that our local clubs in North Devon are now getting this level of support and recognition for the brilliant work that they do.’
Meanwhile we also received news that Witheridge Football Club has won a grant from the Premier League.
So it seems that North Devon's sport and leisure communities are well and truly on the map when it comes to getting their share of national funding. I will work hard to see this welcome trend continue.
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
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