Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Day Swim

Along with Cllr Terry Falcao, Dom from Liberal Youth, a group of smurfs, numerous Santas, and about 150 other hearty souls - dived in to the sea by the pier this morning in aid of the RNLI. The sea was a lot warmer than last year and warm winter sun made this year's dip quite pleasant. There were coach-loads of sightseers, nearly two thousand people watching the Boxing Day swim, I'm sure the town's cafes and coffee shops did a good trade.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Buzz Off Mosquito

Well done to Dominic Falcao, chair of South Devon Liberal Youth. First Great Western will be switching off the Mosquito at Teignmouth station when it is not appropriate following a campaign by South Devon Liberal Youth who have been calling for an end to the indiscriminate use of this so-called deterrent.
The Mosquito, a high-frequency ultrasonic device which emits a sound that can be heard only by the young, has been in use at Teignmouth railway station for nearly two years. A speaker emits an irritating high-pitched ringing sound; Mosquito devices are indiscriminate and target all young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving. Having the Mosquito switched on whilst young people wait for trains to take them to school and college was pretty shoddy treatment of our young people.

Saturday, 19 December 2009


Teignmouth Traders Association, Teign Estuary Transition, and Teignbridge Council launched the ‘Don’t Forget Your Old Bag’ campaign today in the Triangle at the same time as the Farmers’ Market.
Canvass bags were given out to shops who had agreed to participate in the campaign. Volunteers from Transition had canvassed shops on Tuesday and got a very positive response.
It’s really great to see the three different groups working together for Teignmouth.
Here’s five top tips from Teigbridge’s recycling officer Ben Bryant (shamelessly lifted from the
• Reuse any existing carrier bags you might already have, this is even better than recycling
• Refuse to carry your purchased goods home in a new plastic bag
• Replace plastic bags with a reusable bag for life made of jute/hemp/raffia or paper or use a backpack, trolley or basket
• Remind Yourself to store reusable bags in designated place, e.g. by front door, in handbag or car boot
• Encourage others – friends family and local retailers to turn their back on plastic carriers

Thursday, 17 December 2009

70% Recycling

Figures released this week reveal that Teignbridge Council recycles over 70% of its office waste following the start of a new waste management scheme in March 2008. The scheme saw the council get rid of individual staff bins in favour of communal recycling and waste bins for each of its teams, encouraging recycling and reducing waste.

Existing paper recycling bins remained, while other recycling bins which were previously available in only one location were placed in each department. This enabled staff to conveniently dispose of glass bottles and jars, tins and cans, plastic bottles, printer cartridges and batteries. Kitchens also saw the addition of new 'caddies' for food waste, thin card, and used paper towels and tissues. These caddies enable the Council to compost waste 'on-site', using a new miniature version of the 'In Vessel Composting' technology that deals with all of the food waste from around the district.

Results for 2008/09, the scheme's first full year of operation, have been tallied, and show the council recycling over 70% of its waste. Key results over a 12 month period include:

· Approximately 5.1 tonnes of food/kitchen waste has been composted.

· 1872kg of plastic cups have been recycled.

· Approximately 29 tonnes of paper recycled; which can save up to 203,000 gallons of water, 493 trees, 11,020 gallons of oil, 87 cubic yards of landfill space and 116,000 kilowatts of energy.

· 4.12 tonnes of cans, cardboard, plastic and glass has been recycled.

· Approximately 50 fluorescent light tubes have been recycled, which together contain enough mercury to pollute 1.5 million litres of water beyond the UK safe drinking level.

Cllr Gordon Hook, Teignbridge Executive Spokesperson for Environmental Services said:

"As a district Teignbridge has a household recycling rate of over 57%, placing it firmly in the national top-ten. As a council we're the first to encourage residents to recycle, but we realise that we must practice what we preach. That was the idea behind the separate waste system, and we're pleased to see such strong results from it.

"Recycling our office waste has many benefits, from environmental to financial, and we're even producing our own compost to use on the grounds. We're aiming to lead by example, and show our residents that we, like them, are more than willing to do our bit for the environment."

Envirowise; a government supported scheme which offers free, independent support to businesses to become more environmentally friendly, resource efficient and save money; states that approximately 70% of office waste is recyclable, but on average only 7.5% reaches a recycling facility.

Teignbridge's Forde House campus alone composts and recycles 70% of its waste without counting light tubes and IT equipment. It has recently also started to have larger items of office equipment sent for recycling instead of going to landfill, so its overall figure is expected to rise next year.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Don't Forget Your Old Bag

A 'Make Teignmouth plastic bag free’ event will take place on Sat 19th December, where Teign Transition will be helping. My fellow West Teignmouth councillor Alex Cross was the initiator of the campaign.
Designs for the re-usable bags, painted by Teignmouth's primary schoolchildren will be displayed in local shops.

Transition Blog

Teignmouth's Transition group has a blog:

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Student Holiday Membership

Teignbridge council’s leisure centres are trialling a 4-week student membership pass over the Christmas and New Year period.

The pass provides a flexible opportunity for university students to keep active and use the sports centres while back home from studying away. The 4-week pass aims to encourage continued use from young adults during the holiday period and raise awareness of the facilities, preventing loss of custom to other leisure and fitness centres in Teignbridge.

Further information is available at

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Carlton Theatre

The Project Group which has been working on the concepts for the new Carlton Centre (which will replace the Carlton Theatre) met this morning to consider the final design and with agreement from everyone there, officers have been asked to prepare and submit a formal planning application to Teignbridge District Council.
The application will probably be submitted within the next 7-10 days and then take the normal planning process for a major application, coming to the planning committee for councillors’ consideration.
Local newspapers will be getting more information about the planning application with sketches etc so that the public can participate in the planning exercise. I’ll post anything I can on this blog.

Times Verdict on Boiler Scrappage

The Times budget report has given the boiler scrappage scheme, a maximum of four green lights, the only part of Alistair Darling’s budget to get four greens.

The scheme got greens for it ‘traction’ - politically, financially, environmentally and practically. KPMG suggests boiler scrappage would be a good stimulator for jobs.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Boiler Scrappage

Chancellor Alistair Darling is expected to announce a boiler scrappage scheme this week. Local MP Richard Younger Ross backed the Reheat Britain campaign, tabling an Early Day Motion in Parliament, attracking dozens of MPs of all parties to sign.

A £300 discount for homeowners to trade in their old boilers for new greener models is expected to feature in the Chancellor's Pre-Budget Report speech at the House of Commons on 9th December. By replacing a G rated boiler with a new A rated condensing boiler and better controls, household bills can be cut by up to a quarter. In a family home that could mean a saving of £235 a year.

The Reheat Britain campaign was started by plumbers' merchants owner Mick Williams and environmental campaigner Sian Berry.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


‘Propeller type’ wind turbines on houses and buildings are always a problem when it comes to planning; the fact is they aren’t particularly pretty especially in the suburbs and villages. Inevitably these applications elicit strong opinions. So I was interested to learn more about the Power Collective’s innovative RidgeBlade, potentially an affordable and effective way of harnessing the wind's power to produce renewable electricity.

RidgeBlade addresses the twin problems associated with traditional micro-wind generation technologies – visual impact and efficiency. RidgeBlade’s unique design means it can reliably produce electricity in low or variable wind conditions. Because RidgeBlade is fitted on the ridge line at the top of a building and uses the existing roof area to collect and focus the prevailing wind; this is where the wind is forced to travel over the roof surface, accelerating the airflow though the turbine. Even if Ridgeblade is retro-fitted, it creates very little visual impact. This means that it is suitable for locations including urban houses, rural buildings and environmentally-sensitive areas like Dartmoor National Park.

Teignbridge’s Energy Efficiency Officer will be finding out more. RidgeBlade will be commercially available in 2010. Details of grants for domestic renewables are here:

RidgeBlade® is a registered trademark and the illustrations are ©copyright of the Power Collective.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Ferry Won't Run Over Christmas

Hopes of having a temporary ferry service over the Christmas holidays have been dashed. Teignmouth Town Council, Shaldon Parish Council and Teignbridge District council had agreed a plan to operate the ferry with ferryman Greg Allan acting as a self employed contractor.
Unfortunately the requirement to have an MCA operators' licence has sunk the scheme.

The service will be running again once a new lease has been signed.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Cutting the Council's Carbon Footprint

Teignbridge was amongst the first councils to develop a Carbon Management Programme in association with the Carbon Trust in 2007. The Council has reduced its energy demand by an impresive15.7% equating to a saving to council taxpayers, of £86,816 annually.

By investing in a new refuse fleet equipped with the highest specification of energy efficient engines, the Council has been at the forefront in terms of a refuse collection. This has also been significantly enhanced by the use of tracker devices to maximise collection sounds efficiencies. The recycling rates achieved are amongst the best nationally making Teignbridge exemplar to others.

The most significant achievements to date have been in the Leisure Centres, which are our highest energy users with a reduction in excess of 174 tonnes of CO2 per annum.

The work done to date by the Council’s Energy Efficiency Officer will save the Council £570k worth of energy costs over the course of the next 5 years, which is equivalent to our total energy budget for one year.

Planning Applications for West Teignmouth

09/01354/MAJ (Officer: Nick Davies)
Outline- redevelopment of site to provide 60 bedroom hotel (C1), 2275sq m. B1/B2 use, together with associated parking, 23 apartments with associated parking and 10 affordable apartments with access from Broadmeadow Industrial Estate (Approval sought for means of access) at Former Dairycrest & Unit 2 Broadmeadow Industrial Estate for R & J Enterprises.
09/03519/FUL (Officer: Nicola White)
New window in rear gable at 83 Moor View Drive for Mrs. M. Wos.
09/035471/COU (Officer: David Curley)
Retention of conversion of use of one dwelling as two flats at 94 Bitton Park Road for Mr. S. Rzezniczak.
You can see planning applications on-line, by logging on to, follow the Planning links to Public Access. You can also see the applications in person, from 8.30 am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday at reception at Teignbridge District Council, Forde House, Newton Abbot.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Planning Higher Coombe Drive

The planning application for eight flats in the garden of 51 Higher Coombe Drive
has been withdrawn. A new application (09/03623/FUL)for six new two bed flats has been received by the planning department. I still have concerns about parking and access issues, so I will be putting this on 'Category B' which means the application will be determined by elected councillors on the Development Control Committee.

You can see the planning application on-line, by logging on to, follow the Planning links to Public Access.You can also see this application in person,from 8.30 am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday at the council offices (reception at Teignbridge District Council, Forde House, Newton Abbot).

This is a new application - so comments about the previous application won't count, if you wish to have your say, you will need to write again. Letters should be sent to the Service Lead – Planning, Forde House, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 4XX, e-mails to

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Benefit Help

The independent Credit Crunch Commission, set up by Teignbridge Council, recommended a £10,000 grant to Teignbridge Outreach Benefits Service.

In the period between April and October this year, the service dealt with 174 requests for help and advice. Benefits of £8,095.00 a week have been identified and claimed for local people and the outcomes of around 70 further claims are awaited.

Many enquiries deal with or result in an entitlement to one or more benefit being identified. It is also known that where income to vulnerable households is maximised, economic hardship is reduced. This increases the amount of money available to be spent in the local area, which in turn supports the local community.

People have said that they feel ‘a huge weight has been lifted’ and they are better able to cope and feel more supported. Where it is relevant, people are also directed to other services that may also be able to help.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Teign Transition

We had a well attended meeting on Monay, where Anthony Turner of ClimateSence explained climate change and peak oil, we had a lively debate. We will formally launch Teign Transition at our next meeting. The Transistion Handbook is now available at Quayside Bookshop 43 Northumberland Place (01626 775436 If you plan to buy a copy, please support your local independent bookshop.

The Transition approach can be sumed up in two words 'resilience and relocalisation'

Resilience (a term used extensively in civil defence/emergency planning)– the ability of communities, maintain their ability to function in the face of change and shocks from the outside. Rob Hopkins insists that as we move to cut carbon emissions, we must give equal importance to rebuilding the resilience of our communities. The degree of oil dependency of economic globalisation – irrespective of the injustice and environmental destruction it has caused – means that we have little option but to move towards more localised, energy-efficient and productive living arrangements. There are of course many senior citizens in Teignmouth who can remember when such a state existed - local food sold in local shops.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Council Backs Reheat Briatin

I'm very pleased to say that Teignbridge council today gave its unanimous support to the Reheat Britain campaign. Our Liberal Democrat MP Richard Younger Ross has gather the backing of a respectable 54 MPs for the Reheat Britain EDM. Sian Berry (Green Party's London Mayor candidate) continues to do sterling work running the campaign. Let's hope the government listens, surly the boiler scrappage scheme must be an obvious way of distributing the 'quantitative easing' cash into the economy.
Please back the campaign

A very welcome 'Thank You'

I was very pleasantly surprised to read a thank you to me on page 5 of the Teignmouth Post on Friday. I helped Vicky who runs a Teignmouth pet shop - Animal Allsorts, get her business rates reduced from £5,200 to £3,900 (which means Vicky can apply for Small Business Rate Relief and save more). Helping people with problems is one of the most rewarding parts of being a councillor. I don’t restrict myself to council issues; for many people dealing with bureaucracy is beguiling at the best of times. It is really the most important work I do as a councillor, and yet it goes (for obvious reasons) largely unseen. So a bit of public recognision is welcome, most people's perseption of a councillor's work is dry meetings in dusty council chambers.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Teignmouth residents and visitors have the opportunity to see plans for the new skatepark at a special exhibition next week.

On Saturday (7th November) between 10am-2pm, plans for the new skatepark facility on the site of the former seafront paddling pool will go on show at Tomorrow’s Teignmouth Information Centre (4-5 Northumberland Place, Teignmouth). Local community organisation Teignskate, which has been working on the plans with support from Teignbridge Council, is keen for local people and visitors to stop by and provide feedback on the designs.

I hope that the new area will provide an added attraction on our popular seafront. Local skaters have been hoping for a proper skate facility for some time, and the paddling pool site was identified as part of a public consultation during the development of the golf facility.

The new area is planned to provide a safe area for local skaters to enjoy, away from the steps and ledges on the public footpath. The project has also won the backing of local BMX hero Kye Forte, a former BMX dirt jumping world champion who was instrumental in the provision of the highly successful extreme sports facility at Decoy Country Park in Newton Abbot.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Benefit Changes

In tough times benefits can make a big difference, especially for families and older people. Far too many people miss out, often assuming that they don’t qualify. But it really is worth checking again, new rules come in to effect on Monday 2nd November. So even if you haven’t been eligible before, you may be, come 2nd November.
Here is the detail from the council: from 2nd November two major changes to the way benefits are calculated will provide additional help to families and older residents, and may make more people eligible for assistance. Firstly, child benefit will no longer be counted as income when assessing eligibility for Housing and/or Council Tax benefit. Secondly, for anyone aged over 60, capital, savings or investments to the value of £10k will be disregarded in the calculation of any benefit. Anybody currently receiving benefits will have their entitlement automatically recalculated by Teignbridge Council, which will write to anyone whose benefits may change. However, under the new rules many people who don’t currently qualify for help may become eligible, and Teignbridge is urging anyone who’s unsure to contact the council on 01626 361101 or visit to confidentially check their entitlement.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Graffiti Clean Up

With help from Liberal Youth, I’ve been busy wiping out graffiti in and around West Teignmouth and Shaldon. The ‘Welcome to Teignmouth’ on Bishopsteignton Road, lampposts on Coombe Vale Road, pedestrian crossing on Bitton Park Road all having been targeted by one particular vandal, who uses an orange paint with acid that burns into the surface of whatever his tag is put on, if left for too long.

Graffiti is, thankfully, not a major problem in Teignmouth, nevertheless I believe it important to clean it off as quickly as possible. Once graffiti appears it is only a matter of time before others are encouraged to add to it. If anyone requires graffiti removing please contact me, if I can't get rid of it I'll get the Blitz Team on it. I’m happy to help remove graffiti tags off private property, with the owners permission. If you know who is causing graffiti round the town, you can claim a reward under the 'name that tag' please phone 0800 555 111.

Friday, 16 October 2009


Plans to regulate boats on the beach above Mean High Water by Teignmouth Harbour Commission have caused a few ripples of disapproval. The Commission seem to be coming up with solutions to a problem that doesn’t really exist. Laissez faire (leave it be) is my take on it, the fishermen and watermen have managed very well self-regulating matters. Creating a bureaucratic system of registering boats will cost more than it is worth. I'd better declare my interest; I keep my boat on Shaldon beach in the winter paying Shaldon Sailing Club the princely sum of £13.

Reheat Britain

I'm pleased to say our MP Richard Younger Ross has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons, to support the Reheat Britain campaign for a boiler scrappage scheme. I've submitted similar a motion to Teignbridge District Council.

The campaign was started by Mick Williams, who runs a chain of plumbers' merchants in the South of England. Inspired by the government's car scrappage scheme, Mick saw that the building and plumbing industries also needed help from a similar scheme. With plumbers and builders largely being small businesses based in the UK, his idea would do much more to help the economy and the environment than the car scheme.

The Boiler Scrappage Scheme makes sense on many different levels. It is a great way of stimulating demand in these tough economic times, saving jobs and creating new ones. From an environmental point of view, every old boilers replaced will help the country meet its carbon reduction targets. Saving households £200 year on their heating bill will help fight fuel poverty.
You can sign Reheat's petition here

Monday, 28 September 2009

Get Warm for Winter

Teignbridge Council is urging local people to make sure they’re warm this winter by taking advantage of specially subsidised low-cost loft and cavity-wall insulation.

The Council’s ‘Warm 4 Winter’ scheme, run in partnership with Miller Pattison, offers insulation for anyone from as little as £99. Thanks to additional funding from Teignbridge Council, some eligible groups of people, including low-income households, may even be entitled to free insulation. Meanwhile people living in Teignmouth and Dawlish may be able to benefit from discounts under the Devon Warm Zones scheme.

With winter on the way, Teignbridge is encouraging people to insulate their properties now, before they face increasing heating and energy bills during the colder months. Anyone applying for insulation now will be better placed to have work completed in time for winter, enabling them to stay warmer for less.

By insulating lofts and walls people can greatly reduce the amount of heat lost from their home, as around a quarter of heat is lost through the roof and about a third through walls. Good insulation helps keep energy costs down and can benefit people’s health. By reducing the energy taken to heat a home, it also helps the environment.

Miller Pattison is currently working with Nationwide Insulation Grants, which has a team of surveyors able to carry out free no-obligation surveys of Teignbridge residents’ homes. The company is also tele-canvassing in Teignbridge over the coming weeks to raise awareness of the Warm4Winter scheme and to book surveys for interested households.

Anyone wishing to book a no obligation survey can phone Nationwide Insulation Grants on freephone 0800 0190 235. Any customers with queries related to the scheme can contact Zoe Farmer at Teignbridge Council on 01626 215764 or

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Boiler Scrappage Scheme

I'm hoping Teignbridge Council will get behind the 'Boiler Scrappage Scheme', and see if we can’t use the Sustainable Communities Act to get the money from the car scrappage scheme transferred to a Teignbridge Boiler Scrappage Scheme.

It is a brilliant idea and joined-up-thinking by the campaign Reheat Britain . The idea came not from Friends of the Earth (but I’m sure they support it) but plumbers' merchant Mick Williams. It is a simple yet brilliant idea - that by replacing the UK's old, inefficient gas boilers it would be possible to achieve a major environmental benefit, while at the same time creating jobs and an economic boost, and reducing fuel poverty. It would work along similar lines to the car scrappage scheme, however unlike the car scheme, it would have the advantage of cutting emissions and creating a significant UK employment boost, rather than in the car factories abroad. Existing regulations mean that virtually all new boilers on the market are now highly efficient and A-rated, and best of all the two leading manufacturers, Worcester and Baxi are here in the UK employing Brfitish workers.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Loyalty Card with a difference

Whilst Exeter and Torquay have empty boarded up shops, Teignmouth's shopping area still looks vibrant. That's because of independent locally owned shops, which are by enlarge more resilient to the credit crunch. So it is good to see Teignmouth's traders lunching their own loyalty card, with some great deals available from local shops.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


MP Richard Younger Ross, councillors, police, local businesses, and most importantly the fans, have all hailed the MUSE concert, a resounding success . The two night Muse extravaganza reverberated through the streets of our seaside town as the rock superstars finished their two-night home coming gig; which we've waited 10 years for. Fantastic coverage for MUSE and Teignmouth in the national press. The Daily Telegraph dug up Mayor Vince Fusco's embarrassing moment (we've all been trying not to talk about it) and the Guardian mentioned my attempt to have the band's name on the 'welcome to Teignmouth signs' a few years back.

Many of the fans have posted on message boards how friendly Teignmouth was - do visit us again. When you consider an estimated 30,000 people visited the town yet only 10 people were arrested over the two nights , the 'Seaside Rendezvous' really was special.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Community Ownership

The Isle of Skye ferry is owned by the people who use and run the ferry, through a 'community interest company'. Could this be a model for the Teignmouth and Shaldon Ferry? Neither public ownership by Teignbridge District Council or private ownership offer the guarantee, that the community and Teignmouth Town and Shaldon Parish Councils want to ensure that England's oldest ferry carries on.
Community interest companies (CIC) are a new type of limited company designed specifically for those wishing to operate for the benefit of the community rather than for the benefit of the owners of the company. This means that a CIC cannot be formed or used solely for the personal gain of a particular person, or group of people.

CICs can be limited by shares, or by guarantee, and will have a statutory “Asset Lock” to prevent the assets and profits being distributed, except as permitted by legislation. This ensures the assets and profits are retained within the CIC for community purposes, or transferred to another asset-locked organisation, such as another CIC or charity.

The recent history of the ferry shows how close it has come to being closed down in the past. When ferry operator Teignmouth & Shaldon Bridge Company was wound up in 1949, it looked like the end of the ferry, luckily a buyer was found. The ferry service was sold to a private individual - Mr W. Powell. Teignmouth Urban District Council (TUDC) had been approached to buy the ferry, but had flatly refused, not wishing to have a 'drain on the rates'. In 1952 TUDC did purchased the ferry service from the late Mr Powell’s estate, for £3,500, in order to keep the ferry service going. There was very strong opposition to buying the ferry, notably a petition by Teignmouth and Shaldon Ratepayers Association . In February 1968 TUDC discussed selling the ferry to (sic) 'private enterprise', but decided against an immediate sale.

Renewable Energy Grants

In 1995 Liberal Democrats introduced and pushed through the Home Energy Conservation Act, a bill written in consultation with Friends of the Earth and fuel poverty groups.

Government grants to householders of up to £2,500 (or 50% which ever is the lower) for solar, wind, hydro and other renewable energy systems. There are quite tough qualification criteria and I understand there is a long waiting list.

If you want to save water, save energy, save money, and save the environment - for free!
you could fit an Eaga ShowerSmart unit, to your shower. The Eaga ShowerSmart fits easily to your existing shower unit and ensures a constant flow of 7.7 litres per minute, giving a full even jet and reducing fluctuation in the speed of the water flow.

As soon as you install your eaga ShowerSmart, it will start saving you money and water for a guaranteed 15 years. The average UK family is likely to save up to a substantial £900 over the product's lifetime. The experts say fitting the eaga ShowerSmart enables the average family to save more than 12,000 litres of water every year and cut carbon emissions by 1 tonne of CO2.
It is easy to install, once your free pack arrives, it takes seconds to install, without the need for a plumber. Simply undo your existing shower hose at the tap end, screw in your eaga ShowerSmart, with the provided washers on either end, finger tight, then screw the shower hose onto it. The eaga ShowerSmart is suitable for use with non-electric mixer showers or bath/shower mixer taps, provided they run off the mains water pressure. Follow this link to get your free ShowerSmart:-

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Transition Town Teignmouth

Meeting to set up a Teignmouth Transition Town group Tuesday 8th September, 7.30pm at Bitton House.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Green Tractor- Green Lifestyle

Whilst I was at Stokeinteignhead for the shop opening , along came Hugh on his lovingly restored antique tractor. Only this is tractor isn't for show, it's a working machine on Hugh's small holding. I have been distributing free energy saving lightbulbs via post offices and village halls in the rural ares and delivering them in the urban areas, I gave a box to the shop to give out to customers, then offered a pack to Hugh. "Energy saving lightbulbs Hugh, they'll save you money and help save the planet" I said, to which Hugh replied he didn't want them - he didn't use eclectic! In fact he hasn't got gas or mains water, now that is sustainable living.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Village Shop Re-opens

It was wonderful on Saturday to be invited to Stokeinteignhead. In 2008 Stokeinteignhead saw its village shop shut its doors after the closure of the post office. On Saturday to much fanfare and rejoicing the shop reopened - owned and run by the villagers themselves. The youngest and the oldest residentsof the village along with MP Richard Younger-Ross cut the ribbon. Over half the population of the village are now shareholders. £7000 has been raised in the village through loans following a public meeting in May attended by over 200 villagers. Brian Cooke and other committee members were extremely generous in thanking me, in reality the real heros are the committee and villagers themselves. See

Saturday, 8 August 2009

MUSE - hometown gig

A chance meeting with MUSE lead singer Matt Bellamy by Terry Falc√£o (one of my councillor colleagues), last year has led to the band agreeing to do a hometown gig, to take place on the Den (a grass area by the seafront of their home town of Teignmouth). The rock trio, renowned for their spectacular live shows, are set to hold two concerts on the Den in September. Major concert promoter SJM Concerts Ltd has applied to Teignbridge Council for the premises licence for the two nights, for up to 15,000 people. The concerts will take place before Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard embark on a 10-week tour of America and Europe. Concerns have been raised by police over traffic and noise levels. However I believe we can thrash out matters so the group can perform work from their new album, ‘The Resistance’. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Fight to keep Post Office

It is very sad news that the post office at Lower Coombe is to close, it is even worse news that the post office is being given up voluntarily and not as part of an enforced closure plan.

Alex Cross and I have been in contact with Post Office Ltd and Teignmouth Community Association to see where the post office can be relocated in West Teignmouth, without undermining Ashleigh Way post office.

Hospital Parking Victory

Common sense has prevailed! Plans to introduce car parking charges for parking at Teignmouth Hospital have been scrapped. Devon PCT has abandoned plans to introduce charges at Teignmouth Hospitals.

I couldn’t see how it was economic to police the small hospital car park. Having such a marvellous League of Friends has played a major part in persuading the PCT to change its mind, as well as the publicity the Teignmouth Post has given the matter.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

West Teignmouth School Excels

DEVON County Council's primary schools have enjoyed another year of sustained exam performance and continue to beat national results. Figures released today show that in the 2008 SATs tests in English, maths and science for 11-year-olds, the county continued to improve its performance. A number of schools are highlighted for their outstanding Contextual Value Added or CVA score, including the Teign Estuary’s own OLSP - Our Lady and St Patrick's. CVA measures the progress made by pupils from the age of seven to 11 using their test results.

Recently it was my pleasure to congratulate Bishopsteignton School on their very good OFSTED; and I have congratulated Shaldon, Stokeinteignhead for outstanding OFSTED reports, and Inverteign for its achievements.
Across the South West, Devon’s schools are achieving more highly than their neighbours in Plymouth and Torbay and beating the English aggregate of 248. The improvement comes despite Devon sinking to 146th out of 149 local authorities for the amount of money received from the Government to educate the county's children.
It seems that every child in a Devon school is worth £359 less than the national average according to the latest Government funding formula. Yet our schools not only manage to deliver sustained exam performance but they are also heavily involved in developing their wider community role; it stands as testament to the dedication of the heads, teachers, staff, governors and friends groups.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Cash Machine at Post Office

I'm very pleased that the ATM cash machine is now installed at Shaldon post office, I was able to get Devon County Council to contributed a third of the cost. DCC had also agreed to fund a ATM at Bishopsteignton post office; however Post Office Ltd refused to install one.

I hope the ATM will, not only contribute to the viability of the post office, but boost trade in the village.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Devon - Excellent Council

Independent inspectors say that Devon County Council is an "excellent council" and have given the authority a top 4 star rating in its latest judgement on performance. Inspectors also say that the council is "improving well".
The 4 star rating - the top mark possible - has been awarded by the Audit Commission as part of its regular Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA) inspection looking at the full range of council services and overall value for money.
Praise has flooded in for the County Council since it was announced that it had been awarded four stars by the Audit Commission .
Devon Police Commander Chief Superintendent Jo Tennant has congratulated on Council on it's partnership working: "We work closely in partnership with Devon County Council and would wish to congratulate our colleagues in the Local Authority on this assessment which recognises the extremely high standards consistently achieved by them in serving the communities across Devon".
Teachers' union NASUWT congratulated Devon County Council on achieving a four star rating for their work with young people and school staff: Nigel Williams said "We share with the local authority their concerns about the low levels of funding pupils receive in comparison with other parts of the country. The positive achievements of our young people in spite of the need for better funding is testament to the hard work of the many adults who work in schools throughout the county and the positive support Devon offers to its schools."
Professor Ian Mercer CBE who chaired this year's Napoli Inquiry was equally congratulatory: "That Devon County Council is to be congratulated on achieving a four star rating in the Audit Commission's assessments, and is now an 'excellent council' in its terms, goes without having to be said, except that it does need saying by a Devon resident. On behalf of all those of us who live, breathe and work under the Council's protective and supportive wing, Devon is a splendid place to live in, not least because of the way it is governed".
Praise has also been received by Devon Conservation Forum, the Bishop of Exeter, and the Federation of Small Business.

Campaign Against Hospital Parking Charges

I have discovered that Devon Primary Care Trust (Devon PCT) plans to introduce Car parking charges at Teignmouth Hospital, I have written to the Chief Executive of Devon PCT, Dr Kevin Snee, calling on the plans to be scrapped. Teignmouth Mayor Fred Tooley and Alderman Mary Strudwick, Vice Chairman of the League of Friends, are backing me. Many people will be financially penalised when attending their local hospital. In addition many people attending Teignmouth Hospital will be tempted to leave their cars in surrounding roads – being in conflict with school traffic, and causing additional congestion and nuisance for people who live in Mill Lane and near the hospital. The PCT plans to introduce car parking charges at all community hospitals, claiming that the scheme is green: “The plan is promoting environmentally friendly ways of travelling to and from the hospitals.…and will aim to encourage better use of alternative methods of transport” (PCT website) I rejected the PCT's claims, this is not a green initiative, I believe the charges are purely designed to raise income for Devon PCT. many parts of rural South Devon have no, or very limited, bus services. Teignmouth Hospital is situated up a very steep hill so the car is vital to most people."I hope the PCT reconsider, this is really a sad move, the local community through the League of Friend of Teignmouth Hospital, raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for the hospital. Now the PCT face the prospect of alienating those communities for the sake of a few hundred pounds they will raise with parking fees."

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Teignbridge Council Tax

More good news for residents in Teignbridge, which already has the second lowest level of council tax of any district in Devon, is that the ruling Liberal Democrat and Independent administration have cut back on the proposed 3.9% rise in Council Tax from April to 3.5%. The national Local Government Association says this is likely to be the average rate across the country.
Under the old regime Council Tax bills in Teignbridge more than doubled; increasing by 127% in ten years under the Conservatives according to the Herald Express. Since taking over in 2003 the Liberal Democrats have taken Teignbridge from one of the highest charging councils in Devon to the second lowest. With good financial management, this has been achieved without cuts to the services people rely on.

Teignbridge has frozen all car park and leisure charges from April, and introduced free parking on Sunday afternoons to encourage more people to visit, shop or go for lunch in Teignbridge.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Lowest Rise in Council Tax

Devon County Council's Executive has proposed a new budget for stability and for the local economy, and with it the lowest increase in Council Tax in this Council's history. At a 2.89%, this year's increase by the County Council is the lowest rise in Council Tax since the County Council started operating in April 1998. That increase would see the County Council's share of the Council Tax representing £1,094.67 for Band D properties.
The local economy is a high priority with the County Council targeting an additional £5.75 million for economic regeneration plus, keeping the large capital programme in schools and roads intact.
The Executive Committee will recommend the proposed budget to the Council's Full Council when it meets on the 19th February. The increase is markedly below the government's effective capping limit of 5% and the April increase for state pensions (5.0%) and state benefits (6.3%).
Meanwhile Dorset County Council has announced an increase of 3.5%, Torbay Council (Unitary) is to increase council tax by 3.9%.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Shaldon Botanical Gardens

I'm very pleased to have helped the Friends of Shaldon Botanical Gardens (FSBG) win a 10,000 grant from Investing in Devon.
The volunteer group will use the grant with other funding to transform the gardens to their former glory. I submitted the grant bid to the Investing in Devon committee, and will continue to help where I can.
The Botanical Gardens are a tranquil and unique place. Sadly over the years some of the finer plant species have gone and many of the features are in need of refurbishment. I know the Friends work very hard for the Gardens so I hope this grant will help the Friends restore the Gardens to their original glory, for all to enjoy.
The Homeyards Botanical Gardens are situated on a sloping hillside above Shaldon and enjoy stunning views of Teignmouth and the east Devon and Dorset coastline. The Gardens boast an eclectic mix of delights, such as the castle folly, pond and rill garden, and the Italianate Garden, making the Gardens an interesting place to explore. The Gardens were created by Maria 'Laetitia' Kempe Homeyard in the late 1920's and early 1930's, and were built by Thomas Rider of Southwark. They were constructed on the steeply sloping patchwork of fields above Shaldon . Mrs Homeyard was the widow of William Newcombe Homeyard, the inventor and manufacturer of Liquafruta cough syrup - you can still buy it.
The long established Friends are always looking for keen volunteers to help them in their efforts to raise the profile of the Gardens and help out with voluntary work days. If you think you can help or would like to join them please contact the Green Spaces team who will put you in touch with them. E-mail or call the Green Spaces Development Officer on 01626 215885.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Devon is Best - Official

Country Life have published a survey today on which is the best county. As we all know the best county is Devon; I'm glad to say Country Life realise this, and have named Devon as the best county.

In the Landscape, Green, Pubs and Food, categories Devon was first. You can read an abridged version of the article on Country Life's website .Teignbridge District Council's outstanding recycling record was used to illustrate the Green category.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Boost for Cycling But No New Bridge

Whatever the Herald Express front page story says there isn't going to be another bridge over the Teign.
But Cycling in South Devon has received a boost, thanks to Liberal Democrat led Devon County Council's £5 million investment in cycle routes. As part of the investment Haldon Forest cycling trails will be getting an upgrading, and £1.3million will go towards an important commuter and leisure route between Newton Abbot and Teignmouth. This is welcome news, this investment will create a lasting legacy for South Devon. Cycling is an important part of the tourist market. With the drop in the pound more people are deciding to holiday in Britain rather than abroad, these routes will put South Devon at the forefront of attracting more tourists for cycling holidays, which potentially could have a healthy impact on the local economy.

Creating a comprehensive network of cycle routes in Devon can encourage more people to cycle to school or work, which will benefit people's health and the local environment, and it is further proof of Devon's ambition to be even greener.The council hopes the investment will stimulate the local economy by putting the county on the map as a premier destination for cycle tourism.The money from the Investing In Devon fund, generated by the sale of Exeter Airport, will not only add to the extensive network of designated cycleways in Devon but will also build on the County Council's efforts for Devon to become England's greenest county.The funding will be used to develop commuter and recreational routes, many of which will attract visitors for short cycling breaks.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Money you might be missing out on

One of the problems with the Government inventing lots of complicated tax credits and benefits is that people very often don't get what they are entitled to. One example is something called the "children's tax credit" (not to be confused with the 'child tax credit' which is what you can get now). This ran for just two years 2001/02 and 2002/03 and the deadline for claiming for 2002/03 is the end of January 2009. The 'children's tax credit' was introduced in 2001 to make sure that people with children did not lose out when the married couple's tax allowance was abolished in that year. It is too late to claim for 2001/02 but you can still claim for 2002/03.
It was worth about £520 (or double if you had a child born during the year) and was payable once per family. You could qualify if you paid tax during 2002/03 and were responsible for a child under 16. People who paid higher rate tax got less help, and those on the highest incomes got nothing.
If you think you didn't get the money at the time and might be entitled, you need to act quickly. You can download the claim form from here and it needs to go back to your local tax office by 31st January.
Good luck!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Torbay to copy Teignmouth

Torbay Mayor Nick Bye has announced plans to build a copy of Teignmouth’s popular Den play park in Paignton. In his New Year message Mr Bye admitted many people from Torbay visited Teignmouth because of the Den facilities, and consequently spent their money in Teignmouth shops and cafes. He said he had had numerous letters calling for a similar facility in Torbay.

I’m very proud to have played a part in getting the play park on the Den; which has attracted visitors to Teignmouth. I’m not worried by the challenge after all Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I still think people will come from Torquay and further a field; parking is cheaper in Teignmouth, and our traffic wardens are a lot friendlier than Torbay’s!
The Adventure Golf and Den play park represent nearly £1million of investment by Teignbridge Council over the past few years.
The Den won the award in the children's play category in this year's Local Government Network Street Design awards. It is the latest in a line of awards for the Den including a Green Flag award and a highly commended in the ILAM Best Playground 2005 competition.
This places the play park, adventure golf, multi-use games area and open space among the best designed resorts in the country.