County Councillors Report – December 2017

Future​ ​of​ ​the​ ​hospitals 

At​ ​the​ ​time​ ​of​ ​writing​ ​we​ ​are​ ​still​ ​looking​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​a​ ​workshop​ ​to​ ​scope​ ​the​ ​proposed  Axminster-Seaton​ ​health​ ​hub.​ ​I​ ​do​ ​not​ ​have​ ​up​ ​to​ ​date​ ​information​ ​for​ ​Honiton-Ottery.    Meanwhile,​ ​Devon​ ​County​ ​Council’s​ ​Health​ ​and​ ​Adult​ ​Care​ ​Scrutiny​ ​Committee​ ​has​ ​agreed​ ​to  my​ ​request​ ​to​ ​look​ ​further​ ​at​ ​the​ ​future​ ​of​ ​the​ ​hospitals.​ ​The​ ​Committee​ ​will​ ​ask​ ​both​ ​NEW  Devon​ ​Clinical​ ​Commissioning​ ​Group,​ ​which​ ​commission​ ​services​ ​in​ ​community​ ​hospitals,​ ​and  NHS​ ​Property​ ​Services,​ ​which​ ​now​ ​owns​ ​the​ ​hospitals,​ ​to​ ​its​ ​next​ ​meeting​ ​on​ ​25​ ​January​ ​to  report​ ​on​ ​the​ ​future​ ​of​ ​the​ ​hospitals.  I​ ​pressed​ ​for​ ​the​ ​contributions​ ​to​ ​community​ ​hospitals​ ​made​ ​by​ ​local​ ​communities​ ​and  Leagues​ ​of​ ​Friends​ ​to​ ​be​ ​taken​ ​into​ ​account​ ​in​ ​planning​ ​their​ ​futures.​ ​I​ ​raised​ ​particular  concerns​ ​over​ ​the​ ​high​ ​rents​ ​to​ ​be​ ​charged​ ​by​ ​NHS​ ​Property​ ​Services,​ ​the​ ​fact​ ​that​ ​the​ ​CCG​ ​is  committed​ ​to​ ​paying​ ​for​ ​space​ ​only​ ​until​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​the​ ​current​ ​financial​ ​year,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​the  CCG​ ​has​ ​said​ ​that​ ​existing​ ​outpatient​ ​services​ ​are​ ​not​ ​guaranteed​ ​to​ ​continue.

‘Many services can be delivered in community hospitals’, ​​ I​ ​said.​ “We should ​
be talking about increasing not reducing the provision close to where patients live. If most services are concentrated in the RD&E, patients will continue ​
to face long journeys into Exeter. With deteriorating public transport many will have to drive in and contribute to the city’s ever-growing congestion. We
need joined-up planning at Devon and local levels to make the best use of
the hospitals, which are community assets whoever is the legal owner.’
​​

20​ ​MPH​ ​Speed​ ​Limits

Devon’s​ ​sole​ ​Green​ ​county​ ​councillor,​ ​Jacqi​ ​Hodgson,​ ​proposed​ ​a​ ​motion​ ​to​ ​the​ ​County  Council’s​ ​Cabinet​ ​that​ ​we​ ​should​ ​welcome​ ​proposals​ ​for​ ​new​ ​20​ ​MPH​ ​limits.​ ​I​ ​spoke​ ​in​ ​support  and​ ​said​ ​that​ ​concerns​ ​about​ ​speeding​ ​were​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​issues​ ​in​ ​several​ ​places​ ​in​ ​our  area​ ​(Wilmington,​ ​Colyford,​ ​Seaton).  The​ ​Cabinet​ ​said​ ​that​ ​the​ ​move​ ​was​ ​premature​ ​as​ ​the​ ​national​ ​Atkins​ ​report​ ​on​ ​these​ ​limits​ ​is  due​ ​in​ ​February​ ​and​ ​DCC​ ​will​ ​review​ ​its​ ​policy​ ​in​ ​the​ ​light​ ​of​ ​that.​ ​I​ ​later​ ​discovered​ ​that​ ​the  Corporate​ ​Infrastructure​ ​and​ ​Regulatory​ ​Services​ ​Scrutiny​ ​Committee,​ ​on​ ​which​ ​I​ ​sit,​ ​will​ ​be  examining​ ​the​ ​report​ ​and​ ​its​ ​policy​ ​implications,​ ​so​ ​I​ ​look​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​having​ ​an​ ​input​ ​on​ ​this  issue.​ ​Let​ ​me​ ​know​ ​your​ ​views.

Road​ ​maintenance​ ​and​ ​pothole​ ​policy

The​ ​inaugural​ ​meeting​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Coly​ ​Valley​ ​Traffic​ ​Group​ ​took​ ​place​ ​in​ ​Colyton​ ​on​ ​20​ ​November,  attended​ ​by​ ​Colyton,​ ​Offwell,​ ​Southleigh​ ​and​ ​Widworthy​ ​parishes.​ ​There​ ​was​ ​general dissatisfaction​ ​with​ ​the​ ​County​ ​Council’s​ ​pothole​ ​policy​ ​but​ ​some​ ​support​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Road  Warden​ ​scheme​ ​as​ ​a​ ​way​ ​of​ ​dealing​ ​with​ ​holes​ ​which​ ​County​ ​policy​ ​does​ ​not​ ​cover.​ ​I  subsequently​ ​criticised​ ​the​ ​pothole​ ​policy​ ​at​ ​a​ ​scrutiny​ ​meeting​ ​on​ ​28​ ​November,​ ​where​ ​it​ ​was  confirmed​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Council​ ​is​ ​reviewing​ ​the​ ​policy.

On-street​ ​parking​ ​changes 

East​ ​Devon​ ​Highways​ ​and​ ​Traffic​ ​Orders​ ​Committee​ ​confirmed​ ​changes​ ​to​ ​on-street​ ​parking​ ​in  the​ ​centre​ ​of​ ​Beer,​ ​asked​ ​for​ ​by​ ​the​ ​Parish​ ​Council,​ ​and​ ​in​ ​Beer​ ​Road,​ ​Seaton.

Proposal​ ​to​ ​cut​ ​Clapham​ ​Junction​ ​stops​ ​from​ ​Exeter-Waterloo​ ​trains 

Southwestern​ ​Railways​ ​is​ ​consulting​ ​until​ ​22​ ​December​ ​on​ ​proposed​ ​new​ ​timetables.​ ​If​ ​their  plans​ ​go​ ​ahead,​ ​NO​ ​trains​ ​on​ ​this​ ​route​ ​will​ ​stop​ ​at​ ​Clapham​ ​Junction.​ ​This​ ​will​ ​mean​ ​longer  journeys​ ​from​ ​Axminster​ ​to​ ​many​ ​places​ ​in​ ​London​ ​and​ ​the​ ​South​ ​East.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​proposed​ ​a  motion​ ​to​ ​Devon​ ​County​ ​Council​ ​on​ ​7​ ​December​ ​to​ ​ask​ ​them​ ​to​ ​oppose​ ​this​ ​change.

Plastic-Free​ ​Coastlines

My​ ​Independent​ ​colleague​ ​from​ ​North​ ​Devon,​ ​Cllr​ ​Frank​ ​Biederman,​ ​proposed​ ​that​ ​the​ ​County  Council​ ​support​ ​this​ ​campaign​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Cabinet​ ​accepted​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​in​ ​principle.

Ethical​ ​Care​ ​Charter   

I​ ​seconded​ ​a​ ​motion​ ​from​ ​Cllr​ ​Jacqi​ ​Hodgson​ ​calling​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Council​ ​to​ ​sign​ ​this​ ​Charter,  proposed​ ​by​ ​UNISON.​ ​The​ ​Council’s​ ​Head​ ​of​ ​Adult​ ​Care​ ​produced​ ​a​ ​paper​ ​showing​ ​that​ ​Devon  is​ ​already​ ​compliant​ ​with​ ​significant​ ​parts​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Charter.​ ​The​ ​Cabinet​ ​recommended​ ​that​ ​the  Council​ ​should​ ​‘work​ ​towards’​ ​implementing​ ​the​ ​Charter​ ​as​ ​circumstances​ ​permit.

Devolution 

Devon’s​ ​Cabinet,​ ​like​ ​EDDC’s,​ ​has​ ​agreed​ ​to​ ​a​ ​proposal​ ​to​ ​set​ ​up​ ​a​ ​formal​ ​Joint​ ​Committee  between​ ​Devon​ ​and​ ​Somerset,​ ​which​ ​could​ ​be​ ​the​ ​first​ ​step​ ​towards​ ​a​ ​Combined​ ​Authority​ ​of  the​ ​two​ ​counties,​ ​an​ ​extra​ ​tier​ ​of​ ​local​ ​government.​ ​This​ ​would​ ​support​ ​a​ ​‘devolution’​ ​deal​ ​in  which​ ​the​ ​Government​ ​would​ ​hand​ ​over​ ​some​ ​powers​ ​to​ ​Devon​ ​and​ ​Somerset​ ​(under​ ​the  banner​ ​of​ ​the​ ​‘Heart​ ​of​ ​the​ ​South​ ​West’)​ ​and​ ​some​ ​‘extra’​ ​cash​ ​(but​ ​much​ ​less​ ​than​ ​the  Government​ ​is​ ​reducing​ ​Devon’s​ ​funding​ ​by​ ​far​ ​more​ ​than​ ​any​ ​devolution​ ​deal​ ​will​ ​provide).  In​ ​order​ ​to​ ​sell​ ​this​ ​deal​ ​to​ ​Government,​ ​the​ ​Heart​ ​of​ ​the​ ​South​ ​West​ ​has​ ​proposed​ ​a  ‘productivity​ ​strategy’​ ​which​ ​it​ ​is​ ​claimed​ ​will​ ​produce​ ​4​ ​per​ ​cent​ ​per​ ​annum​ ​economic  growth.​ ​I​ ​told​ ​Cabinet​ ​this​ ​was​ ​‘fantasy​ ​economics’​ ​(current​ ​growth​ ​is​ ​about​ ​1.5​ ​per​ ​cent)​ ​and  opposed​ ​creating​ ​the​ ​new​ ​layer​ ​of​ ​bureacuracy.​ ​A​ ​10-point​ ​criticism​ ​of​ ​the​ ​strategy​ ​which​ ​I  proposed​ ​was​ ​later​ ​accepted​ ​by​ ​the​ ​scrutiny​ ​committee​ ​examining​ ​it.

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