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.
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.
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.