How many greens can fit into a phone box?!

Ok, so we all went a bit barmy in Honiton yesterday…. It absolutely poured down on our Green Party information stall on New Street making us all look like drowned rats! But, after taking shelter in the phone box and under the walkway near Clarks, we emerged 20 minutes later when the blue skies returned and we soldiered on!

The answer by the way is 5: John from Honiton squashed in the back there with Ana who joined us from Alfington. Sidmouth Sharon is there waving her soggy windmill, then myself in red at the front with Cathy Connor, the former parliamentary candidate for Tiverton & Honiton, who came all the way over from Kentisbeare to help us out yesterday. Thanks to everyone, we met some lovely people as always and listened to their concerns about the traffic, lack of a community ethos in town, people abusing using disabled badges, more green initiatives needed, plus the cuts to benefits, and spending review.

I’ll be standing for the East Devon District Council seat in the St Michael’s ward in Honiton in May 2011 so just starting to get out and about to find out what people want in their area, and work out how exactly I could help. Please add comments on here if you have any ideas you’d like to add.

Honiton Friday Country Market

I went to the country market in Honiton on Friday. It is on every Friday in the Mackarness Hall in Honiton, next to St Paul’s Church. I bought eggs and some veggies. I hope this market gets more advertising and people attending so it can grow and develop. Maybe be more like the Ottery St Mary community market or the Farmer’s Market’s in Axminster. I think promotion is the key, and maybe changing the day to run alongside the normal market days – on Tuesday and Saturday.

Honiton Allotments

NSALGI sent off my second letter today to Honiton Town council regarding the allotments they should be providing for the residents of Honiton. Did you know all councils in England & Wales (with the exception of inner London) have to, by law, provide allotments? Any group of adults over the age of 18 and registered on the electoral roll can group together to request the council provide allotments. All local authorities have a mandatory obligation to provide allotment provision.

Honitonians have been trying to get allotments in town for years and now the East Devon Green Party (which I coordinate) is picking up the baton and trying to nudge the whole shabang along a bit….

Wish us luck !!!


East Devon Green Party Opposes Maternity Cuts at Honiton Hospital


The East Devon Green Party have written to all 20 councillors on the health scrutiny committee to object to the proposals to close the Maternity Unit:

Dear Councillor

I am writing representing the East Devon Green Party and would like to raise our objections to the proposed changes to the services at Honiton Maternity Hospital.

The East Devon Green Party objects to the closure of the unit and the changes to the way mothers and expectant mothers/parents will been cared for in the East Devon area. After attending several meetings, both at The Knowle and public consultation meetings and reading the literature involved, we do not feel that the proposed changes offer any improvement in services in our community. Quite the opposite in fact, we feel that moving the care from the unit to home based/midwife care will be extremely detrimental to the service. This is not offering women more choice, again quite the opposite. It limits choice and for many women. 24 – 48 care within the unit is what they need to establish breastfeeding and simply recover from an exhausting physical experience.

The East Devon Green Party are an active part of the Honiton Maternity Matters group which involves representatives from four political parties (Green, Labour, Conservative and LibDems) as well as many councillors, medical professionals and parents. There is a huge amount of upset and outrage about this proposal within this community and we are hoping that the scrutiny committee, of which you are a member is listening to all of the objections and will do the decent thing and not allow these unworkable and unfair proposals to go any further.

I look forward to hearing from you & hope to attend the meeting in the morning.

Kind Regards

Sharon Pavey (resident in Honiton)

Coordinator East Devon Green Party

Photo above – Sharon Pavey on the right & Sharon Howe demonstrating at the East Devon District Council offices at the Knowle in Sidmouth.

Two thirds of East Devon new mums exhausted when they leave hospital

Almost two thirds of East Devon mums are exhausted when they leave hospital after having a baby.  That’s the results of a survey published today, by campaign group, Honiton Maternity Matters.

And a worrying 16 mums (almost half the respondents) then went on to ‘struggle to manage’ or ‘really struggle to manage’ when they returned home.

The online questionnaire, which was emailed to more than 2,800 people on the Facebook group ‘Save Honiton Maternity On-site Aftercare’ was aimed at women who had given birth at Honiton maternity unit and the RD&E since transfers from the RD&E and overnight stays ceased at Honiton in February.

A total of 39 women responded to the survey – thought to be around half of East Devon women giving birth in that timeframe – which listed 28 questions on local mums’ experiences, including breast-feeding support.

Ann-Marie Chapman from Axminster gave birth at Honiton in May.  After 48 hours with just a couple of hours sleep and then a difficult first night at home with her new baby, she was completely exhausted and struggled to cope.

She said:  “It was really hard.  I was utterly exhausted and was extremely teary. I was very lucky and had the support of my husband and parents who looked after my baby whilst my husband and I got little naps.”

And due to problems with trying to get a midwife to visit at the right time for help with breast-feeding, Ann-Marie decided instead to turn to her midwife sister-in-law for assistance.

Ann-Marie explained: “I had a horrible first night where my baby screamed and screamed but wouldn’t latch on properly.  We phoned the maternity unit to ask for advice but I wanted someone there in person.  Unfortunately the timing never worked.  In the end I had to ask my sister-in-law for help, who is a midwife at Yeovil.”

Retired Ottery St Mary GP, John Ackroyd said:  “I am not surprised by the results of this survey. A period of rest is very important after childbirth, whether normal or complex, for most mothers. In a community hospital experienced staff are on hand to assist with the practical initiation of breast-feeding and the essentials of baby care. Overnight stays allow this to occur but also allow recovery time from the exhaustion which accompanies many labours.”

Claire Wright, Ottery St Mary Town Councillor for West Hill, added:  “We had some very revealing remarks which prove that the new telephone advice system is impractical.

“Mums need three hands to receive telephone advice on breast-feeding – one to position the baby, one to adjust the breast and another to hold the phone.  It’s not fair and it doesn’t work.”

Ann-Marie’s experience is typical of the mums who completed the survey, with over half of the women (18 out of 33) not confident about breast-feeding when they were discharged.  13 of those women sought help once they were at home and seven women were visited by a midwife.  Three of those seven waited longer than 13 hours to be seen.  At Honiton’s maternity unit, women received instant face-to-face help and advice any time of the day or night they needed it.

Two women say they gave up breast-feeding due to difficulties.

The survey results are published ahead of Devon County Council’s Adults Health Scrutiny meeting debate on maternity services, which takes place next Thursday (23 September) at 10am.  At this meeting the scrutiny committee will decide whether or not to endorse proposals to end overnight stays at Honiton maternity unit.

Women from all over East Devon took part in the survey but the majority of respondents were from Honiton, with 16 (41%) of replies from the town.  Ottery St Mary and Exmouth had six and five responses respectively.  All the other East Devon towns had one or two respondents each.

Honiton Town Cllr, Vernon Whitlock said: “The results of the survey confirm that the retention of overnight facilities at Honiton Maternity Unit is not just a luxury, but an essential option for new mums. The unit and its staff have established an excellent reputation and provide a vital service which should be retained.”

Over half of respondents indicated that they would like to stay at Honiton Hospital for two nights.  The most popular reasons for this were rest and breast-feeding advice.

Over two thirds of women who gave birth at the RD&E said they did so for medical reasons only.  Just two said it was because the RD&E was their first choice.  The remainder of women (one quarter) said they gave birth at the RD&E because Honiton maternity unit was closed overnight.

Claire Wright commented:  “Although the numbers are quite small, one quarter as a proportion is significant and it makes us wonder that if the plans do go through, the numbers giving birth at Honiton would simply dwindle until it was difficult to justify keeping the unit open.”

“We are now looking forward to the scrutiny meeting next week, to presenting our findings and hearing the debate.  Many councillors expressed concern over proposals at their last meeting on 3 June.  We hope the results of our survey will convince them to reject NHS plans.”

Come along to Devon County Council’s Adults Health Scrutiny meeting debate on maternity services, which takes place on Thursday (23 September 2010) at 10am at Devon County Hall in Exeter. I’ll be there with other members of the Honiton Maternity Matters Group. We will be peacefully demonstrating outside before the meeting then attending the meeting where some of our members are hoping to speak. Email me for details or if you need a lift over there etc.


An Eco Friendly Christmas in Honiton

Letter I sent to the Midweek Herald today…..

Dear Sir/Madam

I was interested to read about the plans to stop spending £10,000 of council taxpayers’ money on lamp post decorations in Honiton this Christmas. Honiton Town Council and Honiton District Chamber of Commerce are instead to spend a lesser (undisclosed) amount on 100 Christmas trees which will be placed in flag holders above business premises and individually lit.

The East Devon Green Party requests that the chamber’s chairman Colin Wright should ensure that these trees are from sustainable suppliers who either boast a Forest Steward Council accreditation or are members of the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association as both adhere to a strict sustainability pledge, where for every tree taken, another is planted and chemical use and impact on local wildlife are considered when the trees are being grown. We also hope that the trees will be recycled when expired or the retailers could consider using a living tree with roots perhaps at a lower level on their premises which can be used again every year.

We would also like to see Honiton retailers leading the way in ensuring that our town is doing it’s bit in the universal effort to lower our energy use by embracing the use of low energy light bulbs and solar powered lights. I’m sure many Honiton residents will agree that they would like to enjoy the festive lights knowing that they are as eco friendly as they can possibly be.

Sharon Pavey