Sexual Health Experiences

Yesterday marked the start of Sexual Health Week 2013, and Brook and FPA are using this week to highlight what they’ve found from the first year of the XES – We Can’t Go Backwards campaign.

The XES mapSince the campaign launched, over 100 people have come forward to tell Brook/FPA their stories on the campaign’s interactive map, providing Brook/FPAwith real life case studies.

This has given Brook/FPA really valuable insight into the range of experiences that people have had of getting contraception and support, from terrible difficulties to hugely positive experiences.

The insights from these stories have built on findings from the economic report, Unprotected Nation, launched earlier this year, which highlighted the impact of cuts to sexual health services and found that, as well as the effects on our health and wellbeing, the UK would shockingly be saddled with up to £10bn debt if cuts worsened.

Brook/FPA really need more people to rate their experiences of sexual health services, good and bad, so that they can gain an understanding of the bigger picture on the ground. If you haven’t done so, please add your experience to the map. See

If you’re a professional working in sexual health you can also tell them about the service you provide. Brook/FPA want to hear from you.

Please do forward this message on to your friends and colleagues and ask them to get involved and rate their sexual health service.

Badger cull begins

A very sad day…………..the badger cull has begun. I’ve followed this emotive issue through all the high’s and low’s and like many others hoped that we’d never see the day when our government allows thousands of previously protected wild animals to be slaughtered when there is no evidence this will make any difference to the Bovine TB situation – in fact it could make things much worse. It will also cost an incredible sum when there are other options on the table – like biosecurity and vaccination. Please sign this petition if you want the government to discuss ending the cull

I went to a Candlelit Vigil march in Minehead last night, it started off on a high, feeling positive and meeting people we’ve met at other events and meeting new people too. I was surprised to see pro-cull supporters in the crowd too doing a terrible job of blending in, taking lots of photos of us all ! There was a lot of press around and Maria below was interviewed in this video The march itself at dusk with everyone holding candles was quite moving. There was about 300 of us there, all ages, all walks of life, all united in thinking this cull is very very wrong.

This is the latest statement from the Green Party on this situation:

25 August 2013

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, speaking tonight as protesters gathered before the planned start of the slaughter of up to 5,000 badgers in six weeks in Somerset and Gloucestershire, condemned the cull plan as inhumane and unscientific.

Bennett said: “I completely understand the distress that the continuing problem of TB in cattle is causing to farmers. But wanting to do something should not be pushing this government to make the terrible decision to go ahead with this cull, which could actually magnify the TB problem.

“As the Randomised Badger-Culling Trial (RBCT) concluded, the focus of funding and research should be cattle-based measures to control TB, and funding for badger vaccination trials should be restored.

“The planned actions in Somerset and Gloucester are inhumane and not backed by the scientific evidence.”

Caroline Allen, veterinary surgeon and Green Party Spokesperson on animal issues, said: “This is a massive undertaking and there are so many ways in which this cull could go wrong.  The ‘perturbation effect’ is likely to result in the incidence of TB actually increasing.  When you bear in mind that the measure of success is a reduction in TB of around 15%, i.e. leaving 85% of the disease untouched, this all seems completely nonsensical.”

Bennett added: “This government, whether it’s on energy policy, on welfare benefits policy, or on drug laws, far too often ignores the evidence. It’s this policy – and approach to policy-making – that should be culled, not the badgers.”

Badger march
Me and Maria (left) at the march in Minehead

Councillor Vacancy in Honiton

Being a councillor means you can help raise awareness of local groups like Headway pictured, who I visited earlier this year
Being a councillor means you can help raise awareness of local groups like Headway pictured, who I visited earlier this year

There are currently 17 town councillors on Honiton Town Council. We normally have 18 councillors – 9 for each of the two wards but one councillor resigned last month. There is now a vacancy for a councillor to be co-opted. I personally find it a really rewarding role so I’m urging anyone who is interested in their town and has a little bit of time to invest into working for the good of the town – to apply to be a councillor.

Contact Honiton Town Council and make sure your letter of application and CV is sent in before noon on 30th September. It would be useful if you could attend the town council meeting on Monday 14th October to do a short presentation. Don’t worry – it only needs to be a one minute speech to say why you want to be a councillor.

Deaths in drink-drive accidents soar by 26%

I’ve just seen on the news that drink driving deaths have increased

The number of deaths in drink-drive accidents on Britain’s roads soared by 26% in 2012.

Drink driving is still one of the biggest killers on our roads. One in seven UK road deaths result from drink drive crashes where the driver was over the limit. These deaths, and the many more serious injuries, can be stopped if all drivers pledge to not drink a drop before driving. They can also be stopped by improving government policies. Evidence from around the world shows that taking steps such as lowering drink drive limits and stepping up police enforcement checks are highly effective in cutting drink drive casualties. Read more here on the BRAKE website

£90k revamp planned for Honiton Skate Park

SkateboardingYoungsters in Honiton will soon be asked about their ideas for an improved skate park.
The well used but slightly tired skate park in Allhallows Field is set for the cash boost from EDDC, and in coming months East Devon District Council will be working alongside local youth groups and schools to find out what young people want to see there.
From their ideas a number of designs will be created then opened up to a vote to find the favourite.  It’s hoped the work will be completed by the end of this year.

Green MEP slams EU for supporting bullfighting in Spain

As thousands of Londoners prepare for holidays in Spain, Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, has criticised the European Union for propping up the bullfighting industry in Spain. Ms Lambert’s criticisms follow the publication of a report (1) which suggests that bullfighting would be unviable without the generous subsidies given to the industry by the European Union.

The report estimates that bullfighting receives over £100m worth of subsidies from the EU, predominantly through the Common Agricultural Policy. They are not given specifically for the bullfighting industry – but are channeled into it by the Spanish Government which, along with the European Commission, could stop the flow of EU cash.

Ms Lambert has joined other MEPs in writing to the EU’s agriculture minister (2) calling for an end to EU subsidies for bullfighting. Commenting on the report Ms Lambert said:

“Whilst people across Europe are wondering where they’re going to get the next meal from the EU continues to pour our money into bullfighting: this has to stop.

“Bullfighting is barbaric and cruel and, without the prop of EU farming subsidies, it’s a failing business. The EU must immediately withdraw funding from bullfighting and redirect the money towards sustainable agriculture producing affordable food.”

Another member of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, Raul Romeva, said:

“It is unacceptable that EU funds continue to be used to prop up this brutal practice, which flies in the face of EU commitments on animal welfare. This report makes clear that bullfighting would not be financially viable without subsidies, with public interest and support seriously waning.

Given EU funds of at least €130 million per year – and probably much more – continue to be channeled to the bullfighting industry, it is clear that this is also a question for the EU and the Commission must stop trying to duck responsibility for the issue.”


(1) The study can be accessed at the following link:

(2) The letter can be accessed at the following link:

Post election thanks

Election Day
Some of the members of East Devon Green Party at the count on May3rd 2013. From left Roger Saunders, me, Maggie Baldwin, Emily McIvor, Martin Paine and Henry Gent.

For those of you who weren’t at the count on Friday – this is my speech after gaining 25% of the vote in Honiton St Michael’s.

“Thank you to the returning officer and all the staff who have helped with this election both here and all across Devon. Congratulations to Cllr Randall Johnson and the other candidates on their results but most of all thank you to the 709 people who voted Green in Honiton St Michael’s. This is an incredible result in this area and just shows how much the tide is turning as people demand a fairer society to live in, a more supportive community and protection for this beautiful area we are so lucky to live in.

We must remember there were no Green Party candidates for the County Council election here 4 years ago, and today we have 6 outstanding Green Party candidates standing in East Devon, 48 Green Party candidates standing across the whole of Devon and 900 Green Party Candidates standing across the country –
more than ever before.

In Honiton St Michael’s – our team works all year round but we’ve been particularly busy for the last 4 months knocking on thousands of doors in all weathers! Lots of people have said we deserved to win for the sheer effort we have made, for the fact that we ask people about their concerns and issues and we LISTEN.

We will continue to listen and continue to build upon our success today. Thank you to the other 5 Green Party candidates in East Devon – Henry, Martin, Ben, Olly and Roger and my sincere thanks go to our amazing team – over 50 people who have worked so incredibly hard on this campaign. Particular thanks go to our election agent Kate Jones-Groves and our co-ordinator Emily McIvor and I mustn’t forget my husband Daniel and my children Natasha and Aleck.”

To consume or not consume…


Our beloved flat screen television, centre of our living room, has been dying a slow death over the past few months. A flickering, jumping, distorted picture would eventually come back to life after 10 or 20 or even 30 minutes. But a few weeks ago, it didn’t even do this anymore and the television grave (landfill !) beckoned. So we’ve been without a conventional television for several weeks but we’re using our laptops to watch TV, iplayer mainly or the occasional film. Put it this way – I’m not rushing out to buy a new telly….just yet.

As a family, we’ve downsized a lot over the past 3 years and we try not to have too much stuff. We also try not to buy new things if we can get something second hand or even free. Our extremely comfy (new) double bed was from a lovely lady in Kilmington via Freecycle. My 7 year old son’s latest bike is a hand me down from his step-uncle now in his twenties. I’ve just bought the most gorgeous red jacket from a local charity shop and my latest favourite purple cardi was from the clothes swap at Transition Town Honiton’s Sustainable Saturday in February. It’s not something I can say is a recent transformation, I loved charity shops and antique shops when I was a teenager too, but I did go through my twenties buying mainly new things as we climbed up the career ladder, then got our first house, had our children etc.

I’ve just read George Monbiot’s article ‘Let’s stop hiding behind recycling and be honest about consumption’ and he says “on 24 April, the Committee on Climate Change (a body that advises the UK government) will publish a report on how consumption emissions are likely to rise, and how government policy should respond to the issue. I hope this is the beginning of a conversation we have been avoiding for much too long. How many of us are prepared fully to consider the implications?”

In the local paper today, there’s a piece about a family in Axminster who lost nearly everything in a house fire a couple of weeks ago. There’s a photo of them looking quite happy to be alive and a photo of the charred ruins of their family home. I remember reading about the fire there when it happened and thinking how they all left their house in the morning, a home full of things of sentimental value they’d accrued over their lifetimes – to return at the end of the day to find everything they own had gone literally in a puff (or two) of smoke. I had a similar experience at the age of 17 when my family was made homeless, and all I took with me was what I could stuff into a small bag in a hurry. Luckily I was able to go back a few weeks later and pick up a few more things which meant something to me. By that time, I’d changed my mind about what was important anyway but unlike the family from the fire, I did manage to get my childhood teddy bear, photos and precious books etc, most of which I’ve carted round the country until this day.

I would love to hear your comments, your ideas and views – are you making a conscious effort about what to buy and what not to buy? What things are important to you in your life?

Volunteers needed for Honiton Credit Union


I’ve just got involved with a group of people in Honiton who are working towards setting up a branch of the Devon Plough & Share Credit Union in town. A Credit Union is a democratic, financial co-operative owned and controlled by its own members – a people’s bank! The Mission of the Plough & Share Credit Union is to work towards the financial inclusion of all which fits in with the ethos of the Transition movement.

I went to the first public meeting the other day and heard that they need volunteers to staff the service point so I’ve offered but they do need a few more people to step forward. The service point might be open one morning or afternoon a week – although volunteers may just do one session per month depending on their availability. Volunteers receive training and for anyone needing to add skills and references to their CV – this is a fantastic opportunity. We can only make this happen with Community Support – so please pass this email onto anyone you think might be able to volunteer. Anyone interested should contact

Why I joined the Green Party #1 Why are we trawling our seas?


Here’s something I can’t quite get my head around – why (on earth – literally) are we destroying our oceans? Bottom trawling involves dragging huge, heavy nets along the sea floor. Large metal plates and rubber wheels attached to these nets move along the bottom and crush nearly everything in their path. Here’s a Greenpeace video if you don’t know what Bottom Trawling is

All evidence indicates that deep water life forms are very slow to recover from such damage, taking decades to hundreds of years – if they recover at all. Are you eating fish that has been taken from the sea as a result of bottom trawling, do you know where your fish comes from? The Green Party has a clear policy on bottom trawling:

MC329 We would press the European Commission to ban bottom trawling, gillnetting and long-lining for deep-sea species in EU waters., either by EU or international fleets. We would promote measures to prohibit destructive deep-sea fishing and would work towards a ban on high seas bottom trawling, and for proper implementation and enforcement under relevant international legislation.