Honiton making the Transition…

The first Honiton Transition Town meeting takes place at 7.30pm on Wednesday 28th September at Montgomery’s on the High Street (next to Ganesha Health Food Shop). We will have representatives from other local transition towns and hopefully a bunch of interested, enthusiastic local people.

We will be discussing the possibility of starting our own transition group and the way forward. I will be chairing the meeting and representing the town council, who agreed to support such an initiative earlier this year. Please add a comment below if you are able to attend, so we have an idea of how many people are coming and most importantly please pass on a link to this page to anyone who you thing might be interested. Montgomery’s is very kindly giving us this meeting space free of charge, so it would be nice if everyone bought a drink or two in order to support this local business which is kindly supporting us by promoting the use of local companies like this Commercial waste services !

A Transition Initiative (which could be a town, village, university or island etc) is a community-led response to the pressures of climate change, fossil fuel depletion and increasingly, economic contraction, while the businesses also need to learn when to file the 1099 MISC form for taxes. For more info on the transition network, see www.transitionnetwork.org

Honiton Community Centre

Honiton is split and I’m being asked which side I’m on….

For many (many) years there has been a group of people in the town who have been trying to develop and realise plans for a community centre or complex in the Devon town.

I have lived in the area now for almost three years, having moved here with my Honitonian husband Daniel and our two children aged nine and five. In my opinion, there are not enough good venues in the town for community activities and when I heard about the plans for a community centre, I thought yes, surely that would be a very good like allowing new activities as they once did with psychic reading experts. A bespoke building for the whole town to use for meetings, events, classes and more.

Then came the town poll, did they say it cost £2000 to administrate? And off the top of my head, I think it was about 70/30. That is 70% AGAINST the community centre. Very disappointing BUT this was a democratic way of measuring the feeling within the town. Democratic as far as this only measured the feelings of the minority who come out and vote in the town (I think this was ONLY about 30% in the last local elections!!)

Many objectors were opposed to the huge costs involved and money to be borrowed especially in the current economic climate. Then East Devon District Council withdrew the offer of the land to build on (the car park near the tourist info office & the Thelma Hulbert gallery).

Now I may be wrong (but my knowledge of all of this is just the same as the average Honiton resident, we pick up what is in the local papers etc) but I believe the town council is ignoring the results of the poll and pressing on with plans for the centre?

So this brings me back to whether I think Honiton should have a community centre.

I do think a town of this size should have a community centre and I do think that had the whole community been truly engaged in this debate, that many more local parents like me would have voted yes to the poll. I lived outside town at the time of the poll so couldn’t vote (which is strange in itself as my family, like many in the surrounding parishes use town facilities).

Although I think we should have a centre, I also think that we don’t need to be burdened with huge debt for future generations of Honiton. I read recently of another town in the region (I forget where) who had successfully raised enough to build their own community centre. What an admirable community!

I would like to see the plans and start thinking about how the centre could pay for itself. Perhaps this has already been discussed over the twenty or so years of planning but what about the centre being built of a low cost recycled material, eg tyres, glass, used wood etc ? Will the building be producing it’s own energy (solar etc) and making money from feed in tariffs? I presume there are also grants available for community ventures like this? if so many community groups want the venue then everyone should pull together to raise the funds to make it happen.

I think I’ve probably just touched on this issue and I do apologise if I have got my facts wrong. I welcome all comments on the issue and would like to find out more. Please add your comment below.

Sharon Pavey
Coordinator East Devon Green Party
Regional Fundraiser for South West Green Party
Prospective Green Party candidate for Honiton St Michaels ward

Communities Before Developers

I’m now part of a campaign group opposing East Devon District Council’s proposals for future development in East Devon. Communities Before Developers (CBD) was set up a few weeks ago and includes Ottery St Mary Town Councillors Claire Wright and Jo Talbot, Devon County, East Devon & Ottery St Mary councillor Roger Giles and the LibDem former parliamentary candidate for Tiverton & Honiton Dr Jon Underwood.

The public consultation on these plans (local development core strategy) started on 6 September 2010 and runs until 29 November 2010. Communities Before Developers says these proposals can only be described as a developer’s charter, resulting in urban sprawl across one of the most beautiful districts in the countryside, mainly thanks to new ‘flexible’ village built-up boundaries.

The council wants to build around 19,400 homes over the next 15 years or so. This is over 2,000 more than the previous Government imposed on East Devon, figures which were then widely regarded to be far too high. The previous Government’s housing targets have now been scrapped and most local councils have since revised their housing figures down.East Devon has increased them.

Read more over on the new website http://communitiesbeforedevelopers.org/

East Devon Green Party Opposes Maternity Cuts at Honiton Hospital

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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

www.sharonpavey.org

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, who specializes in pelvic floor physiotherapy, 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. sdpavey@googlemail.com

Sharon

Old attitudes will not save the planet

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Recovery must not based on the ‘old- school madness’ of economic growth, said Roger Creagh-Osborne, pictured above.

Mr Creagh-Osborne has been selected to fight the South East Cornwall seat for the Green Party in the next General Election.

“We face really tough challenges over the next 10 years as we grapple with the effects of resource depletion and pollution of our world,” he said.

“We can fix these things, but it requires a radically different approach and the Greens are the only group offering a viable alternative to an impossible pursuit of business as usual.

“People are hungry for a change, and we can offer a real alternative.”

Mr Creagh-Osborne is well known in the city and in Cornwall for his campaigning on transport issues, especially through rail user groups.

He was influential in bringing the Transition Town movement to South East Cornwall through Saltash Environmental Action.

Mr Creagh-Osborne has lived in the area since 1985 and his three daughters attended local schools.

He has been a member of Landulph Parish Council since 2007 and works at the University of Plymouth.

“I believe in the potential for a viable future on our beautiful planet, and a society built on equality and natural justice,” he said.

“These are the core values of the Green Party and a vote for any party offering a ‘recovery’ to old-school economic growth-based madness is a truly wasted vote.”

Mr Creagh-Osborne stood for election to the European Parliament in June last year. In Cornwall the Greens came fourth, beating Mebyon Kernow and Labour into fifth and sixth places.

Greens will be standing in four of the six Cornish constituencies.

You can read the whole article on www.thisisplymouth.co.uk

Luppitt Renewable Energy Meeting

There’s a bit of a hoo-haa going on up in the hills above Honiton in Devon. The chairman of Luppitt Parish Council, local landowner Gavin Brake wants to install a wind turbine and not all the locals are happy! There is a public meeting taking place next week (details on the left) which I’m hoping to attend – to represent the newly formed East Devon Green Party. I also lived in the parish of Luppitt for a little while until last summer, and several of my daughter’s friends live up there – as it’s in the catchment area for her school (Upottery). Although I no longer live in Luppitt, I still live in the beautiful Blackdown Hills so find this whole issue very interesting. This is a photo (below) I took of the stunning landscape when we lived up on Dumpdon Hill – near the National Trust and Devon Wildlife Trust protected areas.

So I’ve heard that a few of the locals are unhappy about the plans in an AONB area. Luppitt is nestled in The Blackdown Hills – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This landscape is considered so precious that it has been protected for the nation. The criteria for designating an AONB include valuable wildlife, habitats, geology and heritage, as well as scenic views. There are 40 AONB’s in England and Wales. AONB’s have existed since 1949, although the Blackdown Hills was designated relatively recently, in 1991.

The Midweek Herald reported the story on 28th January saying that energy expert Mark Newton believes ” Every farm in the UK will have a wind turbine in five years’ time. With 75% of the UK’s land in the agricultural sector, on-farm wind power can represent a significant business opportunity for farmers and landowners, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.”

Mr Brake says  “I have managed to reduce my fuel oil consumption by nearly 50% and I hope to remove this completely in due course.My next steps will allow me to generate my own green electricity.  I am planning to intall solar photovoltaic panels and I would also like to install one of two small wind turbines in a field behind my farmhouse.

Mr Brake explains “Nearly all of the houses in Luppitt are down in a deep valley, so small wind turbines won’t work there. I am one of a small number of people with properties in our community situated on the flat, upland plateeu where the wind is strong and constant. I feel somewhat guilty that I have not put up a small wind turbine already.”

You can read the full Midweek Herald article here.

Axminster Today/Pullman’s Weekly News also report the story (see article) explaining that “A campaign group called Save our Skyline (SOS) has been set up and so far 14 people have joined the group.”

Please add your comments below – do you live in the Blackdown Hills? What do you think about proposals for wind turbines in AONB’s ?

Winter Walk to Stockland


Natasha, Aleck, Chilli (our Gordon Setter) and I walked to Stockland and back yesterday. It took us two whole hours but it’s the first time we’ve walked that way and the four of us encounted many obstacles along the way! The fields were quite boggy but we weaved our way through them, and I taught the kids how to try and walk on the higher bits which were much dryer. The first stile fence crossing we had to tackle had a pipe placed just before it – with water gushing out which made the area all around the stile very boggy, something my 4 year old was not very comfortable with at all. I carried him over though and we all crossed the first hurdle in one piece!

Our second challenge was the little stream crossing (on the left) which had broken handrails so tight hold to Mummy’s hand over that one! If you thought that bridge looked bad, look at the one below which we came across in the next field…

This one was so bad, Mummy had to not reveal her worries at all in order to get the kids across. Perhaps we shouldn’t have risked it, but I went first with the dog (who was not happy on the rickety wood!) to check it out. I tied the dog up at the other end and went back for Tash & Aleck, to walk them over one at a time. The whole bridge was slanting one way and there were a few slats missing and some others which luckily our feet did not go though! The whole bridge was very slippy and mossy too with wobbly handrails that you couldn’t use. Next bridge pictured below (yes there are a lot of bridges aren’t there!!) took us over the River Yarty. It was a top notch bridge and we all stopped for a well earned breather!

Rosy red apples all round and a bit of a sit down on the steps of the bridge before getting back to the map reading. Tasha has just started map reading at school so a great opportunity to practice following the green dotted line across the Ordnance Survey map.

At four, my little boy Aleck just loved the challenge of finding the next yellow arrow as we went along. He also liked this curious dragon we found sleeping by the river – amazing what you stumble upon in the Blackdown Hills if you keep your eyes open !

We made it home in one piece and saw the first snowdrops of the year, out near our neighbours home. He was out enjoying the winter sunshine too and as he’s on the parish council, I took the opportunity to mention the 2 out of three bridge challenges we had, so hopefully something might get done about them, although I don’t imagine it will be the near future – will keep you posted!

New Website for Membury

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Did you know the little Devon parish of Membury is getting a brand new website? Did you know it already has a website? I found it the other day – from reading the quarterly parish newsletter The Membury Mercury.

The current website is part of the local channel and is called Welcome to Membury. The new site is being built by David Dodd and Rob Spencer and is hoped to be up and running in February 2010. I’ve offered to add some blogs to it about local ‘green’ issues in the parish.

Interesting things I found on the Membury website include:

1. Membury derives its name from the Anglo-Saxon Maenbeorg (strong fort) and appears as Maaberia in the Domesday Book. Artefacts from the Stone Age have been found and Membury Castle, an iron age fort, provides evidence of early settlement.

2. There’s a long list of all the Membury clubs, groups and societies – click here.

3. The Parish Council minutes are on there but nothing recent and no details about meetings planned for 2010, which I’d quite like to know. See here.

Looking forward to the new & improved site…
Photo Credit – bazzadarambler




What is a parish council?

There are around 10,000 community, parish and town councils in England and Wales.

Community, parish and town councils are the part of local government closest to the people. They serve the smallest area and are responsible for the most local of matters.

In England they are called parish councils or town councils, if they cover a largely urban area. In Wales they are known as community councils. In both England and Wales they are elected units of local government whose activities are controlled by Acts of Parliament. Scotland also has community councils, but they have fewer powers.  Visit www.ascc.org.uk for more information.

Individual powers of the parish council include the provision and maintenance of community transport schemes, traffic calming measures, local youth projects, tourism activities, leisure facilities, car parks, village greens, public lavatories, litter bins, street lighting, street cleaning, burial grounds, allotments, bus shelters, commons, opens spaces, footpaths, bridleways, and crime reduction measures.

Community, parish and town councils can also comment on planning applications – they are statutory consultees (they have to be consulted if they so wish) and can be represented at public inquiries.

Parish councils are not only found in rural areas. Many metropolitan areas of England have created councils where there were none. Areas of Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham, among others, have created parish councils to deliver the type of local representation residents felt they otherwise lacked. London is the only city in England not legally able to create parish councils – and the government has indicated they may change the legislation that prohibits parishes for London.

You can find more information on parish councils on the National Association of Local Councils website http://www.nalc.gov.uk