Small Steps in the right direction…

photo (80)

I asked for the issue of name badges to be discussed at the last Honiton Town Council meeting on Monday 11th March 2013. Councillor’s badges have the names of the councillor on them (Eg Cllr F. Jones) and the female councillors have their marital status added to theirs so mine says Cllr Mrs S. Pavey. I think this is an outdated, old fashioned and incredibly sexist practice, and I’m glad to say that after a very short discussion, the council agreed to offer female councillors the option to change their badges and as new female councillors join the council, this practice to be dropped and male and female badges are to be exactly the same ie Cllr M Smith regardless of whether the councillor is male or female. I also requested that we ask the company we get the badges from whether our current badges could be recycled.

I’m pleased that Honiton Town Council voted to remove gender specific titles on our name badges. Whether a female councillor is married or not has no bearing on her position as a councillor.  This is a small step in the right direction. Bigger steps include seeing equal representation on the council. The current situation sees just six female councillors outnumbered by twelve men and I’m often attending meetings where I’m the only female councillor.

Don’t forget you can add your comments too, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Sidmouth's Annie Leigh Browne founded the Women’s Local Government Society who lobbied for the 1907 “Qualification of Women” Act. This clarified women (ratepayers) were able to be elected to Borough and County Councils.
Did you know? Sidmouth's Annie Leigh Browne founded the Women’s Local Government Society who lobbied for the 1907 “Qualification of Women” Act. This clarified women (ratepayers) were able to be elected to Borough and County Councils.

Supporting people with brain injuries in Honiton

Honiton Town Councillor Sharon Pavey (4th from right) with staff, volunteers and clients of Headway in Honiton
Honiton Town Councillor Sharon Pavey (4th from right) with staff, volunteers and clients of Headway in Honiton
Honiton Town Councillor Sharon Pavey visited the Headway Devon centre on Friday. The charity which has been running in Honiton for almost 18 years runs a group supporting 14 people at the St Michael’s Day Centre every Friday. Here people with brain injuries are able to come together to meet others who have had similar experiences and take part in activities to help them relearn lost skills and develop new ones. Headway also provides vital respite opportunities for carers.

Brain injury has many causes, from head injury to stroke, and brain tumour to meningitis. It can happen completely out of the blue and can leave people facing a range of complex and lifelong disabilities. Every brain injury is different, but many of the people that use Headway in Honiton experience physical, emotional and learning difficulties. Sharon said “I first heard of Headway after a family member had a stroke last year and Headway supported their recovery. I then chatted with Headway fundraiser Holly Keatings on twitter and asked if I could pop by one day for a visit. As a councillor representing Honiton Town Council, I do think it is very important to find out more about charities like Headway that work with local people who really need their support.”

“It was particularly interesting to hear from manager Natalie about the restorative justice programme Headway run for young offenders. The offenders come to Headway to talk to people who are dealing with the long term issues associated with being assaulted and receiving a head injury.”

Holly Keatings added We are very grateful to Sharon for coming along today and helping us to raise awareness about brain injury and the support that is available for people locally. Unfortunately there is very little public understanding about brain injury and the long-term effects that it can have, which means many people with brain injuries struggle with their difficulties for months or even years before getting in touch with Headway Devon. We look forward to reaching even more of the people who need us so if you or someone you care about has had a brain injury just call us on 01392 211822 or email
Read more about Headway here
Join Headway Devon on Facebook here
Follow Headway Devon on twitter @HeadwayDevon

Sleeping on the streets

When you are all tucked up in bed nice & cosy next Wednesday evening (29th Feb), think of me! I will be sleeping on the streets in Honiton overnight – for Honiton Food bank. The food bank is a local store of non-perishable food operated by volunteers from churches in and around Honiton. It is made available to those who are in ‘food crisis’ – they have no food and no money with which to buy food.


I started raising funds yesterday and have over £60 so far, thanks to some very kind people. Let’s get a couple of hundred at least. The staff from the Midweek Herald are doing it too so between us, we have the potential to raise an awful lot and help all those people here in our town who struggle to feed themselves and their families, especially in this challenging economic climate. In the five weeks since it opened, the food bank has fed 25 local families and it needs more funds to re-stock and keep going. Please spare a little money to help others – you can add a comment on here or on my facebook page pledging an amount.


Transition Town Honiton – up & running!

As of today, our little town of Honiton joins 458 muller transition initiatives across 34 countries on planet earth! We are registered on the Transition Network site

Being a ‘muller’ means we are in the ‘mulling it over’ or planning stage of the transition process following a successful first meeting last night. 23 people came along to find out more and after a discussion and gathering of everyone’s details, 7 people stepped forward to run the steering group to get the whole thing going. The brand new steering group were very keen to meet next week and start planning some action.

There are 382 official transition initiatives and if we are successful in meeting the criteria set out by the Transition Network based in Totnes then we will become ‘official’.

Pedal Power – Improving Cycling in Honiton

East Devon Green Party Press Release Monday 22nd August 2011

While Honiton Town Councillor Sharon Pavey was visiting the north-east last week, she took the opportunity to find out more about Darlington’s status as a designated ‘Cycling Demonstration Town’.

cyclingdarlingtonSharon says “I spent some of my childhood in Darlington so when I heard about all the work that has been done on sustainable travel there over the past seven years, I took the opportunity to find out more in order to bring some practical ideas back to Honiton.”

As a keen cyclist herself, the local Green Party co-ordinator would like to see the opportunities for cycling developed in Honiton in order to cut car journeys and congestion, reduce harmful emissions and improve health. Sharon says “I was interested to find out that 34% of car journeys in Darlington had the potential to be made using alternative transport or walking/cycling. It makes you wonder what that figure is here in Honiton which is a much smaller town with shorter distances from the outskirts into the centre”.

Darlington had less than 1% of children cycling to school in 2004 and now seven years on, 8% of children cycle to school (the national average is just 2%).

withkidsonbikesSharon adds “Apparently two out of three trips we make are less than 5 miles so there is a lot of potential to walk or cycle, but people do need safe routes, support and encouragement. Darlington was fortunate to obtain funding to allow them to run a bike hire scheme, develop a massive network of safe, marked routes, produce maps and guides, hold a cycling festival, and work constructively with schools and employers.”

Research also shows that improvements to sustainable travel can increase turnover in the high street by 5 to 15% because people who travel to the shops on foot, by bicycle or public transport perhaps surprisingly tend to spend more per head than those who travel by car.

Cycling is one of the easiest ways to fit exercise into your daily routine because it’s also a form of transport and can burn up to a staggering 650 calories in one hour. It is the third most popular recreational activity in the UK, with an estimated 3.1 million people cycling each month.

Inspired by her meeting in County Durham, Sharon is now talking with transport officers at East Devon District Council, Devon County Council and Sustrans to find out what plans they have to develop sustainable transport in the county and will be reporting back her findings to Honiton Town Council in due course.

Contact Sharon Pavey – co-ordinator East Devon Green Party


Four months on…as a Green Councillor in Devon

It’s almost four months since election day, 4 months since I was elected to be a town councillor here in Honiton. There are 18 people who make up the town council here in Honiton, nine for the St Paul’s Ward and nine for my ward – St Michael’s. (here they all are) I’ve really enjoyed the first few months of my four year term in local government and here’s what I’ve been doing month by month.

Current & Former Councillors at the Honiton Mayor Making 6/6/11. I'm on the left in the turquoise cardigan.

In May I attended training a session run by the Devon Association of local Councils and attended my first town council meeting, taking on responsibility for liaising with the library and our young people, working on making the allotments a reality and dealing with recycling and waste management issues in Honiton. I attended my first planning meeting in May and appeared on the breakfast programme on Radio Devon talking about why people become councillors and why there are a shortage of willing volunteers.

With Vernon Whitlock - the new Mayor of Honiton
With Vernon Whitlock - the new Mayor of Honiton

June started off with a Green Party event at the Mackarness Hall to celebrate getting two green parish councillors elected this year – myself and Emily McIvor in Axmouth. The Honiton Mayor Making event was an enjoyable evening and interesting to see the retiring councillors and hear what they’d achieved during their time in office. I started work on looking at recycling provision in town and attended my second town council and planning meetings. The issue of prayers came up at my first policy meeting and the council voted to move them back to a period before the meeting started at 7pm. I represented the council at my first library committee meeting and had a tour of the youth club and met with the manager there. I also met with the Deputy Principal at Honiton Community College, looked round the school and discussed the student reps who will be joining the council in the autumn.

Getting to grip with recycling
Getting to grip with recycling

My family and I attended Honiton Charter Day in July and there were more meetings to work on the local plan. I took on responsibility for the sustainability section. I attended the town council meeting and a meeting about the community complex. I went to a planning meeting and a site visit of the Manor House School sports fields regarding plans for private allotments here and I made my first visit to the Mill Water School as part of my work with young people in the town. I also attended an affordable housing training session for councillors at East Devon District Council and helped write the Honiton Town Council response for the Devon County Council Waste Consultation.

August is usually a quieter month as it is traditionally summer recess for government but I was quite busy with council business. I also had my children off school for the summer! I managed to arrange the first meeting of the proposed Honiton Transition Town group – for Sept 24th and started publicising it and inviting speakers. I was elected chair of the Community Complex Fundraising Working Group and we had our first meeting. We had an EGM for the town council and a planning meeting and local plan meeting. I also visited family in the north east and took the opportunity to visit Darlington Borough Council as Darlington is a designated Cycle Demonstration Town. I met their sustainable transport officer and came back with some ideas for Honiton. The Honiton Show also took place in August and I helped out on the Honiton stall promoting the forthcoming antiques festival and other features of the town like the Glen and Roundball Hill.

Visiting Darlington Cycling Demonstration Town
Visiting Darlington Cycling Demonstration Town

Looking ahead to the next four months – and towards the end of the year. I’m hoping to get the transition town group off the ground as I feel this then has the potential to lead to so many other things and will bring together people who like me, are interested in environmental issues in Honiton. I’m also very excited about getting the fundraising started for the community complex and want to push on with improvements to cycling and recycling in town. It will be good to meet the new student reps who are joining the council as clerks in September and I have plans to visit Honiton Primary School and the Children’s Centre this autumn.

I also have responsibilities as co-ordinator of the East Devon Green Party and as fundraiser for the South West Green Party – with fundraising events at the Ottery Cycle Day on 29th August, Exeter Green Fair on Sept 1oth and a Sponsored Bike Ride in Exeter on October 8th. Our next monthly East Devon Green Party meeting is in Honiton (venue tbc) on Wednesday 14th September 2011.

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

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.

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, 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.