NOTHING CHANGES! AND IT SHOULD!

This post is from 2014, but the same decision was made this year. Our government should be supporting the extraordinary people who work to keep us healthy and have bravely kept going through the worst year we have ever experienced in the NHS.

We must vote Labour because we need to change this and so much else that is wrong with the present government:

The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

“The United Kingdom has lost an extraordinary public servant in Prince Philip.

“Prince Philip dedicated his life to our country – from a distinguished career in the Royal Navy during the Second World War to his decades of service as the Duke of Edinburgh.

“However, he will be remembered most of all for his extraordinary commitment and devotion to The Queen.

“For more than seven decades, he has been at her side. Their marriage has been a symbol of strength, stability and hope, even as the world around them changed – most recently during the pandemic. It was a partnership that inspired millions in Britain and beyond.

“My thoughts are with The Queen, the Royal Family and the British people as our nation comes together to mourn and remember the life of Prince Philip.”

Keir Starmer
Leader of the Labour Party

Community Larder and Foodbanks

In Teignmouth we have been running a community food larder since July 2020, as a response to the pandemic. We have wonderful volunteers, many of them Labour members, and we serve a changing group of families, individuals and couples. At the moment we are packing about 35 – 40 food parcels each week and delivering them locally.

Foodbanks and larders like ours should not be needed, but they are! Covid has made it worse, and families locally have lost jobs, been made redundant, had hours
cut, and their income reduced. Illness, disabilities and family difficulties can affect ability to
earn.

Bills pile up and debt can grow alarmingly fast. The wait for benefits is long, and not many of
us have savings when we get to this point. I believe that the government needs to think again about how it supports people in this position, and change its attitude of considering people as lazy or scrounging first rather than in genuine need. One of our mums explained how ashamed she had felt when trying to explain that she needed food for her family. It wasn’t her fault, as she had lost her job due to Covid seasonal work being closed, and had 3 children to support.

Each of our families have different reasons for needing help. some need it permanently and some only need it because they have hit hard times and fallen into temporary debt. Universal Credit is a disaster, and one of our single dad’s has waited weeks for it to start, using his last savings to survive, despite being disabled, and having two children. He told me how hard it was to pay rent, bills, and buy things for the children’s school needs. The food the larder has provided has been a help, so that he has some money for bills.

That is one of the reasons why I am standing as a Labour Candidate in these elections – I want to see positive change in support for families and individuals, and change starts with small steps, even someone like me getting voted onto the local council.

Jackie Jackson

Devon’s care workers deserve to be ‘recognised and better paid’

30th January, 2021

Labour’s Cllr Marina Asvachin (Wonford and St Loyes), responding to Devon County Council’s (DCC) Cabinet Member for Adult Health and Social Care’s statement Devon’s care workers deserve to be ‘recognised and better paid’ – News centre (devonnewscentre.info), said ” The Labour Group on the Council has been pressing for recognition and better pay for care workers consistently over the last 4 years. Labour has always recognised that care workers in this Country are underpaid, overworked and undervalued. This job is still seen by many as unimportant and even beneath them. The Covid-19 Pandemic has made everyone (even the Tories), sit up and realise, that without the hard work and dedication of these workers, our society would be a much worse place. I’m really pleased that the Conservative cabinet of the council has finally listened.” Cllr Asvachin, a Senior Medical Technologist at the Exeter RD&E, is a member of DCC’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee.

About Devon Labour Party: https://devon.laboursites.org

Councillor Marina Asvachin, Wonford and St Loyes Councillor details – Councillor Marina Asvachin – Democracy in Devon

Fighting for Food Justice from opposition in Devon

8th December, 2020

Councillor Su Aves – Exeter Labour Group

Even before Covid-19 the number of people needing the food bank in Exeter was rising – which as one of the Devon County councillors representing Exeter was of a significant concern. Then Covid-19 hit. With people isolating and others losing income there was a huge need to support them. Locally city and county councillors were doing their best to support the community and charity efforts to provide food to those who needed it. Other councillors and I were doing much to support the community and charities which provided food for those who needed it, but I had a sense that there was not enough strategic planning. What support there was emerged organically, reacting to need – after a bit of asking around I found out that Devon County Council did not have a Food Strategy policy.

At around the same time I became aware of the Co-op Party’s Food Justice campaign. Of course, I knew other councillors that were members, and being someone with co-operative views, I felt it was time I joined them and became a member. I wasn’t at the time expecting my fellow County Councillor Hilary Ackland to ask me at my first Co-op Party meeting what I was planning to do as a councillor to demonstrate my co-operative principles! Thinking quickly on my feet, I explained that I was considering putting the Co-operative Party’s Food Justice Motion to the next Full Council meeting in October.

I researched the topic thoroughly. Hilary kindly guided me to the Co-op Party zoom session on Food justice and encouraged me to contact Cllr Jack Abbott from Suffolk County Council who had taken a motion to council in an authority like ours where the Conservative party are the majority. With advice from Jack and the Co-op Party’s staff I went about tailoring the motion and set about winning over councillors from the ruling Conservative Group. With statistics from council officers to back my case, I persuaded the Leader of the Conservative Council of my good intentions and that the proposal for a lead member and a food partnership was a genuine one and that I did not seek to score political points on this issue – and that I would be happy to accept reasonable amendments or for Cabinet to consider the issue.

Although pleased that the motion was referred to Cabinet in October, I was also a little sceptical that we would see a positive outcome. When the word came back that it would be possible to find common ground at the December Council meeting and agree an amended motion which retained much of what we wanted I was delighted. With over 40 Conservative Councillors and just 7 Labour ones on Devon County Council it is a challenging and at times extremely frustrating political environment. I’m thrilled that we’ve managed to get political agreement and that Devon Council has made a significant step forwards to tackling food insecurity with commitments to a lead member for food insecurity and support a working group to consider a Devon Food Partnership and a food resilience strategy for the County. It was a genuinely co-operative endeavour which I could have only done with support from my fellow co-operators in my own council, Cllr Jack Abbott from Suffolk Labour Group, and from Co-op Party itself.

Pre-budget report on local government

John McDonnell has highlighted how local government funding has been ravaged over a decade, with particularly brutal cuts in youth and children’s services, as well as a crisis in social care.

Ahead of next week’s Budget, the Shadow Chancellor has released the latest in a series of reports highlighting a sharp decline in public services after a decade of Tory rule.

Labour’s Shadow Treasury Team has published ‘The Road to the Budget – A Decade of Decline in Local Government’.

The report shows that spending on youth services has been decimated by 70% since 2010, with a real-terms cut of £880 million. 

Government funding to councils to run children’s services has been cut by almost a third since 2010.

Successive Tory governments have failed to tackle the social care crisis, with cuts to local government exacerbating that crisis, the report finds.

John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor,  commenting on the findings, said:

“Local governments provide basic services that are key to our social fabric and our people’s lives.

“Successive Conservative administrations have torn the heart out of local government, weakening the bonds that tie us together, and damaging services that are important from the cradle to the grave.

“Only a massive injection of funding at the upcoming Budget will begin to repair the damage that the Tories have done – and this Budget looks set to showcase a chaotic government that risks five years of disappointment.”

An Evening With Clive Lewis – TOTNES 5TH JUNE 2020

Totnes CLP have invited Clive Lewis MP to the town for an evening in conversation. Clive has served in Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow cabinet as defence and business secretary.

This event will be ticketed and info on how to book will be sent out to Newton Abbot CLP members as soon as available, although tickets will initially be limited to members of Totnes, Newton Abbot and Torbay CLP’s any remaining will be made available to the public.

Devon children face worse and more unequal life expectancy

A blistering ten years after the Coalition government accepted his last report, new findings from Health expert Sir Michael Marmot show that overall life expectancy in the UK has slowed down to an extent not seen for over a century. The 2020 Marmot Review argues that damage to health in the last ten years has been ‘unprecedented’ and points to rises in child poverty, the closure of hundreds of Sure Start centres, unequal council cuts and a growing wage gap, all of which are believed to help determine people’s health. 

Whilst cuts have hit the North hardest, Devon has also been hit with the closure of all but two Sure Start centres and suffers from areas of low income.

Devon County Council has recently reported that child poverty rates in the most deprived areas of Devon, such as Torridge, are four times those in the least deprived. Child poverty rates are also higher in younger families, due to higher benefit claimant rates and lower incomes in persons in their 20s and 30s. Single parent households, particularly where headed by a female, are also likely to experience economic poverty; as are children of disable parents. Marmot and Devon County Council alike acknowledge that people with lower income tend to have poorer health, and that child poverty is intergenerational and bi-directional; where parents’ income can influence their child’s health, and a child’s health can influence their learning and earning capacity later in life.

Yvonne Atkinson, Labour’s Shadow Portfolio Holder for Economic Development at Devon County Council comments, “We ask Devon County Council to urgently review its strategy in the light of Marmot’s further report, and to urge Devon’s Tory MPs, and the government, to increase our local government funding back to 2010 levels. This government must urgently support economic development in Devon’s most deprived areas, otherwise our county’s children will not only be facing worse rates of life expectancy across the board, but also rates that are increasingly unequal through no fault of their own.”

Left Hand View – On the Buses

By Malcolm Tipper (Newton Abbot CLP – Political Education Officer)

A headline in my paper this month was ‘Johnson pledges £5bn overhaul of bus services to fend off HS2 revolt’.

Today buses seem to be the prerogative of the teenager going to College or the elderly equipped with a bus pass, or so it seems in the Teignmouth area. In the large cities London, Manchester or Birmingham buses are an essential part of commuting to work. Buses in London were never deregulated when services were privatised across the country. Margaret Thatcher’s Government deregulated bus services outside London in the mid-1980’s arguing that competition would lead to increased passenger numbers by reducing fares and improving services. The House of Commons Cross party select Committee found last year that “bus use has declined year after year, and successive governments have made no concerted or coordinated effort to reverse or even stem the decline. So much for privatisation.

 If Transport for London is able to direct provision to make sure it meets the needs of the whole community, and private operators can’t just cherry pick the most profitable routes surely now deregulation should apply country wide. Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor for Greater Manchester has announced that he will be seeking de-regulation in order to provide a better service.

Before widespread car ownership my family like the majority were reliant, especially post-Beeching, on buses for business and pleasure trips, in those days it was Devon General, now StageCoach SW (does that mean they keep getting held up!) But now according to the Urban Transport Group over the last decade bus use fell 15% from 1.1 billion journeys in 2009/10 to 908 million in 2017/18 (the latest year we have figures for). In Devon for the year 2017/18 2million fewer journeys were made. This situation will only get worse as Local Government subsidise many routes and they are subject to severe financial cuts. Buses provide a vital service for the passengers who rely on them. They are disproportionately used by people on lower incomes, who may not be able to afford a private car. Whatever your income a cheap and reliable bus service would reduce the need to use private vehicles and consequently reduce air pollution.

Boris Johnson revealed recently that he has a hobby of painting London double-decker buses full of happy smiling people. How long before those happy faces will change to grumpy frowning people? I wonder when the last time an Old Etonian actually travelled by bus, ah yes the one which had on its side “we send the EU £350m a week – let’s fund our NHS instead” which apparently a lot of people still believe! Or was it the ones encouraging Immigrants to go home. Either way I shouldn’t think Boris or our own M.P. Anne Marie-Morris have experienced the delights of the No.2 through Kingsteignton.

Teenagers in Teignmouth would probably like a better late night bus service to Exeter so they can enjoy a night out without having to use expensive Taxis to return, the last bus returns at 2340 (which isn’t too bad actually) but under a Labour government the under 25’s would also have free bus travel. 

Boris Johnson is hoping that the new £5bn investment will allow bus passengers to “turn up and go” and perhaps he is thinking of the system in use in Switzerland.

The Swiss public transport system is called taktfahrplan, literally the clock timetable. In the Zurich city region the local authority closely defines three levels of bus service.

A village of 300 people or more receives a level one service, a bus every hour.

Level two is every half-hour, and is guaranteed to routes where the flow of passengers from multiple settlements combine to boost demand, this would be like Newton Abbot, Teignmouth and Dawlish

Level three provides one or more buses every 15 minutes and is for large, densely populated areas.

Bus timetables are linked up to train timetables, so buses are scheduled to arrive at major stations a few minutes before specific trains depart, and leave a few minutes after. 

At present this sort of system is impossible in Britain because of the privatised and fragmented nature of our public transport system. Labour wants to make public transport an essential service, as the Swiss consider it to be, and would municipalise bus services giving local authorities back total control, as well as taking back Railways into Public ownership. This would provide the kind of transport service that would shift millions out of their private cars and into sustainable, low carbon options.

We could take public transport seriously and have a service which served everyone, and which everyone could be proud of. 

This is what a Labour Government would do.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn unveils the Labour battle bus while on the General Election campaign trail in Liverpool. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 7, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Election Labour. Photo credit should read: Jacob King/PA Wire