COVID -19 Update and Advice

The Labour Party has decided to suspend ALL party meetings and campaigning until further notice. Newton Abbot Constituency Labour Party is following this advice and all members will be kept up to date.

The party has recommended members take action in their communities, to ensure those who need help get it. Mutual Aid UK has started a network of groups across the country to help those in need and to organise volunteers in communities up and down the country.

Groups have been set up in Newton Abbot, Teignmouth and Dawlish.

Teignmouth Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/206563777360701/

Newton Abbot Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/685230682286081/?source_id=101534908153772

Dawlish Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/658974494864293/

Please get in touch with us if you need anything in the usual ways.

More Info can be found using the following links.

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.”

Newton Abbot Labour Supports 20mph Speed Limit

Newton Abbot Branch Labour Party welcomes and supports proposals to introduce 20mph speed limits across Newton Abbot, as part of a trial by Devon County Council and believes this should include all roads in and out of the town. Lower speed limits have been proven to improve safety and benefit the environment, as more people decide to walk or cycle. The Town Council also has recently decided to support this proposal for the town.

Cllr Ryan Hall, Newton Abbot Town Council comments: “It’s great that Newton Abbot has been chosen as one of the towns to trial reduced speed limits. 20mph speed limits have been introduced across other towns and cities, with great success. The benefits to health and the environment are obvious. We all want Newton Abbot to be a safer and healthier town and this would be an important step”.

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

Devon MPs voting against climate action in this week’s Transport bill amendment

Liz Pole, Media Officer for Devon Labour, commenting on the defeat in the House of Commons of Labour’s amendment for climate action in the Transport bill this week, said: “All eight of Devon’s Conservative MPs have this week voted against climate action in Labour’s amendment to the Transport bill. It is now clearthat the promises these Conservative MPs made on climate action to voters in village halls across Devon during the General Election campaign were empty. I urge voters to judge them by their actions in Parliament, not by their words.”

Only Labour’s Ben Bradshaw voted in favour of the amendment, which simply called for a “plan to eliminate the substantial majority of transport emissions by 2030, to decarbonise the UK’s entire bus network, to invest in an electric vehicle charging network that can support the majority of vehicles on the UK’s roads by 2030, to cut bus and rail fares, to increase public transport patronage, to provide funding for cycling and walking, including investment in cycleways and grants for ebikes, to introduce a network of clean air zones to tackle illegal levels of air pollution, and to bring aviation emissions within the UK’s climate targets.”

The UK’s transport emissions have increased since 2010. Former Conservative rail and environment Minster, Claire O’Neill, has said that the government have failed to provide leadership on climate change. She also said that the government are “miles off track” in the setting of a positive agenda for the COP26 United Nations summit in Glasgow, and that “promises” of action were “not close to being met.”

Note to Editors

All eight of Devon’s Conservative MPs voted against Labour’s amendment to the Transport bill on 5th February 2020

https://www.publicwhip.org.uk/division.php?date=2020-02-05&number=32&display=allvotes

Newton Abbot CLP – Leadership Nomination Result

Last night Newton Abbot CLP met to decide who gets our nomination for Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. Following a well attended and friendly mannered meeting, with members speaking up passionately for the candidates.

For Leader we nominated : Rebecca Long-Bailey who won with 70% of first preference votes.

For Deputy Leader we nominated : Richard Burgon this contest was a lot closer with Richard winning after 3 rounds beating Angela Rayner and Dawn Bulter by 1 vote at round 3.

Thanks to all those who turn out to join in the discussion and vote. The next step is waiting for the individual ballots to drop in a couple of weeks.

Good luck to all the candidates!

Left Hand View – By Malcolm Tipper

LABOURS GREEN INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

When Rebecca Long-Bailey introduced Labour’s 30 point plan green pledge it rather caught got up in a lot of other radical ideas in Labour’s 2019 manifesto. Fortunately Rebecca has an opportunity during the Leadership campaign to devote more time to perhaps the single most important issue facing all of us.

The climate crisis messages have been with us for some time and are still occurring “Record heat in world’s oceans is ‘dire’ warning on climate crisis” Guardian 14th January 2020. The causes of oceans warming is obviously not the responsibility of just one country but each country must clearly show it is taking climate change very seriously and that is why we mustn’t lose sight of Labour’s radical policy when the leadership changes.

Rebecca Long-Bailey when shadow Business Secretary said that a future Labour Government would oversee an economic revolution, using the full power of the state to decarbonize the economy and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs in towns and cities across the UK. We can be pretty sure that the new Tory Government is unlikely to use the full power of the state in anything bar supporting the United States in any wars it might start or clamping down on terrorist organisations such as Extinction Rebellion!  As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell promised legislation to force UK listed firms to take adequate steps to fight the climate emergency, this is not going to happen now.

A lot of analysis has gone into why traditional Labour voters in areas in the north and midlands have switched their allegiance to the Conservatives who are unlikely to act in their best interests on wages, benefits or local services. I have a fairly simplistic view that in the Thatcher years Conservative Governments closed down swathes of traditional industries employing thousands of people and did nothing to replace those jobs. The Labour Governments that followed did nothing to support those communities and in some ways encouraged the low skill, low wage, insecure job market that now exists across the country.

Labours Green pledge had at its heart the creation of 850,000 skilled jobs in the green industry. The figures were not just plucked out of thin air but were prepared by a team of economists at the Sustainability Research Institute backed by the University of Leeds. These jobs would arise out of:

  • Insulation upgrades for every home in the country such as double glazing focusing first on damp homes and areas with fuel poverty.
  • Installing 8m electric heat pumps to start getting away from gas heating.
  • Building another 7000 offshore wind turbines and 2000 onshore wind turbines
  • A national network of electric vehicle charging points
  • Enough new solar panels to cover 22,000 football pitches

The Green pledge would necessitate nationalization of the energy network as Rebecca Long-Bailey has said “energy customers have been ripped off by the privatisation of the UK’s energy grid, with shareholders paid £13 billion pounds in dividends over the past 5 years”. She went on to say “only by taking the grid into public ownership can we decarbonize the economy at the pace needed to secure the planet for our children and grandchildren while ending the rip-off, creating good jobs in local communities and making heating and electricity a human right”.

Allied to the policies for climate change is the tricky subject of meat and dairy production particularly in a county like Devon. For me as a vegetarian and subscriber to Veganuary giving up meat and dairy is not a hardship. The magazine Science published a paper showing that a plant-based diet would release 76% of the land currently used for farming. This land could then be used for the mass restoration of ecosystems and wildlife. If our grazing land was allowed to revert to natural ecosystems, and the land currently used to grow feed for livestock was used for grains, beans, fruits, nuts and vegetables for humans, this switch would allow the UK to absorb an astonishing quantity of Carbon. Now would a Conservative Government encourage farmers to make the change and without EC subsidies to offset the cost, answers on a postcard!

For Labour voters and supporters it was tragedy that we didn’t win the election, however, it is important not to dilute the green pledge that appeared in the manifesto as I think increasingly this will be the issue that will attract voters and I would encourage members to use their vote in the leadership election to support the candidate you think is most likely to honour that commitment.