Category: Devon

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Dartmoor’s wounded land, part 2: cause and effect

Tony Whitehead
view of Dartmoor, close-cropped yellowed grass

In the second of three articles, environmental campaigner Tony Whitehead considers how Dartmoor’s nature came to be in such a poor state. In part one, I paid attention to two of Dartmoor’s key wildlife habitats: the blanket bogs and upland heaths. Over the past 150 years, Dartmoor’s blanket bogs were cut for peat, drained for […]

The truth matters, Mr Mangnall. Surely you realise that now?

Anthea Simmons

If the events of the past few days have shown us anything, it is that, in the end, truth really must and will prevail. Big whoppers, small fibs – doesn’t really matter. A lie is a lie is a lie and spinning it as a half truth won’t wash. Let’s just consider the circled text […]

“Don’t sell our farmers out to the mighty dollar.” North Devon relief milker and team vicar urges MPs to support Amendment 16b

Anthea Simmons

We ran this article last week on Torridge Council’s decision to express its anger at the government’s decision to vote against protecting food and animal welfare standards in the Agriculture Bill. One of the passionate supporters of the motion proposed by sheep farmer and councillor, Cheryl Cottle-Hunkin, was the local Rural Dean and team vicar, […]

…and on another front of the culture war

Eric Gates

“The National Trust has been contacted by the charity regulator over claims that it has strayed from its ‘clear, simple purpose’ to preserve historic buildings and treasures. Regulators approached the charity this month after receiving complaints from the public about its review into links between its estate and slavery during the British empire.” Do people […]

Culture wars, censorship and the ghost of William Blake

Virginia Button

Earlier this month, the first round of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund was announced by Arts Council England, with a welcome £257m allocated to 1,385 theatres, museums, orchestras, dance companies, music venues and other arts organisations impacted by Covid-19. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, […]

“Brexit and Fascism: heed the warning signs while you still can, Mr Mangnall” – a constituent writes to his MP

Simon Chater

Anthony Mangnall M.P. House of Commons London SW1A 0AA                                                                  26 October 2020 Dear Mr Mangnall I’m writing this open letter to you in reply to yours of 27 July 2020, which reprimands me for calling Brexit out as a “resurgence of the disease of fascism”.   Be in no doubt: that’s exactly what Brexit is. […]

Dartmoor’s wounded land, part 1: how meaningful is protection?

Tony Whitehead

Environmental campaigner Tony Whitehead considers the extent to which Dartmoor’s nature is protected, and the shocking condition of its protected sites. On 28 September Boris Johnson committed to protecting 30 per cent of the UK’s land by 2030. A fine ambition, of course, and to be welcomed. In the government statement that accompanied the announcement […]

Saxby wriggles. Mercer, Foster and Streeter keep digging.

Anthea Simmons

On 23 October, we published an article on North Devon MP Selaine Saxby’s insensitive but revealing comment on the free school meals issue. You can read the article here. Ms Saxby has attempted to defray the criticism of her (speedily deleted) Facebook post elicited thus: Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m never very […]

Tin-eared, tone-deaf – Selaine Saxby gets it very, very wrong

Anthea Simmons

No-one should have to tolerate abuse in the workplace and bullying is wholly unacceptable. An MP is a public servant with a duty of care to his or her constituents. Having taken on a public role, MPs must expect to attract opprobrium if they act in ways which their constituents do not like. They should […]

Lambs to the slaughter

Miles King

As we wait for what feels like the final slow-motion spin of the car as it hurtles inexorably towards the cliff edge, wondering if our heroes are going to escape from this seemingly impossible situation … again … no, stop there. Enough with the Hollywood imagery, the tired old metaphors. They just aren’t funny anymore. […]

Art Matters : Ashburton Arts

Anthea Simmons

Whatever Rishi Sunak did or didn’t say or did or didn’t mean  in his interview with ITV, the debate over the value of the arts and of artists in our society and economy has been front and centre recently. And rightly so. The UK’s creative industries are estimated to contribute around £13 million to the […]

Travelling outside comfort zones: two fingers up to the predictable

Dawn M Sanders

Why should additional needs limit your craving for adventure? Journalist Dawn Sanders, who has a visual impairment, argues impaired sight should not get in the way of free- spiritedness. Two years ago I met a kindred spirit where I would never have expected to: at the Royal National College for the Blind. Before going to the […]

Make votes matter! A personal perspective

Laurie Taylor

I left London in 1973-74. I left a place and society that I saw as fragile and dysfunctional; a sort of fools’ paradise’. During my two years as a policeman in the West End, I questioned so much of what I saw around me, aided and abetted by E. F. Schumacher, G.I. Gurdjieff, Rachel Carson and […]

Museums and galleries respond to the climate crisis

Virginia Button

The US west coast is on fire, the hurricane season is off to an early start and in the UK a year of unseasonal weather has resulted in the worst wheat harvest in decades – yet more reminders that climate change is a pressing and immediate global crisis. And, as leaves fall and mists rise […]

Levelling up to new heights of corruption

Tom Scott

Few towns in the South West will receive funding from the government’s Towns Fund – and now we know why. In September 2019, local government secretary Robert Jenrick published a list of 101 places that would receive help to develop bids for funding from the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund. There was suspicion at the […]

Sir Thomas More speaks for Sir Geoffrey Cox

Anthea Simmons

Boris Johnson may think he has managed to sweet talk abstaining and objecting MPs into backing his heinous Internal Market Bill, but some, it seems, remain resistant to his blandishments and see the issue for what it is: an attempt to legitimise/democritise (make the MPs carry the can) the breaking of international law. Sir Geoffrey […]

A Conservative MP who chose not to undermine the rule of law.

Anthea Simmons

South West Devon’s MP, Sir Gary Streeter, along with his neighbour in Torridge and West Devon Sir Geoffrey Cox, witheld their support for the Internal Market Bill. Sir Gary articulated his reasons for so doing in clear and unequivocal terms. We have his permission to share them here. His fellow Conservative MPs would do well […]

Testing fiasco in Devon: a mother writes to Johnson

Anthea Simmons

As this economical-with-the-truth government continues to claim that testing is working fine, the facts on the ground tell a completely different story. Here is a message for our Prime Minister from a Devon mum with young kids, caught up in the testing chaos. Dear Prime Minister, This is what your handling of the pandemic is […]

Mel Stride puts his foot in it

Alex Pilkington

Mel Stride, Conservative MP for Central Devon, was photographed wearing a wheatsheaf brooch in support of the Back British Farming Day, whilst failing to vote for Neil Parish’s (Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton) amendment to the Agriculture Bill. This amendment was designed to maintain our food and animal welfare standards in any future trade […]

Reflections of an anti-racist rambler

Tsara Smith

When I set out on a 140-mile anti-racist ramble across rural mid-Devon, it was really driven by two words: do something. The murder of George Floyd (and the reflection of countless stories like his) made me sit up and pay some real attention to the experience of black people, not just in America, but in […]