Category: Devon

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Fire service cuts: Ashburton area protection downgraded and more to follow

Tony Morris

Fire Authority stealth cuts put lives and property at risk, argues Tony Morris. Just a couple of years after Ashburton residents successfully fought to save their fire station, the Conservative controlled fire & rescue authority has stabbed them in the back. In a secret move, Ashburton’s properly equipped fire engine has been removed and replaced […]

Don’t miss the Tinners Moon Festival, Ashburton, Devon!

Anthea Simmons

We wrote about the wonderful Ashburton Arts Centre back in October 2020 and director Andy Williamson explained why the venue was so loved by performers. The Tinners Moon Festival, which had had to be cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, is in full swing right now and you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to […]

Greener, healthier, happier: Rosemoor works its magic

Anna Andrews
Magnolias at Rosemoor

“Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place.” So says the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), a registered charity which promotes horticulture and helps gardeners, both present and retired. The Society provides information, practical advice, training, qualifications and bursaries, is involved in education, […]

Creamo’s! The wonderfully wacky craft ice cream from Ashburton

Anthea Simmons

We are very keen to showcase small businesses from Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset. The stories these entrepreneurs have to tell make a very welcome change from the news, escaping from which, however briefly, is a privilege not afforded to many, we know. I met Matai and Rachael to talk about how they got into […]

Sponsor a Ukrainian – the scheme that puts the vulnerable at risk whilst thwarting compassion

Elizabeth Smith and Anna Andrews
Ukrainian refugees in Krakow

“It’s an abusers’ charter, isn’t it?” said a friend – a woman not particularly attentive to the doings of this government, nor as prejudiced as me against these Conservatives’ policies. Sadly, I think my friend is correct in her assessment of the ‘Sponsor a Ukrainian’ scheme, whereby homeowners here can offer accommodation to Ukrainian refugees. […]

Letters to Neil Parish and Sir Geoffrey Cox re Ukraine

Editor-in-chief
placard: accept refugees on background of Ukraine flag

Dear Mr Parish, I wrote to you recently about the urgent need for Ukrainian refugees to be given safe passage and supported resettlement in the UK.  You kindly replied, and in short order, which I appreciated. Thank you. However, the assurances you provided about the government’s response did not address my concerns about the shortcomings […]

How Totnes Conservatives picked their 2019 candidate…

Anon
Totnes Conservative Club

Dr Sarah Wollaston left the Conservative Party to join the LibDems, leaving a rock-solid seat-for-life for some lucky Tory. The Conservatives needed a new candidate for the election that was to come later that year. Would they pick another local candidate, known in the community? Anonymous reveals the ‘interesting’ selection process. In 2019 the fate […]

Speaking out, while we still can…

Tony Whitehead
Protesters at the Exeter rally against the Policing and Borders Bills

Reaching out across the seas Hold out our hands to refugees Make the world a better place To put a smile on everyone’s face Stop the bombing, join together International friends forever This poem by primary school children, read by Exeter’s Pete the Poet, opened a rally organised by Stop the War Coalition. More than […]

Saving his own skin: Mr Mangnall and the squandering of leadership

Jim Funnell
Anthony Mangnall paper

In late February 2022, as bloody, terrifying war broke out in Ukraine and refugees fled their country, constituents across Totnes and South Devon received an unwelcome gift through their door: a four page newspaper full of puff pieces all about Anthony Mangnall MP. Produced by Mr Mangnall and his team, the headline cringingly announcing: ‘Anthony […]

The tweet heartless Kevin Foster didn’t want you to see

Anthea Simmons
Kevin Foster MP for Torbay

I have written today about the government’s callousness towards Ukrainian refugees, cloaked in a nicey-nicey, flag-sporting charade of fake sympathy. The reality is that there is NO effort being made to offer sanctuary to men, women and children fleeing the war. Patel and now Torbay’s Kevin Foster have been gaslighting the British public, pretending that […]

A little universe is destroyed: an unintended consequence of the countryside stewardship grant

Rebecca Gethin

You might have read about the government’s commitment to safeguarding wildlife and conserving the environment which is, according to Defra’s newly-published road map, to be “the cornerstone of the government’s new agricultural policy, based on the principle of paying public money for public goods, such as clean air and water, thriving wildlife, engagement with the […]

UK to miss emissions target by a mile: letter to Anthony Mangnall MP

Editor-in-chief

Dear Anthony On the Government’s own projections, the UK is set to miss the 6th carbon budget and our Paris commitment by a huge margin. We will be approximately 100 per cent over the 6th carbon budget! You have said that work is ‘underway’, but that work clearly falls far short of what’s required. You can see from the […]

Brexit reality update: mussels arrive 30 hours late, many dead or dying

Julian Andrews

Last week in West Country Voices, I wrote about a Brixham-based, family-owned company which has – somehow – managed to continue exporting live mussels to the Netherlands, despite the many and varied obstacles placed in its way as a direct consequence of Brexit. I have no connection with this enterprise other than as a writer. […]

Social feed 5: virtual reality

Babe
Pig with muddy snout

A satirical commentary on the pigswill we’re fed by an MP’s social media. Feasting at the trough: ‘Babe’ BREAKING NEWS: The Conservative Party has made a significant investment in Facebook’s Metaverse. First amongst Devon MPs to stake his claim to a piece of alternative reality is, of course, the Captain of Complicity, the Superman of […]

“It’s business, Boris…but not as we knew it”

Julian Andrews
mussel fishing vessel

Imagine that you run an innovative, environmentally sustainable enterprise which employs your wife, your kids and ten local people. You’ve been in the business for over 30 years and you know exactly what you’re doing. You and your family have invested decades’ worth of emotion, aspiration, knowledge and money in it. You’ve won the industry’s […]

‘Kill the Bill’: action in Exeter

Anna Andrews

“This Bill threatens what we do peacefully because we believe in something.” Seasoned activists, people from a wide range of pressure groups, and individuals from all walks of life came together in Exeter on 15 January to show their resistance to the Bill with Priti Patel’s fingerprints all over it: the Police, Crime, Sentencing and […]

Raise your voice!

Mick Fletcher

At West Country Voices we like to tell the stories that others in the media don’t. Often, these stories concern issues that the powerful and well-connected are keen to suppress; they involve holding policymakers to account or exposing abuse of office. Recent stories have focused on the threats to our democratic rights and freedoms. They […]

The property price boom that helps the few, not the many

Mick Fletcher
Stags estate agent sign

In 2021 the average price of houses in Taunton increased by 21 per cent: the highest rate of increase in the country. It is a sign of how utterly dysfunctional our housing market has become that this was announced as good news. According to the Daily Mail, for example, “while it was good news for […]

“First homes, not second homes!” MP Luke Pollard is on a mission

Anthea Simmons

Housing. It’s in crisis across the UK but nowhere is that crisis more acute than in the south-west, battered by the perfect storm of beauty, inequality and wealth. It’s not as if we don’t know what damage second, holiday and empty homes do to a community. There’s enough research out there, let alone the daily […]

Devon’s housing crisis: the champions of change

Anthea Simmons

How many of us have experienced, or can begin to really comprehend, what it is to be without a home? How many of us have known the unsettling insecurity of living in rented accommodation at the whim of a landlord who might at any moment, once the fixed term contract is up, issue a Section […]

Social feed 4: pre-christmas porkies!

Babe

A media tarts special double bill! “It’s media, darling!” would be a good phrase to describe Mangnall’s latest servings of pig swill to constituents. And what a marvellous couple of weeks it has been: Tory lies have flowed like sewage down the Dart, and Mangnall has worked tirelessly, attempting to transform his profile from an […]

Social feed 3: the smell of bacon frying…

Babe

A regular satirical commentary on the pig swill served to constituents via an MP’s social media feed ‘Slurping at the swill for everyone in Totnes & South Devon’ – Babe PeppaPiggate may have overshadowed the Paterson and sewage affairs, but Babe isn’t letting Mangnall off the hook… This social feed retrospective tastes disconcertingly familiar. It’s […]