Category: Society

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Rewilding comes to a Devon valley

Simon Chater

Local environmental charities are working to increase Devon’s tree populations. Simon Chater was delighted to take part. For nearly 40 years I’ve lived in an old farmhouse in one of the loveliest spots in the South West – the valley of the Holy Brook, a tributary of the Dart. A livestock farmer sold me the […]

Gavin must go; but that’s only the start

Mick Fletcher

No part of this government comes out of the Covid-19 pandemic well, and the staggering death toll is the tragic summation of a whole raft of failures. Probably the most expensive of these failures in terms of financial cost and, more importantly, human life, is ‘Test and Trace’ on which the Department of Health has […]

Awards part two: some more good people, thankfully!

Anthea Simmons

Most dogged defenders of our food & farming standards: Devon MPs Ben Bradshaw, Luke Pollard and Dorset MP Simon Hoare stand amongst those who braved the government to demand standards be enshrined in law and not on the table in any future trade deals. (Devon MP Neil Parish almost made it into this select group, […]

Digital divisions and the Tower of Babel

Mick Fletcher

People often talk of the ‘digital divide’, a gulf that separates those with access to IT and social media from others who lack the means or the understanding to engage with it. Some go further and speak of ‘digital natives’, those who have grown up with new technology and assimilated its ways like a child […]

The Turing scheme – does it address the loss of Erasmus?

Professor Paul James Cardwell

Some details about the #turingscheme as a replacement for #Erasmus are now out. Here are my initial thoughts, from an institutional and education perspective more than costs. First, setting up a scheme to run in 2021 is difficult and especially for those already in degree programmes who were due to go on Erasmus placements (language […]

Masks in supermarkets: am I a man or a mouse?

Tom Scott
Man shopping in supermarket wearing a mask

A couple of days ago I was doing some Christmas shopping at a local supermarket near my home in Cornwall. As I scoured the shelves for stollen (a favourite festive treat in our household), I couldn’t help noticing that quite a few of the other customers were not making any attempt to socially distance, and […]

Covid-19: the effects on rural churches and communities

Susanna Metz
Sheepwash Church, Devon with thatched cottage.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The opening of A Tale of Two Cities came to mind when I was asked to write about the effect these very difficult past ten months have had specifically on ‘the Church’ in rural areas. If I were not too old to start […]

A ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ – great, until you read the small print

Mick Fletcher

The shameful gap between the soaring rhetoric of policy announcements and the sordid reality of what is implemented has become one of the defining features of this government. The headline examples are of course the ‘oven ready deal’ that took 12 months to get anywhere near the oven, and the ‘world beating’ track and trace […]

No deal takes UK back to the 70s and food anxiety

Robert Saunders

No apologies for reproducing yet another Twitter thread. Everyone should have the chance to read this. Ed The 1970s was a decade of serious anxiety about food supplies. Norman Tebbit, of all people, urged the government to consider rationing basic foodstuffs. That played a significant role in the decision to join the EEC, and raises […]

Are Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service gambling with your safety?

Tony Morris
house on fire at night, rural location

Editor’s preface: Tony Morris served in the fire service for 32 years. the last six of which as Operational Planning Officer responsible for contingency planning. He was then Senior Emergency Management Adviser for West Sussex County Council for 15 years, covering all areas of emergencies and business continuity. He is worried about cuts to services […]

Become a curator: devouring digital culture in lockdown

Rachel Marshall

In the week before our second national lockdown started, I spent a glorious morning at Exeter’s newly reopened Royal Albert Memorial Museum. Six days later the museum closed again. It was such a treat to be able to view exhibits – photographic portraits of influential women and examples of the stunning lace produced around Honiton […]

Living through austerity with a learning disability

Neil Carpenter

Since 2010, successive Conservative governments have made it a priority to ‘clear up the financial mess left by Labour’ through a wide-ranging programme of austerity measures intended to reduce the deficit. As those cuts were biting, I began working as a volunteer advocate for adults with a learning disability, going into day centres, running a […]

Fund Police. Fund Courts. Fund CPS. Fund Legal Aid. Now.

CrimeGirl

As you may know, we sometimes reproduce Twitter threads for the benefit of those not on the platform. This thread caught our eye and, though it makes rather grim reading, thought our readers might appreciate it. Imagine this You wake up in bed with your partner, your little ones are asleep in their bedrooms. It’s […]

Hunger games

Oliver Patrick

Not content with fiercely resisting calls to provide our poorest children with free school meals twice this year, the conservative government is charging headlong into a Brexit that risks all our school children going hungry in Brexit Britain. On Tuesday 17 November 2020, the Department for Education (DfE) released guidance on how schools should prepare […]

Remembrance

Eric Gates

On Wednesday 11 November at 11am, I shall be standing by the village war memorial, leading the act of Remembrance. The memorial is beside quite a busy road, so the 2 minute silence will be subject to interruption, and in most years there are no more than 10 or so of us in attendance; this […]

Protected characteristics or political playthings?

Florence MacDonald

I am a teacher and over the past month I have become increasingly aware of shifts in what is deemed acceptable for people to say and do in certain rôles, through interference from the government and, now, from the BBC. Phase 1 It began in early October with news of new educational guidance ‘Legal threat […]

The worst and the best of Cornwall

Tom Scott

The news that every one of Cornwall’s six Conservative MPs had voted against extending help to hungry children came as little surprise to anyone who had studied the parliamentary voting history of Scott Mann (North Cornwall), Derek Thomas (St Ives), Steve Double (St Austell and Newquay), Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall), Cherilyn Mackrory (Truro and […]

Timeline of a Tory PR disaster – the free school meals debacle

Sadie Parker

“Short of drowning a basket of puppies live on air, I can’t think of a worse communications fail.” No, that wasn’t me. That was Sarah Vine in the Mail on Sunday in a column entitled, “How could N°10 let free school meals turn into a dog’s dinner?”  Me agreeing with the fragrant Mrs Gove —for […]

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 […]

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 […]

It doesn’t have to be this way

Jo Miller

Editor: We are putting this out on #WorldMentalHealthDay because we feel that this short piece from the heart sums up what so many people are feeling right now. There has to be a better way and we have to do more than hope. We must be the change. We shared a tweet last week that […]

Extreme political stances

Mike Temple

The once autocratic King Lear, now stripped of power and exposed to the storm, ushers the poor Fool into the hovel, then kneels and prays:                                                                 Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,                                       That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,                                       How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,                                       Your looped and windowed […]