Vigil at Honiton Community Hospital

This morning I attended a vigil outside Honiton Community Hospital. It was called to mark the end of inpatient care in the town. It was a sad day, as it now means that there are no inpatient beds in the hospitals in Seaton, Axminster, Honiton and Ottery St Mary.

I wasn’t sure what to expect … it’s a Bank Holiday and the weather was glorious … so I half expected to be there with just a handful of people.

I was wrong.

HonitonHospitalPeopleThe event had been organised by Honiton Patients’ Action Group … a well-organised and furious bunch of people.

A group of about 50 turned up, armed to the teeth with placards, happy to vent their feelings to the local press about the parlous state of future community health provision.HonitonHospitalPlacards

Among those present this morning was Cllr Martin Shaw (county councillor for Seaton and Colyton) who spoke about his grave concerns for health provision. He had also addressed Devon County Council’s Scrutiny Committee meeting in July (

The decision to close the inpatient beds in Honiton had not been the subject of public consultation, so those present felt that this was sufficient cause for Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee to refer the decision to close the hospital beds to the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt. In turn, he would have had to refer the decision to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (which describes itself as ‘the independent expert on NHS service change’).

Had that decision been made at their July meeting (, those present at the vigil today would probably have still been worried about their future health care, but at least they would have felt that every avenue open to them had been explored.

Instead they were denied this last opportunity by political shenanigans of epic proportion.

I watched the webcast of the July meeting of DCC Health Scrutiny Committee ( and was frankly appalled at the charade being played out before my eyes.

Questions have been raised about how the meeting was conducted and the Standards Committee at DCC meets tomorrow to decide if the complaints are well founded.

Meanwhile, members of East Devon District Council have expressed dismay about the way an almost unanimous vote on a Motion expressing real concern about the conduct of the Clinical Commissioning Group was ignored and have called an Extra Ordinary Meeting of full Council to discuss a Motion of No Confidence in the leader, Cllr Paul Diviani, who sat on Devon County Council’s Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee as a representative of the leaders of all the district councils in Devon.

Cllr Diviani effectively voted against referring the decision to close inpatients beds in Honiton to the Secretary of State and later admitted under robust questioning that he had not canvassed the views of the other leaders.

The Extra Ordinary Council meeting will be held on Wednesday 13 September at EDDC’s headquarters at the Knowle, Sidmouth, starting at 6 p.m.


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Engineering Works – Feniton Level Crossing Road repairs

Essential works to Feniton level crossing are to be undertaken on

30 July 2017 at 00.05 to 07.45

The works will involve repairs to the level crossing surface, requiring tarmac to be broken out using pneumatic breakers and disc cutting equipment.

Network Rail logoI think we can expect a sleepless night!!



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The Neighbourhood Plan at Fun Day, 2017

Feniton Funday Jul 2017 (roundabout)Last Sunday, the sun beamed down on Feniton on what must have been the most successful Fun Day in its history. Crowds gathered on the playing fields in the heart of the village to be entertained by Honiton gymnasts (a breath-taking display), Tale Valley choir, Otter Morris dancers, Honiton Twirlstars, Zorbing (now that looked fun!) and lots more besides.

Feniton Funday Jul 2017 (Punch and Judy)There were plant stalls, cake stalls, face painting, glitter tattoos, coconut shy and a mass of bouncy castles and slides. In fact, all that you would expect to see at a village fete, but SO much more.

In the midst of all the merriment, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group members set out their stall for the third year as the Plan reaches an exciting stage in its evolution.

croppedThe Neighbourhood Plan has been almost three years in the making, involving a large number of dedicated volunteers interested in the future of the village and how it will progress over the next 15 years.

At each stage, there has been extensive consultation with residents in the village, including a comprehensive questionnaire distributed to every household in the Neighbourhood Plan area asking for views on different village topics. The result of these consultation exercises is the draft Neighbourhood Plan which is now ready to be launched for wider consultation.

The Plan has drawn on the many comments expressed by residents which have been distilled into policies which will be considered in determining future development in the village. The Steering Group was fortunate to have had former Parish Councillor Trevor Ives among its members. Trevor has now retired and moved from the area, but brought with him a wealth of experience and knowledge of the housing industry. Trevor wrote the initial draft planning policies and his work was continued by Dr John Withrington, current Feniton Parish Councillor. John is the former Head of the International Office at the University of Exeter where he was responsible for (among other things) writing the University’s international policies and strategies. At all times during this process, the Steering Group has had the invaluable support of planning policy officers at East Devon District Council.

IMG_0193This weekend will see the launch of the snappily titled ‘Pre-submission Consultation draft Plan: Regulation 14 of the Neighbourhood Planning (General) Regulations 2012’. All the statutory consultees, landowners, local businesses and local organisations will receive an email or letter by post outlining where the draft Neighbourhood Plan can be viewed and how to submit their comments. At the same time, every household in the Plan area will receive a leaflet outlining where a hard copy can be accessed in the village and where to find the link to the Plan on the Parish Council website.

The consultation period will run from Saturday 8 July to Saturday 19 August, following which the Plan will be formally submitted to East Devon District Council for a further 6-week period of consultation.

So, after invading Chris Gibbins’ home for endless cups of tea during their lengthy meetings, I’m wondering whether the Steering Group members might now like to celebrate this watershed moment in the Neighbourhood Plan process with something just a little stronger …

I certainly will be!

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