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Free trees, support to help Devon businesses struggling with high costs and recruitment challenges and vaccination reminder for university students 

Support to help Devon businesses struggling with high costs and recruitment challenges 

We’ve been talking to our team in the Growth Hub. They help support local businesses in Devon. We were talking about the challenges that a lot businesses are facing right now, as they’re struggling with recruitment difficulties on top of rising costs of commodities, energy and fuel. 

In a longer than normal read, we describe some of those challenges and how they feel first hand to local businesses.  

And we describe the dilemma that many businesses are feeling, on the cusp of growing and wanting to expand, and yet worried to take on additional staff or make further investment while their costs are rising. 

Our Growth Hub is seeing this happen in Devon. There is support for businesses, and our Growth Hub can help. 

You can read the full story on the news page of our website.

New study looks into using farms and farm land for renewable energy generation

We’re currently looking into the feasibility of a new scheme that could give community energy groups the chance to use farmland and farm buildings to help expand Devon’s renewable electricity capacity. 

It’s about potentially using low-grade, agricultural land – this is land that isn’t also important for wildlife or other environmental interests – and farm buildings, for renewable energy generation from solar, wind, biomass and agricultural waste. 

Nationally, it’s been said that renewable energy production needs to be quadrupled to have a chance of meeting the UK’s net zero targets. Locally, we’re expecting renewable energy production in Devon to be a key requirement of Devon’s Carbon Plan, when it’s published this autumn. 

It’s an exciting study and the idea is that we’d first pilot a scheme using own tenant farms estate to see how well it works. 

“Our thoughts are with all Ukrainians” says lead councillor

Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day this week, marking the anniversary of the country’s independence from the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, (USSR), in 1991. 

This year it coincided with it also being six months since the start of Russia’s invasion of the country. 

In Devon, hundreds of guests from Ukraine, individuals and families, have arrived to stay with hosts since the government’s Homes for Ukraine programme began in March 2022. 

This week, our Cabinet Member responsible for communities, Councillor Roger Croad said that he is extremely proud that Devon has an important role in helping Ukraine’s residents. And he referred to the huge kindness and generosity of the very many hosts locally who are providing shelter and safety to guests from Ukraine. 

You can read what Councillor Croad said in the story on the news page of our website. 

Have you seen these signs? Do you know what they mean?

If you’re out and about in certain parts of Devon you might have noticed some ‘Animal Disease Control Zone’ signs on our roadsides.

They are there because there are some cases of bird flu currently in Devon, and the government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) requested that a protection zone be set up around outbreak areas so that people living in or visiting the area can take extra care to help reduce the risk of it spreading.

The risk to public health is very low as it is not an airborne disease, however, it is really important that you do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Full guidance is available on the government website.

Pharmacists on hand to help with minor conditions this bank holiday weekend

NHS Devon has issued the following advice, ahead of the bank holiday weekend. 

If you are feeling unwell this bank holiday weekend, remember that your local pharmacist is on hand to help and can save you a long wait in your local emergency department. 

Local pharmacists provide a range of services including expert advice and a fast route to medication for many minor ailments, including: 

  • aches and pains 
  • sore throats, coughs, colds and flu 
  • earache 
  • cystitis 
  • skin rashes 
  • teething 
  • conjunctivitis and sore eyes 

“Whether it’s sunburn, a bite or sting, or an upset stomach, we’re on hand throughout the bank holiday, as always,” says Pharmacist Jackie Lewis of Lewis Pharmacy in Exmouth. 

“By using your local pharmacist appropriately and leaving emergency departments for emergencies you can save yourself a long wait and do your bit to reduce pressure on health services.”

young people

Vaccination reminder for university students 

Students heading to university in September are being encouraged to ensure they are up to date with their vaccinations ahead of Freshers’ Week to protect themselves against a range of potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Students can be at increased risk of serious diseases such as meningitis, septicaemia and measles as they mix with large numbers of other students from around the country and overseas.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and meningitis charities are asking parents and students to ensure they are protected before the term begins as many of these illnesses arise at the start of the academic year.

The three vaccines students should get up to date with are:

  1. MenACWY – protecting against four common strains causing meningitis and septicaemia
  2. MMR – protecting against measles, mumps, rubella
  3. HPV (for female students) – protecting against cervical and other cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) together with genital warts

Anyone who is unsure about their vaccine status can check with their GP practice to see if they are up to date and fully protected. Ideally, students should have any vaccines they have missed at least two weeks before leaving for university. If they are unable to do this, they should arrange to have any missed vaccines as soon as possible with their current GP or their new GP practice if they are moving to a university.

Free trees, native to Devon, available to landowners

We’ve been working with the Woodland Trust to give away native trees for landowners to plant. 

It’s thanks to funding from the Woodland Trust, through the Emergency Tree Fund. 

Thousands of trees have so far been planted by landowners right across the county. Each pack contains 45 trees, comprising three types of native broadleaved tree commonly found in Devon. 

The schemes been running a while now, but it’s not too late to get involved! Landowners, you have until Tuesday 27 September – just over a month to go – to apply for free trees. 

Landowners interested in taking part need an area of around 400m sq to plant 45 trees. It might be to establish a small copse, or to extend an existing woodland. 

The September deadline is so that tree packs will be delivered in time to be planted during National Tree Week at the end of November. 

To find out more about the scheme and how to apply for free trees, please visit the Emergency Tree Fund website

Stay safe on the roads this weekend

This bank holiday weekend is traditionally one of the busiest on our roads, with the AA expecting 45 per cent of UK drivers to be making non-commuting journeys between today (Friday) and Monday. 

It’s the culmination of many things – people returning home from summer holidays; others venturing off to make the most of the final public holiday of the summer; large scale music festivals; and day trips to wherever….. all before children return to school in September. 

Our team at the Network Operations Control Centre in Exeter (who control and monitor many of the CCTV cameras dotted at key junctions across Devon’s road network) are geared up for a busy weekend ahead. 

“This is always a busy few days on the roads,” says Councillor Stuart Hughes, our Cabinet Member responsible for highway management. 

“Our team in the Control Centre will be doing everything they can to help keep Devon’s traffic moving this weekend. The M5 and the main trunk roads – the A303, A30, A35, and A38 through Devon – tend to carry much of the volume, but we usually see more traffic generally everywhere this weekend. Pinch points are often the popular tourist and seaside destinations. 

“Please drive safely and with consideration to others on the road this weekend. Plan your journeys and anticipate heavier traffic. If the weather stays warm, don’t forget to carry water with you in the car, and take a break if you’re tired.” 

For the latest news and information on our roads, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. 

We're hiring - community enabler

Job of the week: Community Enabler

Reaching for Independence is a dynamic short-term service which promotes independence, self-confidence, and positive wellbeing and we are looking for three new dedicated and enthusiastic people to join the team.

We work closely with individuals and their families to achieve the goals that are important to the person, such as independent living skills, employment, education, and being part of their community. 

The enabling role is community-based which can include working in a persons’ home or working within the community. We work with individuals to increase their levels of independence, through training and skills coaching with the aim of enabling and not disabling. 

The emphasis of this role will be helping individuals to prepare for and access paid employment. You will need to be able to work with our partner agencies in a collaborative, aspiring and innovative way to create job opportunities that benefit both the individual and employer.

So if you are looking for a career with ongoing professional development where you can inspire others and help them achieve their ambitions, then we want to hear from you.

Read the full job description and apply at the Devon Jobs website.

Routine asymptomatic testing to be paused in last remaining care settings

The requirement for regular asymptomatic coronavirus (COVID-19) testing (lateral flow testing), will be paused across all remaining health and social care settings, from the end of August. 

Lateral flow tests were used comprehensively during the COVID-19 pandemic to identify people who were likely to have the virus but who weren’t showing any symptoms.  

For the general public, they stopped being required in April, when the government launched its Living with COVID plan, but regular testing continued to be used in some health and care settings while case rates were high. 

With case rates falling, the government has said that routine testing of people with no symptoms in those remaining settings can now be ‘paused’; although testing for people with symptoms, including health and social care staff, will continue. 

People who are immunocompromised and in hospital, or being admitted to care homes or hospices, will also continue to be tested. 

Case rates in Devon have fallen – currently around one in every 40 people in the south-west have COVID-19 – but the expectation is that they are likely to rise again this autumn and winter. 

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said that it’s important that certain groups are offered booster vaccinations this autumn, including: 

• health and social care staff 

• everyone aged 50 years old and over 

• carers who are over the age of 16 years old

• people over five whose health puts them at greater risk, including pregnant women 

• people over five who share a house with somebody with a weakened immune system 

“It’s important that those invited to come forward for their booster jab this autumn do so, to give them optimum protection from the virus over the winter months,” says Steve Brown, our Director of Public Health Devon. 

Police ask public to help them stop raves before they start

Devon and Cornwall Police have issued a public request for people who may have information about a potential rave to please get in touch with them. 

“Raves cause disruption and misery for people living nearby, with loud music keeping residents awake for hours. They can also damage sensitive habitats for local wildlife,” said the police this week. 

And with the long weekend ahead, they have uniformed and plain clothes officers regularly patrolling potential rave sites, to prevent damage and disruption. 

For more information, including how to report it, visit the Devon and Cornwall Police website.