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Let’s keep warm this weekend; how to check if toys are safe this Christmas and we confirm the appointment of our new Chief Executive

Let’s keep warm this weekend

With temperatures falling below zero degrees in parts of Devon this weekend, we’re asking people to look out for older people or vulnerable neighbours and friends.

“Cold weather can have serious consequences for health, and older people and those with heart or lung conditions can be particularly at risk,” said the UK Health Security Agency’s Dr Agostinho Sousa.

They’re recommending that people try to heat the rooms they use most to at least 18 degrees centigrade.

Wearing several layers of clothing is also recommended, rather than a single thick layer.

Babies and children under five are also more at risk in cold weather. The NHS recommend children should wear several layers, and that using a number of lightweight blankets at night is advisable.

They advise that the ideal temperature for a baby’s bedroom is between 16 to 20 degrees centigrade.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue recommend using a portable electric oil-filled radiator to heat room spaces, but warn that they should be kept a distance away from curtains, bedding and upholstery, and that they’re switched off and unplugged before going to bed.

You can read more about this in the story on the news page of our website.

Ready, Spready, Go!!!

With the arrival of the cold spell, our gritting teams are out in force treating roads on Devon’s primary, secondary and precautionary salting routes.

We published a special edition of this newsletter this week about our winter gritting service.

It tells you how we make the decision for gritters to go out, and when and where we salt. It includes advice about driving on icy or wet roads, and invites you to find out what you could do as a snow warden to help keep your local roads clear of ice or snow. If you missed it, you can read it online.

Read our special edition newsletter

Rita, Seaton’s ‘lollipop lady’ for 30 years and still going strong!

Rita Hallett, our longest-serving School Crossing Patrol, has reached a major milestone by helping children and families cross the road more than million times over 30 years.  

Grandmother, Rita, 78, began working for us in 1992 and since then she has ensured countless families have been able to travel to and from Seaton Primary School in East Devon safely. 

And now Rita is encouraging others to consider joining our School Crossing Patrol with current vacancies in communities including Exmouth, Ivybridge, Tavistock, and Exeter. She said: 

“I like seeing the children, they are great little characters, and the parents, it gets me motivated in the morning and they are all so lovely.

“It’s nice to meet people. When you get older you tend to meet the same sorts of people. Doing this job means you get to meet and chat to the younger families.” 

We need more people to step into this vital role across Devon. You heard it from Rita herself, it keeps you fit and if you like meeting people and have time to spare we’d love to hear from you!

Find out more about School Crossing Patrol vacancies

Atkinson Secure Children’s Home rated ‘Good’ for seventh year in a row

Children at our Atkinson Secure Children’s Home in Exeter ‘continue to benefit from good-quality care from staff, who are attentive and familiar with their needs’.

That’s the conclusion of Government Ofsted inspectors following their visit in November.

It’s the seventh year in a row that inspectors have rated the home as ‘Good’.

The home is registered to accommodate up to eight young people at any one time. It’s one of very few secure children’s homes in the country and children are placed there by councils across England.

Young people in Atkinson’s care have generally experienced trauma in their home environment and often within their community. Such experiences mean that they’re at significantly higher risk of school exclusion, exploitation, mental health difficulties and substance misuse.

You can read more about what the inspectors say about the home in the story on the news page of our website.

Image shows a teddy bear and the words, Be Aware of Unsafe Christmas Toys

How to check if toys are safe this Christmas

Our Trading Standards service has released two short videos with advice on what to look out for and what to avoid when buying toys, and electrical goods.

In the videos, our officer, Holly Traynor, provides a checklist for buyers, including advice to only buy from reputable sources and making sure that they display a CE or UKCA mark to demonstrate that they’ve passed safety regulations.

“By following this checklist, you will help to keep children safe,” says Holly. “I hope that the videos are a useful reference for you and when you are out buying presents this Christmas.”

You can watch the videos from the story on the news page of our website.

Donna Manson confirmed as our new Chief Executive

The appointment of our new Chief Executive, Donna Manson, was agreed by our council yesterday. She’ll be joining us in February.

Donna is replacing Dr Phil Norrey as Chief Executive. She has been Chief Executive of Scotland’s largest rural authority, The Highland Council, since 2018.

There, she has led the authority in developing an ambitious, sustainable, and connected vision for the Highlands during a time of immense change and challenge.

Her background is in Education and Children’s Services in three Scottish councils, having started her career in teaching.

Jan Spicer, our Interim Chief Executive, remains in post until Donna joins us in February 2023.

Councillor Richard Bingley, Councillor Judy Pearce, Plymouth and South Devon Freeport interim CEO Richard May and Councillor John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council

Green light given for Freeport business case

New employment land, new businesses, thousands of jobs and millions of pounds of investment is coming our way with the approval of the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport Full Business Case, announced by the Government this week.

Plymouth and South Devon Freeport is the first of eight Freeports to be given the full green light along with two others.

The approval unlocks millions of pounds of grant seed funding and enables applicable businesses to join and take advantage of the Freeport status.

The Freeport will:

  • enable new employment land to be bought forward at the three sites of South Yard, Langage and Sherford
  • accelerate the formation of advanced manufacturing clusters in marine, defence and space sectors with low carbon applications at the forefront
  • leverage £250m private sector investment
  • ensure seed capital grant from Government of £25m for essential infrastructure
  • include £29m investment from local councils
  • support a new £30m Innovation Centre at Oceansgate
  • provide a major expansion plan for Princess Yachts
  • deliver over 3,500 jobs

You can read more about this project in the story on the news page of our website.

Devon’s wildlife heroes receive awards for outstanding contribution to nature conservation

Community groups from across Devon have been commended for their action towards wildlife conservation at the Devon Wildlife Community of the Year Awards.

The awards, which took place earlier this week, are part of Devon Local Nature Partnership’s ‘Wild About Devon’ initiative which supports local communities to restore and improve important habitats for nature and address the ecological emergency.

Communities and individuals across Devon are making a real positive difference to wildlife, and the Wildlife Community of the Year Awards provide an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and inspire others to set up their own local wildlife projects.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges based on the steps they had taken to improve the wildlife value of an area as well as the social benefit of their activity, for example an increase in skills, awareness in nature, social interaction, well-being, or health benefits.

You can read more about the winners in the story on the news page of our website.

And finally… take moor care if there’s snow on Dartmoor

Our friends at Dartmoor National Park have put out a polite appeal this afternoon in the anticipation of snow on the high ground this weekend. They ask:

“If there is snow on Dartmoor this weekend and you are planning a trip to head up and enjoy it, please do still be respectful to the moors.

  • please park sensibly and do not block roads or gates
  • please do not trespass onto private fields to go sledging
  • please drive carefully as not all roads are treated

“A little bit of thought can help us all enjoy a wintry Dartmoor and have fun. Thank you.”