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Coronation streets; Funding to tackle cost-of-living crisis; Cycling improvements; Toxic mould and more

Devon’s social care services are among the highest performing nationally

Government research has found our adult social care services to be among the highest performing nationally.

Their latest findings, published in the Government’s Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework, are based on data collected from local councils and independent surveys of people who use social care services. 

This year’s report places our services among the highest ranking in 19 of the 26 performance indicators, up from 13 indicators in the top two quartiles last year.

It shows Devon to be bucking a national trend – improving services, when performance indicators for other local authorities is mainly downwards.

We’ve seen improvements over the last 12 months in the overall satisfaction of people who use adult social care services.

We now rank fifth in the UK’s 150 social care councils for providing services that improve people’s quality of life.

Indicators that demonstrate ‘promoting independence’ – associated with services that provide people with more choice and control over the support they receive – perform particularly strongly this year.

But there’s more we can do to improve further, and the next few years are likely to be particularly challenging.

You can read more about our Annual Report, and what Councillor James McInnes says about where we need to prioritise, in the story on our news centre.

Apply for a free street party licence to mark the coronation of His Majesty King Charles

Buckingham Palace has announced further details on the events that will take place from Saturday 6 to Monday 8 May 2023 to celebrate the Coronation of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort.

Communities are encouraged to get together to mark the occasion, and many may want to hold street parties.

We’re asking communities to let us know as soon as possible if their street party or celebration will require a road to be closed. 

Applications to close minor residential roads and cul-de-sacs for street parties can be made for free on our website until Sunday 26 March.

If you want to apply to close a busier road, you’ll need to do so very soon using our Special Event application webpage as we usually require three months notice and they will only be approved if it’s practical. The application may incur a fee

We granted around 160 street closures ahead of the The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee last year, and we’re expecting a lot of applications again for this ceremony. So please get your applications in soon.

Social enterprise flourished at Tavistock Enterprise Hub

We’re highlighting the important role that our Devon Work Hubs have in the county’s economy, and this week we continue to look at some of the successful businesses that have developed from them.

Flourish Paperworks may no longer be based at the Tavistock Enterprise Hub, but its time there proved to be an important chapter in its growth.

Jenny Adjene, Founder and Director at Flourish Paperworks, is celebrating ten years of her stationery, gifts, greetings card and printing business in Tavistock this year, having originally started the business from her home under the name of Hip Hip Hooray.

Today, it has an impressive shop in the town centre but the turning point for the business was around two years ago, while based at the Tavistock Enterprise Hub – which is one of 24 coworking spaces in the Devon Work Hubs network.

Read the full story on the news page of our website.

Don’t let ‘toxic mould’ scammers into your home warns Trading Standards

Scammers are trying to take advantage of current concerns about toxic mould, following the widely reported death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak who died as a result of exposure to toxic mould in his family’s flat in Rochdale in 2020, we warned this week.

We’ve had reports of cold-callers targeting residents and offering free surveys of homes to check for signs of mould. They’ve tried to dupe households into handing over money for fake toxic mould surveys or admin fees to secure government energy-efficiency grants. 

Often they’ve not returned to do the work and victims have been unable to contact them to get their money back. And if they do return, the work is often poor quality or unnecessary, and could make things worse or even damage your home.

We’ve described one such incident in the story on our news page.

Our advice is to not engage with cold-callers, and never invite them into your home or respond to offers of home repair work you receive via text or phone.

If you are thinking about installing energy-efficiency or anti-damp measures in your home we always advise you get recommendations from friends and family, Trade Associations or from the Trading Standards run Buy with Confidence approved trader scheme.

Four in every five of our schools in good condition

We were asked this week about the condition of our school buildings.

It follows national reports of a delay in the publication of data about the condition of schools, and information from the Department for Education that referred to blocks within some school building, at or that are approaching the end of their designed life-expectancy, to be at risk of collapse.

We reported that none of the educational buildings that we are responsible for are in a critical condition.

And that over 80 per cent – four in every five of the schools we’re responsible for – are graded as being in the same condition or better than the national average by the Department for Education.

But it is a challenge.

“The condition of some of the school estate for which we are responsible is challenging with the need for maintenance and refurbishment often exceeding the resources available”, we said this week.

“We have a planned capital maintenance programme of £3.8 million for 2023/24 across our maintained school estate, and we prioritise this spending based on need and in agreement with school leaders.

“Our highest priority will always be on meeting immediate health and safety needs.”

Have your say on draft plan for walking and cycling improvements in Exeter

This week, we’ve launched a public consultation on ambitious proposals to enable and encourage more people to walk and cycle in Exeter. We’re inviting you to have your say!

The plan, which we’ve developed in partnership with Exeter City Council, puts forward proposals for new walking and cycling routes as well as recommending improvements to the existing network in the Exeter area.

Measures being put forward include traffic-free cycle routes, advisory cycle routes on quiet roads, as well as junction and pavement improvements to make it easier for people to take up active travel around Exeter.

Please read the full story on the news page of our website for details about what the proposals include.

Taking part in the consultation means that your thoughts will help inform the final plan that will detail which routes will be the focus of targeted investment over the next 10 years.

It’s open until Friday 31 March, and a number of consultation events will also be held in the Ante Chamber at County Hall (which is fully accessible) from 11am to 7pm on Tuesday 14 February, Wednesday 15 February, Wednesday 15 March and Thursday 16 March.

The consultation website includes questionnaires for the proposed Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan network as a whole, as well as feedback forms to comment on individual cycling and walking routes.

£300k pot for projects tackling cost-of-living crisis

A fund of £300,000 is helping voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) partners run projects tackling cost-of-living pressures thanks to a joint project between us, the NHS and local organisations across Devon.

One Devon Partnership, the county’s Integrated Care Partnership, has secured the money from NHS England’s South West region and is working with local groups to allocate grants of up to £10,000 for projects that directly support people who are experiencing difficulties due to the cost of living.

It’s open to all VCSE organisations delivering services that address the cost-of-living crisis with an emphasis on projects that also help tackle other system priorities such as addressing health inequalities, loneliness and isolation.

The fund runs until March 2023 and organisations interested in applying should contact Darin Halifax who will let them know who their local lead VCSE partner is.

Final call to come forward for COVID-19 booster vaccination

The NHS in Devon is encouraging people to come forward for their COVID-19 booster jab before the offer ends on Sunday 12 February.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that, thanks to the success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, the offer of an initial booster dose for all 16 to 49-year-olds who are not considered at risk should end when the current autumn campaign ends. 

This means that Sunday 12 February will be the last chance for anyone who has been invited for a COVID-19 booster jab to take up their offer, until future campaigns are agreed by JCVI and Government.

It comes as the JCVI is recommending moving to a more targeted offer to those considered to be at risk of serious illness.

Please visit the NHS website or call 119 for more information.

Devon-wide van permit at recycling centres begins in March

If you own a privately registered van (but not for business purposes) and you want to use our Ivybridge, Totnes, Kingsbridge, Okehampton or Tavistock Recycling Centres you will need a permit from Wednesday 1 March – and from today you can apply for free online.

Our new system is already in operation in other parts of Devon. We introduced it to help stop commercial waste from being deposited at our sites at public expense.

It will also help make it easier to use the sites by reducing queues and congestion. 

The permit entitles the holder to 12 visits over the next 12 months.

They’ll only be given to people with vans registered to individuals, and not to vehicles registered to businesses. 

You can read more about this in the story on our news centre.

Bristol Windrush Reggae Choir hosted by Bristol Reggae Orchestra. Photo by Mark Simmons Photography.

Local communities to get £750,000 for Windrush 75th anniversary celebrations

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the ship HMT Empire Windrush in the United Kingdom, and to honour the Windrush legacy, the Government has launched a special grant scheme.

Communities in England can bid for a share of £750,000 to celebrate National Windrush Day on 22 June 2023. Grants of up to £50,000 are available to fund celebratory parades, educational resources, arts and sporting projects, provided that they are focused on the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants.

Near Neighbours, a charity that brings people together in communities that are religiously and ethnically diverse, are administering the scheme on behalf of the Government. You can apply through the application form on their website. Applications must be completed by midday on Wednesday 22 February 2023