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Reaffirming our commitment to the armed forces; £9.4 million to improve Devon roads; UK Government’s Emergency Alert system; and nominate your wildlife hero

Devon reaffirms its support for the armed forces community

We’ve reaffirmed our commitment to do all we can to support the armed forces community and their families.

At a special event this week at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in East Devon, our Council Leader, Councillor John Hart, re-signed the Armed Forces Covenant, alongside Councillor Nicole Amil of Torbay Council. CTCRM Commandant Colonel Christopher E Haw MC signed on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

By signing the covenant, we are recognising the significant contribution that members of the armed forces make to our country, and that we understand the issues that veterans, reservists, and their family members face.

We and Torbay Council formed a partnership to support service members, recognising that a lack of familiarity about civilian services can make it difficult for many veterans and their families to access health care, or find suitable housing, employment, or to join social groups.

“I’m pleased to reaffirm our pledge,” said former serviceman Councillor Roger Croad, our Lead Member for the Armed Forces Covenant. “Many veterans, reservists and family members of veterans work for the Council. I want them to know that we not only recognise and thank them for their contribution, but that we understand the issues they face. I pledge that we will continue to support each veteran and the wider armed forces community in any way we can.”

You can read the full story on our news page.

And watch the video on our You Tube channel.

Every penny will go towards improving the condition of the highway network

Every penny of the extra money will be spent making our roads more resilient

Every penny of the extra £9.4 million for Devon, announced in the Chancellor’s budget last week, will be spent on improving our roads and making them more resilient.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced the extra cash specifically to fund vital highways maintenance.

Councillors were told yesterday that every penny will go towards improving the condition of the highway network, including the prevention of defects, surface dressing and skid resistance on key routes.

Most of it will go towards the Local Area Capital Programmes, which will reflect local priorities identified through our elected members and Neighbourhood Highway Officers.

Using inspections and survey data, the remaining funding will be directed to preventative works to stop potholes forming in the first place.

Prolonged spells of very wet weather and freezing road temperatures this winter have been hugely detrimental to the condition of our 8,000 mile road network. To tackle it, over the past few months, we doubled the number of pothole teams, introduced weekend working and extended working hours across the network. That resulted in up to 2,200 potholes being repaired each week.

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

New emergency alert system launched by UK Government

You may have heard in the news that the UK Government’s new Emergency Alerts system is now live. The system will enable people to be contacted through their mobile phone if their lives are at risk in an emergency. The service will be used to warn you about life-threatening emergencies, for example severe flooding.

Emergency Alerts are messages sent to all compatible 4G and 5G mobile phones when there’s a danger to your life, health or property in the area you’re located. They don’t need your location or phone number and only the Government and the emergency services can send them. If you don’t have a mobile, you’ll still be kept informed through other channels.

There will be a UK-wide test of the Emergency Alerts system taking place on Sunday 23 April 2023. If you have a compatible phone, you will receive a welcome message. You do not need to do anything when you receive it, as it’s just a test to ensure the service is working effectively.

Emergency Alerts have already been used successfully in a number of other countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan, where it has been widely credited with saving lives, for example, during severe weather events.

There is a list of frequently asked questions available and for more information about the Emergency Alerts system, you can go to the GOV.UK website.

Nominate your wildlife heroes for the 2023 Wild About Devon Awards

Communities are being called upon to nominate their ‘wildlife heroes’ for an award this autumn.

The awards will celebrate the work that groups and individuals are doing across the county, who have gone above and beyond to tackle the ecological emergency.

Wild About Devon is a Devon Local Nature Partnership initiative, focusing on supporting local communities to restore and improve habitats for nature across our diverse landscapes.

There are four award categories:

  • Wildlife Community of the Year
  • Wildlife Parish and Town Council of the Year
  • Wildlife School of the Year
  • Outstanding individual

A panel of judges will select three winners in each category, based on the steps they’ve taken to improve the wildlife value of an area as well as the social benefit of their activity.

Winners will receive certificates on the night as well as other great prizes that will aid their conservation efforts.

You can read more about the awards, and about grants that are available for community groups that are carrying out, or would like to carry out activities to promote wildlife.

Future of ‘spectacular’ nationally important Iron Age hillfort secured

Hembury Hillfort’s future as a publicly accessible landmark has been secured following its purchase by The Devon Archaeological Society (DAS).

Now the DAS aims to manage the site for its nature conservation as well as for its archaeological significance and will work with us, the Devon Wildlife Trust and the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership to achieve this.

The prehistoric monument, near Honiton, is one of Devon’s most spectacular examples of an Iron Age fortification and is positioned on a prominent spur of the Blackdown Hills.

Its massive earthen ramparts and ditches date from the mid-first millennium BC and they create a prominent landmark with commanding views over the surrounding countryside.

DAS purchased the site with some of its own funds, alongside substantial donations from some of its Trustees and members, and with a £73,047 grant from Historic England.

You can read more about it in the story on our website.

Are you due an alternative fuel payment?

If you use an alternative fuel as a main source of heating, you’re entitled to a £200 payment from the Government to help with your bills.

If you don’t have a contract with a gas supplier, you’ll use other types of fuel to keep your home warm. These could include alternative fuels like:

  • oil
  • Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)
  • wood
  • solid fuel – such as coal
  • biomass – such as wood pellets or agricultural waste

If you use alternative fuels as your main form of heating, the Government will give you a £200 payment to help with your fuel bills. This is called the ‘Alternative Fuel Payment’.

Your electricity supplier should have made an automatic payment to you in February 2023. If you use a prepayment meter, your supplier will have sent you a voucher. You’ll have to use this by Friday 30 June 2023. If you lose your voucher or it expires, contact your supplier for a new one.

If you don’t have a contract with an electricity supplier, you’ll need to apply for the payment. You can apply for the Alternative Fuel Payment on GOV.UK.

Clocks go forward this Sunday!

Don’t forget, the clocks go forward one hour, at 1am this Sunday, 26 March, as we move from Greenwich Mean Time to British Summer Time.