There’s been plenty of sunshine across Devon recently, but there has also been some weather warnings because the heat can pose risks to our health, particularly the elderly or people with underlying conditions.
It’s important to know how to keep yourself safe this summer. Read our ‘Get Set for Summer’ special edition to find out about protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays, knowing the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion, how to avoid being bitten by ticks and enjoying Devon’s rivers, lakes and coast safely.
Devon Windrush Flag raised at County Hall to mark 75th anniversary
We raised the Devon Windrush Flag at County Hall this week, marking the 75th anniversary since the Empire Windrush arrived in Tilbruy Dock and its 492 passengers disembarked to begin new lives in Britain.
The flag raising was attended by members of the Devon Windrush Group, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Devon, and others.
It was a chance to pay tribute to the UK’s Caribean community for their immense contribution, and to acknowledge that many of the Windrush generation suffered hardship, prejudice and abuse – experiences that unfortunately many of their descendants still experience today, including those living in Devon.
It was also an opportunity to recognise that Devon has become increasingly diverse over the last 10 years, according to Census data.
The anniversary coincides with a report to one of our Scrutiny Committees, updating councillors on progress made on our Race Equality Action Plan.
Councillors heard that our commitment, to stamp out intolerance and develop a more inclusive culture within our council through our Race Equality Action Plan, is making good progress.
Marsh Barton Station opening date confirmed
The new Marsh Barton Railway Station in Exeter will open to the public on Tuesday 4 July 2023.
We’ve delivered the £16 million project in collaboration with Network Rail and Great Western Railway and it’s been built by construction and civil engineering specialist firm, GRAHAM.
The scheme also involved the development of a new pedestrian and cycle bridge, which opened in April, improving active travel links – for example, walking and cycling – between Alphington, Marsh Barton and the Riverside Valley Park.
The station features two fully accessible platforms equipped with:
- ticket machines
- smart ticket readers
- live train departure screens
- waiting shelters
- help points
The two platforms are linked by the pedestrian overbridge which has ramps to facilitate cyclists and provide disabled access to the whole station.
New wave of skills bootcamps launched across Devon and Cornwall
A £3 million investment in skills across Devon and Cornwall has been announced with the launch of the latest wave of Train4Tomorrow Skills Bootcamps.
More than 50 bootcamps are now recruiting learners with over 1,000 places available, and demand for the training continuing to grow.
Courses are open to adults aged 19 years old or over who are looking to improve their skills and employability. For those seeking new employment a guaranteed interview is offered.
Train4Tomorrow Skills Bootcamps, which we’re delivering in partnership with Cornwall Council, offer a range of fully-funded training courses of up to 16 weeks across a variety of sectors: digital, technical, construction, green skills, healthcare, hospitality and professional services.
More than 1,300 learners across Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset have already attended a Skills Bootcamp, with many starting careers in growing sectors.
You can read more about the courses they did, including the experience of Jordan Cooper and Jo Harper (pictured), in the full story on the news page of our website.
To check out your eligibility and find out more about Skills Bootcamps across Devon and Cornwall, visit the Train4Tomorrow webpages.
Active Streets trial given green light to proceed
We’re going to trial a new scheme in the residential streets of Heavitree and Whipton in Exeter, to make the roads safer for local residents, pedestrians and cyclists.
Members of the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee agreed this week that the Active Streets trial can go ahead.
It will involve ‘modal filters’ (bollards or planters) being placed a key locations to reduce traffic on residential streets, and to support local people who want to walk, wheel, scoot or cycle.
All properties in the area will still be accessible by car, but residents may need to use a different route for some journeys.
Bus gates will allow through buses, emergency vehicles and others such as waste collection lorries.
We are going to trial it for up to 18 months, and local residents will be able to tell us what they think.
New libraries Work Club launch for Refugee Week
It’s Refugee Week this week, and we’ve been working with Libraries Unlimited, which run Devon’s libraries on our behalf, to launch a new free weekly Work Club services for refugees arriving in Devon, to help them find employment.
Library Unlimited Work Clubs are open to everyone who joins the library. They run in several libraries across Devon, helping hundreds of people into jobs by providing support in CV writing, interview skills, digital skills and reducing barriers to employment.
Now the Work Clubs in Barnstaple, Bideford (when open next month), Newton Abbot and Tiverton, and hopefully other libraries from September, will provide extra support to refugees, asylum seekers and other new arrivals including:
- access to huge numbers of print and digital resources in many languages
- access to translation services
- staff on hand to advise on CV creation, job searches, applications and
- signposting to other services specialist support services in the community
- advice on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes
- free access to computers, WiFi and support with digital skills
- free activities for the whole family including Bounce and Rhyme sessions for young children, baby self-weigh, reading groups and lots of other social
events and activities.
Youth Hub Devon celebration
Youth Hub Devon is inviting young people aged 16 to 24 years old to join a special double celebration event next week, on Thursday 29 June from 1pm to 3pm at Exeter Library.
It’s to mark moving to new premises at the library as well as the achievement that, since opening the service in 2021, 500 young people have been referred to the Youth Hub for a range of support including career advice, help with CV writing, interview skills, and signposting to other relevant services. Of those, over 200 have been helped to find their way into education, employment, and training.
The event will see key influencers and young people share their stories and Youth Hub staff provide information about their service. Pizza and drinks will be available (first come first served!) as well as music, gaming and other activities!
Government plans to scrap charges for DIY waste
We expressed some concern this week following an announcement by the Government that they will stop councils charging for DIY waste at Household Waste Recycling Centres.
On the face of it, you might be in favour of it. But the disposal of waste comes at a cost, and we, like so many local councils, introduced charges for some DIY waste, years ago in response to severe cuts to local government funding. And it’s because of the income we’ve got from those charges, that we’ve been able to maintain the comprehensive service across all 19 of our Household Waste Recycling Centres across Devon.
So plans to stop charges for DIY waste will make it harder for us to maintain the service as it is, and could mean us having to consider reducing opening hours.
The lead Councillor responsible for our waste service said this week that it’d be unfair to ask all council tax payers to pay for the DIY waste – from people’s kitchen or bathroom refurbishments for example – of those who can afford to make their own home improvements.
Proposals sought to deliver second year of Devon Multiply maths skills training
Grant funding is being offered to organisations that can help deliver a second year of a successful scheme providing maths skills training to adults in Devon.
We’re inviting organisations to submit innovative proposals to deliver numeracy skills training to adults in the county through our Devon Multiply scheme, which is funded by the UK Government.
Organisations that are eligible to apply include private businesses, public organisations, voluntary organisations, charities, community groups and local authorities.
Funding from £15,000 to £50,000 is available to projects that submit a successful application. Expressions of interest are open and have been extended to Friday 30 June 2023.
Find out more about Devon Multiply on our website.
Is your family up to date with the MMR vaccine?
UK Health Security (UKHSA) data shows that nationally there was a rise in measles cases this year and people are being asked to ensure that their family is up to date with vaccinations.
Children are offered the first dose of the MMR vaccine when aged one year and the second dose aged 3 years 4 months. UKHSA is urging parents of young children, teenagers and adults to check they are up to date with their MMR vaccines, particularly before they travel this summer and before attending summer festivals where measles can spread more easily.
Measles spreads very easily and can lead to complications that require a stay in hospital and on rare occasions can cause lifelong disability or death, so it is concerning to see cases starting to increase this year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, in some areas we saw a fall in uptake for the routine childhood vaccinations, including MMR, which leaves us vulnerable to outbreaks of measles, especially as people travel abroad for summer holidays to places where measles is more common.
Measles is a highly infectious viral illness, so anyone with symptoms is advised to stay at home and phone their GP or NHS 111 for advice before visiting the surgery or A&E. This will help to prevent the illness spreading further.
To see if your child is up to date with their MMR vaccines, check your child’s personal child health record (PCHR), commonly known as the red book, or contact your GP practice. If anyone has missed one or both doses of the MMR vaccine, contact your GP practice to book an appointment. It is never too late to catch up.
If you have any concerns or questions around vaccinations, or wish to read more about the benefits of vaccinations and risks of infections, information is available from the NHS online: Why vaccination is safe and important; NHS video (on youtube) about vaccinating your child and Vaccination tips for parents.
New high-tech speed cameras
New high-tech bi-directional digital speed cameras are in the process of being installed on Exeter Road in Exmouth and the A385 Ashburton Road in Totnes due to problems with collisions and speeding vehicles, prompting numerous complaints from residents.
They’ve been erected on bright yellow posts for maximum visibility and have the ability to enforce speed in both directions simultaneously. Unlike older technology, they do not need painted lines on the road, or loops sunk into the road surface. They also use infra-red low light technology so will not ‘flash’.
The work is part of an ambitious target by the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, which we are a member of, to halve the number of people killed or seriously injured on Devon’s roads by 2030. As part of this, they’re funding a programme of new camera system installation, either replacing outdated technology at existing sites or introducing brand new schemes where an evidenced problem exists.