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Celebrations, consultations and competitions… oh my!

Our Country Parks retain the coveted Green Flag Award

Our two country parks are celebrating after receiving a Green Flag Award again. The accreditation retained by Stover Country Park near Newton Abbot and the Grand Western Canal Country Park in Tiverton is the international quality mark for parks and green spaces. This year marks the 20th consecutive year that Stover Country Park has received the award, and at the Grand Western Canal Country Park, it’s 15 years.

The Restoring Stover Park Lottery Project is underway, which will conserve the historic and wildlife interest at the site as well as facilitate new user groups, including the Stover Community Shed initiative. The Friends of Stover Country Park funded the construction of a life-size horse and carriage sculpture earlier this year through the Co-op’s Local Community Fund.

In recent months, the Grand Western Canal has benefited from a range of improvements such as resurfacing a three-quarter mile stretch of the towpath near Sampford Peverell to improve access and installing several new noticeboards. The Canal Country Park has also received police accreditation for the Canal Ranger team and volunteer Community Patrol Boat crew to help deal with anti-social behaviour.

Well done to the staff and volunteers who maintain the consistently high standards that make these parks such great habitats for our local wildlife as well as being special green spaces for the rest of us to enjoy.

Celebrating Keira’s Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award

Like any parent, we like to celebrate the successes and achievements of the children and young people who are, or have been, in our care.

Today, we’re celebrating nineteen-year-old, Keira Connolly’s amazing achievement of gaining her Gold, Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Award.

We spoke to Keira to ask her why she’d decided to complete not just the Bronze, but then the Silver and Gold DofE awards.

“It seemed fun,” she said. “I really enjoyed the first, so did the second one. By the time I finished that, I was determined to do all three. And besides, my Gold gave me something to do through the lockdown, so I didn’t go insane!”

Visit our news webpage to learn more about Keira’s inspiring story of accomplishment, from starting her Bronze award aged 14, through to her Silver award, and as she moved into foster care, her Gold DofE challenge.

We and Keira’s foster carer are proud of her.

“As corporate parents to all of our children in care, it is especially heartening to see our care experienced young people achieving and doing well,” said Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Cabinet Member with responsibility for children’s services.

Manager, Nick Meller, speaking to guests about our Y-Smart and REACH team services

Services helping to safeguard young people celebrate their anniversaries

Two of our services that support children and young people have been applauded by those who have used the services, at an anniversary celebration this week.

Y-Smart supports children and young people who have drug or alcohol-related issues, and those who experience parents or carers and siblings misusing drugs or alcohol.

The service has helped thousands of young people in the 21 years it’s been operating.

In addition our REACH Team, which supports young people at risk of going missing from care or home and potentially becoming victims of exploitation, has been running for 10 years.

Both services play a vital role in safeguarding and protecting vulnerable children and young people from harm.

One man described how Y-Smart had helped him when he was younger, while his mum had alcohol and mental health problems.

Parents have also praised both of our services, with one describing the care worker for her daughter, as ‘amazing’.

You can read the full story on our news page.

Christian Wolmar, Honorary President of Railfuture, presents award to Councillor Andrea Davis

Devon honoured to receive Railfuture award

Britain’s leading independent organisation campaigning for better rail services has honoured us with a prestigious award. Railfuture named us a ‘torch bearer in rail development’ and presented Councillor Andrea Davis, our Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, with its Judges’ Special Award.

The accolade from the judges of Railfuture’s Rail User Group (RUG) awards is in recognition of our sustained delivery of rail projects across Devon. This was the first time Railfuture has presented an award to a local authority. We were praised for a series of rail and public transport improvements including:

  • the opening of Marsh Barton Station as the most recent of three new stations in the Devon Metro,
  • being awarded Department for Transport (DfT) funding for the Strategic Outline Business Case for the Tavistock to Plymouth Restoring Your Railway project,
  • our role in the reopening of the Dartmoor Line, followed by securing Levelling Up funding for a new rail station on the east side of Okehampton,
  • strengthening bus and rail integration with dedicated bus links including connections between Tavistock, Bude and Launceston with the Dartmoor Line and providing additional funding for bus services in rural North Devon to enhance connections to Barnstaple Railway Station.

They also highlighted that these projects had been achieved through Devon’s close work with train operators and other key stakeholders.

Academy praised for ‘outstanding’ SEND provision

Our Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, has praised Yeo Valley Primary School this week on their teaching of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), which Ofsted inspectors say is ‘outstanding’.

The school in Barnstaple was inspected in May. Inspectors singled out the quality of the school’s SEND and Early Years provision as being outstanding.

Many children with SEND can thrive in mainstream, local schools if the right support is put in place.

Ofsted inspector, Gavin Summerfield said,

“Pupils are proud to come to this welcoming and inclusive school.”

He also said, “Leaders ensure that they have high expectations of pupils, including those with special educational needs and/or disabilities,” and that “leaders identify the needs of pupils with SEND quickly and accurately.”

Councillor Leadbetter said:

“The inspector’s comments show it is possible to identify and support special educational needs in a mainstream setting. We are working hard with the education sector to make Devon schools more inclusive so that more children with SEND can thrive in their local, mainstream school.”

You can read the full story on our news webpage.

Keep it green this summer and win a day out

This summer Devon’s residents are being encouraged to keep it green and take a pledge to win one of five Big Green Days Out.

Recycle Devon has teamed up with Devon’s Top Attractions, Stagecoach South West, Great Western Railway, Devon Climate Emergency (DCE) and Clean Devon to share tips on how to enjoy a day out, the green way. They include:

The prizes consist of a reusable, eco picnic set, reusable water bottles, Devon’s Top Attractions entry tickets, Stagecoach tickets and rail tickets. Each pledge entry will be added to a prize draw, to be drawn on Monday 7 August 2023.

To make the pledge and enter the prize draw, visit the Recycle Devon website.

Better walking and cycling facilities in Exmouth? We want to know your views!

We’re asking people to help us develop proposals to improve walking and cycling facilities around Exmouth’s railway station and help make the area safer, more welcoming, and more pleasant place for all.

The plans include wider footways, improved crossing points, upgraded bus stops and the closure of the existing subway, and are intended to encourage active travel, particularly for shorter journeys, reduce congestion and improve connectivity across the town. They will also help reduce carbon emissions by encouraging more people to use sustainable modes of travel as well as bring benefits to local businesses through increased footfall.

The feedback received will help identify key issues, areas of concern and opportunities ahead of a formal public consultation on more detailed and specific proposals later in the year.

To share your views, please visit the scheme webpage and complete the survey and provide your comments on the interactive map before Monday 21 August. If you need guidance or an alternative format, please email, write to Transport Planning, Devon County Council, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD, or call 0345 155 1004.

Resilience grant scheme extended to support flood-hit communities

The Devon Community Resilience Forum is extending its current Emergency Resilience Grant scheme to support communities across the county affected by storm events in May.

The initiative currently offers two funding schemes – one to help communities to develop emergency plans and another supporting small-scale works and resilience equipment, which is usually intended for those communities with an emergency plan already in place. However, in response to the recent storm events and to support community flood resilience, the grant of up to £1,500 for small-scale works and equipment is available until the end of September 2023 for those communities that are still in the process of developing their plan or do not yet have one.

Applications are made through a simple two-page Microsoft Word form. Any constituted group (Parish Council or community group) with a bank account is able to apply for the grant.

For more information visit the Devon Communities Together webpage or contact

Consultation underway for bus improvements in Exeter city centre

We’ve launched a consultation to give people the opportunity to comment on proposals for a new contraflow bus lane in Exeter city centre, on the one-way section of New North Road between Longbrook Street and Sidwell Street, outside John Lewis.

It will provide a more direct route to the city centre for buses travelling from Cowley Bridge roundabout to the Exeter Bus Station, and enable passengers to disembark on Sidwell Street. It will also reduce the number of services travelling on Longbrook Street and York Road, which will improve air quality for residents and the local primary school.

The consultation responses will be reviewed before the proposals go before councillors at a meeting of our Cabinet later this year. If the plans are approved the aim would be for work to start by March 2024. Feedback can be provided by completing the online survey before Monday 14 August.

Alternatively, to request a paper copy of the consultation survey leaflet and/or the survey, please email, write to Transport Planning, Devon County Council, County Hall, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4QD, or call 0345 155 1004.

Two weeks left to renew your tax credits

If you’re claiming tax credits, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will have sent you a renewal pack. If your renewal pack has a red line and says ‘reply now’ you’ll need to confirm your circumstances for the current tax year to continue receiving payments. For most people, this must be done by Monday 31 July 2023.

The quickest and easiest way for you to renew your tax credits is online via the government’s website or via the HMRC app. You can also renew tax credits by phone or post.

Please be aware of scams that attempt to trick people into sharing their banking or other personal details. Typical scam examples include emails or texts claiming an individual’s details aren’t up to date and that they risk losing out on payments that are due to them. If a phone call, text or email is unexpected, do not give out private information or reply, and do not download attachments or click on links.

HMRC is also warning people not to share their login details with anyone else. Visit the Government’s website for more information on how to report a scam or suspicious activity.