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Black Friday warning from Trading Standards; Sand art conveys serious message; Have you considered a career in childcare?; FREE tree packs available; and quality mark recognises best practice by Adopt South West

Black Friday warning: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is

Our Trading Standards service is warning consumers to be wary of scams when shopping online this Black Friday. New research shows more than one in four people have been tricked by purchase scams, where you make a payment for goods or services online that never turn up.

Criminals often advertise technology products like phones or computers at low prices on auction sites, social media and fake websites, persuading buyers to make bank transfers, then disappearing once the payment is made.

Protect yourself when shopping online by:

  • checking the legitimacy of a website at getsafeonline.org 
  • reading online reviews on Trustpilot or Feefo
  • never paying by bank transfer
  • never being rushed into making a purchase. Always take five!

If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

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Stunning sand art conveys serious message in National Road Safety Week

An enormous piece of sand art has been created on Saunton Beach to commemorate those who lost their lives in road traffic collisions in Devon and Cornwall. 

The huge 50-metre wide circular pattern, made from 47 hearts representing each person who died on our roads last year, was etched by hand by Cornish artist Chris Howarth – also known as One Man and His Rake – and photographed by award-winning drone specialists Bad Wolf Horizon.

It was commissioned by the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership to mark the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and the start of Brake’s National Road Safety Week.

Read the full story and watch the video on the news page of our website.

Childcare shortage – support is available to help you start a rewarding new career

If you are a job seeker, a school leaver or you are returning to work after starting a family why not consider a career in childcare? We’re concerned that there are not enough professionals in place when funded childcare for working parents is extended next September and we need more people to enter the profession.

One pathway into the profession is through the Government’s Early Years Educator Apprenticeship Scheme. There are Government grants to help people cover the costs of starting up as a childminder and are worth either £600 or £1,200 depending on whether the person registers with Ofsted or with a childminder agency. To find out more about these visit the Government’s Department for Education website. 

If childminding is not an option, there are two different Early Years Educator Apprenticeships available. No previous experience is needed for either. You can find out more on the Government’s Apprenticeships website.  

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

Devon’s Free Tree Scheme about to ’em-bark’ on its fifth season

This year’s upcoming tree planting season will mark the fifth season that we’ve been running our Free Tree Scheme. By the end of this winter around 15,750 trees will have been planted across the county as part of the scheme since it launched in 2019. 

As part of National Tree Week, which this year runs from Saturday 25 November to Sunday 3 December, we will be handing out a total of 50 free tree packs, each containing 45 native broadleaved trees, to landowners and communities who successfully applied to the initiative to help tackle the climate emergency, contribute towards carbon net zero targets and support nature recovery.

We’re also planning for around 10,000 trees to be planted in the county this season through community planting schemes with the help of local not-for-profit social enterprise ParkLife South West. To register your interest in volunteering to help the tree planting co-ordinated by ParkLife, email parklifesw@gmail.com or visit the Eventbrite website.

Read the full story on our news page.

More than 550,000 journeys made in first two years of Dartmoor Line reopening

A special community celebration took place this week to mark the second anniversary of the reopening of the Dartmoor Line. The previously mothballed rail line, which runs between Okehampton and Exeter, was restored in just nine months and delivered £10m under budget.

Its popularity is far exceeding expectations, with more than 550,000 journeys taken by passengers from Okehampton and the wider area extending as far as Tavistock, Launceston and Bude, with connecting bus services, funded by us, to and from Okehampton Station.

In May 2022, the previous two-hourly train service frequency was increased to hourly, seven days a week, and in October last year the Tavistock rail-link bus was joined by direct buses linking Bude, Holsworthy and Launceston with Okehampton station.

You can read the full story on the news page of our website.

Quality mark recognises best practice by Adopt South West

Fostering for adoption (which is also called early permanence) aims to provide children in our care with a temporary foster placement but with the potential for this to become their permanent home through adoption. This approach ensures they receive consistent, good quality care, placing them with their future adoptive family at the earliest possible stage and protecting them from experiencing multiple moves within the care system.

The numbers of children who benefit from fostering for adoption placements through our regional adoption agency, Adopt South West (our partnership with Somerset Council, Plymouth City Council and Torbay Council) is consistently above the national average, and has gained recognition, earning the ‘Early Permanence Quality Mark Award’.

Local adopters and former foster carers, Danny and Rita, are among those who adopted a child through fostering for adoption after they decided they wanted to offer a child a permanent home. You can read their story on the news page of our website.

We want your views on plans for a new Sidford to Sidbury multi-use trail

We want to know what you think of our plans for a new multi-use trail linking Sidford to Hillside, Sidbury in East Devon.

Visit our website before Friday 5 January 2024 to view the draft scheme and provide feedback through a short survey before formal planning permission is sought.

Our proposals are for a multi-use trail, approximately half a mile in length, from the north side of the village of Sidford along the western side of the A375 (Two Bridges Road) connecting to Hillside, Sidbury.

You can find out more in the full story on the news page of our website.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are now National Landscapes

All Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England and Wales have become National Landscapes, including the five in Devon – Blackdown Hills, East Devon, North Devon Coast, South Devon, and the Tamar Valley.

The new name reflects the importance of these areas and aims to highlight their vital contribution to the environment across the country. 

Over the past two years, Devon’s five AONBs have successfully distributed grants totalling £5.7 million for an exciting range of environmental projects such as enhancing soil quality, mitigating flood risks, and establishing woodlands, hedgerows and flower-rich meadows. They’re also enhancing countryside accessibility and spearheading projects to improve people’s wellbeing, enhance biodiversity, and tackle climate concerns.

You can read the full story on the news page of our website.

From left: Ali Eastland, Councillor Andrew Saywell, Michael Gidney, Sue Errington and Councillor John Hart

We’ve pledged to continue supporting Fairtrade

Our council Leader, John Hart and Cabinet Member for Organisational Development, Councillor Andrew Saywell, met the Chief Executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, Michael Gidney as part of his whistle stop tour of Devon.

Devon has been a Fairtrade County since 2008, renewing accreditation every two or three years.

Fairtrade Devon co-ordinates activities in the 15 Fairtrade towns across Devon, plus the University of Exeter.

Michael spent two days to see for himself how the county and Devon County Council is supporting Fairtrade and in turn farmers and producers around the world.

Since 2008, Fairtrade Devon has invited producers to visit the county as guests, explaining the very real and positive impact which being a Fairtrade member has on their lives and communities.

You can read the full story on our news page.