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Great Torrington Town Council

Updates from the Environment Committee

Wildflower Planting:

You may have seen our technicians Colin & Andy out and about planting wildflower seeds during September. The yellow rattle planted in 2019 has now taken effect in the majority of areas it has been planted and we are ready to move on to the next stage. We are planting more yellow rattle at Torridge View as it hasn’t been as effective on this verge.

With guidance from RHS Rosemoor, and Dave Squire we have chosen a perennial mix that should be well suited to the soil conditions. Establishing wildflowers is a long process, so there may not be masses of visible wildflowers in the first year; we are hoping that by 2025 we will all be able to fully appreciate the wildflower areas at Linden Close and Greenbank.

Management of Weeds:

In the early summer Great Torrington Town Council members, officers and technicians met with representatives of Devon Wildlife Trust to discuss plans and issues associated with reducing the use of harmful chemicals in the management of weeds.

Several factors were highlighted during this meeting, which contribute to the growth of weeds. The very wet and warm weather we had for many weeks this year definitely encouraged the rapid growth of weeds, and it was quite noticeable. These additional contributory factors were also noted:

· Cracks in the surface of roads and pavements.

· Debris on pavements and roads provides ideal substrate in the spaces provided by the cracks and at the edges of roads and pavements.

· The prevalence of on-street parking in some areas throughout the day reduces the effectiveness of the road sweeper lorry (scarab) – as there is no access to the edge of the road.

· The loss of the traditional habit of clearing and sweeping your own doorstep.

· Reduction of the use of harmful chemicals for weed management.

The issue of weed management can be a divisive one, so we are trying to work in a way that supports the environment and is considerate of the various opinions within the community. We have been contacted by many residents with differing viewpoints about issues with weeds and weed management in the past few months.

At our last Environment Committee meeting in early August, we discussed ways of addressing the issues raised during the meeting with Devon Wildlife Trust, and the practicalities of implementing the ideas suggested. For full minutes of this meeting

visit our website:

For now, we will continue to minimise our use of harmful chemicals, and trial other methods such as white vinegar. Our technicians will also continue to hand weed and hoe in some areas. We are going to consult with other local councils to see if we can learn from each other, during this time of changing ideas and approaches. We would also like to engage with local businesses to discuss a shared approach in reducing the use of harmful chemicals for managing weeds in our community.

Snow Warden Volunteers

Great Torrington Town Council is currently part of the Snow Warden scheme with Devon County Council. Our technician Andy is our trained Snow Warden and receives relevant updates from Devon County Council (DCC). Further information about the scheme is available on their website:

During the spell of snow in December 2022 Great Torrington Town Council officers received several phone calls, social media messages and emails about grit bin locations and problems with ice, which was making it difficult for people to safely leave their homes in various housing estates. The main roads through Torrington are gritted by DCC, and our technicians clear the Square as a priority to allow people to access food and medicines etc. Great Torrington Town Council is in the early stages of considering extending the Snow Warden Scheme to include a small team of volunteers. These volunteers would be given some training and would receive updates from the Snow Warden and could potentially grit areas of the town which would not be included in DCCs route, or be gritted as a priority by the Snow Warden. This could help more people to continue to access employment, appointments, and shops more safely.

If you would be interested in volunteering for Great Torrington Town Council as part of the Snow Warden Scheme, please get in touch 01805 626135 or email

Remembrance Sunday Parade and Service – 12th November 2023

This year Remembrance Sunday falls on the 12th November 2023. Great Torrington Town Council and The Royal British Legion will hold a Remembrance Ceremony at the War Memorial in the Cemetery, commencing at 10.50am.

There is a change of location for the forming up of the Parade this year, details below:

  1. The Parade Route: The Parade will assemble in the driveway at Woodland Vale Care Home and parade “UP” New Street to the Cemetery. Please note: There will be NO VEHICULAR ACCESS to Woodland Vale Care Home. LIMITED PARKING will be available at the Old Bowling Green; however, we encourage all participants to walk to the event if they are able to do so.
  2. Dismissal at the end of the Service: Following the National Anthem at the end of the service, the Mayor will thank the Parade, who will then be dismissed in the cemetery as last year. The order for dismissal will allow for those at the back to be the first to leave.
  3. Standard Practice: Will take place at the Town’s Band room in Castle Street. Further information will be sent to individual organisations nearer the time.

Ordering of wreaths will be the same as last year and should be ordered direct from the Royal British Legion in plenty of time. A wreath can be ordered by contacting the Royal British Legion on 0345 845 1945. The wreath will be posted out to you.

We’re investing in specialist educational provision in local communities; local children send anti-smoking message to grown-ups and engagement events to be held for communities hit by flash floods

From left: Dan Morrow, CEO of Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust; Mel Stride MP; Cllr Percy Prowse, Chairman of Devon County Council; Gareth Howells, Principal The Promise School

We’re investing in specialist educational provision in local communities

We want all children in Devon to achieve the best possible outcomes and fulfil their potential. High-quality education is an important part of this. With the number of children and young people who need specialist support in Devon increasing, we’re investing in new facilities. This ensure that the right provision is available in our communities to support pupils with additional needs to access a broad and inclusive curriculum in the very best environment.

This week we’ve celebrated the openings of not one, not two but three specialist educational buildings!

The custom-built Promise School in Okehampton (part of Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust), caters for up to 100 children aged four to 16-years-old who have social, emotional, and mental health (SEMH) needs. Its location was chosen to specifically address the lack of special school provision in the west Devon area, and means that children and young people in the area no longer have to travel distances to access quality learning that meets their individual needs.

A new £4.5 million extension at the Lampard Community School in Barnstaple also opened this week. It’s one of 12 special schools in Devon and it caters for children, aged five to 16-years-old, with complex needs. Their new two-storey Ocean Building is the final part of a refurbishment that will increase pupil capacity by 60 places and provides an additional five classrooms, sports hall, changing rooms, resource space, offices, stores and toilets.

In partnership with Great Torrington School, we’ve jointly funded a new £1.45m two-story teaching block connected to their main school building. As well as three new classrooms and a new library resource area, the expansion has also provided additional space for the school’s Hardy Centre, which supports pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and those who sometimes struggle with daily school life.

Local children send anti-smoking message to grown-ups

Play areas across Devon will soon be displaying signs asking people not to ‘smoke where we play’ after three school children won a competition to design a new sign.

We’ve been working with our neighbour, Torbay Council. We are both members of the Smokefree Devon Alliance, a partnership of local authorities and the NHS in Devon created to combat smoking in the county, and we set up a competition with a number of primary schools to find the best designs.

Our announcement of the signs coincides with the start of Stoptober next week, when smokers are encouraged to think about quitting. The signs are intended to reduce a child’s exposure to smoking to help prevent them from taking up the habit in the first place.

Their signs will be displayed in 23 play parks throughout Torbay while in Devon 112 signs, have been distributed to the county’s eight district councils, with Teignbridge District council opting to purchase additional signs.

You can read more about it on the news page of our website.

We are corporate parents to nearly 1,400 children. But what does that mean?

There are currently nearly 900 children and young people in our care, aged up to 18-years-old, and a further 500 young adults aged between 18 to 25-years-old who have left care, that we continue to support. 

Young people come into our care for a range of reasons. Sometimes it’s for a short time, for example if a parent is unwell and there’s no-one else to look after them; and other times it’s for longer, if it’s necessary for a child to be cared for by someone other than their parents for their own safety. It means that we have parental responsibility for that child, and that’s known as corporate parenting.

Corporate parenting is wider than just caring for a child or young person though. It is about working with partner agencies to ensure that care experienced people have good access to health, education, love and affection, and are supported to realise their dreams, goals and aspirations. It is about championing them, and ensuring that they are able to recover from any challenges that they have faced before entering our care. It is about ensuring that their previous experiences are validated, but that these do not define them and that they can live, grow and achieve, as well as and if not better than their peers.

Earlier this week we sent a special edition of our Connect Me newsletter, highlighting some of the work that we’re doing to support children and young people in care, and those young people who have now left our care. If you missed it in your inbox, you can catch up online.

Engagement events to be held for communities hit by flash floods

Communities impacted by the recent flash floods are being supported with a series of drop-in sessions over the coming weeks.

Initial investigations have found that more than 200 homes were flooded during the torrential rainfall on Sunday 17 September. As part of the ongoing flood recovery effort, we’re working with the Environment Agency, Exeter City Council, South Hams District Council, Teignbridge District Council and the Environment Agency to organise community engagement events.

The drop-in sessions will be an opportunity for residents to speak directly to teams involved in the flood recovery operation. They will be able to provide information on the flooding in their community and to discuss flood resilience measures with staff from all of the authorities and agencies in attendance.

Read the full story on the news page of our website to find out more about where and when the drop-in sessions are taking place, and which agencies will be there.

Volunteer Trainee Rangers

Would you like to develop your skills, gain training, qualifications and experience working as part of the Ranger Team at Stover Country Park? We have two full time trainee volunteer roles available. 

Applications close on Sunday 15 October.

Essential work planned for major structures as part of North Devon Link Road upgrade

The westbound carriageway of the A361 North Devon Link Road, between North Aller roundabout and Landkey roundabout, will be closed for a month from Wednesday 11 October to allow essential maintenance work to go ahead.

Online Speech, Language and Communication Workshops

Action for Children is running free online workshops with an Early Language Consultant about how to best support your little one with communication:

Respiratory infection guidance for a safer season

As we brace ourselves for chillier days, more indoor gatherings and seasonal social events with friends and family, now is the ideal time to revisit the current guidance on face coverings, isolation, vaccination and other behaviours that can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections.

Impact of flash floods being examined; support for children and young people with SEND to undergo a ‘system-wide transformation’ and a new chapter for St Thomas Library

Impact of flash floods being examined

More than 140 properties are thought to have been flooded across Devon during Sunday’s flash floods, making it one of the most significant flood events in the county for a number of years.

Although this flash flooding wasn’t widespread, it hit pockets of communities across several areas of the county, and for many residents, the impact has been devastating. 

We’ve been out with the Environment Agency and local city and district council officers as part of the flood recovery operation, visiting the worst affected areas to investigate the extent of the damage caused by the torrential rainfall.

Support is available should residents need it, and anyone who would like to submit information about flooding in their community should email

Residents are also being advised to check if their property is at risk of flood and find out if they are eligible to sign up for FREE flood warnings.

Follow @EnvAgencySW on X (formerly Twitter) for the latest flood updates or visit the Government’s website to check for flooding.

Support for children and young people with SEND to undergo a ‘system-wide transformation’

The partnership responsible for services supporting children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) has listened to families and expanded its SEND improvement plans to create ‘system-wide’ change.

It follows a recommendation by the Children’s Scrutiny Committee SEND Task Group and reflects what families have told us about the current system of SEND support. 

The commitment, made in a meeting last week (14 September) by the Devon SEND Improvement Partnership Board, of which we are a part, means that Devon will look at not just areas of weakness identified by Ofsted and Care Quality Commission but at the whole experience.    

The board said that the ‘system-wide’ transformation programme would address the significant challenges that the local area faces, improve the experiences of children, young people and their families in Devon and lead to the financial sustainability of the council.

Find out more about what the plans include in the news story on our website.

Calling all businesses and entrepreneurs in East Devon, Exeter, and Mid Devon – Prosper is here to help!

new, free, business support programme aimed at helping businesses and entrepreneurs in East Devon, Exeter and Mid Devon achieve their business development ambitions has been launched.

Prosper offers a mixture of online support and in-person one-to-one sessions or workshops to help businesses improve productivity, become more environmentally sustainable, move into new markets, develop new products and take on additional staff.

It’s being funded by East Devon, Mid Devon and Exeter City Councils through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, and we’re project managing the programme with business support provided by Business Information Point and Cosmic, both of whom have a wealth of experience and local knowledge.

To access the programme, businesses need to complete the enquiry form on the Growth Hub website.

A new chapter for St Thomas Library

The library in St Thomas has been in its current premises since 2013, and has been a popular and well-used hub for people of all ages in the local community since then.

However, earlier this year the landlord of the building applied for planning permission to turn the property into accommodation, which surprised us, and we said at the time that we’d hoped to be able to renew our lease when it expires in November. The planning application was subsequently withdrawn, but conversations since have led to an offer from the landlord to renew the library’s lease at a considerably higher rent and for a much longer period.

Reluctantly, we simply can’t afford to agree to those terms, and so we’ve decided that we will not renew the lease and instead look for new premises. We’re working with Libraries Unlimited, which run libraries in Devon on our behalf, and asking local people to help identify possible alternative premises as well as inviting community and church groups, landlords and property owners in the area to contact us if they are interested in helping to provide a library service in St Thomas.

Please use this form on our website to get in touch or share your suggestions.

National booking system opens for COVID-19 autumn boosters

If you’re eligible for a free COVID-19 booster, you can now book your autumn vaccine on the NHS website, by downloading the NHS App, or by calling 119 for free.

People eligible for this offer include anyone aged 65-years-old and over, pregnant women and those with an underlying health condition. These people will also receive invitations from the NHS to encourage them to get their COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

This year’s autumn flu and COVID-19 vaccine programmes started earlier than planned in England as a precautionary measure after a new COVID variant was identified.

The NHS is encouraging everyone who’s eligible to come forward for their jab as soon as they are invited to do so.

Overnight closures planned for Fore Street in Heavitree, Exeter

The road will be closed between the junctions with Whipton Lane and North Street from 9pm to 7am each night from Monday 2 October until Friday 6 October and then again on the evening of Monday 9 October. Please visit our website for details of the signed diversion route.

Strike pressure rises at emergency departments

The NHS in Devon is preparing to take all measures necessary to ensure the sickest patients get the help they need as industrial action by doctors continues.

Visit the One Devon website to find out more, including advice for local people.

Industrial dispute to cause more train disruption

Train drivers union ASLEF has announced two further strike dates for Saturday 30 September and Wednesday 4 October.

GWR say that it will have a major impact on services, so check before travelling.

It’s National Breastfeeding Week

It can take a while to feel confident about breastfeeding, but you’re not alone. Getting the right support can make a big difference, and your midwife and health visitor are there to help you.

The NHS website has lots of helpful information and advice on breastfeeding.

Where’s your nearest community fridge? New pilot will bring accommodation for care leavers; Improving services for children with SEND; Apply now for secondary school places

New pilot will provide essential move-on accommodation for adult care leavers

Young people in our care most often live with foster carers until they reach 18- years-old, when they’re considered to be care leavers. They and their foster carers can choose to continue those arrangements if they wish, with the young person remaining living with their carer. Others however move on to live in their own accommodation.

But we have a number of young adult care leavers and young people in care aged 16 and over currently living in placements that no longer meet their needs nor offer value for money, but who are unable to move on because of a lack of suitable alternative accommodation and support that can meet their individual needs.

We’ve secured a grant of £1.1 million from the Department for Education to run a two year pilot, as part of a national initiative called Staying Close, to help those young adults transition into independent living and support them in quality accommodation. 

Find out more in the full story on the news page of our website.

Councillor Lois Samuel, Cabinet Member for Children’s SEND Improvement Services

New Cabinet member to drive Devon special needs improvement

Our continuing drive to improve services for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is getting a new champion. Council leader John Hart has promoted Okehampton Rural councillor Lois Samuel to the Cabinet with the lead responsibility for improving SEND services.

It means Exeter councillor Andrew Leadbetter will retain his Cabinet responsibility for education, schools and social care but the massive children’s services brief will now be shared politically between him and Lois Samuel.

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

Ensuring surplus food isn’t wasted

Community fridges around Devon are helping ensure that surplus food, mostly from shops and food businesses, is finding a home quickly, rather than be wasted.

There are 25 community fridges in Devon, collectively redistributing an estimated 150 tonnes of surplus food, worth almost £500,000, each year.

And to help you find one nearest you, we and other partners of Recycle Devon have launched a new community map to show you where they are.

The scheme relies on volunteers giving up their spare time to ensure that surplus food isn’t going to waste.

The food in the fridges is free for people to take and it’s collected primarily from businesses. It may have past its ‘best before’ date, but food in the fridges is before its ‘use by’ date.

Some community fridges take contributions from households as well, such as home-grown gluts, but always check with your local community fridge volunteer as to what they can and can’t take, before dropping anything off.

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

Makers Mews opens new classroom to empower Ivybridge’s creative community

We’ve featured stories before about our network of Devon Work Hubs that offer flexible workspaces including office space, meeting rooms and coworking opportunities for local businesses and entrepreneurs.

Though similar in purpose, they often have their own individual look and feel.

Makers Mews, housed in a 300-year-old barn overlooking the River Erme in Ivybridge, is one such example. And it’s opening new facilities.

In addition to the popular coworking facilities, Makers Mews will be opening a new classroom where events, classes and talks will be held to support the creative community and encourage sustainable practices that reduce consumerism.

To mark the opening, they’re hosting an open day for the public on Friday 29 September, where there’ll be free hot desking in the coworking space, and two taster sessions of the Accountability Alliance.

In the evening, there’ll be food and drink served outside around the firepit as social enterprises, Ivybridge Brewing and Pizza Pirates join the celebration.

Nadine Dommett is founder of Makers Mews.

“The vision for Makers Mews is to provide a creative hub that fuels connection, innovation and environmental responsibility in the creative community of Ivybridge,” she says.

“We are so excited about the opportunities that we are creating with our new community classroom. It will allow us to collaborate with many more makers, teachers and repairers to share skills and knowledge within the community.”

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

COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach Fund available to the voluntary sector

Communities in Devon can apply for a grant to support the improvement of COVID-19 vaccination knowledge and increase vaccine uptake among vulnerable groups.

The COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach Fund has been established to enable organisations from the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector across Devon to deliver innovative projects and activities with vulnerable communities to help increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations during the 2023/24 autumn / winter vaccine campaign.

Activities that can be supported through this fund include outreach to support vaccination uptake; building vaccine confidence via workshops; group meetings; engaging with vulnerable communities to explore barriers to uptake; or providing vaccination clinics.

Communities can apply for more than one grant although limited funds are available and will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis. The programme will run until the end of January 2024 although, in line with Government priorities, vaccinations should be given as early as possible.

If your organisation is interested in applying for funding to support an increase in COVID-19 vaccination knowledge and outreach in your community, visit COVID-19 vaccination outreach fund – One Devon for more information and to submit an application.

Applications now open for 2024 secondary school places

September 2024 may seem a long way off but if your child is currently in Year 6 of primary and due to start secondary school next year, you need to start the application process now.

We are taking applications from families whose children are due to start secondary school in September 2024.

The deadline for secondary school applications is Tuesday 31 October 2023.

You can apply for a place online through our website, where you will find full details on how to apply on the portal and how the admissions system works.

Each school now has its own admission criteria, so it’s important to look at the information relating to specific schools on their websites.

A young girl playing on a beach

Now is the time to adopt

Could you consider adopting a child with a disability?

All children long for the love and stability of being part of a family, yet children with additional health needs or disabilities wait longer to be adopted.

Amanda White, Operations Manager at Adopt South West, explains:

“I talk to adoptive parents a lot and they will all tell me that their lives now feel fuller and more worthwhile as a family. There’s no doubt that it’s hard work – any parent will tell you that – but it’s so rewarding.

“There is ongoing support, from our service, support from other adopters, as well as your own support network. The adoption process is thorough – it has to be, of course – but it’s not as difficult or onerous as people first think. In talking to adopters they find it to be a journey of self-discovery and a time when they learn so much about children who are waiting for a family.”

“Now is the time to think again about adoption and be open to adopting beyond your first thoughts about a child’s ability, their age, or gender. and consider. If you are considering adoption, or adopting a child or children with additional needs, please talk to us about taking the next steps.”

If you are interested in adopting any of the children currently waiting the longest, please get in touch with our friendly team. We’ll support you – contact us.

Grant Application – New Deadline

Recent feedback has suggested that our original closing date for Grant Applications in the first week of September, falls at a busy and difficult time of year for many organisations – therefore we have extended the application deadline for this year and will be discussing an amended deadline for future years.

If your organisation would like to apply for a Grant and has not already submitted the the application form, please get in touch as soon as possible, and by 5pm Wednesday 4th October at the very latest. Forms can be obtained electronically HERE or in paper format from the Council office. Please contact Charlotte Kirby, Assistant Town Clerk on 01805 626135 between 9am and 1pm Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday or email her on for more information.

This deadline will be final, if you have any queries about the process please get in touch.

Important decision to help improve the lives of children in care and care leavers in Devon; Heat alert issued across the South West and we’d like your views on sexual health and contraception services

Care leavers spoke at our Full Council meeting this week

Council pledges to make care experience a protected characteristic

Councillors make decisions all the time, but yesterday they made a particularly important one that will help improve the lives of children in care and care leavers in Devon.

They agreed to give care leavers – young people who have been in our care – protected characteristic status.

That’s because young people’s experience of being in the care system can be a potential source of discrimination, similar to other protected characteristics such as race or disability.

What this decision means is that we will make sure that the experiences of young people in care and care leavers are considered in all of our decisions. But more than that, it’s a foundation on which to develop better support across Devon as a whole, and we’ll work with partners to improve support for care leavers in all aspects of their lives, including housing, health, employment and education.

“Today is literally a day in history for care-experienced people in Devon,” said 18-year-old care leaver, Jemeillia.

“Making this a protected characteristic will put us on an equal level with everyone else in society and will make life fair for us,” said care leaver, Luke, aged 19-years-old.

“It’s a really positive moment,” said care leaver Teddi, aged 18-years-old. “It’s great that we’ve finally been seen and heard.”

It’s a fundamentally important decision taken by our councillors, and you can read about it, including more of what care leavers have said about the decision, in the story on the news page of our website.

Heat alert issued across the South West

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Met Office issued an amber alert in regions including the South West, as high temperatures exceeding 30 degrees centigrade in some areas are set to continue as we head to the weekend.

The alert is currently in place through to 9pm on Sunday 10 September.

With these high temperatures, the UKHSA say that we may see an increase in risk to health for people aged over 65-years-old or those with pre-existing health conditions, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Agostinho Sousa, Head of Extreme Events and Health Protection at UKHSA, said:

“Many of us will welcome the hot weather for the coming days, but it is important to take sensible precautions while enjoying the sun and look out for those who are more vulnerable to the effects of heat.

“We advise you to check on older family members, friends, or neighbours and those with heart or lung conditions.

“Staying hydrated and keeping cool is crucial for everyone during hot weather, while enjoying the sun.”

We sent out a special edition of this newsletter earlier this week about the hot weather, with tips and advice about keeping cool and avoiding risk. If you missed it, you can read it online.

Work to start on road improvements south west of Exeter

Work is due to get underway on improvements to the Devon Hotel roundabout and A379 Trood Lane junction in Exeter in the coming weeks.

These upgrades to the road network in south west Exeter are the latest elements of the £55 million infrastructure enhancements to support the development of 2,500 new homes and employment land on the edge of the city.

The work will start on Monday 18 September 2023 and is expected to be completed by Summer 2024. It will be carried out under lane closures or contraflow systems, alongside a temporary 30mph speed limit.

Night-time road closures of the A379 between the Devon Hotel roundabout and Ellacott Road will be required between 7pm and 6am from Monday 18 September 2023 through until Friday 29 September 2023, (Monday night to Friday night inclusive only – no weekend working) to carry out critical works within the carriageway.

The main elements of this current scheme include:

  • the creation of additional capacity on the western arm of the Devon Hotel roundabout, with an additional lane on entry to the roundabout
  • the central island on the Devon Hotel roundabout will be realigned
  • installation of traffic signals and a signal-controlled pedestrian crossing

You can read more about the works in the story on the news page of our website.

Creating Hope Through Action for World Suicide Prevention Day

Each year, organisations and communities come together to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.

Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy. And we know that suicide is preventable, it’s not inevitable.

World Suicide Prevention Day (Sunday 10 September) this year continues the international theme of ‘Creating Hope Through Action’. It aims to inspire confidence in all of us that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.

Read our news story to find out how to access free training with an emphasis on looking after your mental wellbeing, to better support others.

We’d like your views on sexual health and contraception services in Devon

We’ve teamed up with Torbay Council to hear your views on sexual health and contraception services. 

Sexual health services are free to use and are available to everyone regardless of age, gender, ethnic origin, disability and sexual orientation.

By taking part in our survey, you will help us shape the future provision of sexual health services in Devon and Torbay.

The online survey is anonymous and takes around 10 minutes to complete. 

Have your say using this online form.

Double Waters Footbridge closed for replacement

We’re replacing the Double Waters Footbridge over the River Walkham in West Devon, near where it meets the River Tavy.

It means that people won’t be able to use the footbridge to cross the river from Monday 11 September until Saturday 16 September.

The bridge carries the West Devon Way walking route and is adjacent to the site where Whitchurch Bridleway and Buckland Monachorum Bridleway cross the River Walkham.

During the bridge closure, please do not attempt to cross through the River Walkham on foot at this location. Alternative routes exist using footpaths, bridleways and minor roads to the east of the bridge closure. 

Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete, Devon Schools and our properties

There’s been a lot in the news this week about the use of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, (RAAC), and concerns about it as a building material. We’ve been asked whether we’re aware of its use in any of the buildings that we are responsible for.

While the UK Government’s guidance on RAAC has focused on schools, with the Department for Education (DfE) issuing the most recent guidance in December last year, we have taken a proactive approach to identifying RAAC in buildings across the whole of our estate.

Every five years we routinely assess all maintained schools, for which we are responsible (not academies and church schools). We have not identified RAAC in any of those schools to date.

Following the DfE’s most recent guidance, we were able to eliminate some based on when construction was carried out. Of others that we have surveyed in accordance with the latest DfE guidance, we have not identified RAAC. And we have an ongoing programme of inspection, which we anticipate will be completed this month, for schools yet to be surveyed under the latest guidance.

We’ve also made certain that other school providers in Devon are aware of the DfE guidance and of their responsibilities in identifying any use of RAAC in their buildings.

Elsewhere in our estate, we have not identified RAAC through the course of routine assessments. We have taken a proactive approach to its identification, reviewed our assessment strategy across our estate in light of the DfE’s most recent guidance, and are continuing our investigations.

That approach includes working with our district council colleagues and other partners in buildings where we share or use accommodation.

Staying safe during hot weather

Although the summer holidays are over and it’s officially meteorological autumn, we’re experiencing some high temperatures in Devon this week. The UK Health Security Agency has issued an amber heat-health alert from midday today (Tuesday) until the evening of Sunday 10 September. 

The main risks during hot weather are:

We’ve put together this special edition of our newsletter to share top tips for staying safe in the sunshine and urge you to look out for those in our communities who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated.

Take extra care if you are vulnerable and look out for those most at risk

The heat can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

  • older people – especially those over 75 years old
  • those who live on their own or in a care home
  • people who have a serious or long-term illness – including heart or lung conditions, diabeteskidney diseaseParkinson’s disease or some mental health conditions
  • those who may find it hard to keep cool – babies and very young children, people who are bed bound, those with drug or alcohol addictions or with Alzheimer’s disease
  • people who spend a lot of time outside or in hot places – those who live in a top floor flat, the homeless or those whose jobs are outside

Stay hydrated and keep cool

We sweat more in hot weather, so it’s really important to drink plenty of water to replace what our bodies have lost. It also helps cool the body and prevents heat exhaustion.

Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in, and if it’s not treated, it can get worse and become a serious problem, so make sure you know how to spot the signs and reduce the risk.

What we wear can make a real difference to how our bodies handle heat. Avoid the temptation to strip off, because you may be at greater risk of sunburn, which can affect your body’s ability to cool itself. Instead wear light colours (dark colours absorb more of the light, converting it into heat) and loose cotton or linen garments that are more breathable, absorbent and encourage ventilation.

If you’re indoors, close curtains in rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler, spend time in cooler parts of the house (especially for sleeping), open windows when the air feels cooler outside and try to get air flowing through your home. Placing a bowl of ice at an angle in front of a fan can also help cool the air indoors.

Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially young children and animals.

Sunscreen and sun safety

After a wet and cool summer, it can be tempting to get outside and make the most of the sunshine when it does finally appear, but it’s important to strike a balance between getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays.

Spend time in the shade when the sun is strongest, which is between 11am and 3pm from March to October. And if you are out in the sun, cover up with suitable clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, and regularly apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB and at least 4-star UVA protection. Sunscreen doesn’t have to be expensive – look for supermarket and pharmacy own brands to help reduce the cost.

Make sure you never burn, as this can increase your risk of skin cancer. And remember, you can burn in the UK even when it’s cloudy. 

Heatstroke and heat exhaustion

When it’s too hot, there are risks to our health, particularly the elderly or people with underlying conditions, and during heatwaves, more people than usual get seriously ill or die.

If you or someone else feels unwell with a high temperature, headache, loss of appetite, dizziness or shortness of breath during hot weather, you should consider the possibility of heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion:

  • move them to a cool place
  • get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly
  • get them to drink plenty of water
  • cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them

Heat exhaustion doesn’t usually need emergency medical help if you can cool the person down within 30 minutes. However, if they’re still unwell after half an hour, and have a very high temperature, fast heartbeat, shortness of breath and are confused or lack coordination, call 999.

Water safety

Although it might be hot outside, please remember that water temperatures can be very cold. As inviting as it looks, don’t just jump straight in, as cold water shock could make you gasp uncontrollably, and you could breathe in water and drown.

Wearing a wetsuit will help increase your buoyancy and reduce the chances of suffering cold water shock, and remember to take plenty of warm clothes for before and after your dip, along with a hot drink to help you warm up again when you come out of the water.

Keep a close eye on friends and family around water, especially children, and don’t let anyone swim alone. Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks and if in doubt, stay out. There is always another day to go for a swim!

If you get into trouble in the water, the RNLI urge you to remember ‘Float to Live’ – resist the urge to thrash about, instead lean back, extend your arms and legs and gently move them around to stay afloat, once you can control your breathing, call for help or swim to safety. If you see someone else in trouble in the water, call 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.