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Devon County Council Bulletins

Find out how Devon is going greener, check your COVID-19 pass before you travel and Disney’s 10 minute shake-ups are here to keep kids moving

Devon’s farms could be the key to new community energy revolution

We’re working on a new scheme which could give community energy groups the chance to ‘rent’ farmland and buildings to help them expand Devon’s renewable electricity capacity. If successful, it could see renewable energy installations totalling 100 kWp developed on low-grade, agricultural land which is otherwise unsuitable for grazing or growing crops.

There is huge potential for farms to be transformed into ‘renewable energy hubs’ and their land and buildings to be used to generate energy from wind, solar, biomass and agricultural waste.

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

Driving down carbon emissions on Devon’s highways

Our ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030 is ahead of schedule, as we announce our next phase in cutting carbon from Devon’s roads maintenance.

Phase one, announced last year, saw us become one of the first councils in the country to develop a carbon calculator, a clever way of identifying the carbon emissions produced in every step of highway maintenance.

Phase two, which is being introduced in the next few weeks, is about tracking the actual carbon emitted at construction or repair stage.

Find out more about what this means by reading the full story on our news website.

Check COVID-19 requirements before you travel

With the summer holidays well and truly underway, now is a good time to check your COVID-19 vaccination record is up-to-date, if you’re going abroad.

Children aged five years and over who have been vaccinated can also get an NHS COVID Pass, which might be needed depending on where you are going. If your vaccine record isn’t showing correctly in your NHS COVID Pass, or you need to request a letter, call 119 or find out more on the NHS website.

You can check the COVID-related entry requirements for the country you’re visiting at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice. Also, if you need to take a PCR test, you can find a list of providers online. 

Did you take part in Cycle to Work Day?

It was the 10th annual Cycle to Work Day yesterday (Thursday 4 August) which was a good reminder of the many benefits a cycle commute can offer for your health, your bank balance and your carbon footprint.

Don’t have a bike? Find out if your workplace is part of a cycle scheme where you can buy a bike and equipment through a monthly salary sacrifice payment.

Alternatively, there are community bike reuse schemes where you can pick up a second-hand bike. Plus if you’re in Exeter or the surrounding areas, you can hire one of the many electric Co-Bikes parked around the city. 

If you haven’t cycled for a while but would like to get back in the saddle we offer free, two hour cycle confidence sessions for adults in Devon through Active Devon. 

Got an urgent health need? NHS 111 can help

Residents and visitors to Devon are being reminded that if they have an urgent health issue this summer they can access medical advice online or by phone 24 hours a day at NHS 111.

Anyone contacting 111 who needs emergency medical care from a hospital Emergency Department (also known as A&E) will be given direct access to the department. Staff at NHS 111 can also refer patients through to Minor Injuries Units and Urgent Treatment Centres. This will ensure that people get to the right place for treatment quickly and may reduce their waiting times.

NHS Devon’s Clinical Lead for Urgent Care and Plymouth GP Dr Dafydd Jones said:

“Using NHS 111 online or by phone allows you to access medical advice for urgent health issues from the comfort of your home and with the knowledge that, if you do need go to a minor injuries unit or emergency department, you can be booked directly in and have a shorter wait on site.  It also helps to reduce pressure on our busy urgent and emergency care services.”

If you have family or friends visiting Devon this summer that have a medical problem or need a prescription, let them know their GP back home can help. They will be able to offer an appointment by telephone or online and can arrange a prescription, leaving visitors more time to enjoy their stay in Devon.

Shake up your summer!

This summer, the government’s Better Health campaign has teamed up with Disney to help get kids active throughout the holidays by playing 10 Minute Shake Up games.

It aims to inspire children, and their parents or carers, to build confidence in being active, develop physical skills, feel good and, most importantly, have fun!

Children and young people need 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity a day, and the activities are broken down into more manageable chunks to help getting active be easy and fun.

The Shake Ups are play-along games around 10 minutes in length and can be played by one or more people. From Mirabel Guards the Magic Candle, inspired by Disney’s ‘Encanto’, to Buzz Lightyear’s Ball Challenge inspired by Disney and Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’, there are over 40 games to choose from.

So, what are you waiting for? Search ‘10 Minute Shake Up’ today.

Another hot spell on the horizon

Temperatures are forecast to rise again over this weekend and during the coming week, says the Met Office.

Although it’s too early to say how long the hot spell will last, there are indications of a return to more changeable conditions from about mid-August. 

This special bulletin we sent out in July has some useful tips to beat the heat and keep cool during hot weather.

Check the forecast

Bird flu update

We told you in last week’s bulletin about cases of avian influenza, or bird flu, which are appearing in Devon. We mistakenly said that keepers of poultry and captive birds must keep their birds housed as part of the national Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ). However, although the AIPZ is still in place, the requirement to keep birds housed was lifted in May 2022. Apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

As a reminder, you shouldn’t touch or pick up any sick or dead wild birds you see while out and about and if you have a dog, make sure they stay clear too.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Full guidance is available on the government website.

Green Flags flying at our country parks; help reduce risk of spreading bird flu and check out the ‘ultimate hot hatch’ cop car!

Green Flags flying at Stover and Grand Western Canal Country Parks

Our Grand Western Canal Country Park and Stover Country Park have been officially recognised among the country’s best parks by being presented with the coveted Green Flag Award.

They are among a record breaking 2,208 UK winners of the award this year, which is the international quality mark for parks and green spaces.

The news that our country parks have achieved the Green Flag Award is testament to the hard work and dedication of the teams that make them green spaces for everyone to enjoy.

The Grand Western Canal is celebrating 14 consecutive years of receiving the coveted award. The Green Flag Award judge was impressed with the ongoing improvements in visitor information provision, with several new signs and panels installed and more in the pipeline later this year. The Canal Ranger Service was also congratulated on the high level of community engagement it achieves, working with a range of volunteers, community groups and local schools.

For Stover, this year’s award is the 19th in a row. The Green Flag Award Judge commented that Stover is “a very pleasant visit with a hive of activities going on at the time with various local groups. Well deserving of the Green Flag.” The park also won praise for its well-maintained paths and additional access for people with mobility problems to most areas.

Why not give them a visit this summer!

Take care and help reduce risk of spreading bird flu

Bird flu, or avian influenza to give it’s correct name, is primarily a disease of birds and we are aware of some cases currently in Devon.

The risk to public health is very low as it is not an airborne disease. However, it is really important that you do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

If you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or other dead wild birds, such as gulls or birds of prey, you should report them to the Defra helpline on 03459 33 55 77.

Full guidance is available on the government website.

An Avian Influenza Prevention Zone (AIPZ) came into force across Great Britain last November. This means all bird keepers, regardless of whether they are pet birds, a commercial flock or just a few birds in a backyard, must keep their birds indoors, keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times.

Bird flu is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect any type of avian influenza in poultry or captive birds, you must report it by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

Illegal tobacco

Trading Standards seizes large amounts of illicit tobacco

Our Trading Standards officers seized a large amount of illegal tobacco in raids in Devon and Somerset last Friday estimated to be worth more than £200,000.

Our officers, from the Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, were supported by Avon and Somerset Police, Devon and Cornwall Police, the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit and HM Revenue and Customs.

The seizure is one of the largest of its kind by our service.

Using specialist detection dogs officers executed five warrants. We raided two stores, a residential address and a storage container in Taunton, two business addresses in Exeter and Yeovil and a business and residential premises in Tiverton. Two commercial vehicles were also searched. 

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

Anyone wishing to report the selling of illegal tobacco can do so, anonymously, online to Trading Standards via the South West Illegal Tobacco website.

Police use ‘ultimate hot hatch’ cop car to teach young drivers about road safety

It’s not every day you see a head-turning police car with a roaring exhaust, rear spoiler and 345bhp – but that’s exactly what Devon and Cornwall Police has just taken delivery of.

The force has acquired a Ford Focus RS, which it is transforming into a completely unique police car, as part of a bid to educate vulnerable young drivers on road safety, who are one of the groups identified by Vision Zero South West as being over-represented in serious collisions.

The project, funded by the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, builds on the hard work of Road Casualty Reduction Sergeant Owen Messenger and YouTube channel GCM (George’s Car Media).

The Focus RS, which was chosen for its legendary status among young drivers and modified car enthusiasts, will be used to engage with young people at targeted events across Devon and Cornwall and through road safety videos on GCM’s social media channels. 

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

New leadership is bringing positive change

The latest monitoring visit by Ofsted to our Children’s Services confirms that after ‘a long period of poor outcomes for children’, we, and our partners, are now starting to make positive changes.

Since autumn 2021, our new children’s services senior leadership team has brought “a more cohesive, systematic and determined approach to doing what is needed to achieve the necessary progress,” inspectors write in their latest report, published this week.

“Importantly, this is now backed by political and corporate leaders, who have committed additional resources to tackling the weaknesses in Children’s Services,” they say.

But what progress is being made is too slow. Recent changes introduced by new leadership though are starting to bear positive fruit, and although they’ve not yet had time for their impact to be fully felt, inspectors acknowledge them in this report. They include actions to address recruitment and retention challenges, with a new improved offer and incentives for both new and existing staff.

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

Temporary bridge to be installed at Martinhoe to re-open road

Work to install a temporary bridge over Martinhoe Bridge in North Devon will start next week to enable the road to re-open as soon as possible.

Martinhoe Bridge, located near the Hunters Inn on Exmoor, was closed for safety reasons earlier this month after a routine inspection by our bridges team found serious structural defects.

From Monday 1 August, a 90-tonne crane will lift two 24-metre long bridge planks into position across the existing bridge deck. The temporary structure will ensure the road can re-open to traffic, with a 15mph speed restriction imposed, while we develop a future replacement or strengthening scheme.

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

Respite unit team praised for their ‘flexibility and dedication’

Staff from our residential respite units have been highly commended at a national awards ceremony for rising to the challenge of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and adapting to support those leaving hospital.

At the recent Local Government Chronicle Awards our in-house Learning Disability Respite Team were recognised in the ‘small team of the year’ category.

We have three residential respite units, in Exeter, Honiton and Barnstaple, providing overnight respite accommodation for the families of younger adults with learning disabilities. Often these short breaks are the only breaks these families get. When COVID-19 hit and, following government lockdown rules, we had to close these services.

As hospital beds filled up and the NHS became under increasing pressure the team was asked to run and staff two facilities to support those leaving hospital ahead of an expected surge of COVID-19 related hospitalisations.

Two suitable hotels, one in Exeter and one in Bideford, were equipped and became ‘care hotels’. There our staff played a crucial role serving as a ‘bridge’ between hospital and home. They provided a supportive environment for patients, helped them relearn lost skills following a hospital stay and reduced the likelihood of readmission.

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

New anonymous digital mental health support service launched across Devon

A new free and confidential digital mental health and wellbeing service for adults is now available across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.

NHS Devon, working in partnership with Devon, Plymouth and Torbay Councils, has commissioned Qwell to ensure all adults in Devon have access to a choice of support to manage their own emotional health and wellbeing. 

It offers a safe online space for adults to access therapeutic activities and content including a peer support community. This includes self-help articles, forums, and discussion boards that are moderated by qualified practitioners. Users can also keep an online journal and monitor their wellbeing via an interactive goal tracker. 

There’s also a one-on-one live text chat and messaging counselling service with a team of qualified practitioners. Appointments can be booked in advance or accessed via a drop-in text-based chat which runs from midday to 10pm on weekdays, and from 6pm to 10pm at the weekend.

Anyone over the age of 18 years old living in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay can access support from Qwell without a referral from a health professional and there is no criteria to qualify for support.

New funding available to support innovative projects; we’re testing more petrol pumps for accuracy and have you received your free school meal holiday vouchers?

New funding available to support innovative projects that benefit local communities

We’re making a new pot of funding available to support local projects across Devon that align with key priorities in our four year strategic plan.

Specifically, we want to support projects that directly benefit local communities, helping to tackle hardship, such as food and fuel inequality; improve people’s mental health and wellbeing; address loneliness and isolation; and that respond to the climate emergency.

We’re calling it the ‘Growing Communities Fund’. We have an eligibility criteria and T&Cs on our website about the types of project we’re looking for.

But by way of illustration, these are real examples of projects that successfully bid for similarly available community funding during the pandemic:

  • A local organiser used funding to hire a minibus, to pick up elderly residents who live on their own, to take them to the pub for lunches. While another organised a friendship group for girls with autism. The peer support for group members resulted in the girls being able to join larger groups with more females. Both projects help to reduce social isolation and helped to develop positive relationships and social opportunities.
  • In another example, an organiser set up cooking groups that were well-attended and used regularly each month by older people and families on low incomes. Attendees were shown healthy, simple, low budget recipes, and the cooking sessions were a great way to socialise.
  • And another applicant wanted funds to cover the costs of activity sessions for local young people. The fact that the sessions were free to young people made a big difference and was a major consideration for families. So too was the fact that the sessions provided safe places and organised activities for the young people, rather than, as several young people described it, hanging around bored with nothing to do.

We know that people across Devon are feeling the effect of the current cost of living crisis, and we want the Growing Communities Fund to provide vital support to local communities that will make a genuine difference.

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

Two people swimming, front crawl, in the sea at sunset

Be cautious about taking the plunge during hot weather

There’s been a few terribly sad news stories these last few weeks about tragic deaths as a result of people leaping into water, to cool off from the heat.

The high temperatures may have broken for the moment in Devon, but the warning to be careful around water, and to take care when in the water, is always relevant.

Swimming in open water can be very different to conditions in your local pool, warned our Director of Public Health, Steve Brown, this week. 

“Currents, tides, submerged and unseen hazards, rocks, weeds, cold water shock and cramps, which can be debilitating even for experienced swimmers, are just a few of the things that you need to be aware of when swimming,” he said.

Steve’s advice, for those unfamiliar with wild swimming, is not to start it spontaneously and without thought to risk.

There are lots of guides and advice online about how to enjoy wild swimming safely.

And advice from other sources, including:

  • swimming in lifeguarded areas, between the yellow and red flags
  • stay within your depth, and when in the sea, swim parallel with the shore
  • swim with others in a group
  • wear brightly coloured costumes and a tow float
  • and know how to float to live; float on your back to conserve energy, catch your breath and composure, and signal for help

You can read more about what health experts said this week about cooling off in the water, in the story on our news page.

Over 50s to be offered COVID-19 booster and flu jab this autumn

Everyone aged 50 years old and over will be among those offered a COVID-19 booster and a flu jab this autumn under plans to increase protection against respiratory viruses ahead of winter.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends those eligible will be:

  • all adults aged 50 years old and over
  • those aged 5 to 49 years old in a clinical risk group, including pregnant women
  • those aged 5 to 49 years old who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression
  • those aged 16 to 49 years old who are carers
  • residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
  • frontline health and social care workers

In addition, the offer of the free flu vaccine will be offered to more eligible groups, including all adults aged 50 to 64 years old and secondary school children in years 7, 8 and 9, who will be offered the vaccine in order of school year (starting with the youngest first)

These additional groups will only be eligible once the most vulnerable, including previously announced pre-school and primary school children, those aged 65 years old and over and those in clinical risk groups, have been offered the jab.

The NHS will announce in due course when and how eligible groups will be able to book an appointment for their COVID-19 autumn booster, and when people aged 50 to 64 years old who are not in a clinical risk group will be able to get their free flu jab, so please don’t come forward until then.

Trading Standards to test more petrol pumps for accuracy this summer

Consumer confidence that petrol pumps are dispensing fuel accurately is prompting Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service to increase forecourt spot checks this summer.

Forecourts petrol pumps are tested routinely to make sure that the amount of fuel a pump is showing the motorist, is actually going into the vehicle.

But with fuel prices now peaking at over £2 a litre, there may be concern about the pricing and accuracy of pumps. So by increasing their forecourt checks, Trading Standards hopes to reassure customers of the accuracy of the pumps.

None of the forecourts tested in the last 12 months were found to have issues, and no complaints about them were received during that period.

Mark Peacock from Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, said:

“Testing petrol pumps for accuracy is a particularly important part of our work as, unlike most purchases of goods by weight or volume, the actual amount of fuel that goes into the tank is never actually seen by the consumer.”

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

Free school meal holiday vouchers out now - check your inbox

Have you received your free school meal holiday vouchers?

School holidays can be difficult for some families, with added costs of food for example – especially now with rising food and energy prices, and reduced income due to childcare.

With the end of term fast approaching, we’ve sent supermarket vouchers worth £90 per child to low-income families, whose children currently receive free school meals, to help them buy food over the school summer holidays.

Please check your inbox and redeem them as soon as possible, and if you were expecting to receive the vouchers, but haven’t, please get in touch with our team by emailing or calling 0345 155 1019.

People’s circumstances change all the time, so if you didn’t previously qualify for free school meals but your income has recently reduced or stopped, please apply via our website. It’s the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision.

Marsh Barton Railway Station taking shape

Devon’s newest railway station at Marsh Barton, in Exeter, is taking shape as work continues at pace this summer.

The station, located on the eastern edge of Marsh Barton near the Energy from Waste plant, is being developed by GRAHAM on our behalf, and is due to open this winter.

Partners involved in the development of the new station at Marsh Barton were recently invited to visit the site to see how work is progressing.

Since the new pedestrian and cycle overbridge at the site was lifted into place in February, two approach ramps have been installed to either side, with the final sections shortly to be added. The bridge, which will provide a traffic free route for pedestrians and cyclists alongside Clapperbrook Lane, is due to open in the autumn.

The station will be equipped with two platforms and progress has been made on fitting them out with edging slabs, lighting columns and fencing as well as emergency access ramps on each side.

Local leaders have welcomed the benefit that it would bring to the wider area as well as Exeter’s largest trading estate.

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

Children and staff at Withycombe Raleigh C of E Primary School, with the Year 5 pupils sat on their new bench

From ‘beach to bench’ – pupils rewarded for plastic collecting

Year five pupils at Withycombe Raleigh Church of England Primary School in Exmouth can sit and ponder on a bench made entirely from recycled plastic, some of which they collected.

The bench, which is made of recycled bottles, drums, crates, nets and other junk collected from beaches, was donated to the school this week by Keep Britain Tidy’s Ocean Recovery Project.

It’s part of a scheme aiming to highlight plastic pollution, and how such waste can be recycled to make other things.

School pupils took part in the beach day, run by our Waste Education Team, which also included learning about sustainable fishing.

Headteacher, Emma Jones, is delighted with the bench.

“We are very proud of the efforts our year five children made during their beach clean, and it is wonderful that some of the waste they collected has been reused to create something useful that can be enjoyed by the whole school. Our children are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of plastic on our environment and are keen to make a difference both at home and school.”

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

Youth Hub Devon to host training and employment event

It’s nearly the end of the school year, and for some young people, it marks the end of their time at school.

School leavers will have the opportunity to find out about the range of training and employment options available to them at a special event next month.

Youth Hub Devon, based in Dix’s Field in Exeter city centre, will host the event from 11am to 3:30pm on Wednesday 3 August and Youth Hub Advisors will be on hand for appointments until 6:30pm.

School leavers and young people aged 16 to 24 years old will be able to speak to employers, training providers and support services at the event. Parents and carers are also welcome to attend.

Youth Hub Devon works to help young people aged 16 to 24 years old to get the right training, support, and guidance for their future. The service has already helped over 150 young people into employment or training, and the Youth Hub provides a space that allows young people to truly explore their employment and training options.

Complete this form to let the Youth Hub Devon team know that you are interested in attending the event.

Minor Injuries Unit open in North Devon

Summer minor injuries services in North Devon

Residents and visitors in North Devon will be able to access urgent care more easily this summer.

Earlier this month, the NHS in Devon launched a weekend Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) service at Tyrrell Hospital in Ilfracombe. Throughout July, August and early September two fully qualified private ambulance staff will be available for walk-ins and patients referred through NHS 111 from 10am to 6pm Friday to Monday.

Also available is ongoing interim GP support to provide a minor injury service during the working week in the GP practices nearest the MIUs that are temporarily closed in Ilfracombe and Bideford. However, these do accept walk-in patients so please call NHS 111 to be referred or call ahead to the GP practice first. You may be directed to a more appropriate service for your needs to ensure you get the correct treatment at the right time.

As always, in a life threatening emergency please attend your nearest hospital’s emergency department or call 999.

What do you think of night bus services in Exeter?

The business improvement district for Exeter city centre, which is called ‘InExeter’ wants to know what Devon residents think about night bus services (operating after midnight) running to and from Exeter. 

The survey is open until Sunday 14 August, and if you provide your contact details, you’ll be entered into a prize drawn to win one of three InExeter Independent £50 vouchers. 

You’ll need to be over 16 years old to take part in the draw, which will take place on Friday 19 August, with the winner notified by Monday 22 August. 

Take part in the night bus survey

Devon calls for brave new vision for children and young people; mobility equipment and bedding bound for Ukrainian hospitals and how do we know that COVID-19 cases are rising if we’re not testing as much?

A line of young school children, in school uniform, running towards the camera across the playground

Devon calls for brave new vision for children and young people

The welfare of Devon’s children is ‘everyone’s business’ and Devon’s elected councillors should be at the heart of a new county-wide network of Child Friendly Devon Ambassadors.

They should use their positions and influence to champion our children at every opportunity and enlist more ambassadors within the community.

This is one of a series of recommendations in a report this week by an all-party Child Friendly Devon Task Group.

They invited representatives from other local authorities, youth services, voluntary groups, businesses, and UNICEF to share their experiences, to help inform the group’s recommendations and enable Devon to become the best place to grow up.

We’re also in a partnership with Leeds City Council. Just over a decade ago, Leeds had an ‘inadequate’ Ofsted ranking, but now they’re an ‘oustanding’ council – they changed their approach and began putting children at the centre of everything they do.

We aim to do the same, bringing long-term, wide-ranging benefits.

This is why, in our Strategic Plan, we’ve given a commitment to ensure that all children and young people have the best possible start in life, good physical and mental health, and there is better access to employment and learning.

You can read more about the Task Group’s report in the story on our news page.

Met Office Amber Heat Warning

Amber weather warning for extreme heat in Devon

The Met Office has issued an ‘Amber Weather Warning’ for extreme heat in the south-west from Sunday 17 July. 

Many of us will have been enjoying the hot weatherbut when it’s too hot for too long, there are health risks: 

Please look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying health conditions, those who live alone and young children are particularly at risk.

You can beat the heat by staying out of the sun between 11am and 3pm when UV rays are strongest. Don’t forget to drink lots of water, wear sunscreen and a hat and sunglasses too!

Read more about staying safe in extreme heat on the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) website.

Don’t forget that, as temperatures soar, our furry friends and local wildlife could be struggling to cope. Consider putting out a shallow bowl of fresh water in your garden or outdoor space for animals to drink from or bathe in. Make sure animals have shade and never leave them in cars, conservatories, outbuildings or caravans on a warm day, even if it’s just for a short while. The RSPCA has lots of animal welfare advice for the warm weather.

A hand reaching up towards shelves containing a range of e-liquids

Schools see an increase in the use of vapes among pupils

Public Health Devon’s Director, Steve Brown, has written to Devon schools with advice and guidance about the risks of underage vaping.

It follows concerns raised by some Devon schools about a rise in the use of vapes, or e-cigarettes, among pupils while at school.

Research last year in the county found that two per cent of Year 6 pupils; 10 per cent of Year 8 pupils; and 30 per cent – nearly one in three – Year 10 pupils have tried e-cigarettes.

Many schools are finding the use of vapes a challenge to address, harder to monitor than smoking, partly because vapes are sometimes disguised as other things, such as USB sticks and highlighter pens.

Amy Grashoff, Headteacher at Newton Abbot College, said:

“Worringly, we have seen a significant increase in the number of students who are vaping, some of whom are as young as 11.

“We are educating our students on the dangers of vaping, and sanctioning those who are caught vaping on college site, however the ease of buying them is not helping the issue, nor is the pretty way in which they are packaged.

“The government’s promotion of vapes as an alternative to smoking is understandable to an adult audience, however, the positive marketing around this misleads young people.”

You can read more about the advice from Public Health Devon to schools, parents and carers in the story on our news page.

Coronavirus under a microscope

How do we know that COVID-19 cases are rising if we’re not testing as much?

The number of people who have COVID-19 in the UK is rising. You may have become aware yourselves of people you know who have the virus.

But how do we know, if there’s far less testing going on? 

One key source, in addition to hospital data, is the Office for National Statistics’ Coronavirus Infection Survey.

They are regularly surveying a cross-section of around 150,000 people across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and they’re measuring how many of them test positive for COVID-19 infection at a given point in time, regardless of whether they report experiencing symptoms.

That gives us an estimated percentage of the population experiencing COVID-19, nationally and locally. And it’s how we know right now that approximately 1 in every 25 of us in Devon are very likely to currently have it.

“We need to pay attention to the data,” says Steve Brown, our Director of Public Health Devon. “The more we know about the local prevalence of coronavirus, the more we can adapt our behaviour to reduce risk to ourselves and others. And that’s especially important for vulnerable people who are at more risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus.”

You can keep a track of the latest data on our refreshed coronavirus data dashboard.

Know your limits on the water

Heading to the water to cool off?

We don’t blame you, it is officially HOT, and getting in the water is tempting for many of us. So, if you’re planning a dip, please pay attention to how to enjoy the water safely.

These safety tips may be simple, but following them might save your life:

  • jumping from heights, such as piers and rocks, into water can be very dangerous. Even on an extremely hot day, open water can be incredibly cold, which can cause you to go into shock and make swimming difficult. Currents can also be stronger than you might be expecting, while underwater objects not visible from the surface can be hazardous
  • if you’re taking part in any water activity, such as kayaking, wear appropriate footwear and clothing and always put on a lifejacket
  • ensure that children are well supervised near water
  • never use inflatables such as blow-up toys and lilos in the sea or rivers. They are best saved for swimming pools
  • carry a mobile phone so that you have a way of making contact in an emergency and make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. Consider putting your phone in a waterproof pouch
  • if you get into trouble in the water, remember ‘Float to Live’. To do this: lean back, using your arms and legs to stay afloat. Control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has some useful information and advice on their website about water safety.

State of Care survey 2022

Carers UK State of Caring survey is now live

Calling all unpaid carers in Devon!

Share your thoughts on what life is like for unpaid carers at the moment, the challenges you might face, and the impact caring has on your finances, health, and wellbeing via the Carers UK ‘State of Caring’ survey.

It’s the UK’s most comprehensive research into the lives and experience of carers, and by taking part you can help make a real difference to the support and services available to unpaid carers.

Complete the Carers UK State of Caring survey
Pictures with Colin, members of Ukraine's Rotary and his van

Mobility equipment and bedding bound for Ukrainian hospitals

Our recycling centre staff have been helping to supply a local volunteer with wheelchairs, mobility aids and bedding which he then loads onto his van and delivers to Ukrainian hospitals.

Colin Northover has been visiting Exeter’s Pinbrook and Newton Abbot’s Brunel Road Recycling Centres to collect the much-needed supplies on behalf of the Ukraine Appeal.

Since the war began in February, staff at Suez, who run our network of 18 recycling centres, have been casting a keen eye over anything that has been thrown away, so that they can set aside a selection of items for Colin. 

In April, Colin loaded up his van and his box-trailer and made the 23-hour, 1,400-mile journey, catching the ferry from Harwich to Hook of Holland, driving through Holland, Germany, and Poland, to eventually reach Lviv, in the west of Ukraine.

There, he contacted the Rotary Clubs of Ukraine, and using their established networks he arranged for all the items we donated to be collected by a neurosurgeon and his colleagues from a hospital in Kyiv.

Colin said:

“They are desperately short of medical and surgical supplies, so they were delighted to receive the mobility aids and bedding to help in the care of their patients.” 

Now Colin is on his way back to Devon – and when he returns he will once again visit recycling centres to collect items for the Ukraine Appeal before loading them up and returning to Ukraine in August. 

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

20mph sign

Four 20mph schemes approved by Cabinet

Our cabinet has given the go-ahead to introduce 20mph schemes in the four ‘most in need’ Devon communities – Tiverton, Winkleigh, Ashburton and Atherington. 

It follows our introduction of a new way of considering 20mph speed limit requests last year, to ensure that the communities that would most benefit from lower vehicle speeds were prioritised and helped first.

Earlier this year we asked our local county councillors to talk to the communities they represent and submit ‘expressions of interest’ for a new scheme. Our traffic team considered each request, taking into account average speeds at key locations in that community and the number of vulnerable road users in that area.

Other factors we considered include the speed related collision history in the area, the level of support for a 20mph scheme in the community, the presence of an active Community Speed Watch and the community’s deprivation index ranking.

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

Community Catalysts 'Communities Care' ad. Cartoon people on an orange background

Free events for self-employed Personal Assistants to learn more about the CQC

If you’re a self-employed Personal Assistant (PA) offering care and support to older and disabled people, you can get free mentoring to help you learn more about Care Quality Commission (CQC).

It’s part of our work with a national social enterprise called Community Catalysts to support the development of community micro-enterprises (under eight staff or volunteers) and self-employed PA.

The project is well underway, and the local representative, Alex, is now working with a number of people who are already providing support to help them develop, expand and diversify.

Alex has found that many micro-enterprises have approached him for support with understanding CQC regulations and how these apply to the work of self-employed PAs, particularly those who work as part of a partnership or group.

So, he’s hosting a number of one-hour online events to discuss this and answering questions. They will take place via Zoom on Monday 8 August, at midday and 6:30pm. Please register via the Eventbrite website.

If you can’t make either of the events, please leave your details and Alex will be in touch.

To register your interest in joining the development programme, contact Alex via –

☎️ Call or text: 07741 260 674

📧 Email:

💻 Visit the Community Catalysts website.

Airband engineer working in our communities

Full fibre broadband ready for service for thousands more premises

Another 2,500 homes and businesses across Devon and Somerset are now able to access full fibre broadband thanks to the ongoing rollout through the Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme.

CDS has delivered superfast access to more homes and businesses than any other broadband programme in England, with over 315,000 premises receiving access to superfast broadband as a direct result of investment by CDS.

Internet Service Provider Airband has announced the latest figures as it continues its gigabit capable fibre build in the region on behalf of CDS. Airband has delivered broadband access to more than 22,400 homes on behalf of CDS.

A map of Airband’s coverage areas, and a post code checker, is available on their website.

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

Footprints in a forest

New sustainability awards launched in Exeter

A new awards initiative recognising businesses, community groups and individuals who are going the extra mile for sustainability in Exeter has been launched in the city.

Princesshay, Exeter City Futures, Exeter City Council, Exeter University, In Exeter, Devon Contract Waste and the Exeter Magazine are launching The Exeter Sustainability Awards.

The awards will celebrate, support and recognise the sustainable practice and commitment of businesses, organisations and individuals driving change and making a difference to sustainability across Exeter.

The awards are free to enter and are open to organisations and individuals living or operating within a 10-mile radius of the city centre.

The categories open for entry are community group/ charity/ non-profit, school / educational organisation, micro business (0-9 employees), small business (10-49 employees), medium/ large business (50+ employees) and the Citizen’s Award, open for any individual going above and beyond in their community.

A panel of judges will be looking for environmental and social best practice, innovation, sustainable energy use and climate resilience.

Visit the Exeter Sustainability Awards website for full details about categories and the application process.


Stark warning on spending from Devon finance chief; heat wave warning issued for parts of the UK and project launched to equip young people with entrepreneurial skills

Sun glasses on a beach with the sea behind

Heat wave warning issued for parts of the UK

A heatwave warning has been issued for parts of the UK as temperatures are set to soar.

Temperatures will climb over the weekend and into next week, with the hottest conditions expected in the South West on Monday 11 July, and Tuesday 12 July.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warn that temperatures will stay high until next Friday 15 July.

They’ve issued guidance, and ask us all to prepare for the warm weather:

  • shade or cover windows exposed to direct sunlight – external shutters or shades
  • are very effective, internal blinds or curtains are less effective but cheaper and easier to install
  • check that windows or vents can be opened
  • if applicable, check mechanical ventilations systems are switched on and operating in summer mode
  • check that fridges, freezers and fans are working properly
  • check medicines can be stored according to the instructions on the packaging

They also ask people to check in on their vulnerable family, friends and neighbours to make sure they are prepared for the warm weather ahead.

We have produced a special edition of this newsletter about how to beat the heat, including top tips for keeping cool this summer.

County Hall

Stark warning on spending from Devon finance chief

Our Director of Finance has warned that we’re facing an unprecedented black hole in our finances caused by the cost of living crisis and spiralling demand for help for vulnerable children and adults.

Angie Sinclair predicts that we could overspend by more than £40 million in the current financial year.

And she says urgent action must be taken by every council department to rein in spending.

A panel of senior officers is already looking at options for councillors to consider including spending cuts, remodelling services to save money and cancelling or delaying building projects.

Unlike central government, local councils are required by law to balance their books every year.

In a report to our Cabinet, Ms Sinclair says:

“The Council has never before faced a combination of demand growth and price shock pressures of this scale.

“The pandemic and geopolitical situation has created huge financial pressures nationally and the county council is not immune from that.

“The current forecast is unprecedented and immediate action must be taken to safeguard the financial stability of the authority.”

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

Young people at work

Project launched to equip young people with entrepreneurial skills

A new project has been launched to support young people in Devon to develop key employability skills and gain an insight into entrepreneurship.

Young Entrepreneurs is being funded through our £6million recovery programme in response to the pandemic.

Devon has a high number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-businesses, so provision of good quality enterprise education is vital in preparing young people for their future employment in the county if they plan to be self-employed or work in small enterprises.

The Young Entrepreneurs project supports the delivery of enterprise education across Devon, particularly in disadvantaged communities. It aims to allow young people to consider alternative routes into employment and will encourage them to pursue their ideas and aspirations to create new businesses and products.

The initiative is being delivered through four projects, and you can find out more about them in the full story on the news page of our website.

Openreach engineer at work

Openreach progressing well with Full Fibre delivery for Connecting Devon and Somerset

Openreach is making good progress with providing Full Fibre broadband connectivity to thousands of people as part of its latest collaboration with Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS).

More than 2,000 premises in some of the hardest to reach rural areas in the region will receive ultrafast broadband coverage through Openreach’s ongoing Full Fibre rollout for CDS.

Openreach is actively bringing connectivity to around 1,500 of those premises in a number of communities throughout Devon and Somerset, including Bampton, Brompton Ralph, Coffinswell, parts of Dulverton, Ilfracombe, Kentisbury Ford, Oakford, Parracombe, Rackenford, Shaugh Prior, Stogumber, Washford, and Watermouth.

In the coming months they are expected to start in Brayford, Butterleigh, Cadbury, Cadeleigh, Cheriton Fitzpaine, Filleigh, North Molton, Silverton, South Molton, Stockleigh Pomeroy and Thorverton. Design and survey work has also been undertaken in Clapworthy Mill, Meeth, South Zeal, Throwleigh, Satterleigh and Warkleigh.

More than 400 premises are currently ready for service in communities, including parts of the parish of Bickleigh and Wotter, Combeinteignhead, parts of Dulverton, and Lane End near Peter Tavy.

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

Job of the week: Engineer

Job of the week: Engineer

We manage the largest portfolio of local authority bridges in the UK, and with an increasing workload we have a vacancy for an enthusiastic Engineer with detailed knowledge and experience of bridge design and/or management.

The successful applicant will be part of our in-house engineering practice, delivering highway and bridge related schemes, with teams covering asset management, design, inspections and capital maintenance.

The main purpose of the job is to design, prepare contracts, manage, implement and supervise highway and bridge improvement schemes and other engineering projects, from minor retaining walls to large span highway bridges. 

So if you’re a quick thinker with a creative approach to problem solving and have post graduate experience in bridge or structures-related work, then we want to hear from you.

Read the full job description and apply via the Devon Jobs website.

One Devon

Local people given greater voice as health
and care partners become ‘One Devon’

Devon’s health and care partners have formally come together in a new partnership, with a responsibility to plan and deliver joined-up services which will improve the lives of people who live and work in the county.

One Devon – the name of the county’s new Integrated Care System – will also give patients, charities and community groups an even greater voice in shaping local services.

The partnership brings together NHS and care organisations, local authorities, the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector and Healthwatch.

The Integrated Care System allows organisations to work together more collaboratively, to provide better coordinated care and improve support for people’s health and wellbeing. As a system, One Devon will be increasingly focused on enabling wellness, with more focus on the wider factors impacting our health, such as housing, employment, leisure, green space and access to transport.

Learn more about the visions and ambitions of One Devon.


All the fun of the Devon County Show and more this weekend!

Devon County Show

The Devon County Show is well underway, and we’re really enjoying meeting everyone who visits our stand. We’re in our usual place – Road 8, Stand 260, so if you’re there tomorrow, pop along! We have an exciting and varied mix of activities and things to see and do!

We are also with Royal Devon Healthcare who has an outreach COVID-19 vaccination unit on Road B, Stand 103. With coronavirus case numbers climbing, people who are currently eligible for their vaccination are being encouraged to visit while at the show. Vaccinations are available from 9.00am to 4:30pm to any eligible person over the age of five years old, including anyone unregistered to a GP practice. No need to book. Just come along.

People with tickets to the show are also reminded not to attend if they are feeling unwell or have symptoms of COVID-19.

The County Show isn’t the only big event happening near Exeter this weekend, there’s also Let’s Rock at Powderham Castle and the Teignmouth Air Show, so motorists are advised to plan ahead and expect slow moving traffic on all approaches to J30 and J31 of the M5, the Sandygate Roundabout and nearby routes including the A3052, A376, A379. Follow @DevonAlert on Twitter for the latest travel updates from our highways teams. 

Together 100+ million people are creating a world without plastic.

Single-use plastic isn’t fantastic!

Today marks the start of Plastic Free July – a global movement that encourages millions of people to be part of the solution to plastic pollution, so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.

Single-use plastics have a lifespan of a few minutes to hours but can take hundreds of years before they fully degrade, causing untold damage to our wildlife and environment.

Reducing the amount of plastic waste you produce is easier than you think. The smallest changes, such as taking your own cup or bottle with you to use when you’re out and about rather than buying a single-use one for your drink, can make a huge difference. 

Buying pre-packaged products can be convenient, but it creates a lot of plastic waste, so choosing loose fruit and veg in the supermarket, or visiting a local butchers, fishmonger or greengrocers where plastic packaging is less often used, can really help reduce this.

Better yet, download the Refill app and tap into a global network of places to reduce, reuse and refill. There are nearly 1,000 retailers in Devon listed on the app, including 560 in the Exeter area, and 150 in the North Devon area offering customers the option of reusing and refilling containers again and again with anything from coffee beans, rice and pasta to cereals, spices, cooking oil and even personal care items like soap or shampoo.

And when you go shopping, don’t forget your reusable bags. Keep a stash of them somewhere where you’ll remember them; like in the boot of your car or by your front door.

Feeding can be hard. Find out where to get support in Devon.

Feeding your baby can be hard

This week is National Breastfeeding Week, and this year the government’s UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is focussing on the part everyone has to play in helping parents to breastfeed.

Partners, families and friends and even the general public are vital in providing support to those who are breastfeeding, especially if things get difficult. 

Remember, it can take a while to feel confident about breastfeeding, but you’re not alone. There’s lots of support available in Devon, including peer support groups; health visiting teams; infant feeding clinics; feeding helplines and Latch and Attach appointments.

Every breastfeeding journey is unique, but remember you are not alone. Try to stay connected if you feel you need extra support.

For more information, please visit the Health for Under 5s website.

Cllr Rufus Gilbert with Made in Devon billboard

Growth of ‘shop local’ is a ‘huge opportunity’ for businesses

The results of a consumer survey, which reveals that 88 per cent of local people try to buy Devon-sourced goods whenever possible, presents a huge opportunity for local businesses.

We’re encouraging Devon’s businesses to sign up to our Made in Devon scheme to advertise that they are a trustworthy business supplying Devon-sourced products whenever possible, and that those claims have been vetted by trading standards. Membership is also available to Devon-based companies in other sectors including retail, arts, and services. 

And we want to encourage consumers to keep buying quality local products and services which we have in Devon, supporting local businesses to bring long-term, sustainable prosperity to the region and to help in the region’s economic recovery. 

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, our Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said:

“The benefits of supporting local are huge. It helps keep money in the community as local businesses have lower overheads like transportation, which, in turn is better for the environment. 

“It also helps avoid the supply issues that have been experienced by many national retailers.

“And if businesses can demonstrate that its goods are local it will give confidence to the consumer, and this will help ensure that Devon’s economy continues to recover following the pandemic.” 

For more information go to the Made in Devon website, or if you’re off to the County Show tomorrow, they’ll be there on Road 8, Stand 260.

Node Enterprise Centre

Node enterprise centre set to expand

Work is underway on the expansion of Node, the enterprise centre at Roundswell near Barnstaple.

We’re providing additional investment along with the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, and the European Regional Development Fund, to support the growth of the centre by creating an extra 537sq m of flexible office space.

Town Square Spaces Ltd (TownSq) operates the centre which opened in February 2021. Node supports Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, freelancers and local workers in Barnstaple and the surrounding areas of North Devon and Torridge.

It currently has 37 offices, a coworking space for up to 50 people, a number of meeting rooms and an on-site coffee shop.

The aim is to open the second phase expansion next year to cope with growing demand.

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

Offer care and support

Free professional advice to help you work for yourself offering care and support to older or disabled people

We’re working with a national social enterprise called Community Catalysts to support the development of community micro-enterprises (under eight staff or volunteers) and self-employed Personal Assistants (PAs) who offer care to older and disabled people.

This work will take place over the next two years and will initially focus on the area covering Teignmouth, Dawlish, Starcross, Exminster, southern Exeter, across to Pathfinder village and as far as Tedburn St Mary.

The local representative for this project, Alex, can provide free coaching and mentoring to support people through the process of becoming a PA or starting a micro-enterprise. Alex can also work with people who are already established and may want help to expand or diversify the support they offer.

Experience in care is valuable, but not essential – what you need is a passion to make a difference in people’s lives.

There’s a free online even on Monday 11 July midday – 1pm or 6:30pm – 7:30pm. You can reserve your spot via the Eventbrite website.

Or if you can’t make the event, leave your details via the Community Catalysts website and Alex will be in touch

Any questions? Contact Alex by emailing or phoning 07741 260 674.

Multi-use games are in Newton Abbot

New Multi Use Games Area opens in Newton Abbot

A new Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) has opened at The Station youth centre in Wain Lane, Newton Abbot.

Young people attending the centre have been involved with its design and are excited about the opening.

Josh, 15, volunteers at the youth centre. He said:

“The MUGA is going to be extremely helpful for our youth centre as it creates a safe outdoor space where young people like myself are able to express themselves freely.

“It is an opportunity to build on teamwork and build confidence, and it will also encourage young people to develop new skills and enjoy new experiences while helping their physical and mental wellbeing.”

The previous games area was old and unusable, and the service needed the additional outdoor space, so we funded the new play area.

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

Plymouth and South Devon Freeport Outline Business Case cover

Plymouth and South Devon Freeport Outline Business Case approved by the Chancellor

Another significant milestone has been reached for the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport which has now received approval from the government for its Outline Business Case, along with two of its proposed tax sites.

A freeport in Plymouth and South Devon will create a zone designated by the Government with certain allowances to boost the economy. These allowances will include lower taxes and customs, such as favourable tariffs, VAT or duties.

This fantastic news for Plymouth and South Devon will result in the unlocking of millions of pounds worth of funding for the region. It will encourage a resurgence of economic activity with businesses more inclined to open in the area, creating thousands more jobs and bringing vast investment into the local community.

This is a huge boost for the whole South West region offering a host of opportunities for the future, whilst aiding faster local economic recovery following the difficulties of the past two years and the unprecedented challenges brought about by COVID-19.

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


Recommendations to improve ambulance waiting times; Kingsbridge Community Works; Not too late for COVID-19 vaccinations; Financial support and cost of living; EV charge points ready for use

(Left to right) Thomas Janman, Emma Carter (from local fishmongers Catch of the Day) and Tristan Powlesland.

Kingsbridge Community Works celebrates first anniversary

This week, we’ve been celebrating Learning Disability Week, and an initiative that’s enjoying its one year anniversary since launch.

Kingsbridge Community Works is a unique project run by our adult education service, Learn Devon, with the aim of supporting traders in the town, while also teaching digital and work skills to learners with learning disabilities.

The project is working with more than 64 local businesses, and it’s helping people with learning disabilities gain new skills to design and produce flyers to promote those businesses, and distribute them in the local community.

Thomas Janman from Blackawton, said:

“Kingsbridge Community Works helped me get out and about after lockdown. It’s made me go into places I haven’t been in before. It has helped my confidence to speak to people I don’t know. I can now use Microsoft SWAY and Canva to design things and really like helping others to use it too.”

Some of the learners have gone on to gain employment locally. Louise Thomson from Kingsbridge says it’s helped her feel more confident.

“I am excited about starting my new job and I feel ready to work in an office because of the skills I’ve learned from my courses with Learn Devon and Kingsbridge Community Works.”

You can read more about how the project has helped others learn important work skills in the news story on our website.

An ambulance parked outside a hospital

Review makes recommendations to improve ambulance times

One of the democratic roles we have is having oversight and scrutiny of health and care services in Devon.

The independent Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee met this week to discuss the South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s (SWAST) response times over the winter, which official figures show were slower than the national average.

The same data also shows that waiting times at acute hospitals in Devon were also longer than national averages over that period. 

The committee held a ‘spotlight review’ at which leaders in health and care, including NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, SWAST, and us, shared our collective knowledge and expertise.

They agreed that an urgent ‘system-wide’ commitment to improve average response times is needed, and that all of Devon’s acute hospitals should adopt the Rapid Patient Assessment and Triage model that is used by the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

The review also highlighted the importance of Minor Injury Units (MIUs), and the committee agreed that MIUs with regular service hours and minimum standards should be available across Devon.

And they concluded that a campaign to inform people how and where to access urgent and non-urgent medical support and mental health support is needed.

You can read what the Chairman of the SWAST spotlight review said in the news story on our website. 

Elderly man receiving his vaccination

How to get your COVID-19 vaccination this summer

The COVID-19 spring booster programme draws to a close this month, but it’s not too late for people who are eligible to have their vaccination, because clinics will still run over the summer.

People turning 75 on or after Friday 1 July will not be eligible for the spring booster, however anyone who is eligible on Thursday 30 June will still be able to have their vaccination during July, NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has said.

Anyone who is 75 and over, immunosuppressed or a resident of a care home on the 30 June, will still be able to have their spring booster vaccination. People who are immunosuppressed include those who are undergoing chemotherapy, have leukaemia or have had an organ transplant.

If you’re in this group, you can check with your GP or consultant if you are unsure whether you are eligible. NHS Devon Chief Nurse, Darryn Allcorn, said:

“We want to ensure that the people who are most at risk of COVID-19 are protected over the summer. We know people are more likely to socialise outside this time of year, but COVID-19 is still in circulation. If you haven’t yet had your spring booster, I would encourage you to book or visit one of our walk-in sessions.”

Vaccination appointments can be made online or by calling 119 and details of walk in clinics are available here.

A further booster is planned this autumn, in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice.

You can read more about how to get your COVID-19 vaccination this summer on NHS Devon CCG’s website.

Head and shoulders photograph of Phil Norrey stood in the committee suite at County Hall, Exeter

Devon Chief Executive to retire

Our long-serving chief executive, Phil Norrey, has announced his retirement this week.

Dr Norrey has held the post since 2006 and is the longest-serving chief executive in the council’s history.

He joined the authority in 1998 as Deputy Director of Education before being promoted to Director of Education.

Dr Norrey, who will be 60 next year, said it was the right time for him to leave and hand over to his successor as a new senior management team takes shape at County Hall.

You can read what Phil Norrey said about his announcement, and what the Leader of our council said, in the news story on our website.

Make a child friendly Devon

What’s your wish for Devon?

Our ambition is to create an even better place for children and young people to grow up in – a Child Friendly Devon.

As part of this work, we are creating a new visual identity and vision for Child Friendly Devon, and we need your help!

Earlier this week we sent out a special edition of our ‘children families and education’ Connect Me newsletter with details of how you can get involved, and shape the county you want your family to live and grow up in.

There’s a survey for parents, carers and guardians to share their thoughts and opinions. 

And we’re asking all children to show us how they would make where they live an even better place to grow up! They can respond in any creative way they choose – a picture, a story or poem, a video, whatever inspires them!

If you missed it, or you don’t subscribe yet, you can catch up online 

small wooden house on top of a calculator

Financial support for households struggling to pay for energy, food and other essential items

The cost of living is affecting us all. Rising inflation and energy prices are hitting households hard, adding substantial amounts to our annual bills.

We’re keeping advice and guidance up to date on our website to help people in Devon with their rising costs.

Earlier this week we also sent out a special edition of this newsletter with information about support that is available. 

It includes details about how we’re using the £5 million allocated to us by the government to support low-income families through the Household Support Fund.

If you missed it, you can catch up online.

Members of the Celebrating Windrush in Devon group, are joined by our Chairman Ian Hall, and Chief Executive Dr Phil Norrey, to raise the flag

Devon Windrush Flag has been raised over County Hall

We marked Windrush Day this week, raising the flag over County Hall to celebrate 74 years since the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury docks, and its passengers began new lives in Britain.

The flag raising was attended by members of the Celebrating Windrush in Devon group, who designed the flag, and by our Chairman, Cllr Ian Hall, and Chief Executive, Phil Norrey.

Windrush Day is an opportunity for people to recognise the contribution of Caribbean immigrants from countries including Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent, Guyana, and Jamaica, and the role they played to help rebuild a devastated and war-weary Britain.

Faye Doris, Retired Associate Professor of Midwifery and member of the Devon Windrush Group, said:

“Windrush Day is a day of acknowledging heritage, reflecting on our arrival and the contributions that we have made to the United Kingdom – and sharing this with colleagues.”

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

People stood posing for the camera alongside a car that is plugged in to an EV charging point.

New electric vehicle charging points are ready for use

The first of 80 Electric Vehicle (EV) charge points we’re planning for 38 public carparks across Devon over the next 12 months are ready for public use.

The charge points are at Dawlish’s Barton Car Park and Dartmouth’s Mayors Avenue Car Park. Each has at least two charging bays. 

The bays are fully accessible, and the spaces will be for the sole use of electric vehicle charging.

We have delivered the scheme thanks to our partners North Devon Council, Teignbridge District Council, East Devon District Council, West Devon Borough Council, South Hams District Council, ScottishPower, and Devon Climate Emergency (DCE).

The charge points are compatible with all makes of EVs and will fully charge a 50 kWh battery in two to four hours, providing a range of up to 200 miles depending on vehicle specification.

You can read more about the roll out of EV charge points in Devon in the news story on our website. 


Are you struggling with the cost of living?

The cost of living is affecting us all. Rising inflation and energy prices are hitting households hard, adding substantial amounts to our annual bills.

The BBC reports today that prices for food, energy and fuel are continuing to rise at their fastest rate for 40 years, with Office for National Statistics data indicating that UK inflation is now up to 9.1 per cent in the 12 months to May.

The government has said that its £200 energy rebate in October will be doubled to £400, and will no longer have to be repaid. And that a £650, paid in two lump sums, will be available to support the country’s most vulnerable people in receipt of means-tested benefits. You can read more about that on the government’s website.

Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert, has also published a helpful ‘Cost of living crisis survival guide’ on his website signposting to available support.

image shows a model of a miniature house sitting on top of a calculator

Supporting Devon residents

We’ve published some helpful information and guidance on our website, to help people in Devon who are struggling to meet the rising costs of living.

Household Support Fund

We’ve been allocated around £5 million by the government to support low income families. It’s a scheme called the Household Support Fund and it runs until September 2022.

Its purpose is to provide rapid short-term financial support to households who may be struggling to afford to pay for their energy, water, food or other essential items.

Because it’s the government’s money, there are conditions on how it can be allocated. At least a third of it must support households in which there are children or young people; at least another third must also support households that include people of state pensionable age; and the rest can be used to support other vulnerable households who are struggling to pay for food, energy, water and other essential bills.

We’re working with Citizen’s Advice Devon.

We’re using some of the funding available to work with Citizen’s Advice Devon to manage an Energy Relief Scheme for people using pre-payment meters and who are struggling to meet their energy needs. Pre-payment meters are often used by people on lower incomes as a way to help them budget, but they can result in people paying more for their energy requirements.

If you are struggling with bills or worried about debt, you don’t need to struggle alone. You can get advice from Citizens Advice onlineover the phone, or by contacting your local Citizens Advice office.

Young children sitting at school having their lunch. They are smiling, chatting and eating their lunch.

Has your income changed?

If your family income has changed and you are struggling to pay food bills, we encourage you to check your eligibility and apply for free school meals.

All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 at state schools in England automatically get free school meals. From year 3 onwards, children whose parents are receiving any of a range of benefits are entitled to free school meals during term time.

Support with meals during the school holidays

Families eligible for benefits-related free school meals will also receive supermarket vouchers to help pay for their food shopping at a range of supermarkets for six weeks over the summer holidays.

Parents and carers of children currently receiving benefits-related free school meals have been sent a letter or email with information about how to access their vouchers.

Please get in touch with our free school meals team if you’re are expecting to receive one but don’t. You can email them at or call our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

Free holiday activities and meals this Summer

Children aged five to 16 years old who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals are also invited to take up an action-packed summer holiday this year, as part of our Holiday Activities and Food programme.

It’s to provide free physical activities and healthy, nutritional, hot meals during the school holidays.

We have 40,000 places available over four weeks during the summer holidays, including a range of sports and coaching opportunities, indoor and outdoor play activities; outings to local parks and beaches; magic and circus skills; film making; arts and crafts; music; cooking; theatre workshops; yoga and mindfulness; and a lot more!

For a list of the activities available, where and when, please visit our Holiday Activities and Food programme website.

Healthy Start Scheme

If you’re more than ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, and receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money added every four weeks that you can use in some UK shops. 

You can use your card to buy cow’s milk; fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables; fresh, dried, and tinned pulses and infant formula milk based on cow’s milk.

You can also use your card to collect Healthy Start vitamins to support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and vitamin drops for babies and young children – suitable from birth to four years old.

Find out more, including how to apply, on the NHS Healthy Start website.

Man working to fix solar panels on the roof of a house

Helping you save on household energy bills

If you have a household income of less than £30,000 a year, you may be eligible for free energy efficiency improvements to your home worth thousands of pounds, which is better for the environment and your pocket.

You can find out more on the Cosy Devon website.


Free holiday activities with meals this summer; COVID-19 figures still low but rising slightly and we’re returning to the Devon County Show

Boy playing football, in goals

Places now available for free holiday activities with meals this summer

Places are now available for children from across Devon, aged five to 16 years old, who are eligible for benefit-related free school meals, to take part in holiday activities with meals this summer.

It’s our Holiday Activities and Food programme, providing free physical activities as well as healthy, nutritional, hot meals, for four weeks over the summer break.

This time, we’ve got 40,000 places available for a range of activities including sports and coaching opportunities; indoor and outdoor play activities; outings to local parks and beaches; magic and circus skills; film making, arts and crafts; music; cooking; theatre workshops; yoga and mindfulness, and a lot more.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, our Cabinet Member with responsibility for children’s services, said:

“School holidays can be difficult for some families, with added costs of food for example – especially now with rising food prices. For some, it can lead to a holiday experience gap, with children possibly more likely to feel social isolation and less likely to enjoy healthy exercise.

“We know young people value this time, and we’re delighted once again to be working with even more providers this summer to arrange an even fuller programme.”

You can read the full story, with details about how to book, on the news page of our website.

Coronavirus cell

Coronavirus figures still low but rising slightly

The latest COVID-19 surveillance report from the government’s UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) indicates that case rates have increased, including the numbers of people in hospital with coronavirus.

Here in Devon cases of the virus have also risen slightly, with the latest Office of National Statistics data estimating that 2.3 per cent of Devon’s population, or around one in 45 people in the county, currently have the virus.

Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:

“It may not make news headlines anymore, but we are continuing to see new positive cases of coronavirus on a daily basis in Devon, among people of all ages. 

“Thankfully, with most people vaccinated, the virus isn’t having the impact it once had, and most people are experiencing symptoms similar to the common cold or flu.

“With no rules to enforce, it’s reassuring to see anecdotally an awareness of risk, and that people are choosing to keep themselves to themselves when they’re feeling under the weather. 

“I would still encourage people, when showing symptoms of a virus, to continue to stay home for five days if they can, which is the period during which people are most infectious, and avoiding older or vulnerable friends and relatives especially.”

You can read what the UKHSA has said about the latest report on their website.

photo taken at a previous Devon County Show, of a crowd watching an equestrian display

We are returning to the Devon County Show!

We and our partners will once again be sharing a stand at the Devon County Show, from Thursday 30 June to Saturday 2 July.

Our stand area this year will reflect many of our priority themes, including climate, children and young people, economic recovery, and improving health and wellbeing.

And with our range of themes, we’ll have an exciting and varied mix of activities and things to come and see and do.

One of our main priorities is how we help Devon to be a better place for children and young people, and we’ll have children’s services representatives on the stand.

We’ll have information about our Holiday Activities and Food programme this summer, as well as advice about childcare funding, employment opportunities working with children; Fostering Devon, and more.

We look forward to welcoming you in our usual place: Road 8, Stand 260.

You can read more about what’s on our stand this year in the news story on our website.

Out in the sun?  Beat the heat by keeping cool, drinking lots of water and wearing sun cream to protect against high UV.

It’s hot out there!

Most of us welcome the arrival of summer, with the chance to get outside and enjoy the sunny weather. But when it’s too hot for too long, there are health risks. In England, there are on average 2,000 heat related deaths every year.

The main risks during hot weather are:

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

If you missed it, you can catch up online.

Make a child friendly Devon

Making a Child Friendly Devon

Our new Strategic Plan vision for a Child Friendly Devon makes it clear that we’re ambitious for this to be the best place for all children to grow up – have the best outcomes, to live an independent and healthy life and to achieve their full potential.

As part of that ambition, a new visual identity for Child Friendly Devon is being created and we’re engaging with a range of people, including children and young people, to help shape the identity.

You can get involved by completing a short survey and sharing it with as many contacts as possible. To share your thoughts before Friday 24 June, visit Wish for Devon.

Plastic bottles on the ground, against a brick wall.

Join us in the Refill revolution!

This week it’s been World Refill Day. It’s a campaign that we support that encourages people to stop using products with single-use packaging, such as for some food and drinks.

To make that easier, you can download a Refill app to your mobile device that tells you which of your local retailers encourage you to do that.

There are nearly 1,000 retailers in Devon listed on the app, and it’s not just about re-filling your drinks bottle. The app points you to Refill and Zero Waste Stores, where customers can reuse and refill containers again and again with anything from coffee beans, rice and pasta, to cereals, spices, cooking oil, and some personal care items like soap or shampoo.

Did you know that an estimated 800 plastic bottles per minute end up being disposed of as litter in the UK, and often make their way into our waterways and out to sea.

We can all do our bit to prevent that. Read more about the free Refill App on the Refill website.

grey van

Household van users can now apply for free permit to use at Newton Abbot and East Devon recycling centres

If you own a van for private use and visit the Brunel Road (Newton Abbot), Knowle Hill (Exmouth), Sutton Barton (Honiton) or Sidmouth Recycling Centres, please note that from Monday 4 July you will need a permit – and from today you can apply, online, for free. 

The new permit asks those living in the Devon County Council administrative area with privately registered panel vans or flat-bed vans, to hold a permit to use these sites. The system has been in operation at Exton Road and Pinbrook Road in Exeter since April.

It’s being introduced to help reduce commercial waste from being deposited at the sites at public expense. It will also help make it easier for residents, to use the sites by reducing queues and congestion. 

Once the permit has been received, the holder will be entitled to a total of 12 visits over the next 12 months. The permits will only be issued to vans registered to individual residents and not to vehicles registered to businesses.

Cars, pick-ups, bicycles, motorcycles, fully-fitted campervans and minibuses, vans modified for wheelchairs and van-based people carriers won’t need a permit.

Vans hired out by a householder  will also not need a permit, but terms and conditions apply. 

To apply for a permit and view all the information (including the terms and conditions) please see our van permit scheme webpage.


Beat the heat and look out for most vulnerable in our communities as temperatures continue soar

It’s hot out there!

The Met Office has said temperatures will continue to rise this week, and it is likely to be very hot here in the south-west on Friday.

Most of us welcome the arrival of summer, with the chance to get outside and enjoy the sunny weather. But when it’s too hot for too long, there are health risks. In England, there are on average 2,000 heat related deaths every year.

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

The main risks during hot weather are:

Older people, people with long term conditions and young children may need help keeping cool

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

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, is urging residents to beat the heat and look out for the most vulnerable in our communities as temperatures look set to soar this week. He says:

“Devon is a great place to be whatever the weather, and when the sun shines everyone is more likely to be enjoying the great outdoors.  

“But the summer heat can be dangerous, so please make sure you stay safe in the sun by covering up, using sunscreen and keeping hydrated. It’s also a good idea to avoid being out in the peak heat from around 11am to 3pm, and find ways to stay cool such as moving to shaded areas, taking cool showers and keeping curtains closed during the day.

“Please also look out for the most vulnerable in our communities over the summer months. Although much of the advice about beating the heat is common sense, some people may need extra help coping with the hot weather and keeping cool.

“It’s vital we all follow the advice and adapt what we do when needed, so we don’t put our local NHS services under any more pressure.”

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

Top tips for staying safe in the heat

Keeping cool in hot weather. If you or other feel unwell, move to a cool place and rehydrate

Stay hydrated

Sweating is your body’s natural way of keeping you cool. Some sweat evaporates from your skin, taking heat with it, the rest runs down your face and body.

We sweat more in hot weather, so it’s really important to drink lots of water to replace what our bodies have lost. It also helps cool the body and prevents heat exhaustion. Our physical thirst is not a very reliable indicator of how dehydrated we are (urine colour is better), so you should try to drink plenty before you feel parched. Try not to drink caffeine or alcohol, as they are diuretics that can increase dehydration.

Foods with high water content such as strawberries, cucumber, lettuce, celery and melon can also help you stay hydrated. Try to avoid large, heavy meals laden with carbohydrates and protein because they take more digesting, which in turn produces more body heat.

Dehydration means your body loses more fluids than you take in. If it’s not treated, it can get worse and become a serious problem. Visit the NHS website to find out more about how to spot the signs of dehydration and reduce the risk.

Never leave infants, young children or animals in a closed/ locked parked vehicle while the weather is hot

Keep cool

If you are going outside

Try to avoid the sun during the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm when the UV rays are strongest. Stay in the shade, drink plenty of water, apply sunscreen regularly and wear a wide brimmed hat. Cold showers, filling up a hot water bottle with ice and blotting your skin with damp, cold cloth can help keep you cool. You should also avoid exercising during the hottest part of the day.

What to wear

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.

Beware cold water

If you’re heading to the coast, please remember that water temperatures remain dangerously cold. As inviting as it looks, don’t just jump straight in to the sea as cold water shock could make you gasp uncontrollably, and you could breathe in water and drown. 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 are inside

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.

Cartoon sunscreen bottles

Avoid sunburn

Sunburn is hot and sore skin caused by too much sun. It may flake and peel after a few days. You can treat it yourself, and it usually gets better within seven days.

You can treat sunburn yourself by:

  • getting out of the sun as soon as possible
  • cooling your skin with a cool shower, bath or damp towel
  • applying after-sun cream or spray
  • drinking plenty of water to cool down and prevent dehydration
  • taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain
  • covering sunburnt skin from direct sunlight until skin has fully healed

Don’t put petroleum jelly or ice/ ice packs on sunburnt skin, and avoid wearing tight fitting clothes and removing any peeling skin.

If you feel like you need additional treatment, speak to a pharmacist. 

If your sunburn is severe your skin may also blister and you may feel tired, dizzy or sick. Severe sunburn can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke, which can be very serious. You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Out in the sun?  Beat the heat by keeping cool, drinking lots of water and wearing sun cream to protect against high UV.

Heat exhaustion and heatstroke

If you or someone else feels unwell with a high temperature, headache, loss of appetite, feeling dizzy 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 they need to be cooled down. The NHS advises that there are four things you can do to cool someone down and they should feel better within 30 minutes, which are:

  • move them to a cool place
  • get them to lie down and raise their feet slightly
  • get them to drink plenty of water. Sports or rehydration drinks are OK
  • cool their skin – spray or sponge them with cool water and fan them. Cold packs around the armpits or neck are good too

Stay with them until they are better and call 999 if the person is:

  • no better after 30 minutes
  • still feeling hot and dry
  • not sweating even though they are too hot
  • showing a temperature that’s risen to 40°C or above
  • experiencing rapid or shortness of breath or is confused, has a fit or loses consciousness

Any of these could be a sign of heatstroke which is a medical emergency and can be very serious if not treated quickly. Call 999 and put the person in the recovery position if they lose consciousness while you’re waiting for help.