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Current Issues

Talkworks – NHS free, confidential psychological therapies service

The global COVID-19 outbreak we are currently living through has caused unprecedented times of change and uncertainty for us all. As a result, many people are experiencing concerns and worries for the future. For those that already experience stress and anxiety, the pandemic is likely to be creating further worries and triggering symptoms. For those that may have not experienced anxiety issues in the past, the widespread impact of the outbreak could be causing symptoms of anxiety or panic for the first time, particularly if they have friends and family that are vulnerable to the virus or those that have been affected by losing work or employment. Many vulnerable people have been particularly affected by the pandemic, it is not unusual to feel stressed, confused and isolated during a crisis. We are now beginning to see the impact of the pandemic on people’s mental wellbeing, and it is so important to ensure people are aware of the TALKWORKS service.

TALKWORKS is the NHS free, confidential psychological therapies service. We are open to all referrals offering initial assessment appointments and follow up sessions on the telephone or through digital platforms.

  • People can easily self-refer by phone or online at our website
  • We are increasing access for people aged 18+ experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of stress, sleep problems, low mood or anxiety (including phobias)
  • We are particularly keen to increase access from perinatal parents, people living in rural areas, older people, and serving or ex-members of the armed forces
  • We also see people whose long term health physical health condition is impacting their mood, or vice versa

Please see leaflets below for more information:-

Fiware4Water – smart meters

Fiware4Water is a project which aims to implement innovative approaches that empower customers towards water efficiency, through the use of smart meters.  In the UK, the University of Exeter is partnering with South West Water (SWW) and the UN World Water Quality Alliance (UNWWQA).

Great Torrington has been chosen to pilot new smart meter technology as part of this project. Customers in this region will be given access to a smart phone application displaying their water consumption. They will be able to see how much they are paying for water, compare their consumption against others, set consumption targets and receive leak alarm notifications. SWW will use the data from these smart meters to locate and respond faster to household leaks in the area and derive relationships between consumption and the weather (e.g. rainfall) via an internally accessed web application. Research has shown that metered customers use significantly less water than customers who are not metered. The project team expects that increased visibility of water use behaviour will drive an even larger reduction in a customer’s water consumption. The benefits of which will be realised by SWW with a lower overall demand on resources and treatment requirements, and by the customer with a lower annual water bill.

The Project Team will be announcing details soon of a launch event at which SWW customers in Great Torrington will be invited to take part.  For more information, please follow this link to the Fiware4Water website: https://www.fiware4water.eu/

Environmental Matters

In the past months the Town Council has agreed an Environment Policy and has also activated an Environment/Transport working group to look at various environmental issues (as well as transport) and challenges we currently face as a community, nation and world. At an Environment meeting in early March, (before the coronavirus lockdown) we considered matters in relation to our community maintenance programme and how the way we work could be reviewed, ensuring ongoing safety measures are in place, but also considering the impact we have on the biodiversity of the local area.

With regard to grass cutting, we are currently under contract to cut some of the grass verges for visibility purposes for Devon County Council and these must be cut 4 times per year between April and the end of October. Historically, we have cut these areas more frequently than this. However, to allow ongoing growth and increased insect/wildlife activity Members suggested that going forward we experiment by cutting the minimum amount of 4 times per year. We will keep a close eye on these verges as our first priority must be to ensure clear visibility for road users is maintained for safety reasons.

Devon County Council has confirmed that they do not intend to do any other grass cutting this year (apart from verges via the Town Council). For a number of years, the Town Council has in fact cut some of these areas anyway. Two of the larger plots are the strip of grassland adjacent to Greenbank on the left-hand side as you travel into Great Torrington from Barnstaple and the strip of grass in front of Woodland Vale Nursing Home. Again, Members suggested we experiment here and cut the edges only, leaving the grass in the middle or to the side to grow. We also discussed the possibility of sowing meadow seed and/or bulb planting in these areas after consulting with local experts on such matters. We are mindful that this approach will not result in such a “tidy” picture, however, we hope that the “natural” will be appreciated for what it is and will improve the habitat for nature.

Members also suggested looking into reducing the use of leaf blowers and herbicides and undertake some tasks manually, such as weeding.

The intention was to use this year as a pilot for possible change going forward and were looking to encourage feedback from the community as we went through the year.

Members also agreed the following;

 Consider environmentally friendly options when buying tools and machinery.
 Continue to source as much equipment and supplies as we can locally.
 Create a compost facility at the allotment site for use by the tenants.
 Consider further opportunities to plant new trees, sow meadow seed and plant bulbs across the community.
 Continue to consider various aspects in relation to the environment as an ongoing commitment.

A few weeks after this meeting, we found ourselves in lockdown. Since then, only necessary work has been undertaken, and many of the above plans have started to fall into place anyway as a result of the implementation of the Government’s social distancing guidelines.

However, we look forward to a time when we have moved away from this awful crisis and will endeavour to work to the above plans with a view to encouraging environmentally friendly practices. We continue to welcome feedback from our local community on these matters.

South West Water options

Following a visit from a representative of SWW the following information might be helpful:-

a.Priority Services Registration: This is for people with medical conditions or physical limitations. Once registered the individual will be notified of any interruptions in water supply and will have water delivered to them if there is no supply. The individual will receive a telephone call to advise them of any disruption.  An application for this can be obtained from SWW or from their Website.

b.Debt Helpline: If customers are struggling to pay their water bill South West Water has a debt helpline on 0800 083 0283 and they will talk through different options available. The individual can also contact the Water Care Team via the email watercare@southwestwater.co.uk, or Emma Phillips directly via ephillips@southwestwater.co.uk, and we can arrange a home visit to talk them through the different debt relief options available as well as helping to get them on the most appropriate tariff.

c.The Watercare Tariff: This is for metered customers who are on very low income. To qualify, an individual within the household must receive a qualifying benefit, such as income support or housing benefit.  The tariffs offer a discount of between 15-50% off a water bill. An income assessment is carried out to determine eligibility. An application can be obtained from SWW, or a home visit can be arranged with the Water Care Team/ or Emma Phillips.

d.Switch to a meter: Water meters can save people a considerable amount of money. SWW has advisors who help people establish if a meter could save them money and help with initial applications.  It is free to switch and if, after 24 months a customer considers it isn’t right for them, they can go back to unmeasured charges. In the Great Torrington area only, we are currently offering customers to go onto a ‘Dual Billing Trial’ whereby they can opt to get a water meter installed without changing to metered charges. SWW will then send letters to the customer every quarter to notify them how much water the household has used and the customer will be able to see which charge will be cheaper for them, i.e. the metered charge or their current unmeasured charge. To get involved with this trial, customers can call our Dual Billing team on 01392 442882. 

e.The WaterSure Tariff: This may help a customer reduce their bill if they have a water meter, receive certain benefits and if someone in the home has a medical condition that means extra water is used, or if they have 3 or more children living with them. It works by capping a bill the average annual domestic water and sewerage charges, currently £488.45.