That too many people have died?
By the way, I had my 15 seconds of fame on Spotlight on 19th September!
Our MP, Peter Heaton-Jones has asked for examples of cases where people have been saved by treatment in Barnstaple who would not have been if they had been forced to travel to South Devon. If you know personally of any, could you pass details on to him at email@example.com.
Save Our Hospital Services Devon is a non-party-political group, containing members from all major political parties. Whilst it is against government policy on hospitals, as a group, it is neither for nor against the Conservative Party – after all, both Peter Heaton-Jones and Geoffrey Cox have supported its aims. So I urge you all, Conservatives, Labourites, Communists, Greens, UKIppers, LibDems, None-Of-The-Abovers and anyone else I may have left out to join together to fight for our hospital. Once we have saved the hospital, and we have access to medical care, we can go back to our usual occupation of stabbing each other in the back! After all, if Peter Heaton-Jones can say, as he did at Barnstaple, that he agrees with everything Gerrard Sables said, surely the rest of us can bury the hatchet – in the Success Regime and the Sustainability & Transformation Plan, rather than in each other.
At the Barnstaple Town Council meeting on 19th September, Peter Heaton-Jones gave a speech against the Success Regime and the Sustainability & Transformation Plan which almost could have been written by my friend, Netti Pearson. There was just one point with which I would like to take issue. Peter said that the Plan is being led by NHS England and that it is not for the Secretary of State for Health to interfere. Of course, it is correct in that he should not micro-manage, but it is his right and duty to say to NHS England “You have misdirected yourselves. Go away and come back with a plan which gives the best possible health care, free at the point of use, to the whole population, ensuring that all have equal access. And stop wasting money on useless advisers!”
By the way, Peter, will you be at the demonstration on 22nd October? I can lend you a red hat, if you wish.
The re-election of Jeremy Corbyn has done something that I thought I would never see – it has united the left of the Labour Party and many Conservatives, both groups being happy with the result. The Conservatives, of course, are happy because they think Labour under Corbyn is unelectable. Understand, I am not saying that is right; I am saying that is what they believe. Why is it relevant to Ilfracombe? Well, if they think that, they have little incentive to worry about the next election and so little incentive to listen to our demands that our NHS is not dismantled. Now, I have previously said that there is nothing more important than one’s health, and so I am going to put my metaphorical money where my big mouth is: at the next election and at any subsequent election until our hospital is saved, I will vote for whichever party I think is best placed to save it, be that Labour, Green, UKIP, LibDem, Communist or SNP! Or even Conservative, maybe. I urge you all to make a similar pledge. To my Conservative friends, I would say that, whatever damage one of the other parties may do, it can almost certainly be reversed. However, if Barnstaple hospital is dismembered or closed, that is unlikely ever to be reversed. This is grossly unfair to those Conservative MPs who are supporting us, but I can think of nothing else that is likely to have as much impact. Can you?
Oh dear. Let’s talk of something more cheerful – Christmas! You might think it a bit early to talk of that, but the Combe Christmas Committee have been planning since February! There are some exciting events coming, and details will be released soon. However, today, I just wanted to say “Thanks” to the Ilfracombe And District Lions Club for their generous donation. You probably know that the Lions ran this year’s very successful Ilfracombe carnival, but their primary aim is to help and support local and international communities in need. They are always on the look-out for new members, so, if you think you might like to join, why not drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or have a look at their Facebook page, Ilfracombe And District Lions Club.
I imagine that nothing much exciting had happened in the world during the day before the Guardian of 24th September was published, since its front page headline read “Revealed: one in seven UK takeaways have failed food hygiene tests”. Not exciting on a par with, for example “Jeremy Hunt has a heart attack while visiting North Devon, dies while waiting for an ambulance”, but interesting nonetheless. The passage I liked best read “The 10 best areas in the country, ranked by the proportion of food premises that pass inspections, are the Orkney Islands, North Devon, South Ayrshire, Torridge ….”. it is not clear if the Guardian was reporting the areas in the order of their ranking, but, if they were, we are second best in the whole country. I can think of no town in North Devon that has as many restaurants per capita or as wide a range as Ilfracombe, so this is very much a pat on the back for our town.
Well done, all.
I mentioned above that the Combe Christmas Committee has been meeting since February: it takes a lot of time to plan these things. So you may not be too surprised to hear that plans are now being developed for our next May Day, after all, it’s only 7 months away! If you feel you could help, get in touch at email@example.com.
After my blog last week, I received from my friend, Tony Olsson, a copy of a letter he has sent to our local papers, in which he disagrees with much of what I said. He has made some very good points, and so I thought you might like to see a slightly curtailed version of that letter:
“We already have too many cafes in Ilfracombe High Street. One (CocoNuts) closed recently due to insufficient customers. A sandwich bar has also closed.
“The support by some of Ilfracombe’s councillors for Jurassic Coast Coffee Ltd to open a branch of a national franchise is plainly wrong. It is not “a good sign for Ilfracombe that big companies like that want to come here” (Val Gates). Both Paul Crabb and George Squires back the development, despite receiving a “majority of representations” against the cafe. That is irresponsible! Councillors are appointed to represent the people of this town – not big business.
“The statement by Jurassic Coast Coffee Ltd that “a Costa Coffee in this location would create a popular new use in the town centre, supporting its vitality and viability and bring associated economic benefits through linked spending in the surrounding area” is crass and demonstrably untrue.
“Visitors won’t come to Ilfracombe because it has a Costa Coffee, but they might be put off coming back if they see the increasing number of empty shops (already two coffee shops) which will be inevitable if Costa opens. This is the unacceptable face of capitalism. …... There are many small family-run cafes in Ilfracombe High Street which are unlikely to survive an assault by national chains with big money behind them.
“We have only one proper shoe shop in Ilfracombe. How is having to go to Barnstaple or Exeter to buy shoes going to attract residents? “
I am pleased to be able to report that the Tubby Foundation was able to give 4 bursaries this year, so congratulations to Joe Gooch, going to Swansea University to study theoretical physics, Noah Turner, going to Oxford University to study biochemistry (molecular and cellular), Joshua Beaman, going to Bournemouth University to study cyber security management, and Jacob Overney, going to Reading University to study mathematics.
The observant among you will have noticed that all 4 are men. This does not indicate any sexism among the trustees: this year, every single applicant was male. I hope next year there will be a more balanced group applying.
And finally, goodbye Neil. The town was richer for your presence and is the poorer for your leaving.
Only the good die young.