*I know that the supporters were going north-bound and their main hold-ups were on the M6, nut it is all part of the same problem.
The delays I mention above are on a weekend on which a severe weather warning has been issued. How much worse would they have been had warm, sunny weather been predicted? Meanwhile, we can probably look forward to similar scenes in reverse on Monday and next weekend, with repetitions throughout the season. In addition, the traditional Braunton traffic jam has been established for some weeks and will doubtless continue until the winter, when we might have a brief respite.
We are competing with seaside towns around the country, not to mention resorts abroad, for visitors. Whilst we have a beautiful town and breath-taking scenery, we cannot compete on weather with Spain, Greece, Turkey etc. We should, at least, be able to compete on accessibility.
Our MP, Peter Heaton-Jones, is rightly pleased that he has achieved some measure of success in getting funding to look into necessary improvements, but this is only a start. We don’t need an investigation to determine whether or not we need better rail connections or improved roads – you only need read the news of the last few years to know the answer to that. We do need, obviously, to determine how best to proceed, but this should not be used as an excuse to delay further actual action. We also need a bit of joined-up thinking in which we consider transport needs as a whole, rather than looking separately at roads, rail, buses, ferries and flying pigs.
For goodness sake, Peter, tell your pal George Osborne to pull his finger out and get us the money we need to bring our transport system up to date and on a par with that of the rest of the United Kingdom. Whilst you are at it, remind him that our funding for health and education also lags behind the rest of the kingdom. Is it any wonder that people in Ilfracombe die before almost everyone else in the country?
Thank you to everyone who entered my little competition. There were plenty of good ideas. Sandra Davies suggested “Travel From North, South, East And West Become A Grockle And Find Out That Devon Is Best”. A good suggestion, but I had hoped for something a little snappier and more memorable. Graham Schlisske suggested “Be Chummy With A Brummie”, which is excellent, except that we would than need separate slogans for Mancunians, Liverpudlians, the Scots and probably even Londoners. David Hancock’s “Tease a tourist” has almost everything I was looking for, except it could be interpreted maliciously.
June Williams came up with three ideas, although they could almost be read together as a sort of poem:
“Smile you’re on holiday!
A boutiful place to be.
It be alright yere in Combe”
But I had hoped for something alliterative. I liked both of the suggestions from Elizabeth Webb “Hug a holidaymaker” and “Smile for sightseers” and, had there not been some even better suggestions, she might well have won, despite being my daughter. Philip Milton threw in half a dozen suggestions, of which I particularly liked “Greet a Grockle”, another great entry.
However, in the end, it came down to a choice between two entries, Pam Ley with “Wide Open Welcome” and Bert Gear with “Treasure a Tourist”. I love Pam’s entry, but Bert’s ticks all the boxes and so wins by a short head. Pam, if you contact me on email@example.com we can arrange for you to have a £25 Pedlars voucher as second prize.
Bert, you have said you would donate your prize to the Christmas Lights Appeal, presumably as a prize in one of their many exciting events. Are you sure you don’t want to change your mind? With your winnings you could, perhaps buy a hat to add to that debonair, man-about-town image. Or some garden implements, or, perhaps, something for the house – a teapot maybe. Let me know.
I would like to welcome Paul Crabb as our new mayor. Paul is one of a number of councillors who not only speak but act to deal with problems in the town. Congratulations, Mr Mayor.
In my blog a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that the average life expectancy of people living in Ilfracombe is the lowest in North Devon. There are many factors involved in life expectancy and I mentioned one – poverty. At a recent town council meeting, another explanation for the low figure for our town was mentioned – the practice of ferrying in people with severe health and psychological problems. As Frank Pearson was reported as saying at the meeting “We [should] encourage other places to keep these people”. I completely agree with Frank. This is not nimby-ism. First, for reasons which should be obvious but are far too many to list here, it is unfair to expect our town to absorb more than our fair share of problem people.
Amongst many other things, it increases poverty in the town, affects the town’s reputation and makes it much more difficult to rejuvenate the town as so many people are trying to do. Second, and to my mind even more important, it is unfair on the individuals concerned, who already have problems enough, to take them from their home town and dump them among strangers in a strange town. How would you like it?
I know that many contributors to Facebook don’t like the North Devon Journal. However, it is the best printed paper we have for truly local news, and so I regularly read it. A couple of items struck me this week. The first was a short letter from Dr Womersley, in which he reassures us that the minor injuries unit at the Tyrrell is still open every day from 8am to 6pm. Thank you, Dr Womersley. I had heard rumours that the unit was either closed or operating shortened hours and these rumours were lent substance by a report in the Journal a couple of months back that Dr Alison Diamond was speculating that the unit might have to close because she could not find enough nurses willing to work in it.
The other item concerns parking. Apparently, on-street parking machines have been charging summer rates in Ilfracombe for well over a week, more than a month before they should have been. The guilty machines have now been taken out of service.
Devon County Council, who are responsible (or, perhaps, irresponsible would be a better word in the circumstances) claim they are keen to reimburse anyone who was caught out. They are reported as saying that, if you believe that you have been overcharged, you should email the circumstances and any relevant evidence to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and, if you have received a Penalty Fare Notice which you believe is a result of the fault, you can appeal your ticket in the usual way at: https://new.devon.gov.uk/roadsandtransport/parking/.
All very well, but how many of us keep old parking tickets? I suspect the council will make a nice little profit out of this and suggest that they should estimate how much extra they have taken from us and give it to our town council to use for the benefit of the town.
Every fortnight, alternating with Mr Cox, Mr Heaton-Jones writes a short piece in the Journal telling us of something he has done or some matter of local interest he thinks important. This week, he talks about planning and the need to have a local plan. Quite right, but I think the whole issue of planning needs a deeper consideration. At the moment, the arrangement is, it seems to me, skewed very much in favour of the person making the application. If an application is refused, the applicant can appeal and the appeal is heard by a government-appointed inspector, who effectively rehears the whole case and is probably much less familiar with the locality concerned than are the councillors who threw out the application.
What is more, the appeal requires opponents to refile evidence and possibly appear before the inspector, a terrifying experience for those unfamiliar with the law. On the other hand, the applicant can bring expert witnesses and lawyers who know exactly which buttons to press. Furthermore, the applicant, if turned down on appeal, can submit a new application with only minor amendments, and continue to do so, until the opposition is worn down. I suggest that any appeal should not be a rehearing, but should be confined to specific objections, for example that the decision of the council was wrong in law or plainly perverse, and that, if the appeal was upheld, it should be remitted to the council for a further decision, which could also be appealed. Further, there should be some sort of limit on the number of times a person or company or any associated person or company can resubmit an application.
This government claims to believe in localism. This would be one good, and doubtless popular, way of demonstrating that it does.
TTFN. (That dates me).