There are four big food fairs in Devon this weekend. The culinary delights take place in Kingsbridge, Dartington, Royal William Yard and Bideford.
Geoffrey Cox, Torridge and West Devon’s MP has highlighted his concerns over the proposed large reduction in services at North Devon Magistrates Court, and the impact this will have on constituents and professionals alike.
1. Devon and Cornwall Police has approved plans for a 2% rise in its share of council tax, but 700 police officers will still be cut from the force. It could have increased its share of the bill to 3.94%. The rise means the force costs £3 a year for a Band D taxpayer.
2. Firefighters won’t have a pay rise this year (1% at the most, according to Bob Walker from the Fire Brigades Union), but the Devon and Somerset Fire Authority has voted for a 25% expenses increase. Councillors and the Fire Brigades Union have described the move as “grossly out of order” and “disgusting”, says the BBC. They also voted for a 3% increase in their share of council tax.
3. Four Devon care home operators have won a judicial review on how Devon County Council pays for places in private care homes. They say their clients are older and more ill than ever before.
4. Dame Hannah Rogers Trust has received more than £20,000 to help establish Hannahs Food at its Hannahs at Seale-Hayne site – a new horticultural project for adults with learning disabilities to provide the trust’s Blackbird Bistro with fresh produce all year round.
5. Regeneration organisation North Devon+ has an aspiration for a mainline railway station in North Devon ‘to compensate for its network of mainly minor roads and its lack of a major sea port’, says the North Devon Journal.
6. Forcing people to say prayers at council meetings has been dubbed as “illiberal and intolerant” by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, and Bideford Town Council, who were the subject of a High Court decision banning prayers from council agendas, will to appeal the ruling. “In the interim period, prayers will be removed from the agenda and said before the start of the main meeting,” said a statement from the town council.
7. Plymouth’s Absolute Recycling has quadrupled its business in just six months. Business development manager Andy Hawkins told the Plymouth Herald: “Our annual turnover has gone from £300,000 last October to £1.3million now.”
8. Two pairs of skis used by Plymouth-born explorer Scott of the Antarctic, which went missing 57 years ago, have been recovered. One of the returnees was Dave Baker, who served in the US Navy and used them when he told people of his adventures. Captain Baker said: “Since 1957 I have spoken to over 50,000 people about my experience and the skis have been a key part of that presentation. It is now time to return them to their rightful place.”
9. The EMG Symphony Orchestra in Exeter is giving people the opportunity to see how a large amateur symphony orchestra prepares for a concert with an open rehearsal for their spring concert.
10. The people of Beer have been using an old telephone box to swap unwanted seasonal items with other in the community, but the project has been so successful the parish council wants to move the box from the village of Barline to the centre of Beer and change its use from a swap shop to an information centre with wireless communication. The box has been used to swap books, CDs, DVDs a bumper crop of apples and two vacuum cleaners.
2. Council tenants in Mid Devon are facing a rent increase fo 6.7 per cent after Mid Devon District Council proposed an increase. The final decision will be made on February 29.
3. Newton Abbot library re-opening has been delayed again. The library, which is undergoing a £2.8m redevelopment, was initially intended to be opened in January. That has now been put back to summer.
4. Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust has won a £28,000 bid for a project funded by the Local Energy Assessment Fund, it will include a new visitor centre at Occombe Farm opening at Easter featuring displays on the renewable technologies, including cutting-edge live visualisations of energy saved. It will also offer free training for people wanting to set up a Transition Streets project.
6. The defiant mayor of Bideford has said prayers will continue in the council chamber despite a High Court judgement banning them. Bideford mayor Trevor Johns told the North Devon Journal: “Until I have a writ or a document in my hand with the seal of the Queen then I don’t see why I should be compelled to ban anything.”
7. Devon County Council has announced it will invest more than £10 million over three years in its residential care homes for older people.
9. In a bid to back up its claim as the sunniest town in the UK, Ilfracombe Town Council has agreed to spend up to £2,000 on a digital weather station
10. Bideford will celebrate is heritage in a Bideford Day event in 2013. Details are still being discussed on the nitty gritty, but Councillor David Howell, who proposed the idea, said: “We have so much to celebrate here in Bideford, from the rich history to the bustle of town.”
11. The Bishop of Exeter has warned that religion is being driven ‘inch by inch’ out of the ‘public sphere‘.
12. Exeter is in the midst of a row over flood defences. The city has been ranked the 15th most at-risk location in the country by the Association of British Insurers, with the cost of improving the city’s 50-year-old flood defences said to be around £25m, but the city council has told the Environmental Agency it can’t afford its contribution – estimated to be around £12m – and is calling on the government to step in.
14. A man in his 80s prefered to watch bowls than be evacuated and initially refused to leave his home after a suspected Second World War bomb was found in his garden because he wanted to finish watching a game of bowls on TV.
15. Exeter amateur historian Christine Trigger has written Exeter air-raid Victims 1940-1943 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Exeter blitz that occurred on May 4, 1942. The book records the names and ages of the people who died, the dates and places where they died, their home addresses and next of kin.
Bideford Town Council is being taken to court over its insistence on having prayer in local council meetings.