• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    29 September 2017

    Last week I attended a dinner in Tedburn St Mary with Liam Fox (International Trade Secretary) as guest speaker. Over 100 turned out to listen to where we are headed with Brexit and what the opportunities are for new trade deals. There will clearly be challenges ahead but Liam gave us confidence that future trade was in safe hands. I also held a number of meetings including with Teignbridge Citizen’s Advice to catch up on the services they provide, the challenges they are facing and the cases they handle. CAB carry out excellent work helping local people with a variety of issues including debt management, benefit claims and sign posting for health issues. The Teignbridge branch is there for a population of 125,000 and sees almost 8,000 people a year. Much of their work involves helping people to navigate complex systems – complicated benefits claims for example. I am keen that the vital service they provide is available as locally as possible and am very encouraged that they are looking to expand their surgeries to our smaller towns – In Ashburton I had a very useful catch-up with Bruce Broughton our Town Clerk. We discussed various issues including local affordable housing, planning and car parking. On this latter point I suggested looking at the layout of the current car park to see if more vehicles might be accommodated. There is a whole science in this area (including additional spaces being freed up via ‘slanting’ the spaces to reduce the turning space needed to enter and exit them). It will be interesting to see if there are possibilities. Ashburton is one of the most popular destination towns in Devon and every additional space means one more potential shopper. I also had time to catch up with Stuart, Jackie and Jo at Ashburton Post Office. This post office has now assumed legendary status within our national network of over 11,500 branches. Run alongside the shop and library this community focused business raises money for local good causes (with the post office run cash point machine donating on every withdrawal) and provides a wide variety of services many of which are more than making up for the loss of the town’s banks. Local traders can use the post office to bank with confidence. I am working at the moment with fellow ministers in the Treasury to see how best to improve the offer that post offices can provide to business and to increase the onus on banks that close branches to promote the local post office as the natural alternative. I was also delighted to attend the opening of the new ‘Canopy’ in Buckfastleigh a smart modern shelter for outdoor performances and events. The sun shone - the live music was great. My congratulations to all who made this excellent idea a reality including Alan Tucker who, as a boy, many years ago, left Buckfastliegh for America and provided much the funding along with some fine memories which were read to us on his behalf.