• Out and About

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    15 December 2017

    Last week I was busy right across our vast constituency. In Ashburton I visited a number of traders in the town to listen to their ideas and concerns and to discuss local issues. Most were upbeat and optimistic about current trading conditions. I started at our Post Office where Stuart and his team were able to update me on some of the key issues that we are working on together including through our new Devon post office forum. Key here is what we are doing to ensure that post offices are able to provide cash handling arrangements for local customers as an alternative to our high street banks and that these services are fully promoted. This is especially important in the light of the nationwide closure of local bank branches as financial business moves ever more online. We are currently working with local councils to see how they can assist with this information campaign via messaging alongside council tax bills and their other communications. In Westminster Stuart and I will shortly be meeting with senior post office personnel to keep up the momentum. I have also had meetings with the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to discuss how we can strengthen the duties of banks to promote the alternative financial facilities of our post offices when they are the last bank to close within a community. Parking was, not surprisingly, the main issue that was raised in Ashburton. There were a number of suggestions around the operation of the permit system through to a reconfiguration of the town’s park so that more vehicles can be accommodated. Bruce Broughton our town clerk, Jenny Giles our Portreeve and Sarah Parker Khan our Mayor were with me and we collectively took away a number of ideas to consider. In Newton St Cyres I met up with Martin Binks to discuss local issues. Martin is one of the most determined campaigners I have met and is currently focusing on speeding on the A377. In Crediton I visited several businesses including one which had suffered a break in. A shop which has now had to spend vital funds on increased security. It appears that the progress has been made in apprehending the suspect. I also addressed a meeting in Crediton to discuss the recent budget and the very welcome news of the agreement between the UK and the EU on the first phase of our exit negotiations – this will provide a vital boost to business confidence and I am hopeful there will be an announcement soon on an implementation period to give us more time to adjust. In Sandford I had the great pleasure of joining veteran local farmer Michael Lee for the signing of his new book about the house that he and his family has inhabited for around a century. As I left the sun was dipping over the rolling hills as they stretched out to Dartmoor – a blush in the distance. It was the perfect end to another busy week.