• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    23 March 2018

    Last week I was again out and about across our vast constituency. In Bovey Tracey I met up with the head of the South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group which covers the South Eastern part of our constituency. Our discussion focused on the work that the CCG is carrying out to provide fully resourced Health and Wellbeing Centres for Bovey and Ashburton. Some progress has been made but I impressed on the CCG the importance of upping the pace and they have agreed to provide me with details of their plans and associated timelines. I will be keeping up the pressure. In Crediton I caught up with First Great Western to discuss progress towards a regular train service between Okehampton and Exeter. After a huge amount of lobbying and working closely with local campaigners real progress has been made with the Secretary of State for Transport requiring FGW to produce a proposal for the new service ‘as soon as is practicably possible’. I am hopeful that the plan will lead to a new trial service – perhaps on a two hourly basis during the day and that this in turn will see a regular service for Okehampton and its hinterland. Currently parts of North Devon and North Cornwall are very poorly served by rail. From Bude to Exeter St David’s is a drive of getting on for 60 miles – similar to having to go from London to Brighton to catch a train. FGW are making real progress with the plan and were full of praise for the co-operation and support that they are receiving from the Department of Transport. I will be staying very closely involved. In Okehampton I met up with Rob Bass the landlord of the Kings Arms located in the middle of the town. This is a great pub and has recently undergone a significant renovation. It specialises in regular activities including live music. I have long supported pubs and was delighted to receive a ‘parliamentary beer champion award’ a few years ago. Pubs are important social hubs and in smaller communities are especially vital. In the recent budget duty on beer was frozen once again and we announced that we would continue with our business rates relief for pubs with low rateable values. Any pub with a rateable value less than £100,000 will continue to pay no business rates at all. Outside Moretonhampstead I visited Bovey Castle and met with the manager. This hotel is a vital part of the local economy. Devon has a tourist industry worth over a billion pounds a year and Bovey Castle provides a large amount of local employment especially for those living in Moretonhampstead. It was good to discuss some of the key issues facing our hotel sector. Next week is English Tourism Week – for further details visit On Friday evening I was very pleased to address the packed AGM of the Central Devon Conservative Association. More from Mel on Twitter @MelJStride and online at