Cutting off communities
Several months back, I and many members of the Paignton and Brixham community joined an online planning inspectorate meeting regarding the property development at Inglewood. As we stared down a £1000 an hour barrister, we all made it clear that the development should not proceed due to the fact it was on a greenfield site, the houses were unlikely to be affordable and the infrastructure was insufficient to be able to accommodate either the build or the increase in population.
Unfortunately, we were not successful in opposing these development plans and the proposals were approved. But some months on, we have been proven right. The proposed closure of the Brixham road for a significant period next year not only validates our concerns about the insufficient infrastructure and unsuitable nature of the site but also puts into jeopardy the many businesses and industries in Brixham and the surrounding area.
A total closure of the road is unacceptable for any period of time. If the developers are not able to make their plans work, then they must change tack rather than demand that the local community suffers the burden and difficulties of having a major access road closed. A road closure won’t just disrupt the lives of residents, but will also hurt businesses that depend on clear transport routes to import and export services and products in and out of Brixham.
Discussions and negotiations continue, and I will be playing my part to keep the road open and to look at alternatives such as an access road. But in the meantime, Torbay Authority must hold its nerve and ensure that the residents’ voices and wants are upheld against a development that was never wanted in the first place
Health and Wellbeing Centres
Our rural location means that access to healthcare facilities has to be far more tailored to our geography and our demographics. The closure of cottage hospitals is not something I could or would have been able to countenance, but such decisions were taken before my time.
That said, the new Health and Wellbeing Centre in Dartmouth is set to offer high-quality care for the community. This new model has already been tried and tested across the country with positive results. Coupled with the Minor Injuries Units in Totnes and Newton Abbot, we can ensure that residents of all ages have the access they need to health care services.
The impact of the pandemic was incredibly hard-hitting on these services. The Totnes MIU was closed for a significant period of time due to the centralising of staff in the hospitals. It was part of my campaign on rural healthcare services to have it reopened and I am pleased that after countless meetings with Ministers, conversations with the Clinical Commissioning Group and endless letters, it reopened earlier this year.
However, victories in politics are only ever short-lived, because while the Totnes MIU is now back open and serving the community, I am still pushing to see the Brixham Health and Wellbeing Centre opened for business. Brixham needs this important service and I am doing all I can to ensure it opens its doors as soon as possible.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, we need to be shoring up our local healthcare facilities. Record levels of funding into the NHS plus 29,000 new nurses means that we have the chance to create a local healthcare model that is fit for the future.