Totnes and South Devon Tourism Residents' Update - 08/06/2020

Dear Friends,

I am back to my fortnightly updates. 

Over the last few weeks, my team and I have been focussed on the government’s roadmap out of the lockdown. June and July are the months in which the lockdown is going to be gradually reduced. The relaxation of this lockdown will be based on close monitoring of the R level, as well as the implementation of track and trace system, with engagement with local health trusts and councils.

Caution is the order of the day but as the Covid-19 death rates reduce we must look ahead to our new way of operation. Social distance measures remain in place and the requirement to wear face masks on public transport will be in place from the 15th June. Added to which our capacity in local hospitals across the South West is high and they are more than prepared for any significant changes in the course of Covid.

I remain in continual contact with local health trusts, the Clinical Commission Group and local councillors. We are all working together to ensure that there is a joined-up approach to relaxing the lockdown and to provide significant reassurance that it is safe to move about. 

In this update, I have focussed on the local and parliamentary work that I have undertaken on your behalf.

As ever, my office remains and open and ready to help should you need. I can be reached on

The Agriculture Bill 

I have had a number of emails asking why I voted against Neil Parish’s amendment on food standards. This was submitted during the Third Reading of Agriculture bill. 

While I have posted a significant explanation on my website (, I thought I might take the opportunity to make a couple of extra points.

First, I secured a major concession from the Government around labelling. I want to see any produce that is imported into the UK with clear and concise labelling. That details on the labelling could include the method of slaughter, chemicals used, country of origin and the airmiles. Added to which it would also relate to component parts, so, a pie made in Northern Ireland with ingredients from across the world would have to comply with this new labelling system. 

I use the word ‘could’ because I am still in discussion with the government on how we can in create this new system. But I have a commitment from the government minister (made at the dispatch box) of the intention to work on this matter. A strong labelling system will ensure that people are fully aware of how and where their food is produced.

Secondly, I am going to be watching closely as the agriculture bill as it passes through the House of Lords. There are likely to be a number of amendments that may well strengthen the bill. If any amendments are made, then the bill return before the House of Commons and we will have a chance to debate it and vote on it again. 

I continue to engage with farmers across South Devon and to make representations on their behalf. Over this weekend both the DEFRA and Department for International Trade Secretaries of State have signed a joint letter stating their support for our high welfare standards and committing to not to compromise them over trade deals. 

Restoring Your Railway Fund
Improving transport links across the South West is essential to our future growth and development. Over the election campaign, I spoke a great deal about the importance of digital and transport connectivity.

Earlier this year the government announced a £500m fund to help restore our railways. This is an opportunity we cannot miss, and I am pleased to say that I am actively working on three bids to help improve upon our railway networks.

So far, we have submitted expressions of interests to the Department for Transport on the following routes:

  • The Primrose Line – South Brent to Kingsbridge
  • Restoring South Devon Railway to Ashburton
  • Reopening the Goodrington and Churston stations

These expressions of interests must now be developed into substantial bids. I will be working with the relevant groups to help develop these plans. 

If you would like to help support these bids, then please do get in touch. 

Mayflower 400

This year we were due to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower. Towns across the country linked themselves together to create a ‘Compact Network’ which intended to hold events celebrating this important part of our nation’s history.

Sadly, COVID-19 has disrupted those plans. So, as chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mayflower 400 we will be launching an event in Plymouth on 16th September to mark the day that the ship sailed. This event will kick off a year of events running through to 2021. 

If you would like to know more, including about events in Dartmouth, please click the following link:

Devon’s Economic Recovery Group
As the Conservative MP’s representative on Devon’s Economic Recovery Group I have been taking part in weekly discussions on how we can ‘restart, regrow and reset’ our local economy. As the weeks have progressed these conversations have developed into firm ideas and concepts that I hope to be able to champion both locally and nationally.
Two particular areas standout. The first is the need for clean green growth. Members of this group recognise the huge potential that Devon plays in creating a vibrant green economy. I hope to be able to use the already established transport fund for buses and cycling to help Devon great a green infrastructure network. Second, the need to provide training and re-training facilities. We are fortunate to have on our doorstep South Devon college, the jewel of Further Education colleges. Harnessing its work to fit in with local business demands while identifying future trends will allow us to create a resilient and adaptable workforce with plenty of opportunities. 

Fisheries Bill

Over the last 7 months, I have been engaging heavily with the fishing community through my fishing roundtable group. Improving my knowledge and understanding of this sector has allowed me to get a good grasp of the problems faced and the opportunity potential.

The fisheries bill is currently making its way through the House of Lords and I am preparing to make my contribution to the debate when it reaches the House of Common. 

Brixham, Salcombe and Dartmouth fishermen have all been hit hard by Covid, but we can help build their domestic and international markets, and I recognise the potential for this sector to expand dramatically over the coming years.

Black Lives Matter

This weekend we saw some horrendous scenes on our streets in Bristol and London. It was great to see that Totnes Town held a peaceful and socially distanced gathering to reflect on the tragic death of George Floyd.

I support the right to peacefully protest but I do not for a second condone the actions of those few who sought to attack the police and vandalise war memorials. The rule of law has a place in our society, and it must be followed. 

My thoughts are also very much with those police officers who were injured in the protests. 

A few extra things

Last week, I was also able to:

  • See the Chancellor to discuss future support for the Hospitality and Tourism sector
  • Speak to the Health Secretary on rural health care provision
  • Table a written parliamentary question on the registration of fishing vessels applying for UK government grants
  • Speak to South Hams District Council on the discretionary funds and advise many local businesses accordingly
  • Discuss local government support with Robert Jenrick
  • Join the Devon Environment Fund Zoom discussion (more to follow on this)

My office and team remain available to help you should there be any local or national issues of concern.

With best wishes,