• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    20 February 2015

    Last week I was again hard at it right across my vast constituency – comprising 125 parishes. In Exminster I met with local councillors John Goodey and Kevin Lake to discuss the village’s neighbourhood plan. This had been put to a referendum the day before and accepted with a vast majority. Neighbourhood plans are a powerful way for communities to take greater control of local development and infrastructure and are beginning to feature more and more as a part of the country’s local government landscape. A number of towns and parishes in Devon are actively pursuing this approach – if you would like more details please contact me. At the South Devon railway in Buckfastleigh I held a meeting to discuss the possibility of a similar heritage railway offering for Ashburton. This is clearly a very long term project but one which should be seriously considered. In Ashburton I was delighted to pay another visit to South Dartmoor College to break the first turf for the building of the new Atrium Studio School that will open in the autumn. This will be a powerful new educational offering with a strong focus on skills in areas directly relevant to the needs of local employers. The school will cater for around 350 students aged 13 – 18 and focus on serious practical subjects like civil engineering, architecture and the built environment. This major government investment will promote very close links with industry and local employers with plenty of hands on experience for students. As part of my on-going work connecting with local businesses I also visited two very important enterprises. Reddaways Removals at South Zeal is a hugely successful family removals business operating mostly in the South West but also catering for client needs elsewhere in the country and within mainland Europe. The business has thrived on high levels of customer service, something that was recognised recently when the business won the British Association of Removers' Domestic Mover of the Year award. In Crediton I paid another visit to Crediton Dairy. This innovative company was the subject of a management buy-out a couple of years ago. I visited them at the time and was highly impressed by the quality and enthusiasm of the management team. Returning last week I was able to see the fruits of their work so far. Over £5 million has been invested in new packaging equipment and the business now boasts the fastest milk packaging machine in the country – meaning that it can package 4 one litre packs of milk or milk drink every second. It is quite something to see this in operation. This kind of business is at the higher tech end of manufacturing and provides over a hundred well-paid, skilled local jobs. Every exposure to a businesses reinforces in me the vital role that they play in providing employment and generating the wealth required to support our public services and I will continue to do all I can in Parliament to stand up for them.