• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    18 December 2015

    I have been very busy right across the constituency during the build up to Christmas. Central Devon comprises 125 parishes, small towns and villages. It takes around an hour and a half to drive from one side to the other. In Buckfastleigh I was there to support the local heritage railway. The South Devon Railway is providing a Santa by Steam service from Friday 18th to Wednesday 23rd December. The trains leave Buckfastleigh at10am, 12:30pm and 3pm and go all the way to the North Pole (or Totnes Littlehempston as it is otherwise known). The trip takes around an hour and a half and Father Christmas personally travels on each train. It was great to see the carriages all decked out for Christmas and the Santa’s Grotto at the back of the train bursting with presents. My friend and local councillor Charlie Dennis joined me. Charlie has a great passion for steam rail and a while ago he very kindly allowed me to assist him in driving the train – a really memorable experience. In Ashburton I spent some time with Stuart and Jackie who are doing such an amazing job at our local post office. The local library is now co-located with the Post Office with the one supporting the other. Business is substantially up and a great team of volunteers are helping to ensure that the library remains an outstanding place to visit. This co-location is the first of its kind in the country and was rightly featured on the front cover of the Post Office magazine. Stuart and Jackie are donating money to the local community for every time that the Post Office cash point machine is used and it is hope that in time this will raise thousands of pounds a year for worthy local causes. I also spent some very useful time at Exeter Race Course speaking with the directors about how best to support this vital sport – horse racing is the second largest spectator sport in the country. There are a number of key issues that I will be raising with ministers regarding the racecourse betting levy. In Crediton I met with a large and enthusiastic group who help distribute my news updates door to door. In Crediton I also attended the Christmas Tree Festival in St Boniface Church – there were over 70 trees this year with some ingenious themes and designs – my personal favourite was the dolly mixture tree. In Down St Mary I paid a very enjoyable visit to the village’s Christmas Fayre. I was able to greet Father Christmas when he arrived (how does he manage to do the Buckfastleigh train and be at all those village events I wondered?) There was great excitement amongst the children. In Okehampton I joined local Councillors, Mike Davies and Ben Stephens to support Small Business Saturday. We toured businesses along Fore Street and within Red Lion Yard. All reported at least a steady year with many saying that business was definitely picking up.