• Busy

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    29 April 2016

    Last week I was busy right across our vast constituency. In Ashburton I met up with the stakeholders for the rollout of superfast broadband across Dartmoor. Our national park provides specific challenges not least in its rolling topography and the fact that many of its 5,800 properties and businesses are scattered and reaching them via underground fibre is impractical. The approach that is being rolled out is via point to point transmission with properties connected through the airwaves. Transmitters capable of transmitting internet traffic large distances carry the service to local base stations (on masts or high buildings) and from there internet is beamed to homes via receivers attached to the end user’s property. This approach offers very fast internet – with 30Mbps expected as a minimum. The rollout is happening right now to the South of the moor and is expected to start going live this autumn. Internet connectivity matters hugely to us all but especially to those locations that are physically remote. I have pressed hard for this investment in Dartmoor’s internet and I am delighted that we are now close to over 95% of residents receiving superfast broadband. In Okehampton I spent time at the local Waitrose store learning more about the food waste management scheme that they are piloting alongside half a dozen other stores. The simple aim is to cut down on the food that has to be thrown away due to going beyond its ‘Use By’ date. The approach is about ultra sharp stock control, making sure that food that is very close its Use By date is sold either within the store (at a discount on ‘offer’), to store staff or is given to local charities. One tip that can help cut down waste is for all of us, as customers, to avoid the practice of selecting items that have the most time remaining before their ‘Use By’ date expires – if you can resist this urge then you will be helping to reduce food waste. I have always been impressed with Waitrose and its parent company John Lewis – they provide excellent service and operate to very high ethical standards. In Brampford Speke (in the Exe Valley north of Exeter) I was delighted to open a new affordable housing development. It was around 7 years ago that I assisted a local group start the long process that has led to a development of 7 fine local affordable homes. The model used is a Community Land Trust in which covenants ensure that these properties are exclusively for local people. The Parish Council, district council, Hastoe Housing and the local community worked closely to deliver this result. If you want to learn more about how they delivered affordable homes with a high level of local support then do please contact me – theirs is an approach we need to encourage elsewhere. Whilst in the village I also enjoyed inspecting the church roof now fully repaired with £86,000 from the government’s Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.