• Out and About

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    14 October 2016

    Last week I was busy right across our vast constituency. Much of my local focus continues to be on local healthcare provision and the consultation on the CCG’s plans for local hospitals. Further to my recent meetings with GPs in Buckfastleigh and Bovey Tracey last week I met with doctors in Ashburton and Okehampton along with the Friends of Okehampton and Crediton hospitals. In Okehampton I also had a very constructive meeting with the Mayor and local town councillors. The approach that I have agreed with all stakeholders is that I will urgently press the CCGs on our collective questions and concerns. I have been working closely with the friends and local GPs to frame these questions and have already started pressing for answers. Further clarity around their plans can only help in better understanding the advantages and disadvantages of the proposals, ensure that they can be improved upon and result in early commitments in the areas that matter. I will be asking the questions and holding the CCGs accountable. I was also pleased to meet up with Paul Edworthy and Viv Steer who have been instrumental in the creation of the new Bow football pitch – I supported the appeals for the funding of this project and it was so positive to see the fruits of all their work – the emergence of a large rapidly greening sports pitch. Sport and exercise are so important and the new ground will be a great bonus to the village and surrounding area. I also had the great pleasure of once again attending and speaking at the Coldridge pre-Michaelmas dinner. In a packed village hall there was much laughter along with plenty of positive political debate – I especially value these engagements where constituents can share their thoughts, ideas and concerns with me. I have spoken at this dinner several times over the years and it is a great tribute to the organisers and the vibrancy of this relatively small village that this get-together has continued uninterrupted since 1975. One piece of news I shared with them was my audience with the Queen the previous day. In my new role as Comptroler of the Royal Household I was at the palace last Thursday to receive my wand of office (sadly not a magic one) from HRH and was delighted to find her well and in good spirits. Convention requires that you do not share details of these conversations but I can say that I was hugely impressed by her understanding of Devon and the issues we face locally. The Queen has a wonderful dry sense of humour – a well known story is of an ambassador who was given a similar audience but on entering the room and starting his approach towards her, was horrified when his mobile phone went off. Panicked, he hastily withdrew the offending gadget from his pocket to silence it. “Perhaps you should answer that,’ her Majesty said, ‘it might be someone important.”