Sunday, 31 July 2016

Hug a tree > it's good for you

Trees and green space are good for your health:
Futures Forum: "Greening grey Britain for health and happiness" >>> a sensory garden for Sidmouth
Futures Forum: Therapeutic garden at Sidmouth Victoria Hospital
Futures Forum: "Green care" >>> nature-based interventions for mental health care
Futures Forum: Nature, biodiversity and human health
Futures Forum: Resilience and Salutogenesis: "Environment, health and resilient cities: what constitutes salutogenic environments?"

It seems that getting up really close to a tree can be really good for your health:

How tree hugging can give you a natural high

Getting touchy feely with trees like this can offer wellbeing benefits (Photo: Canopy and Stars)

Lizzie Pook July 26th 2016

Environmentalists have long been derided as ‘tree huggers’ but Lizzie Pook found that embracing the pillars of our natural world offers real therapeutic benefits

The sun is shining in the park, and picnicking families are scattered about the grass, but they’ve been giving me some odd looks. I’ve been busy hugging trees – not in the metaphorical “conservation warrior” sense, but in a very literal way, throwing my arms around the trunk of a willow or yew.

All the people who have been watching me here must think I’m barmy, but I have my reasons. Recently published research found that only 3 per cent of us believe we spend enough time with nature, despite the fact that over 90 per cent say that it makes us feel happier.

The report, by Dr Miles ­Richardson, a nature connection psychologist, surveyed 2,000 people, and reveals that more than one third of city dwellers spend four times longer looking at a screen than they do spending time outside. And apparently one way to get over this, and to feel the health benefits, is to hug a tree.

Soft fascination

“When we’re in the presence of trees, our heart rate changes, calming and rebalancing the systems that regulate our emotions,” says Richardson. He believes we should be quite literally embracing nature, because trees have what he calls a “soft fascination”, which “gently occupies our senses, providing a soothing influence”.

We could simply look at the trees, but making a physical connection has a deeper effect, according to the report, commissioned by the glamping company Canopy & Stars. “Hug a tree, touch the bark, smell the pine trees and listen to the wind through the leaves,” it advises. “Wrap your limbs around one of our arboreal friends and feel at one with nature and the world.”

Need a tree to hug? Here’s out guide to the best ones in five of the UK’s biggest cities

Spurred on by this promise, I’ve decided to go gonzo and try some tree-hugging for myself. As a thirty­something living and working in London, I certainly tick the boxes marked “harried” and “time-poor”. I could do with some soothing.

Heading to Kensington Gardens, I find out soon enough that hugging trees is indeed rather lovely. At my first tree, a fat, squat beech with a dappled trunk, I struggle to fully relax into the hug because of the many spiders’ webs that cling to my face and tickle my ear canal as I rest my head against the bark. That said, there’s certainly something quite grounding about having your arms wrapped around something as solid and immovable as a big fat tree. It’s all rather pleasant, bucolic and calm.

The next tree, a horse chestnut, is slim enough for me to reach my arms around it completely. I stay there for a minute or so, linking my fingers, letting my heart rate slow, focusing on my breathing and letting the earthy scent waft around my nostrils. But then a wiry terrier creature starts sniffing speculatively around the bag I’ve left on the ground beside me, and my calm is shattered. It seems that even if a tree does stay quiet and still, the same can’t be said for the life going on around it.
Health benefits

But, animals aside, I do feel generally calmer in the presence of these trees – even if I do find myself having to delicately extract an inch-long splinter from the side of my thumb – and that should be no surprise. It’s long been known that putting ourselves among rural surroundings can be beneficial for our health; studies by environment scientists at Stanford University in the US even suggest that walking among natural surroundings actually changes the workings of our brain in ways that improve our mental health.

But what is it about getting so close to trees that does us good? “You can get benefits from nature by being exposed in a passive way – walking through the park on your way to work, for example,” says Richardson. “But this new field of research, ‘connection with nature’, concerns how we feel when we are reminded that we are actually a part of the natural world.

“Touching trees reinforces the idea that we are at one with nature. That connection, in turn, has been linked to things like greater life expectancy, a higher sense of ‘meaningfulness’, lower cognitive anxiety and better body image.”

When it comes to the great outdoors, most of us will have felt the benefits of a brisk hike through the hills or the heady joy of dipping our toes in a fast-flowing river, but what is it about trees in particular that really moves us?

“Trees are very much linked to our emotions,” says Richardson. “They are very affective. It’s easy to feel a sense of awe when you look at a grand, beautiful tree. They provide smells, sights and touch and change over the year – coming into leaf, transforming into spectacular autumn colours and then disappearing. That cycle of life can be very meaningful for us.”
Strong connection

Somewhat surprisingly, Richardson’s research has even found that a strong connection with nature is as important to our well-being as education or income. He has also found evidence to suggest that hospital patients with a view of trees have recovered more quickly and required fewer painkillers than those with no trees in eyesight (conversely, a loss of trees has been linked to health conditions such as heart disease.)

While my brush with nature was not life-changing per se, even just spending five minutes in tactile contact with trees did make me feel, albeit temporarily, more calm and more settled. So how about the next time you swan by a nice elm on your way to work, you give it a tacit nod or even a quick stroke? It could do you the world of good.

How tree hugging can give you a natural high - The i newspaper online iNews

Hugging trees might also have another point or two:
The Fascinating History of 'Tree Huggers' | Alternet
How India's 'tree hugger' is tackling forest fires - BBC News

This is the latest from the TreeHugger website:

Trees talk to each other and recognize their offspring : TreeHugger

Connaught Gardens in Sidmouth: flying the flag

The western beach and its gardens at Sidmouth keep on getting awards:
Green Flag again for Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens - News - Sidmouth Herald
Futures Forum: Sidmouth's Connaught Gardens: Green Flag award for Knowle Gardens?

The beach and gardens are highly recommended:
13 stunning beaches you must visit this summer that are less than an hour away | Somerset Live
Connaught Gardens (Sidmouth, England): Top Tips Before You Go - TripAdvisor

With great rock-pooling opportunities:
Futures Forum: Rock pooling in Sidmouth

Above the beach is Connaught Gardens - mentioned by many a personality:
Jeremy Vine's Sidmouth - Telegraph

Betjeman verse plaque in Connaught... (C) John Evans :: Geograph Britain and Ireland

The Town Band play there every Sunday evening:

STB - About Us
Sidmouth Town Band restarts search for new base - News - Sidmouth Herald

And there is one of Sidmouth's best cafes in the gardens:

Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens in running to become UK’s favourite park - News - Sidmouth Herald
Clock Tower Tearooms, Sidmouth - Restaurant Reviews, Phone Number & Photos - TripAdvisor
The Clocktower Cafe

This is from the District Council's press office:

East Devon’s public gardens are a double winner

28 July 2016

Manor Gardens is a proud recipient of the prestigious Green Flag Award – Front row on left: Jane Nicholls EDDC Parks and Open Spaces Improvement Officer), on right Ann Wheeler Exmouth in Bloom. Back row from left: Paul Marchant Streetscene Operative, Mike Wheeler Exmouth in Bloom, Councillor Steve Gazzard (Exmouth Withycombe Raleigh ward member), Councillor Iain Chubb (EDDC Portfolio holder for the Environment), Mike Vine (EDDC Parks and Open Spaces Improvement Officer), Councillor Pat Graham (Exmouth Town ward member and Exmouth in Bloom), Councillor Bill Nash (Exmouth Town ward member).

Green Flag awards presented to both Connaught Gardens in Sidmouth and Manor Gardens in Exmouth

East Devon District Council’s StreetScene team is proud to announce that - yet again - Connaught Gardens in Sidmouth and Manor Gardens in Exmouth have proved themselves worthy of flying the prestigious Green flag award, a national award given out by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy to only the very best public parks and gardens in the UK.

This is the 13th consecutive year for Connaught Gardens and the 12th year in a row that Manor Gardens has won the award and they are among a record-breaking 1,686 parks and green spaces nationwide that have received a Green Flag – the mark of a quality park or green space.

Now celebrating its 20th year, the award recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country. A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to the public that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.

Councillor Iain Chubb, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio holder for the Environment, said:

We are absolutely delighted to receive a Green Flag Award from Keep Britain Tidy for both Connaught Gardens and Manor Gardens.

This award recognises and highlights that people in Sidmouth and Exmouth are benefitting from a green space of the very highest quality.

The Green Flag Award® scheme is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces in the UK and I am immensely proud of our StreetScene team who work tirelessly in all weathers to ensure that the gardens are in tip-top condition throughout the different seasons. The awards are given on an annual basis and winners must apply each year to renew their Green Flag status, so to
receive this award for yet another consecutive year is a fantastic achievement.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Chairman of East Devon District Council, said:

I would like to thank our wonderful staff & volunteers who put in so much time and effort in keeping these two gardens in pristine condition. They go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the public can enjoy the benefits of these amazing spaces. That is true dedication and the award is recognition of their outstanding efforts, which set a standard of excellence in recreational green areas.

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said:

We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme, especially as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Awards.

All the flags flying this year are a testament to the efforts of the thousands of men and women, both staff and volunteers, who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.

28 July 2016 - East Devon’s public gardens are a double winner - East Devon

Brexit: and the future of rural services in the South-West

The future of rural Britain is very unclear post-referendum:
Letters: Rural grants paralysed by second-guessing of Brexit by British officials - Telegraph
Life’s tough on our struggling farms. Now they face Brexit’s chill winds | Global | The Guardian
Dorothy Fairburn: After Brexit, rural voice must be heard - Yorkshire Post

Although the government is making reassuring noises:
Government pledges stability for rural economy after Brexit vote | Fresh Business Thinking

But the doubts seem to be setting in - as reported today by the Independent:

Farmers who backed Brexit now regretting vote over subsidy fears

Parliament warned dropping funding for farming will 'collapse the fabric of rural society'

Harriet Sinclair 7 hours ago

Many British farmers are experiencing ‘Regrexit’ over fears they may lose agricultural subsidies, the Earl of Sandwich has told Parliament.

Speaking in a House of Lords debate, John Montagu said many farmers had voted “without understanding the consequences” and were now in dismay over news they may not receive the same level of payouts made under the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.

“In 2013, farmers received €2.6bn (about £2.2bn) under pillar 1 [an EU funding term] and €637m (£538m) for agri-environment and rural development under 'green' pillar 2," he said. “How will [the Government] ensure that British farmers continue to receive these payments? We have already heard that they may not. There are fears that direct payments will be significantly less under the new Government because of the continuing need for austerity.”

He said the majority of people in his home of west Dorset, particularly in the agricultural community, had voted to leave and were now worried about how Brexit would work, and the financial impact it would have on UK farms.

Farmers who backed Brexit now regretting vote over subsidy fears | UK | News | The Independent
NFU sets out options for a post-Brexit farm policy - Farmers Weekly

The Western Morning News posted this yesterday:

Campaigners call for 'urgent' end to Brexit funding 'limbo'

By WMNKLangston | Posted: July 29, 2016

The region's farmers and business leaders are demanding urgent action from the Government to release EU funding withheld since last month's Brexit vote.

Members of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) have written to the chancellor to call for an end to the "limbo", which they warn is hindering economic development in the South West. They claim the delay is hitting farmers and putting environmental projects at risk, and could undermine confidence in the rural economy unless the Government acts soon.

"If this commitment is not made soon it will have damaging long term implications," said CLA South West director, John Mortimer.
"Businesses [will] stop making crucial investments or make more difficult decisions about the future sustainability of their business. The whole process [of EU payments] had been put into limbo during the referendum – and has failed to emerge. The suspension has affected economic development projects... new contracts to farmers for important environmental schemes [and] a raft of ongoing projects."

The South West benefits from million of pounds-worth of European Union funding each year, through the Common Agricultural Policy, Regional Development Fund and Social Fund. 
The money is channelled into a range of industries – such as agriculture – as well as business growth programmes and infrastructure projects.

However, according to campaigners and MPs, the distribution of this funding from central government has been frozen since the vote to leave the EU on June 23.

St Austell and Newquay MP, Steve Double, has already met with Government officials to discuss releasing funds for Cornwall. He said there were projects which were ready to be signed off "but when it came to the point of committing funds, there is a delay at the moment".
 The Treasury didn't feel they could commit to any more spending," he said. "[But] we're hopeful that will get cleared very quickly now, so we can get these projects signed off."

However, the CLA has grown impatient with the delay, and president Ross Murray has written to the Chancellor for an "urgent" commitment.

The letter states there "is no justification" for holding up money "that is budgeted for", while calling for assurances over long-term support for the agricultural sector. "Every day the freeze continues it threatens to do serious long term damage to the rural economy and to the delivery of vital environmental outcomes across the countryside," the letter states. 
"The Government needs to confirm that all spending commitments under the current CAP will be honoured, irrespective of the date the UK leaves the EU."

A Treasury spokesman said that as the UK remains a member of the EU there will be "no immediate change to EU programmes". "The Treasury has not stopped any payments but we recognise the need to bring any uncertainty to an end as soon as possible," he said. "We continue to work urgently to understand the future implications for programmes and we will make an announcement soon."

Campaigners call for 'urgent' end to Brexit funding 'limbo' | Plymouth Herald

The Rural Services Network has issued a statement over its concerns for rural Britain:

Brexit has 'major' rural implications

Friday, 15 July 2016 Written by Ruralcity Media

LEAVING the European Union has major implications for England's countryside communities, the Rural Services Network has warned.

Safeguarding the future of rural services – and those that provide them – would be essential following the decision to leave the EU, said the network. Immediate issues included promoting the case for a period of financial stability following the referendum and no further funding reductions, it added.

The network issued the warning in a Brexit Statement on Friday (15 July).

Network chair Cecilia Motley said: "Local authorities and other service providers have an essential role in supporting local economies. It has never been more important to have a strong network of local authorities, private partners and voluntary organisations providing services to rural people, communities and businesses."

Councillor Motley said the network would continue seeking fairer funding for rural authorities and make the strongest case possible against any proposed funding reductions as a result of Brexit.

The network was also seeking urgent clarification over planned reforms relating to business rates retention. Councillor Motley said: "The Brexit decision creates uncertainty and local services could be seriously damaged if that uncertainty starts to affect business rate yields."

There was also an urgent need for clarity over EU structural funds, Common Agricultural Policy payments and the policy and regulatory impact of leaving the EU. The network was keen to ensure that local government had a seat at the negotiating table as the UK prepared for Brexit talks with its EU neighbours.

Councillor Motley said: "Rural local authorities meet most of the growth related expenditure and this will remain critical at a time of economic uncertainty."

As Brexit took place, the network was keen to ensure that any powers and funding returned from Brussels reached England's shire areas rather than residing in Westminster.

Councillor Motley said: "Power needs to flow from Westminster, with a significant reduction in bureaucracy, giving a real say to local people at the most appropriate level of governance."

Brexit meant there was also an opportunity to place county, unitary and district authorities at the forefront of the devolution and public service reform debate. Councillor Motley said: "Changing dynamics in Westminster present an opportunity to put forward alternative models for devolution to rural areas."

Network members had raised concerns over the one-size-fits all approach to elected mayors, she added. "There is now a period for the government to reconsider this approach where our members feel this governance model is not appropriate for their areas."

Brexit has 'major' rural implications

All of which echoes concerns from immediately after the referendum:
Rural businesses 'united' post-Brexit
Rural councils seek 'urgent' reassurance on Brexit

See also:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and devolution: "Devolution is a great opportunity after years of oppressive centralisation"

Futures Forum: Brexit: and the future of farming subsidies
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the South West

Brexit: and condemning xenophobia in East Devon

There have been many more cases of racial abuse reported since the referendum:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and xenophobia in Devon

Some have been accused of not taking the matter seriously:
Politicians blamed for rise in 'respectable racism' (From Mid Devon Star)

However, the Home Secretary, has urged such abuse to be taken very seriously:
Parents and teachers should report homophobic, racist and religious bullying to the police, says Amber Rudd - Telegraph

Local politicians in Devon have also been speaking out:
South Hams leader speaks out against hate crime in South Devon following EU vote | Torquay Herald Express

As have the local police:

SHDC and Devon and Cornwall Police condemn hate crime

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 By Sam Acourt in Crime

Hate Crime Scotland poster

SINCE the results of the EU referendum, the National Police Chiefs Council has reported a 57 per cent increase in hate crime across the country.

Councillors from South Hams District Council have spoken out publicly against hate crime and say that there is no place in South Hams from people who support or incite racism, xenophobia or hate crimes.

Leader of SHDC Cllr John Tucker said: ‘Since the EU referendum result and news of hate crime on the rise, our councillors have been contacted by many people who are concerned about hate crime. ‘We absolutely think that this sort of behaviour is intolerable and would urge anyone who is suffering from these crimes or is witness to them to report it to the police.

Devon and Cornwall Police issued a statement saying: ‘You will probably be aware that since the outcome of the European Union referendum, some parts of the UK have seen an increase in the number of hate incidents/crimes. Early reporting of hate crimes/incidents can help us manage community concerns and best support victims.’

A similarly very clear message was sent out by East Devon District Councillors this week:

East Devon leaders publicly vow to stamp out racism and hate crime

29 July 2016 Eleanor Pipe

‘We are not immune to this sort of issue in our community’

District leaders have publicly vowed to stamp out racism and celebrate diversity amid recognition that East Devon is ‘not immune’ to hate crimes.

Councillors are sending the message that any xenophobic or discriminatory behaviour will not be tolerated and reassured the community that they are fully committed to fighting such issues.

The matter was raised at a full East Devon District Council (EDDC) meeting on Wednesday (July 27), when members unanimously backed a motion for the authority to publically reaffirm its stance.

Councillor Mike Howe proposed the motion and said: “EDDC condemns racism, xenophobia and hate crimes unequivocally – we will not allow hate to become acceptable.”

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Tom Wright said: “I sit on police and crime panel and this issue has been very much discussed. I can assure you that Devon and Cornwall police are totally committed to doing all they can. We are not immune to this sort of issue in East Devon. We should do all we can to stamp it out and not tolerate it.”

Councillor Douglas Hull spoke out about his own experience of being verbally assaulted when he was younger and working in Birmingham. He said: “It’s only words you say, but I remember going back to my village feeling as if I had been punched. And it’s a horrible feeling for anybody to experience this.”

EDDC will work pro-actively with local bodies and programmes to fight racism and xenophobia so that everyone is valued and respected whatever their age, disability, gender, race religion or belief or sexual orientation.

Ottery St Mary resident Sara Drew attended the meeting after being ‘horrified by the sudden rise in incidents of race hatred and intolerance following the European Union referendum’.

She told the Herald: “We have a proud tradition in this country of welcoming people from abroad to live and work here and contribute to our nation. EDDC can and must show leadership at this time and I therefore urge the elected members to make it clear to everyone in this district that there is no place for any kind of expressions of hatred and intolerance.”

East Devon leaders publicly vow to stamp out racism and hate crime - News - Sidmouth Herald

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Beach Management Plan: "fight for information"

The whole process around the BMP is being put into doubt:
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: "We have to tell our Councillors how we want to move Sidmouth forward without wrecking it."
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: "We cannot and will not request that expert advice is altered because some stakeholders are not getting the answers they wish to hear."
Futures Forum: Beach Management Plan: Option 4b or not 4b >>> or: how to ignore everyone else's opinion

The latest Herald carries the latest - and it's all about process:

Breaking news & sport in Sidmouth | Sidmouth Herald

Neighbourhood Plan: results coming in from questionnaire

The Neighbourhood Plan questionnaire brought up people's concerns about development - and all related issues:
Futures Forum: The Neighbourhood Plan connected to > The Port Royal scoping report connected to > The Beach Management Plan connected to > The Re-imagining Port Royal architecture competition >>> "We should look at everything that's currently on the table and try to do some joined up thinking!"

The results are coming in:

More than 1,500 Sid Valley residents make their voices heard

30 July 2016 Eleanor Pipe

Parking, pollution, Port Royal and footpaths top list of concerns in survey

Sid Valley residents proved they care passionately about their community with more than 1,500 completing a survey that will help shape its future development.

Volunteers working on the formation of a neighbourhood plan have welcomed the ‘fantastic’ 10 per cent response rate to a consultation that has highlighted key concerns, including transport, parking, pollution and footpaths.

Aspirations and worries about the future of Port Royal were also raised and those leading the project have vowed to feed these back to ensure people’s voices are heard in redevelopment plans for the area.

Chair of the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan steering group Deirdre Hounsom said: “The responses showed residents cared passionately for the area and were grateful for the opportunity to express their hopes and fears in what is a genuine community-led public consultation.”

She added that the quality and level of thought put into responses was high and raised a wide range of positive and negative comments.

Planning and development were regarded as some of the biggest concerns and respondents of all age groups cited worries about insufficient housing for young people, while there was a perceived over-provision of expensive retirement accommodation.

The proposed Sidford business park development topped the disapproval list and people argued there had been a failure to refurbish brown-field or commercial sites before seeking to build on green belt land in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Deputy chair of the steering group Louise Cole said: “The neighbourhood plan gives us a real chance to be part of the statutory planning process and we cannot stress enough how important it is for people of all ages and stages of life to be a part of the process.”

The questionnaire was sent to all households in Sidmouth, Sidford, Sidbury and Salcombe Regis and the full results will inform the content of a secondary consultation in November.

Surveys of young people and the business sector will also be conducted in the coming months to help influence the final plan – which, once adopted, will influence planning decisions in the Sid Valley for 20 years.

Visit www.sidmouth.gov.uk for further information.

More than 1,500 Sid Valley residents make their voices heard - News - Sidmouth Herald

See also:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan >>> getting schools involved >>> >>> "Sid Valley Youth Speaks Out!"
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan >>> and safe, shared walking/cycling paths through the Sid Valley
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan >>> residents' involvement is 'critical'

Sidmouth in Bloom to bring the Old Boat Park to life with a sensory garden for Sidmouth

A couple of months ago, Sidmouth in Bloom announed plans to improve a forgotten corner of the town - with help from the Royal Horticultural Association:
Futures Forum: "Greening grey Britain for health and happiness" >>> >>> a sensory garden for Sidmouth

Earlier this month, the local garden centre promised to provide further input for the project:

Sidmouth in Bloom wins garden centre competition

By Peter Hodges - July 12, 2016

THE Sidmouth community has voted and a winner has been announced in the Wyevale Garden Centre‘s garden makeover competition.

The winner of the competition, which customers have been voting for since the end of May, was Sidmouth in Bloom, a voluntary body working within the local community that aims to continue the town’s floral heritage. As the winning community group, Sidmouth in Bloom will work alongside Wyevale Garden Centre and Sidmouth Town Council to makeover an area of the Old Boat Park for the community to enjoy.

Wyevale Garden Centre will provide plants and equipment, as well as a special team and volunteers from the centre to work with a local landscape designer to transform the space into an outdoor haven.

Nigel Coombs, Garden Centre Manager, said; “We’re delighted to be able to give something back to the residents of Sidmouth and to create a space for the whole community to enjoy.”

Lynette Talbot from Sidmouth in Bloom, said; “Sidmouth in Bloom thanks everyone in the community who has voted. We are absolutely delighted to have won and can’t wait to work with the landscape designer to bring the Old Boat Park to life, alongside our new sensory garden bed, for everyone in the community to enjoy.”

Sidmouth, a Wyevale Garden Centre will announce plans for the design of the garden makeover in the coming weeks.

Any further information on the competition can be found here.

Sidmouth in Bloom wins garden centre competition
Garden centre launches outdoor area competition - News - Sidmouth Herald

Last month, the Sidmouth in Bloom team were in Birmingham:
Sidmouth in Bloom - Gardeners World Live - Gardeners' World Live, NEC Birmingham, 16-19 June 2016

Sidmouth in Bloom grasps unique opportunity

25 June 2016 Stephen Sumner 

Sidmouth in Bloom’s (SiB) efforts earned them a silver gilt award after their unprecedented invitation to the Gardeners’ World expo at the weekend.

Committee members, councillors and volunteers made the long trip to Birmingham’s NEC arena for the ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ chance to represent the town.

SiB chairman Lynette Talbot said: “It was a fantastic plug for Sidmouth – we had a very positive response and everyone said we should have won gold! A lot of people said they would make Sidmouth a stopping point.”

Sidmouth in Bloom grasps unique opportunity - News - Sidmouth Herald

First Sidmouth Food Festival >>> Saturday 13th August

Last year, it was suggested that Sidmouth should have its own food festival:
Futures Forum: A food festival for Sidmouth?

In a fortnight's time, we'll be seeing Sidmouth's very first food fest:
Futures Forum: Sidmouth Food Festival >>> Saturday 13th August

This is currently one of the most read stories on the Herald:

Sidmouth to get first ever food festival

16:30 25 July 2016

Kennaway House. Ref shs 16-16AW 2975. Picture: Alex Walton

The first-ever Sidmouth Food Festival will take place in the town next month, it has been revealed.

There will be wine and cider tasting, music, demonstrations and food galore at the free event taking place on August 13, between 10am and 4pm, at Kennaway House.
The festival, which has received support from the East Devon Sustainable Development Fund and the Vision Group for Sidmouth, aims to promote local producers and businesses.
The day will be held in the venue’s Cellar Bar and on the lawn and will host 27 pitches offering everything from sausages, cheese and game to fudge, herbs and cake.
A demonstration will be held by Andy and Annette Witheridge of Sidford’s Salty Monk, as well as a soon-to-be-announced nationally renowned chef from the area.
Adults and children wanting to try their hand making pasta or pizza will also be invited to take part in an interactive demonstration.
The day’s musical entertainment will be provided by a choir and an acoustic group. More information will be revealed soon.
Organiser Kerry Gibbons, who also runs the town’s farmers’ market, said: “The festival is all about highlighting local food producers.
“I decided to organise the festival because I absolutely love food.
“I am very excited.
“It is all about local people providing good local food...It should be lovely.
“I hope everybody will come along and support the local businesses.”
Among the many stalls will be Angelchops’ cakes from Ottery St Mary; Devon Fishcakes; Trow Farm Fudge; Adam Davis of Flaming Good Pizza; The Filling Station and Fresh and Green Veg from Sidmouth; Peddlers Coffee; Pinnacle Icing; Gourmet Street Kitchen and Laurel Farm Herbs.
World Food will also be offering an array of chicken and vegetarian wraps and salad, while Chocolats de Caprine will have a variety of goat’s milk chocolates and alcoholic truffles.
Cookery writer Marion Turnbull will also have a sourdough bread stall as will Joy and John Eustace, of Bees Knees, who will be selling honey and other products made from their own bee hives.
As well as this, Ebb Tides will be selling seaweed nutritional supplements while Tess Stone will have a stall of gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free, flavour-filled sweets, savoury foods and chocolates.
Kerry said they had already made plans to make the Sidmouth Food Festival an annual event.
She added next year they were also looking to expand it and make it even bigger and better.
Sidmouth to get first ever food festival - News - Sidmouth Herald

The Salty Monk has received all sorts of accolades:
Futures Forum: Cream teas, Devon and Sidmouth
Futures Forum: Green Tourism Business Scheme - more awards
The Salty Monk Restaurant With Rooms | B&B | Devon | Sidmouth

Fresh and Green Vegetables have become an important part of the food fabric of the Valley:
Futures Forum: Broad View from a Small Farm @ Sustainability Frontiers >>> event Saturday 6th February
Futures Forum: VGS AGM: Fresh and Green
Fresh and Green Vegetables

Here's the list so far of who'll be providing the goodies:

Vision Group for Sidmouth - Exhibitors

Brexit: and the potential loss of £5.3bn of funding for infrastructure and regeneration projects across England

There are fears for infrastructure projects following the referendum:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and infrastructure projects

The South-West feels particularly vulnerable: 
Futures Forum: Brexit: and delivering economic development across the UK whilst protecting Devon and Cornwall

It is not clear how any potential cuts in development projects will impact on local politics:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and local democracy ... of devolution and cuts in local government

The Local Government Association is very concerned - as reported earlier today by the East Devon Watch blog:


29 JULY 2016

Particularly our LEP which has totally based its strategy on ever-increasing growth and productivity, continuing to receive EU funds or a similar level of funding from the government and for trickle-down from Hinkley C.

Plan B?

Bad news for our devolution councils and LEP | East Devon Watch

Here's the full piece from the Public Finance blog:

Councils issue warning on EU funding uncertainty

Richard Johnstone 29 Jul 16

Growing uncertainty over the future of European funding for infrastructure and regeneration projects across England will hit economic growth unless there is clarity from government soon, councils have warned today.

In the strongest warning yet on the potential loss of regeneration funding following the vote to leave the European Union, the Local Government Association called for government action to prevent vital developments being lost.

The group said the majority of EU regeneration funding pledged to the UK in the 2014-2020 funding round remains tied up in thousands of growth-boosting proposals submitted to government. As these had not yet been approved, around £5.3bn of funding could potentially be at risk, particularly following the Brexit vote, LGA chair Lord Porter said.

“Communities and local economies have become increasingly reliant on what EU funds can achieve for them. Councils have used EU funds to help new businesses start up, create thousands of new jobs, roll out broadband and build new roads and bridges,” he stated.

“Losing any of this vital money over the next few years would be a real blow for local economic growth and communities. It is important for the government to end the current uncertainty and guarantee that local areas will receive all of the EU funding they have been allocated by 2020, regardless of whether decisions over which projects it should be spent on have been made or not.”

In order to benefit from European funds, local areas are required to submit proposals, for example to create jobs or build new infrastructure, with government then deciding which projects the money can be spent on. Although the current period started in 2014, the LGA estimates that billions of this EU funding has yet to be released to local areas. For example, Cornwall and the north-east have both only received 20% of their EU funding allocations so far and Birmingham has only received 25%.

If these funds are not released soon, councils are concerned that Whitehall could hold onto this cash amid the uncertainty caused by the vote to leave the EU.

Projects that could be hit include the rollout of superfast broadband in Cornwall, which is part funded by the EU, as well as investments around Birmingham as part of the Midlands Engine devolution drive.

In addition, programmes in Greater Manchester supporting people into work, such as its flagship Working Well pilot programme that has so far engaged 4,000 residents on Employment and Support Allowance, are underpinned by European money. The initiative is being expanded to help a further 15,000 people who are on out-of-work benefits or in low-paid work. The expansion will run until March 2020 but is reliant on £12m of EU cash it is expecting to receive.

Councils issue warning on EU funding uncertainty | Public Finance

Friday, 29 July 2016

A solution to our housing problems: a housing plan that meets local needs

The East Devon Watch blog has spotted this story in today's Guardian:


29 JULY 2016

EDDC and Knowle and local NHS Estates: hang your heads in shame and pay particular attention to the last paragraph:

Too often, locals are completely locked out of public consultations on the very land they live on, and neighbourhoods they have called home for decades: the assumption that locals don’t care about development simply isn’t true. You only need to see the strength of feeling involved in the many housing protests around the country. But in many cases, residents are patronised, offered a so-called choice between very similar models of development, and are never asked what they want their local area to look like – or, more importantly, why. Start Haringey shows that the appetite for proper consultation is there, and the political will to devote time to doing so is rising.“

What one council did with a large development site | East Devon Watch

Here is the full piece from the Guardian:

Finally some good news: a housing plan that meets local needs

Housing Network Dawn Foster 29th July 2016

Residents in north London have come up trumps with a development that includes affordable housing and mental health support – and green spaces

Two thirds of the St Ann’s hospital site is due to be sold off. Start Haringey has shown that there is appetite for proper consultation among locals. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Housing can be a gloomy beat: most news stories focus on eviction rates, homelessness, rising house prices and rent rates locking people out of stable homes, while council housing is forcibly sold thanks to short-sighted government policies.

Obviously, bad news needs to be reported; often the people most subject to discrimination and homelessness are precisely those people the political class view as voiceless. But amid the doom, small symbols of hope appear in housing.

One such example, in a corner of Haringey in north London, is the St Ann’s redevelopment trust Start: a disparate team of local residents working together to try to work out what housing the local area needs and then deliver it. The St Ann’s hospital site in the borough is being partially sold off – two thirds of it has been earmarked for private development. In itself, that is not unusual. The NHS has a lot of land that’s undeveloped or hasn’t been in use, and with services changing, empty sites often pop up.

Originally the plan was for the site to be sold for private housing development, with only 14% of the homes being classed as “affordable” (itself a loaded term). But Start Haringey had different ideas. It wanted to use the land for a genuinely community-led development and asked locals what they wanted to see in the area. The organisation held consultation events with hundreds of attendees, circulated a survey completed by more than 300 locals, and collaborated with architects, who were asked how the community’s desires could be realised.

The clear winners were truly affordable housing, and a development that considers health in the built environment and the need to be environmentally friendly. St Ann’s already has areas of great natural beauty that the community wants to retain, but locals also pressed the importance of green space that is accessible to all, not fenced off.

With mental health services continuing to run from the remainder of the site, the community was keen to integrate the development into the existing NHS services. The provision of affordable housing would not only be sympathetic to the needs of patients and staff at the hospital, but could also provide valuable accommodation for people who wish to live independently with support. At the same time, local outreach work could be carried out, so early intervention and preventative health work could seamlessly integrate into the development if done properly.

Community land trusts are growing in numbers throughout the UK, but perhaps key to this group’s success so far is how easy it is to get involved: meetings on the progress of the plan are held weekly at a local school, with a housing sub-group looking particularly at the type of buildings St Ann’s could benefit from. They’re open to all those in the area over the age of 16, and, while membership is £1, anyone can contribute without becoming a member. Costs are covered by a crowdfunding campaign, which is a quarter of the way to its target with over 100 backers. The funds will allow the group to finish the architect’s plans and put together a bid for the site.

Starting with a bottom-up approach, Start Haringey has developed a genuinely costed and doable plan for a development that meets local needs and helps mitigate the housing crisis locally.

Too often, locals are completely locked out of public consultations on the very land they live on, and neighbourhoods they have called home for decades: the assumption that locals don’t care about development simply isn’t true. You only need to see the strength of feeling involved in the many housing protests around the country. But in many cases, residents are patronised, offered a so-called choice between very similar models of development, and are never asked what they want their local area to look like – or, more importantly, why. Start Haringey shows that the appetite for proper consultation is there, and the political will to devote time to doing so is rising.

Finally some good news: a housing plan that meets local needs | Housing Network | The Guardian