Saturday, 31 March 2018

Plans for Port Royal > helping potential Drill Hall site investors

There are several efforts afoot to bring the Drill Hall into community ownership:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: "More than a thousand people have signed a petition calling for the Drill Hall to become a nightclub, following the shock closure of Carinas."
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: draft community bid for Drill Hall
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: petition to create a community hub 

With other examples to look to:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: and a successful community buy-out in Somerset

There is a helpful overview of the processes in general needed for any such exercise - plus specific relevant information on the site:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: buying the Drill Hall

And this is featured in a piece in the latest Herald:

Website launched to help potential Sidmouth Drill Hall site investors

PUBLISHED: 16:00 25 March 2018

P7861-10-09SH The drill hall at Port Royal, Sidmouth. Picture by Simon Horn.

A webpage giving help and information to potential bidders of the Sidmouth Drill Hall site has been set up.

The page has been launched by resident Mary Warden-Till – a retired 3D designer, who has taken the reins of a project to ‘rescue’ the site.
The Herald previously reported that East Devon District Council and Sidmouth Town Council, which own the site, would be putting it on the market for redevelopment.
The two authorities said they would be inviting investors interested in redeveloping the area to come forward for six months - to allow both commercial and non-commercial bids to come forward. It is expected that the site will be marketed from the spring.
Mary said: “I am willing to work with anyone, non-profit or profit, voluntary or commercial, to achieve the best result for the town. I am open to talking to and helping anyone.”
Website launched to help potential Sidmouth Drill Hall site investors | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

With more here at the same website:
The Drill Hall for sale? - Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue

And here: 

Do you want to buy a Drill Hall?

February 14, 2018

East Devon District Council put out a press release yesterday saying that the Drill Hall site will be marketed. I presume that this means someone could buy the hall for reuse.

South west corner of hall, looking towards the front rooms

Please spread the word, Sidmouth is a lovely town, the building has real potential and it would be a shame for someone to buy it for the site alone.

Do you want to buy a Drill Hall? - Sidmouth Drill Hall Rescue

Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan: "last chance for people to have their say on how the Sid Valley should be developed over the next 15 years"

The Sid Valley neighbourhood plan is nearing completion - with a last opportunity for input from the public:
Futures Forum: Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan: public consultation closes 12th April
Futures Forum: Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan: 'last chance to have a say' >>> public event Wednesday 21st March
Futures Forum: Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan: full draft published >>> public event Wednesday 21st March

Here is another reminder from the latest Herald: 

Less than two weeks to have say on draft of Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan

PUBLISHED: 14:00 29 March 2018

Residents have less than two weeks to comment on the draft neighbourhood plan, before it is too late.

This is the last chance for people to have their say on how the Sid Valley should be developed over the next 15 years.
When the latest consultation finishes on April 12, no further comments will be taken into account.
Almost two years have passed since the Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group announced the draft plan would be published on February 28, 2018.
Deirdre Hounsom, the steering group’s chair, said: “This is an important time for the Sid Valley community and brings to a close the largest ever public consultation.
“Our consultations have been extensive, involving all households in our designated area, businesses, special interest groups and young people with the support of our schools.”
To comment, email neighbour
hood@sidmouth.gov.uk or visit sidmouth.gov.uk/index.php/neighbourhood-plan. Hard copies are available from the town council or library.
Less than two weeks to have say on draft of Sid Valley Neighbourhood Plan | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

How to revive the health of high streets > "We could maybe look at ways we could help local shops, which use locally-sourced produce, through some kind a business rate relief."

Businesses have to move with the times: Temple Street in Sidmouth has lost most of its shops - but several continue to thrive and other non-retail businesses are doing well:
Futures Forum: How to revive the health of high streets > businesses thriving on Temple Street

However, the current business rates system benefits the big and micro retailers - leaving those in the middle to take the fiscal hit:
Futures Forum: How to revive the health of high streets > make business rates fairer

Local retailers have called for a meeting with local MP Hugo Swire to discuss rate relief - with the story on the front page of the Herald:

Here with the full piece:

Urgent meeting called to discuss Sidmouth High Street’s survival before it’s too late

PUBLISHED: 07:00 30 March 2018
Local business owners Sharon Hobson,Steve Clarke,Stewart Hayman and Steven Kendall-Torry. Ref shs 13 18TI 0288. Picture: Terry Ife

Local business owners Sharon Hobson,Steve Clarke,Stewart Hayman and Steven Kendall-Torry. Ref shs 13 18TI 0288. Picture: Terry Ife

Struggling Sidmouth business owners have called for an urgent meeting to discuss the survival of the town’s high street before it is too late.

The Herald has previously reported the fears of a number of independent traders who did not know how they would continue if something was not done to make the business rates fairer in the town.
A group of business owners met this week to discuss a situation which is making it hard for them to continue, with issues like parking, pavements and the lack of support from local authorities being mentioned.
Among those who attended were Steve and Lyn Clarke, of The Rendezvous, John Wycherley, of Sidmouth Gifts, Steven Kendall-Torry, of Pure Indulgence, Stewart Hayman, of Hayman’s Bucthers and Sharon Hobson, of Flutterbys.
Mr Hayman, of the Church Street butchers, said he did not make any profits last year and - if he had not owned the building - would have struggled to stay in business. The 67-year-old added that, when he retires, he cannot see how Hayman’s can continue - and would most likely close down after more than 110 years in business.
A rallying call has now been issued for Sidmouth businesses to attend a meeting to highlight the issues faced by independent shops. Among those who will be invited will be MP Sir Hugo Swire, along with representatives from the town, district and county councils, Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses.
Sir Hugo told the Herald he would be more than happy to arrange a meeting for people to voice their concerns.
Sir Hugo said: “People’s shopping patterns are changing and, more and more, people are shopping online – this has been a concern for sometime. We can’t change this, but we can be more creative in helping to fill the high street with independent shops and not chains. We need to think of how we can retain our independent stores and encourage more into the town. We could maybe look at ways we could help local shops, which use locally-sourced produce, through some kind a business rate relief. One way we could do this is by turning some shops back into affordable accommodation. We wold then have families and communities living near the high street, regenerating the town centre.”
Sir Hugo said that, to make a difference, local authorities would need to lobby the Government to recognise the problem that independent stores are finding it hard to survive.
A date for the meeting has yet to be set.

Urgent meeting called to discuss Sidmouth High Street’s survival before it’s too late | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald

Plastic pollution in the oceans > Prof Richard Thomas @ Plymouth University

Last week's Costing the Earth on Radio 4 looked at alternatives to plastic-based clothing:
Futures Forum: Plastic pollution from our clothes
BBC Radio 4 - Costing the Earth, Microfibre Detectives

Again, Tom Heap interviewed one of the key players looking at how plastics have effected our oceans - and Prof Richard Thompson has been looking at this for decades now:
Professor Richard Thompson made an OBE for services to marine science - University of Plymouth
Professor Richard Thompson - University of Plymouth

And in less than three minutes, he's able to give us all the issues - and some sollutions too:

Plastic waste in the oceans: Professor Richard Thompson, Plymouth University - YouTube

His students are equally interested - for example:

Imogen Napper - P1 Marine Foundation National Student Awards - YouTube
Miss Imogen Napper - University of Plymouth

When it comes to the wider media, Prof Thompson has been the go-to academic on this issue for some time too:
Kids News: Scientists call for global glitter ban | Herald Sun
Dirty laundrBreaking into News: Plastic litter on West Country beaches increases by 15% | West Country - ITV Newsy: Are your clothes polluting the ocean? - BBC News
Plastic found in mussels from Arctic to China enters human food, Health News - AsiaOne
Microplastic Pollution: Everyone’s problem - but what can be done about it? - Nov 29 2017 - Tom Lynch - Environmental Science News Articles - Envirotech Online
Microplastics Have Contaminated the World's Tap Water, and Much Else Besides - Seeker

Plastics Week in Sidmouth: 7th - 12th May

Later on next month, Turn Lyme Green will be taking part in a big event in Bridport:
Futures Forum: "Going green is DEFINITELY good for business" >>> Turn Lyme Green event > report

And that is the Green Fortnight from 14th April:
Bridport Green Fortnight - programme

Three weeks after that, the Vision Group and the Plastic Warriors will be hosting a Plastics Week in Sidmouth from Monday 7th to Saturday 12th May.

The preliminary programme includes these events - so far:

> Tues 8th: evening visit from the Bishop (Prayer Room)
> Weds 9th: Chamber Breakfast (Plastic Warriors): Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce - Events
> Thurs 10th: evening talk at Kennaway House from Plymouth University  (provisional: Futures Forum/Science Fest)
> Sat 12th May: Farmers' Market at Kennaway House: Sidmouth Farmer's Market 2018
> Sat 12th May: Sea Fest beach-clean and plastic installation on the Ham: Sidmouth Sea Fest – Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub CIC 

It is hoped that other groups will be involved: more events to come.

See also:
Sidmouth Plastic Warriors – Doing everything in our power to get Sidmouth single-use-plastic-free

Futures Forum: Plastic pollution from our clothes
Futures Forum: This is British Science Week > help map plastic on our beaches
Futures Forum: "Everything's gone green!' @ Radio 4's Costing the Earth > "Is it the Attenborough Effect, the power of the newly-green Daily Mail or a blatant attempt to woo the youth vote?"

A solution to our plastic problems > biodegradable plastic

There are alternatives out there to plastic:
Futures Forum: Creating alternatives to the plastic takeaway coffee cup >>>
Futures Forum: Bioplastics > and the circular economy
Futures Forum: The alternatives to plastic

And companies are doing their bit - following some pressure:
PG Tips ditches plastic to create completely biodegradable tea bags - Dezeen
Futures Forum: Taking the plastic out of your teabag

New technologies are emerging all the time - for example:
SPhere pushes plastic innovations using plant-based and biodegradable materials | South China Morning Post
Hemp Plastic: Why Plastic Derived From Cannabis Could Save The Planet - Herb.co
New Customised Compostable Materials for the Manufacture of Packages and Single-use Bags - Packaging Europe

Unfortunately, it's complicated - as shown in this recent piece from a packaging technology news website:
Are biodegradable plastics better for the environment? - Packaging Europe
Commentary: Are biopolymers better for the environment? - Recycling Today

One problem is that almost all biodegradable plastics are designed to biodegrade in soil, not water
Biodegradable plastic 'false solution' for ocean waste problem | Environment | The Guardian

As the plastics industry points out:
Biodegradable plastics were never designed to be a solution to marine litter – European Bioplastics e.V. 

Another technology would be the 'Oxo-biodegradable plastic' - but this is controversial too:
Oxo-degradable plastics increasingly under fire in Europe – European Bioplastics e.V.
Case Study: Compostable vs Oxo Degradable | Natur-Bag

Here again is the industry's point of view:

Another complication is that 'bioplastics' are not the same as 'biogradable plastics': 
Bioplastics and the Truth About Biodegradable Plastic | HuffPost  

Here's an excellent piece giving an overview of the issues:

How sustainable are biodegradable and plant-based plastics?

By Tom Szaky in Sustainable Packaging on May 30, 2017


Coca-Cola's PlantBottle is an example of a durable bioplastic (rather than a biodegradable bioplastic), meaning it will last like a traditional PET bottle, but that it is also recyclable.

Finding solutions for the world’s plastic problem is an uphill battle. Manufacturers and consumers alike are now accustomed to products and packaging made lighter, less costly and more convenient by plastic, the iterations of which have only grown more complex. As it stands, we are manufacturing approximately 300 million tons of plastics across the world every year, and this number continues to grow.

The scope of the world’s plastic problem goes beyond straining Earth’s finite resources; it is also a waste management issue. It is estimated that up to 129 million tons (43%) of the plastic used per year is disposed of by landfill or incineration, and approximately 10 to 20 million tons of plastic ends up in the oceans.

Rethinking all aspects of the plastics supply chain in terms of full lifecycle, from sourcing to end-of-life, is the key for manufacturers and major brands aiming to design into a more circular plastics economy. Driven by demand for more sustainability and positive environmental impacts in consumer packaged goods (CPGs), there is a growing industry for bioplastics—plastics made from plant biomass, such as corn.

One argument in support of increased use of bioplastics is mainly that the raw materials used to generate it are more sustainably sourced than petroleum-based plastic. Abundant availability of raw materials for manufacturing bioplastics place less strain on resource supply, as well as cause less strain to the earth from sourcing processes. Drilling for oil to use for petroleum-based plastic may disturb land and ocean habitats, and is a major source of emissions and airborne byproducts.

Bioplastics can be broadly broken down into two categories: durable and biodegradable. For instance, the PlantBottle is a durable bioplastic alternative to traditional PET bottles made by Coca-Cola. Made with up to 30% ethanol sourced from plant material, the PlantBottle won’t decompose, but it can be recycled with traditional PET containers and bottles. It is important to note that this is an outstanding example, as not all bioplastics are recyclable.

Of the many bioplastic varieties currently on the market or in development, no variant has attracted more attention than those dubbed “biodegradable.” Biodegradable bioplastics, like increasingly popular PLA (polylactic acid), are exactly as they sound: in theory, they break down naturally in the environment or may be composted. This is unique, as the vast majority of plastics today will never break down. Petroleum plastics may degrade into smaller and smaller pieces, but most won’t decompose or be absorbed by the surrounding environment.

Where bioplastics theoretically are an answer to our dependence on fossil fuels to manufacture the plastics the world demands, biodegradable bioplastics are meant to be a solution for the world’s plastic waste problem. However, in most cases, biodegradable bioplastics will only break down in a high-temperature industrial composting facility, not your average household compost bin. Plus, these are not recyclable.

This wouldn’t be as much of a concern if we had a great composting infrastructure, but we don’t. With only about 200 industrial composting facilities in the United States and 50 million tons of organic waste still ending up in landfills across the country each year, we are ill-equipped to adequately compost any meaningful volumes of biodegradable plastic. In fact, many operational industrial composting facilities today won’t even accept PLA and other biodegradable plastics—they are seen as contamination risks.

A better solution might be to place the focus on durable bioplastics that are made from plant materials, but can still be recycled. This way, the valuable energy and material inputs can be kept in the production cycle longer. It also makes far more sense to build a bio-based plastic that fits into our existing infrastructure, rather than building an entirely new biodegradable plastic composting infrastructure from scratch.

If we hope to truly make durable bioplastics as viable as they could be, we will need to start curbing the demand for plastics overall. With less demand, the market will be in a far better place to meet demand with more contained impacts to the environment. How do we reduce the demand for plastic? When manufacturers and major brands commit to packaging designs that are more durable and made to last, consumers have the opportunity to make more sustainable purchasing decisions.

Author Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, has won more than 50 awards for entrepreneurship, writes blogs for Treehugger and Triple Pundit, published a book called "Make Garbage Great" and is the star of the television show "Human Resources.” 

How sustainable are biodegradable and plant-based plastics? | Packaging Digest

With a final comment here from Futurenergia: 

Biodegradable plastics: are they better for the environment?

Litter is a problem with a very negative social and environmental impact. Some people believe that one way to tackle this problem is to use biodegradable plastics as an environmentally-friendly solution for things such as plastic bags. This might seem sensible at first glance, but is it really better for the environment?

Littering is fundamentally a problem of irresponsible behaviour, which should be tackled by changing people’s attitudes rather than by changing the products they are throwing away. Making products biodegradable may actually make the problem of littering worse, by making people think that it is OK to throw away valuable resources like plastics. For example, a biodegradable plastic bag that’s thrown into a hedge will still take years to disappear, rather than days as some people believe. Even a banana skin - when thrown away - needs 1-3 years before it is biodegraded!

What’s more, biodegradable plastics require specific conditions to biodegrade properly (micro-organisms, temperature, and humidity), and if not managed properly they may be worse for the environment than conventional plastics. When biodegradable plastics are put into landfill (which should always be avoided in any case) they produce harmful greenhouse gases when breaking down.

What are biodegradable plastics? Biodegradable plastics are plastics that can be broken down by microorganisms (bacteria or fungi) into water, carbon dioxide (CO2) and some bio-material. It is important to note that biodegradable plastics are not necessarily made from bio-material (i.e. plants). Several biodegradable plastics are made from oil in the same way as conventional plastics.

So what are biodegradable plastics good for? In principle plastics are valued for their ability to make strong, durable products (for example in food storage, transport, building and construction). Biodegradability should therefore be regarded as an additional functionality when the application demands a cheap way to dispose of the item after it has fulfilled its job (e.g. for packaging, protect food and keep it fresh). Examples of useful biodegradable products are:

> Food packaging – packaging that can be composted together with its contents when the product is past its sell-by date or spoiled
> Agriculture – plastic sheeting that can be ploughed-into biodegradable mulch and seed films
> Medical – absorbable sutures; micro-devices containing medicine, which break down inside the body

Biodegradability is a material property that depends much on the circumstances of the biological environment (human body differs from soil). Given that this is the case, it could be said that making a product such as a plastic bag compostable does not make much sense because this biodegradability performance will not resolve the litter issue (different conditions in the compost and on soil).

To conclude, it is a mistake to focus on finding ways to make products easier to throw away in the name of helping the environment. Biodegradable plastics are exciting and useful materials, but they should only be used when they have a concrete benefit for a specific product. The best way to help save the planet is to save energy and improve ways of recycling and recovering all plastics.

Related link:
Chat 6: “Future energy sources” or “The plastic bag war”

Biodegradable plastics: are they better for the environment? - Futurenergia

Of course, the plastics industry would prefer business as usual - and for the effort to come from individual consumers:
Plastic associations fault recycling and consumer behaviour for pollution - The National

See also:
Futures Forum: A plastic bottle deposit scheme for England >>> >>> "Welcome as it is, such a scheme farms out responsibility to individual consumers rather than bringing into line corporations with far greater power to pioneer change"
Futures Forum: Plastic pollution and the invention of 'litter' > or, how the packaging industry avoided responsibility for creating the problem in the first place
Futures Forum: The plastics industry is "incredibly supportive of recycling legislation over a more long-term… reduction of disposable culture."

Friday, 30 March 2018

"Going green is DEFINITELY good for business" >>> >>> Turn Lyme Green event > report

Earlier, Turn Lyme Green held a session on 'greening business' - especially when it comes to plastic:
Futures Forum: "Going green is good for business" > Turn Lyme Green event > Tuesday 13th March

Here's a report from their latest newsletter: 

This was the message given at a packed meeting at the Baptist Church’s Driftwood Café two weeks ago.  It was so inspiring to hear first hand from business owners who have chosen not to use single use plastics and all about their efforts to promote recycling and energy saving,  efforts rewarded by support from their customers.   We received good press coverage from Lyme Online and in this week’s Bridport News.  

Last night – the 28th – the Town Council has endorsed the campaign for Lyme Regis to become a Plastic Free Town.   Lyme Regis is on the way to joining over 120 other communities around the country pledging to tackle plastic pollution.  And next week, we are hoping that the Town Council will continue to show its support by approving our application for a grant to fund activities over the coming year.

A Steering Group is being set up and an ‘army’ of supporters mobilised to help get the message out to our businesses, schools, local organisations and churches so that we can work together to publicise the ways our community can benefit and contribute at home, at work and on the seafront.  There will be a number of local events which Plastic Free Lyme Regis will support and get involved in during the spring and summer.. from the May Fete, Anning Road to the Carnival Procession to an art installation in the Shelters in June.

BEACH CLEAN – Monday, 2nd April – 2pm
Sea Shepherds are organising a beach clean on Easter Monday, so do go along and join in.   The poster below has details.  Go to Facebook, SSUK Lyme Regis Beach Clean for more information.

GREAT DORSET BEACH CLEAN – Saturday 21st April
Another date for your diaries.    Meet at the RNLI station.  1.45 for briefing for the 2-3pm beach clean.  Organised by Love Lyme’s Beaches.

next TURN LYME GREEN Meeting:  Tuesday,   10th April     Royal Lion Hotel, Blue Room, Broad Street.  7.15 for 7.30pm
A date for your diary.   The AGM will be held for to include a report on the past year’s activities,  to receive a financial report and to elect TLG’s officers.  Currently, Jo Smith Oliver is Chair;  Chris Boothroyd is Treasurer and Polly Benfield is Secretary.  All supporters are encouraged to come for this roundup of past events and importantly to look to the future.   There will also be an update on ‘Plastic Free Lyme Regis’.


A fortnight packed with events and activities.  Have a look at the programme.   Turn Lyme Green will have a stand at the opening on Saturday, 14th April at the Town Hall featuring Liz Davis’s practical muslin fruit and veggie bags.  We will have a stall again in BuckyDoo Square, Wednesday morning, 25th April from 10.00am, again promoting ways reducing our use of plastics – Reduce, Reuse, Refill and Recycle. 

PETITION:   38 degrees.   Plastic Straws in Cinemas
Here’s one you might like to support….   Make Plastic Straws Obsolete in Cinemas

DON’T FORGET – Recyling Container at Holmbush Carpark for coffee cups and beverage cartons
And for other beverage cartons widely used to package milk, fruit juice and an increasingly wide range of food products, including soup, chopped tomatoes and pulses.      
Dorset Waste Partnership has placed a new container  in Holmbush Carpark, alongside one for textiles and one for aluminium foil.  Curb side recycling is not available at the moment for coffee cups or food and drink cartons but by taking them to Holmbush, we can do our bit for recycling and make a dent in the huge number of paper coffee cups with plastic lining that need to be recycled separately from paper collections .    Take away coffee cups can also be taken to Costa where they are stored and taken regularly to Costa’s own recycling centre for cups.  You can take in cups from other cafes/shops are well as any purchased from Costa.


'Wander on in gladness' > a guided walk in the company of Coleridge along the river Otter > Sunday 13th May

Next month, there will be an outdoor celebration of Ottery's famed poet: 


                        Meet at the Land of Canaan Car Park at 2.30 pm

                                      I pass, like night, from land to land;
                                      I have strange power of speech...

The statue of Samuel Taylor Coleridge commissioned by the Coleridge Memorial Trust for the poet's 250th-year celebration will show him as a walker. He thought nothing of a 20-mile walk and was probably the first writer to describe fell-walking. And he liked to compose while walking.

Modern walkers and Coleridge fans will be able on Sunday 13 May to wander on in gladness on a 2-mile walk in the poet's footsteps. All are welcome – we meet at the Land of Canaan car park (free) at 2.30 pm (walking boots - brollies if wet), then walk to key sites associated with his poetry and its development. At each stop there will be a brief introduction and a reading from one of Coleridge's poems, including those set in Ottery.

Local writer and academic, Robert Crick, will be Coleridge for the afternoon – he was described by Lord Coleridge at an evening performance in St Mary's Church a few years ago as “the best Coleridge I have heard”. And walkers will be accompanied by some of Ottery's very own pixies from Ottery Primary School who will also perform lines from “Songs of the Pixies” at Pixies' Parlour.

The walk and readings will end at the site proposed for the Memorial Statue in St Mary's Churchyard, which was the poet's magic playground as a child.

The event is free and all are welcome but donations towards the commemorative sculpture will be gratefully received. Please see the Coleridge Memorial Trust's website – www.coleridgememorial.org.uk - for more information  and for other payment options for donations. 

Welcome to Coleridge Memorial Project website

Sidmouth Arboretum > latest news >>> Tree Week > Monday 16th - Saturday 21st April

The Tree Week events headline the latest news from the Arboretum:

Welcome to the spring 2018 newsletter from Sidmouth Arboretum which we hope will keep you informed of our activities and events in the Sid Valley. We would especially like to see you at one of the events in Tree Week in April.

We have received several new requests to subscribe to the newsletter following the tree evening and AGM.  If you do not wish to receive the newsletter then please contact us via one of the emails below.
TREE WEEK  April 16th -April 21st

There should be something for everyone in our first tree week. Please come along and join us if you can, at one or more of the following events:

Monday 16th – Walk to Salcombe Regis and back along the new Salcombe Regis Tree Trail.
Either meet at Sidmouth Tourist Information Centre TIC at 14:00 or park at Salcombe Hill Car Park and walk out and join us on the coast path at 14:30.

Tuesday 17th – Café Scientifique –  “Sidmouth’s Global  Treescape” -  an illustrated talk by Ed Dolphin at Kennaway House at 15:00

Wednesday 18th Walk around Sidbury following the Tree Trail. Meet at Sidbury car park at 14:00

Thursday 19th – Talk by Jill Butler, Woodland Trust  “Discovering Ancient Trees” at 19:30 at Kennaway House.

There is also a Great Trees of the Cyst Valley walk at Woodbury Castle at 16:00 on this day. This is one of a series of walks advertised in the EDDC countryside guide. http://eastdevon.gov.uk/media/2407962/s0252_countryside-events-guide-ss18_for-web.pdf

Friday 20th – Guided walk with Kevin Croucher along the Sidmouth town Tree Trail. Meet at the Toll House at 14:00

Saturday 21st – Meet the Trees:  An opportunity to meet the people who look after trees in private gardens and public areas. Please collect a map of the locations from the Tourist Information Centre. These maps will also be available at all of the other events throughout the week.

All events free entry, donations welcome

Sidmouth Tree Celebration evening
The tree evening last November proved to be very popular again with the mixture of talks, stalls and songs contributing to a lovely social occasion. The sponsorship of the trees received at the evening has enabled us to plant new trees in the Knowle, by the bowling green and alongside the swimming pool. Thanks to everyone who supported the event and I am pleased to announce that this year the evening will be held on Friday 30th November 2018.
Sidmouth Arboretum AGM
The AGM was held on a very wet night in January. Thank you to everyone who braved the rain and the gales to attend. The committee remains the same for this year with one vacancy for anyone who would like to get more involved.  You will be most welcome!
Planting and Maintenance
We have not only been busy planting trees but also ensuring that the trees that have been planted do not get damaged by over-enthusiastic mowing. Our trees have also been checked to ensure they are securely staked and where required stakes have been replaced with new ones. If you would like to help check and maintain the trees then please contact us.
Walks Leaflets
The Salcombe Regis walk has been completely changed to link with the town walk. It is available from the TIC and will be the walk followed on Monday 16th of April.

The Sidbury leaflet has been redesigned with support from our sponsors Sir John Cave, SAC Cars and the Red Lion Pub.   It is now available and will be the walk followed on Wednesday 18th April.

The Sidmouth town walk leaflet is also available from the TIC and will be the walk followed on Friday 20th April.

Jon Ball jball25410@hotmail.com
Jill Gray jillgray22@gmail.com
Diana East info@sidmoutharboretum.org.uk

Sidmouth Arboretum


Brexit: and Exeter's MP once 'regarded as a crank' >>> >>> but now questions are multiplying over the roles of Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories

Earlier this week, Ben Bradshaw, MP for Exeter, spoke in Parliament:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and Exeter's MP's demanding that the government 'comes clean'

The Guardian reported at the time:

The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw is speaking in the debate now. He says when he started raising concerns about the conduct of the EU referendum campaign in the Commons he was regarded as “a crank”. But almost all the allegations he made have now been substantiated. He says anyone in any doubt should watch Christopher Wylie’s evidence to the Commons culture committee today. He says Wylie was an impressive witness, and produced evidence of serious law breaking.

He praises Damian Collins, the culture committee chair, for taking these allegations seriously. Collins will be putting them to the prime minister at the liaison committee hearing this afternoon, Bradshaw says.

Politics live | Politics | The Guardian

And during Tuesday's debate, Ben Bradshaw also claimed that 'murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was investigating political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica'; he also reported on 'other links here, with the Legatum Institute':
British MP links Henley and Partners to Cambridge Analytica – The Shift News

This is his piece in yesterday's Western Morning News: 

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal raises awkward questions about legitimacy of the Brexit Referendum

Ben Bradshaw

12:48, 28 MAR 2018

Constituents occasionally contact me via Facebook to ask for my help with a problem. I can understand why. It’s quick, easy and Facebook messenger is the communication of choice for millions. For several years now, I’ve had a policy of writing back to ask them to put the details of their problem – often very personal – in an email or letter or to phone my office instead. The reason, I explain, is because I’m not confident Facebook is private or secure.

This was more an instinct on my part, than an informed suspicion, combined with a more general concern I have about people’s willingness to share some of their most intimate personal details or those of their family on social media. I have also had concerns for some time, which I have repeatedly raised in Parliament – about the use, or rather misuse, of people’s personal data for covert political campaigning and the impact that could have on our democracy.

After the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data grab: how to stop the conspiracy to undermine our democracy

So, shocking as the revelations about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have been, I am not surprised. Because I believe this issue is so important to the security and integrity of our electoral system and our democracy I sat through the nearly four hours of evidence before Parliament this week from the Vote Leave and Cambridge Analytica whistle blower, Christopher Wylie.

One veteran BBC parliamentary journalist described it as the most astounding evidence session he had ever witnessed.

Mr Wylie alleges that Aggregate IQ, a sister company in Canada of Cambridge Analytica, which stands accused of unlawfully harvesting Facebook data from tens of millions of users, micro-targeted millions of selected voters in Britain during the Referendum campaign. Vote Leave spent 40% of its total budget on this data company.

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie gives evidence to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee's inquiry into fake news (Image: PA Wire)

Furthermore, Mr Wylie, who is and was a Leave supporter, accuses the Leave campaign of setting up several shadow campaigning organisations to get round legal spending limits and that these organisations also paid for Aggregate IQ’s services. Mr Wylie told the Commons Digital and Media Select Committee that Aggregate IQs targeting campaigns generally succeeded in shifting the opinions of between 7% and 10% of those targeted. You don’t need to be a mathematician to work out this could have affected what was a very close result.

Indeed, Dominic Cummings, the man who ran the Leave campaign, boasted after the result that Leave would not have won without the help of Aggregate IQ.

This poses serious questions for our elections regulator, the Electoral Commission, our data regulator, the Information Commissioner and, potentially, the police.

People who have already checked have been alarmed at the amount of information that has been logged by Facebook

It is already clear to me that our regulators have neither the power nor the resources they need to protect our democracy from manipulation. Just look at the farce of the Information Commissioner spending a week before finally getting a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s office, when Facebook themselves had been to their offices within hours of the scandal breaking.

This is how you can see how much data Facebook has on you and what companies they have given your information to

But Ministers too need to take this problem more seriously than they have. Indeed, everyone who cares about our democracy should, however awkward that might be in terms of raising questions about the legitimacy of the Brexit Referendum result.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal raises awkward questions about legitimacy of the Brexit Referendum - Ben Bradshaw - Devon Live

The New Yorker also quotes the Exeter MP: 

A Cambridge Analytica Whistle-blower Claims That “Cheating” Swung the Brexit Vote

By John Cassidy

Weds March 27, 2018 | 9:52 A.M.

Christopher Wylie testified that the outcome of the Brexit vote may well have been different if not for “cheating” that involved a Canadian data firm closely tied to Cambridge Analytica. Photograph by Jake Naughton / The Washington Post via Getty

Christopher Wylie—the twenty-eight-year-old whistle-blower who has detailed how Cambridge Analytica, the controversial political-consulting firm, harvested personal data from as many as fifty million Facebook users—appeared before a committee of British M.P.s on Tuesday.

Wylie’s testimony was the talk of Westminster. “Have been careful about over-claiming on all of this, but today’s shocking revelations by #CambridgeAnalytica whistleblower about the Leave campaigns must raise questions over the legitimacy of the EU Referendum result,” the M.P. Ben Bradshaw, a former Labour Cabinet minister, who is anti-Brexit, said on Twitter. Another former Labour Cabinet minister, Frank Field, who is pro-Brexit, said that anyone who broke campaign-finance laws should be subjected to the full force of the law.

A Cambridge Analytica Whistle-blower Claims That “Cheating” Swung the Brexit Vote | The New Yorker

The plot thickens even further...

The Baffler points out that CA is in fact part of the bigger game of mining personal data for political ends: 

The Cambridge Analytica Con

How media coverage misses the mark

Yasha Levine

March 21 2018

So if we’re going to view the actions of Cambridge Analytica in their proper light, we need first to start with an admission. We must concede that covert influence is not something unusual or foreign to our society, but is as American as apple pie and freedom fries. The use of manipulative, psychologically driven advertising and marketing techniques to sell us products, lifestyles, and ideas has been the foundation of modern American society, going back to the days of the self-styled inventor of public relations, Edward Bernays. It oozes out of every pore on our body politic. It’s what holds our ailing consumer society together. And when it comes to marketing candidates and political messages, using data to influence people and shape their decisions has been the holy grail of the computer age, going back half a century.

Let’s start with the basics: What Cambridge Analytica is accused of doing—siphoning people’s data, compiling profiles, and then deploying that information to influence them to vote a certain way—Facebook and Silicon Valley giants like Google do every day, indeed, every minute we’re logged on, on a far greater and more invasive scale...

The truth is that the internet has never been about egalitarianism or democracy.

The early internet came out of a series of Vietnam War counterinsurgency projects aimed at developing computer technology that would give the government a way to manage a complex series of global commitments and to monitor and prevent political strife—both at home and abroad. The internet, going back to its first incarnation as the ARPANET military network, was always about surveillance, profiling, and targeting.

The influence of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine on the development of modern computers and the internet is not something that many people know about. But it is a subject that I explore at length in my book, Surveillance Valley. So what jumps out at me is how seamlessly the reported activities of Cambridge Analytica fit into this historical narrative.

Cambridge Analytica is a subsidiary of the SCL Group, a military contractor set up by a spooky huckster named Nigel Oakes that sells itself as a high-powered conclave of experts specializing in data-driven counterinsurgency. It’s done work for the Pentagon, NATO, and the UK Ministry of Defense in places like Afghanistan and Nepal...

The Cambridge Analytica Con | Yasha Levine

Nigel Oakes has quite a colourful biography:
Nigel Oakes - Powerbase
The story behind Nigel Oakes, Trump’s weapon of mass persuasion
Tory donors among investors in Cambridge Analytica parent firm | Politics | The Guardian
Did Cambridge Analytica influence the Brexit vote and the US election? | Politics | The Guardian

Nigel Oakes's cousin is East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire, not that this means anything of course.

As pointed out by OpenDemocracy, the links between Cambridge Analytica and SCL have thrown up 'further interesting connections':

You can't understand the Cambridge Analytica scandal until you understand what its parent company does.

ADAM RAMSAY 28 March 2018

The UK defence secretary during the Falklands War, when the use of embedded journalists was pioneered, was John Nott (who backed Brexit). As my colleague Caroline Molloy pointed out to me, his son-in-law is Tory MP Hugo Swire, former minister in both the Northern Ireland Office and the Foreign Office. Swire's cousin – with whom he overlapped at Eton – is Nigel Oakes, founder of Strategic Communications Laboratories. It's not a conspiracy, just that the ruling class are all related.

During the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to War on Want, private military companies "burst onto the scene". In a 2016 report, the campaign group War on Want describes how the UK became the world centre for this mercenary industry. You might know G4S as the company which checks your gas meter, but they are primarily the world's largest mercenary firm, involved in providing 'security' in war zones across the planet (don’t miss my colleagues Clare Sambrook and Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi’s excellent investigations of their work in the UK) In 2015, G4S alone secured a £100m contract to provide security for the British embassy in Afghanistan.

And just as the fighting was privatised, so too was the propaganda. In 2016, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that the Pentagon had paid around half a billion dollars to the British PR firm Bell Pottinger to deliver propaganda during the Iraq war. Journalist Liam O’Hare has revealed that Mark Turnbull, the SCL and Cambridge Analytica director who was filmed alongside Alexander Nix in the Channel4 sting, was employed by Bell Pottinger in Iraq in this period.

Like Bell Pottinger, SCL saw the opportunity of the increasing privatisation of war. In his 2006 book “Britain’s Power Elites: The Rebirth of the Ruling Class”, Hywel Williams wrote “It therefore seems only natural that a political communications consultancy, Strategic Communications Laboratories, should have now launched itself as the first private company to provide 'psyops' to the military.”

In simple terms, the SCL Group – Cambridge Analytica’s parent firm – is the psychological operations wing of our privatised military: a mercenary propaganda agency.

Another way to see it is like this: Britain has lost most of its geographical empire. And most of our modern politics is about the ways in which different groups struggle to come to terms with that fact. For a large portion of the ruling establishment, this involves attempting to reprise the glory days by placing the country at the centre of two of the nexuses which define the modern era.

The UK and its Overseas Territories have already become by far the most significant network of tax havens and secrecy areas in the world, making us the global centre for money laundering and therefore, as Roberto Saviano, the leading expert on the mafia argues, the most corrupt country on earth. And just as countries with major oil industries have major oil lobbies, the UK has a major money laundry-lobby.

Pesky EU regulations have long frustrated the dreams of these people, who wish our island nation to move even further offshore and become even more of a tax haven. And so for some Brexiteers – this money laundry lobby – there was always strong incentive to back a Leave vote: European Research Group statements going back 25 years show as much.

But what the Cambridge Analytica affair reminds us of is that this is not just about the money laundry lobby (nor the agrochemical lobby). Another group with a strong interest in pushing such deregulation, dimming transparency, hyping Islamophobia in America and turning peoples against each other is our flourishing mercenary complex – one of the only other industries in which Britain leads the world. And so it's no surprise that its propaganda wing has turned the skills it's learned in towards its desired political outcomes.

In his essay, Baudrillard argued that his observations about the changes in military propaganda told us something about the then new post-Cold War era. Only two years after Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web, he wrote a sentence which, for me, teaches us more about the Cambridge Analytica story than much of the punditry that we've seen since: "just as wealth is no longer measured by the ostentation of wealth but by the secret circulation of capital, so war is not measured by being unleashed but by its speculative unfolding in an abstract, electronic and informational space."

Cambridge Analytica is what happens when you privatise your military propaganda operation. It walked into the space created when social media killed journalism. It is yet another example of tools developed to subjugate people elsewhere in the world being used on the domestic populations of the Western countries in which they were built. It marks the point at which neoliberal capitalism reaches its zenith, and ascends to surveillance capitalism. And the best possible response is to create a democratic media which can’t be bought by propagandists.