Jackie Hook

Liberal Democrat District Councillor Bushell Ward Learn more

Sunny Summer Days 50 years on

by Jackie Hook on 12 July, 2021

Since May I have lessened my councillor responsibilities, having decided not to stand for re- election to Devon County Council. I am however, still District Councillor for Bushell Ward and still an Executive Member at Teignbridge District Council with responsibility for Climate Change, Flood and Coastal Risk Management. I’m hoping to use some of my potentially freed up time to focus more on my District Councillor role, but also maybe to have a bit more leisure time. Here’s hoping, I’m a self-confessed workaholic so that might not work out!!

I was however, fortunate to have a sunny day out in the South Hams recently. As we wended our way through the country lanes, I reflected on how little had changed since my childhood. The lanes always had been busy with traffic on a sunny day even back in the 60’s. I was brought up in Totnes and spent much of my childhood on the beaches of South Hams, one of our family favourites was Hope Cove.

As we stood on the slipway at Hope Cove the view had hardly changed. The beach was busy with people, but that was no different, and the beach activities of families much the same. Families having fun just the same as we had done 5 decades ago. Something felt very reassuring that so little had seemingly changed. Of course, only a little beneath the obvious there have been changes. I wonder how many of the properties in this and other villages are now holiday lets, leaving locals priced out of living locally. There are also many more restaurants and cafes in these villages. A day out for us always involved a picnic, but now more often than not, for many, will involve a café or restaurant meal. It feels as if there is a widened gap between those that can afford holidays, maybe multiple holidays and meals out a year, and those that are struggling to make ends meet in low paid jobs in the same holiday destinations. A sign outside one restaurant declared that the restaurant would now be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday because they were unable to find another chef and other staff to stay open every day. One positive spin off of that may be that wages in the hospitality sector will increase and attract people back into that sector, but if these people are attracted for example from the social care sector then that crisis is worsened. Perhaps there is now a limited supply of people that can afford to live locally and work in these low paid jobs in attractive rural and coastal locations. My feeling is that behind the scene of twee cottages, pristine village greens and expensive boats moored at riverside quays, there is an increasingly hidden toll of rural poverty and social isolation, accompanied by an exodus of the young.

One other difference not obvious in a distant view across Hope Cove, is that back in my childhood, my father’s car would have needed its windscreen cleaned after a day driving through country lanes. Equally a cycle ride would have required an exercise in clenching teeth whilst trying to breath at the same time, in order to avoid getting a mouthful of insects. Neither of those is necessary anymore. We are told this is largely because of changes in agricultural practices and greater use of chemicals, and is genuinely, I’m sure you would agree, of massive concern. Maybe those green fields, that look more or less the same as we drive past them are not as “green” as they once were?

Talking of green fields conveniently links me into the current public consultation on the Teignbridge Local Plan. This is Part 2 of the Plan and is the contentious bit that outlines potential sites for both housing and employment across Teignbridge. These are sites that the Council must identify and have been put forward by the landowners for this consultation. You will know that the government tells Councils how many houses it must enable to be built in its area. The number of sites put forward is more than is required and therefore this is a genuine consultation where the public’s views are sought on each site. Inevitably many sites will be unpopular, we understand that, but we need to know of any information that is missing from the already detailed assessment of the sites that has taken place. There will be locally held information which can be added into these assessments, and the Council needs to hear that, with comments submitted through the online consultation process. If you have trouble gaining access online ( https://www.teignbridge.gov.uk/planning/local-plans-and-policy/local-plan-review-2020-2040/ ) please contact me, since I expect to have a hard copy of the Plan that I will be able to lend out for short periods during the consultation. The consultation period finishes on August 9th. I would welcome seeing a copy of any comments you do submit.

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