Welcome to my latest newsletter. Please forward it to anyone else who you think would like to receive it, and they can sign up at my website (www.peterheatonjones.org.uk). If you would prefer not to receive it, please use the unsubscribe button below. And please get in touch if there are any issues you would like to discuss.
European Election: May 22nd
Next Thursday is polling day for the European election. For the last few weeks I’ve been joined by a hard-working team of volunteers and campaigners, delivering thousands of leaflets, knocking on doors and spreading the Conservative message. Last Saturday, as postal ballot papers began arriving on doormats, we started the process of phoning around a thousand people to urge them to vote. And between now and Thursday, we’ll be doing more of the same.
North Devon is part of the South West constituency which sends six MEPs to Europe. You vote only once, for a single party. The number of MEPs elected from each party depends on the share of the vote that party receives across the region. The lead candidate for the Conservative Party is Ashley Fox MEP (pictured with me, above). Here is his statement:
“Only the Conservatives have achieved real results in Europe – cutting the EU budget, vetoing a fiscal treaty that would have hurt our economy, and taking Britain out of the Eurozone bailouts that Labour signed us up to.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats will not stand up for Britain in Europe, and they refuse to give the British people a say in an in-out referendum.
Ukip offer no serious plan and simply can't deliver on anything they promise.
Only the Conservatives can deliver real change in Europe. We will renegotiate Britain's membership then hold an in-out referendum for the British people to decide our future in Europe”.
North Devon Libraries
A major consultation on the future of library services across Devon has just been launched. I believe everything possible should be done to protect North Devon’s libraries, and this week I’ve written to the Leader of the County Council highlighting residents' concerns. In particular, I’m calling for a rethink over Braunton Library and its status in the current consultation process.
Everyone understands that Devon County Council needs to make savings, and of course the library service cannot be completely immune. However I have written to John Hart asking that libraries in North Devon are safeguarded as much as possible.
When it comes to Braunton Library, according to the County's own figures it serves a population of more than 13,000. However in the consultation document, it's been put in the same category as much smaller libraries in rural villages. As a result, the County is proposing that it should be run by the community using mainly volunteers, but I agree with local residents that this simply isn't viable.
Braunton library faced significant cuts only three years ago. It's already closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the community is worried that any further reductions in hours could put it past the tipping point into a downward spiral. I know that County Councillor Caroline Chugg is working on a number of options, and I hope that, together with the residents, we can help save Braunton Library from any further reductions.
It is good that the County Council is consulting local communities, and it’s important to note that the County is not proposing the closure of Braunton library. But I want to ensure that residents’ concerns are heard loud and clear, in Braunton and across the district, and that North Devon isn’t unfairly treated when the final decisions are made.
You can read the full text of my letter to Devon County Council on my website.
An update: this week I had the latest in a series of meetings about our vital rail service. I’ve already met the Tarka Rail Association and the North Devon Public Transport Users Group. On Wednesday it was the turn of First Great Western – the company who operate trains on the route. A senior manager travelled to Barnstaple – yes, by train – to meet me. We had what’s known in diplomatic circles as a ‘full and frank exchange of views’. I made it clear that we need a more regular timetable, greater capacity and a faster service on the Tarka Line, especially at peak times. FGW say they are working towards this, but are being hampered by lack of rolling stock, the condition of the track and bridges, and the way the service ties in with the rest of the network. I will keep pushing on this issue; next stop will be a meeting with Network Rail, who look after the infrastructure, to urge them to make the improvements we need for North Devon’s only rail line.
Keep in touch
I am active on social media, which is a good way to keep up with what I am doing so please:
Follow me on Twitter: @PeterNorthDevon
Like me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/PeterNorthDevon
Until next week......
Conservative Parliamentary Candidate