Tag Archives: south hams

Community is at the heart of everything we do in South Hams

Julian Brazil

South Hams is a rural district neighbouring the port city of Plymouth on the south coast of Devon. With a resident population nearing 90,000, it is also a magnet for holidaymakers and second homeowners, owing to tourist hotspots such as Salcombe and Dartmouth.

For almost a quarter of a century, the Conservatives enjoyed uninterrupted control of South Hams District Council. That was until May’s local elections when the Liberal Democrats were elected to power for the first time in the district’s history. We achieved this off the back of a manifesto pledging to put partnership with the local community at the heart of everything we do.

After 24 years of Tory rule, it was clear things needed to change and in drawing up our manifesto we recognised this meant entering into a genuine partnership with the community to deliver that change. It is a form of devolution – we want to push decision-making and local democracy to the lowest possible level.

In recent years, local authorities across the UK have been outsourcing services which should be kept in-house. This often has disastrous consequences, as we have seen with the state of adult social care and children’s services nationally. The previous Conservative administration’s decision to outsource rubbish collections in South Hams, along with their refusal to recognise they had got it wrong, certainly contributed to their election defeat.

John McKay

As an administration, we are determined to be more pragmatic in our approach. In South Hams, we are blessed to have community groups that are full of expertise, passion and drive. These groups are doing work that the council could never afford, or have the capacity to deliver. We have found that by engaging with these groups and harnessing their enthusiasm, they can deliver much-needed community services, which are better than anything the council could offer and at a fraction of the price.

One example is Kingsbridge in Bloom, a community group which looks after open spaces in the town of Kingsbridge. With a small pot of grant money from the council, they clean and tidy and make Kingsbridge look fantastic. They are a group of around 80 local residents, friends old and new, and they take real pride in what they do. It has enormous benefits for their wellbeing.

There is also Sustainable South Hams, an amazing community interest company which was started by two local people and has now spread into every small parish in South Hams. The group is a key part of the council’s climate change and sustainability work and helps to connect and support everyone in the area running sustainability projects. They host assemblies – from which lots of new groups have spawned – and have people across the district looking at rivers and engaging with local farmers, as well as running community composting and rewilding projects.

Posted in Op-eds | 1 Comment

Update on local election results – and I’m smiling, a lot

As I write 179 Councils have declared out of 230, and the news is good! We have increased the number of councillors by 255 and the Conservatives have lost 741 to a mixture of Labour, Lib Dems and Greens. We have gained control of seven councils – Stratford on Avon, Chichester, Windsor & Maidenhead, Dacoram, Mid Devon, Teignbridge and South Hams, and increased our councillors in many others.

A lovely orange banana is appearing down in Devon. At the top geographically is North Devon, where just one gain pushed us to over 50% of the seats. Next is Mid Devon, where we gained an astonishing 21 more councillors, giving us 33 out of 42. Below them lies Teignbridge where we now hold 26 out of 47 seats. And finally we meet the sea again in South Hams where we gained a stonking 9 councillors from the Tories, taking us into control with a clear majority.

Further north in Tewkesbury the Conservatives have lost control and we are now the largest party on the Council – negotiations will follow.

It’s a similar picture in Elmbridge where we are now the largest party, although in this case the Conservatives still lie in third place behind the Residents Associations.

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Recent Comments

  • David LG
    @Geoffrey Payne I believe the 50 seats figure was for if Farage enters the race. The MRP polls I mention (two this year so far) will be based on polling data fr...
  • Katharine Pindar
    @Peter Martin. I feel your pain, Peter, in that no party is committed to redistribution, since I also would like to see the ratio in industry between workers' p...
  • Geoffrey Payne
    @David LG, look again at the first paragraph, it does mention 50 seats! With our voting system it is a bit of a lottery trying to predict how many seats we will...
  • David LG
    I really don't care for the pessimism of the first paragraph. Most recent MRP polls have us winning around 50 seats already, and the only reason it's not higher...
  • David Raw
    Yes, indeed, Mary Reid, I most certainly do, and after nearly sixty years of doing that I hope you will allow me to reply to that. It's not what's stated on...