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Friday 27 October 2023

Trick or treaters

Halloween horrors to avoid!

Halloween is meant to be all about scares, but there are some horrors that you’ll want to avoid. Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service has some top tips for enjoying the festivities safely:

  • reduce the risk of fire by using battery powered tea lights in pumpkins, rather than candles
  • fancy dress costumes are often highly flammable so it's important to stay away from naked flames while dressed-up
  • if you're out trick-or-treating after dark, make sure you can be seen by wearing something reflective or carrying a torch

Please encourage your children to stay within the area they're already familiar with, stick with their friends and agree on a time for them to return home. Younger children should be accompanied by a responsible adult.

And remember, not everyone enjoys Halloween or wants people coming to their door. Some people, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, may get worried or even frightened if strangers are continually calling at their door during the evening.

People who welcome trick-or-treaters often put a pumpkin outside their house or in their window as a sign. If you'd like to welcome trick-or-treaters but don't have any decorations, Devon and Cornwall Police has a poster you can download and print to colour in. Or if you would prefer to spend a quiet evening undisturbed – they also have a “Sorry – no trick or treat” poster to put in your window.

Be bright, be seen

Let’s look out for each other on Devon’s roads

We're getting used to fewer daylight hours as we move towards winter, but at 2am on Sunday morning (29 October) the clocks go back, marking the end of British Summer Time.

It means it'll be a little lighter in the mornings, but it will start to get darker earlier in the afternoon, notably when most people travel home from work or school.

So we're encouraging everyone to be alert, 'Be Bright, Be Seen' and look out for fellow road users.

Motorists are asked to look out for other road users, including cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders. Cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and horse riders are all encouraged to wear reflective and fluorescent clothing to ensure that they can be seen clearly.

We've posted some general safety advice for all road users, on the news page of our website.

Halloween pumpkins

The scary truth about pumpkins!

Each year at Halloween millions of pumpkins are bought for carving and decorating, but only one in 10 are actually cooked and eaten. That's nearly £32 million worth of edible food wasted!

Although carving pumpkins can have a reputation for not being the tastiest, if you cook them properly they can be a real treat. Plus, they are a great source of vitamins A and C, iron and riboflavin.

Environmental charity Hubbub has some great advice about how to eat your pumpkin, as well as a free e-book packed full of recipes, from savoury dishes to sweet treats.

Sometimes, we can’t save ’em all! If you haven’t managed to eat all your pumpkin, don’t throw it away! You can compost it at home, or if your local area has a food waste collection you can put it in there.

Please don’t leave out for wildlife as pumpkins can make some creatures, such as hedgehogs, sick.

Care leavers at the Coram Voice Awards

Devon care leavers gain national recognition for their Pass the Parcel project

A project led by a group of young people in Devon who have been in our care has been awarded second place at a national awards ceremony held by Coram Voice, a leading children's rights organisation that champions the voice of care experienced children and young people.

Working with children's mental health organisation Kooth and our Stand Up Speak Up Children in Care Council, the care leavers set up the 'Pass the Parcel' project to explore the care system through common experiences.

The parcel was a metaphor for moving around in care, and they filled it with items and artworks that detailed their experiences before sending it off to other care experienced youth groups around the South West for them to add their own stories to it.

Five of the most committed members of our Stand Up Speak Up council went to London to represent Devon at the Coram Voice ‘Amplify’ event, which sees children in care councils and care leaver forums from across the country come together to share experiences and celebrate the amazing work being carried out by these groups. The award was just the cherry on top of an absolutely amazing day. A big well done to everyone involved in the project!

Woman using ipad in shop

Free digital support with Digital Business Adviser service

Help is at hand for businesses in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay looking for digital support.

The Heart of the South West Growth Hub’s fully funded Digital Link service has helped almost 500 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the to region develop their digital business strategies for free, enabling their businesses to grow and become more successful. A further 95 businesses have benefitted from a one-to-one Digital Business review with one of the Growth Hub’s Digital Business Advisers.

To help businesses on their digital journey, the advisers can take a deep dive into the current challenges facing a business, review their plans and point them towards the best digital strategies to fast-track their growth.

Businesses interested in booking a free one-to-one business review with a Digital Business Adviser can do so through the Heart of the South West Growth Hub website.

National Care Leavers Week

We CARE about our Care Leavers

This week is National Care Leavers Week, and we’re joining Become, the national charity for children in care and care leavers, in their campaign to call on everyone to CARE about our children in care and care leavers – Celebrate them, Amplify their voices, Raising awareness and Encouraging change in the system.

So, we thought we’d take a look back at one of our proudest moments of the year when, back in September, our Councillors agreed to give care leavers – young people who have been in the care of the local authority – protected characteristic status.

It means that we will do more to ensure that care experienced young people are not discriminated against, and it came after lots of very passionate campaigning for some of our own Devon care experienced young people!

Visit YouTube to watch our video of Katie, Jemeillia, Luke and Kane putting their point of view across at September’s full council meeting – there were lots of other young people who contributed behind the scenes too.

We’re very proud that we took this step, and even more so to see that our young people are at the heart of the change.

Signing of the Devon Civic University Agreement

Donna Manson (Devon County Council Chief Executive), Councillor John Hart (Devon County Council Leader), Professor Lisa Roberts (President and Vice Chancellor at the University of Exeter), Stuart Brocklehurst (University of Exeter Deputy Vice Chancellor for Business Engagement and Innovation)

Devon Civic University Agreement to build a greener, healthier and fairer future

We've signed a landmark partnership agreement with the University of Exeter to formalise and strengthen our existing links.

The Devon County Civic University Agreement aims to generate greater benefits for people and businesses in Devon, supporting the county to be a thriving, sustainable and prosperous place to live and work.

Three immediate priorities of the partnership agreement are:

  • developing a society which is ambitious for every young person to thrive through quality education, health, and social care
  • providing ample access to affordable, “carbon considered” housing
  • stimulating innovation and growth within the region’s key growth sectors
    Environment, Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing, and Health, Care, and Life Sciences.

A Partnership Board will be established with representatives from each organisation to drive forward an annual action plan which will deliver shared priorities. You can find out more about these, and a number of early actions that have been agreed, in the full story on the news page of our website.

Secondary School pupils

Applications for secondary school places close next week

September 2024 may seem a long way off, but if your child is currently in Year 6 and due to start secondary school next year, you need to apply by Tuesday 31 October 2023.

Please visit our website to apply.

You can apply after this date, but your application will be considered late and may be at a disadvantage. If you cannot apply online, please contact our education helpline on 0345 155 1019.

Happy child playing outside

Flu vaccine for two and three-year-olds

Flu season is just around the corner, and now is the time to get protected. If you are a parent of eligible two or three-year-olds, make sure that you book your child in with their GP practice for the nasal spray that protects against flu.

You can read more about why young children need to be vaccinated on the UK Health Security website blog or find out more about the vaccine by visiting the NHS flu vaccine for children webpage.


'Let's Talk Menopause' newsletter special

This month we've been celebrating World Menopause Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness and combat stigma and misinformation about the natural stage of a woman’s life when her hormone levels decline and her periods stop.

It's vital for people to talk openly and feel better supported, so we put together a special edition of our newsletter to help everyone understand the direct effect menopause can have on individuals as well as the indirect impact on friends, family and colleagues.

If you missed our special edition newsletter in your inbox, you can read it online.

You can do it

Don't quit on quitting!

It's nearly the end of October, which means if you're taking part in 'Stoptober' or 'Sober October' you've nearly done a whole month without smoking or drinking alcohol - well done!

Hopefully you've noticed some positive changes, such as better sleep, more energy, clearer skin and saving money.

But don't quit on quitting now! Keep going! Research shows that if you can quit something for 28 days, you’re five times more likely to quit for good. Visit the NHS Better Health website for support.

Hole in road

A396 remains closed to fill void beneath road

Emergency repairs on the A396 near Tiverton are continuing after a large void was found under the road close to Ashley Rise during gas repairs.

For the safety of the public and workforce, the road will remain closed with a signed diversion in place.

As yet, it cannot be confirmed when this section of the A396 is expected to re-open. Once repairs to the void have been completed, gas utility repairs will resume.

Devon County Council

Posted in DCC.