All the latest news from Devon County Council

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Connect Me weekly round-up header

Friday 24 May 2024


A trades person/carpenter working on a building site, building a house

The devolution deal would allow local decisions to be made about local priorities, such as housing

What does the General Election mean for Devon and Torbay’s plans for a Combined County Authority?

The Government has announced that there will be a General Election on Thursday 4 July 2024. The Prime Minister has formally asked the King to “dissolve” Parliament – the official term for closing it ahead of an election. This will happen on Thursday 30 May.

We and Torbay Council formally submitted a proposal to the Government at the beginning of this month to create a Combined County Authority (CCA) to deliver the devolution deal in Devon and Torbay.

We had expected that the Government would make the legislative regulations to create the CCA over the summer months, with a view to the Devon and Torbay CCA holding its first meeting in the autumn. But the General Election in July potentially changes that timetable.

Our new Leader, Councillor James McInnes, told fellow councillors what the election means to Devon and Torbay's plans. You can read what he said in the story on the news page of our website.

If you'd like to know more about the election process and who can vote, the BBC has published a useful summary on their website.


Child shopping in supermarket

Free school meal holiday vouchers for low-income families

If your family currently receives benefit-related free school meals during term time, we've sent you £105 worth of supermarket vouchers to help buy food over the upcoming May half-term and summer holidays.

It’s the equivalent of £15 per child per week of the school holidays, and is being distributed in one lump sum now to allow families some flexibility on how they spend the vouchers and try to help with the additional pressure the long summer holiday puts on household budgets.

The expiry date for the voucher code has also been extended from the usual three months to six months. They can be redeemed in major supermarkets across Devon and arrangements are in place for families who cannot get to a supermarket.

If you were expecting to receive the vouchers, but didn’t, get in touch with our team as soon as possible by emailing freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk or calling 0345 155 1019.

People’s circumstances change all the time, so if you didn’t previously qualify for free school meals but your income has recently reduced or stopped, please apply using our website. It’s the quickest and easiest way for your eligibility to be assessed and you will get an instant decision.


Words read: Call for business experts to work with the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority

Councils call for business experts to work alongside the new Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority

We're inviting experts in business to be part of a newly formed Devon and Torbay Business Advisory Group.

Members will have a meaningful role in developing, implementing, and monitoring the Devon and Torbay Combined County Authority’s economic strategy, including setting annual priorities, securing investment, and designing appropriate programmes to address business needs.

In addition, the Group will provide expertise, insight, intelligence, and evidence from business to support the growth and economic ambitions of Devon and Torbay.

Visit the Devon and Torbay Business Advisory Group's webpage for more information about the role, with a briefing pack and details about how you can apply. The deadline for applications is Friday 7 June 2024.


SEND newsletter out now

Devon Special Educational Needs and Disabilities newsletter out now!

The latest edition of our monthly newsletter for parents and carers of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and the professionals who work with them, is out now!

There's an update following our Accelerated Progress Plan Monitoring Meeting earlier this month with officials from the Department for Education and NHS England; information about how to get the most out of meetings; spotlight on Speech, language and communication needs and a roundup of what our Participation Team have been up to.... and lot's more!

If you missed it in your inbox, you can read it online via this link.

Don't forget to sign up to get it delivered straight to your inbox next month!

Sign up to receive the Devon SEND newsletter

A floating maintenance vehicle/boat on the water at Stover Country Park

Outdoor Careers Taster Day at Stover Country Park

Stover Country Park, near Newton Abbot, will be hosting an Outdoor Careers Taster Day as part of the three-year Restoring Stover Park Project.

The event on Thursday 6 June from 10am until 3:30pm is an opportunity for young people aged 16 to 25-years-old to meet three different companies. There will be themed sessions, rotating around the following careers: Construction with Skinner Construction Ltd and South West Norse, De-Silting/ Dredging with Murlac Ltd, and Building Surveying with Savills (UK) Ltd.

Help with travel costs is available, and lunch is provided. Please contact Emily on 07816 369083 or email restoringstoverpark@devon.gov.uk to book a place and discuss any special requirements.


An artist impression/graphic of the Barnstaple Train Station proposals

Barnstaple Train Station proposals aim to make it easier to travel by rail and bus

We’re asking for your views on our proposals to make it easier for travellers at Barnstaple Railway Station to change between buses and trains.

Our proposals include a simplified road layout, making it easier for people to access the station and bus stop and an upgraded bus stop directly outside the main entrance, which would be served by all buses and would incorporate shelters and real-time information screens. We're also planning to install bus access on Sticklepath Terrace, to enable buses to use this road when travelling towards Barnstaple town centre, avoiding traffic on Station Road.

From Wednesday 22 May until Wednesday 26 June, we are inviting the public to view the plans and provide feedback on our Have Your Say website. We will be holding the following events, which will give members of the public opportunities to find out more:

  • One hour webinar on Microsoft Teams at 6pm on Monday 3 June. Please email transportplanning@devon.gov.uk to register
  • An in-person event at Barnstaple Railway Station, Station Road, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 2AU from 2:30pm until 5:30pm on Thursday 13 June

Read the full story on the news page of our website.


Let's Talk poster

New 'Let's Talk' series

A new series of the highly successful ‘Let’s Talk’ webinars has launched, and this time it is specifically for parents and carers of neurodivergent young people and those with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

The free, open access online programme provides a space for parents and carers to discuss the challenges facing young people today and understand the tools and techniques that they can use to support them.

The sessions have been developed with parents and carers of neurodivergent young people and those with SEND, and will cover topics including mental health and emotional wellbeing, anger and challenging behaviour, healthy relationships and online safety.

The tickets are free, and you can sign up now using the links below:


A lamb in a field

Farm visits during half-term

As we approach half term, and more people visit farms, the Government's UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is reminding visitors of simple hygiene steps to help reduce their risk of catching infection from animals or the environment.

Visiting a farm is an enjoyable and educational experience for many people, particularly children, but farm animals can be the source of several bugs that can be passed from animals to humans and cause illness. Some can be particularly serious for children or pregnant women.

Visit the UKHSA website for top tips on what to do when visiting a farm, what to avoid, and what to do if you feel unwell after a farm visit.


Councillor John Hart, smiling

John Hart is the Council’s new independent Chair

Councillor John Hart has, until this week, been Leader of Devon County Council for the past 15 years.

At a meeting of our Full Council yesterday, (Thursday), Councillor James McInnes became our new Leader, and Councillor Hart became our new Chairman of Devon County Council, taking over from Councillor Percy Prowse.

As the independent Chair of the Council, it will be Councillor Hart's role to preside over Full Council meetings and to represent Devon County Council at civic and ceremonial functions.

Former staff nurse at North Devon District Hospital, Councillor Pru Maskell is now our Vice-Chair. She says her focus on the year will be Accessibility and Disability.

With Councillor McInnes now as Leader, Councillor Phil Bullivant has taken over Cabinet Member responsibility for adult social care.

You can read more about the changes in the story on our news page.


A person receiving their vaccination in their upper arm

Book your spring COVID-19 vaccination

The NHS national booking system is now open for bookings for the COVID-19 spring vaccination programme. With COVID-19 still circulating, it’s important those most at risk who are eligible get their vaccine to help top up their immunity.

Those eligible include:

  • Adults aged 75-years-old and over
  • Residents in a care home for older adults
  • Individuals aged 6 months old and over who have a weakened immune system

The NHS is sending texts, emails, NHS App messages or letters to those who are eligible, but you do not have to wait for the invite to book your vaccination.


Read more at devon.gov.uk/news

Posted in DCC.