Local leaflets 2019

It’s the run-up to the local elections on 2 May, and leaflets for the candidates have been popping through my letter box. Here are the various party leaflets since the last local elections in 2018, roughly in the order they arrived, most recent first. Most of the parties seem to have grasped that these elections are about who will represent the ward on Exeter City Council and shape the local environment, economy and services.

 

 

Where am I? Who can help me?

I’ve written before about how the St Loyes ward is in the Exeter City Council area, but in the East Devon constituency, and how since 2016 the boundaries of the two don’t quite match, and nor do the boundaries of St Loyes and the Devon County Council division of Wonford & St Loyes.

What other boundaries don’t match? Almost all of them!

  • The administrative county of Devon excludes Plymouth and Torbay unitary authorities. The ceremonial county of Devon includes Plymouth and Torbay.
  • For some reason, postcodes (eg EX2 5XX), sectors (EX2 5), districts (EX2) and areas (EX) bear no resemblance to administrative boundaries.
  • The Diocese of Exeter is often known as the Church of England in Devon, but the boundaries don’t quite match.
  • While on the subject of the church, you need to know which parish you live in when you get married in church. St Loyes is covered by the parishes of St Michael and All Angels, Heavitree to the west, Trinity Church, and St Michael & All Angels, Sowton.
  • St Loyes hosts the Middlemoor HQ of Devon & Cornwall Police
  • …and one of the fire stations of the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service
  • …and the HQ of the South Western Ambulance Service, which serves the Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the former Avon area.
  • That actually has the same boundaries (shock!) as the official South West England region and the South West England European Parliament constituency (which isn’t quite the same thing).
  • Back to health, and the structure of NHS England. Public health and wellbeing is managed by Devon County Council. We’re almost nearing some standardisation! For the planning and commissioning of health services, St Loyes used to fall within the Eastern Locality of the Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, but on 1 April 2019 this merged with the South Devon and Torbay CCG to form NHS Devon CCG, covering the whole of (the ceremonial county of) Devon. GP practices as a whole align with this area, but I can’t find a map of their boundaries. They almost certainly don’t align at the local level with wards, postcodes or…
  • Primary and secondary schools are managed by Devon County Council, but the catchments don’t align with council wards or divisions. In 2019-20 St Loyes is covered by four primary school catchments, and also hosts St Nicholas’ Catholic Primary School, and three secondary school catchments, and hosts St Peter’s CofE School.
  • South West Water can’t even agree with itself on its water supply and drainage services. It supplies water to Cornwall and Devon, but the eastern boundary for drainage follows river catchments.
  • Different companies manage the high voltage electricity transmission (National Grid in England & Wales only), regional distribution (Western Power Distribution), and supply (whoever your household has chosen). Western Power Distribution’s area extends all the way to the east coast, and it’s definition of the South West stretches into Somerset and Dorset.
  • Different companies also manage the high pressure gas transmission (National Grid Gas across the whole of Great Britain), regional distribution (Wales & West Utilities), and supply (whoever your household has chosen). Wales & West Utilities’s area has a bizarre fractal-esque boundary.
  • It’s enough to make you want to collapse on your sofa and escape into TV.  But if you want to catch up with the regional news… BBC South West serves Cornwall, Devon, Scilly, SW Somerset, W Dorset and Channel Islands; and ITV West Country is produced out of Bristol and serves Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire.

Finally, sometimes we might support England, Team GB, or the UK (“Royaume-Uni, nul points”). But there are no boundaries when caring for our neighbour or the planet.

Problematic politics

The St Loyes Ward has a funny position in Exeter. It is part of the Exeter City Council area. However, in 2010 the Parliamentary Constituency boundaries were redrawn, and St Loyes was moved from Exeter to East Devon.

I saw something of the campaigning in the 2017 General Election, and found that many residents did not know which Constituency they lived in. Would they have voted differently as a result? Would they engage their actual MP differently now if they knew who he was and that he was in a different party?

The Boundary Commission has recently been conducting a review of Constituency boundaries. One proposal was that St Loyes be moved back into the Exeter constituency, and many people supported this. However, in September the Boundary Commission recommended that we stay where we are in East Devon. So here we are, with the prospect of another General Election looking increasingly likely.

But that’s not all! In 2016, Exeter City Council redrew the Ward boundaries, so the Ward and Constituency boundaries no longer line up either. Nor do they line up with the Devon County Council Wonford & St Loyes Division boundary.

The Ordnance Survey has a great site where you can look at the various boundaries – https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/election-maps/gb/. Here are the City Ward and Constituency boundaries.

 

 

NEW!! Resources for schools and communities

I’ve just uploaded two sets of ideas for place-based activities in schools and communities. Head on over to the Resources page for these and for more links to other resources around the website.

It would be great if any of these suggested activities could be used to connect the people with the place and with each other: young and old; residents, businesses and public sector organisations. It would be equally great if some engaging public art was created. And last, but by no means least, it would be great if everyone involved had a lot of fun!

The ideas relate to different types of art, eg visual, conceptual, writing, digital, environment. Many of the ideas were dreamed up with school students in mind. They can all be adapted to fit different age groups.

How well do you know St Loyes?

The Office for National Statistics had the original and best “How well do you know your area” quiz – see Alan Smith’s talk at TEDxExeter – but it is no longer available online.

Have a go at this InYourArea quiz instead.

Then if you would like to find out more about St Loyes, here are some useful links:

The old ways

There are several old routes through Digby. What are now Quarry Lane and Digby Drive both appear on the 1801 drawing for the first edition Ordnance Survey map of Exeter, and are probably much older.

The route of Quarry Lane still exists, from the bottom of East Wonford Hill, past the Heavitree Stone quarries, and east along the Sidmouth Road.

The other old way zigzagged from Salter’s Road to Clyst Road. Woodwater Lane, Digby Drive, the footpath to Baxter Close, and Clyst Halt Avenue to Old Rydon Close still follow the route, although much of it has been erased by Exe Vale Retail Park, the railway, and fields around Sandy Park.

Bypass Camp

The area from Rydon Park to Toby Carvery used to be occupied by a military camp. It is recorded on Luftwaffe aerial photographs of 1st July 1940. It is possible that this is ‘Bypass Camp’ which was the base for the 4th United States Army Quartermaster Company and 704th Ordnance Company of the 4th Infantry Division by 1944. The name is probably related to its location alongside Rydon Lane, which was built in 1935. There was also a Bypass Airfield on what is now St Peter’s School.

What on earth is the Kyrangle?

Thank you for asking! When I named the “Star Spangled Kyrangle”, I thought it was common knowledge, as it is marked on Google Maps. But it managed to bemuse some local residents who hadn’t heard the name before.

It’s the area of green next to Clyst Heath School, west of the railway line. In times past, the area used to be a quarry and source of red sand. I wonder whether ‘Kyrangle’ is a corruption of ‘quarry’.

Here is what the area looks like on the old OS map from 1873-88 compared with today.

Warwick Road wilderness

Following the “Minecraft my home” meet-up, my local councillor Peter Holland made the following request:

What I am hoping to do is show the Planning Committee what will be ‘lost’ if a footpath is constructed along the back of the proposed DCH/Cygnet housing development. It is only a very small strip of land which borders the gardens of the odd numbers from 41 [Warwick Road]. At present the path alongside the garden boundaries is locked outside of school hours.

The land at the rear of the gardens is currently a copse of established hazel trees, some of which are rooted in what appears to be a dilapidated Devon hedge. It is a refuge for wildlife, attracting a wide variety of birds including, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Long Tail Tits, Coal Tits, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Wren, Starling, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, House Sparrow, and Woodpigeon. Sparrow hawk are also occasionally seen in the local area. A number of bird species are currently using the trees and bushes for nest sites. Birds can be seen throughout most of the day foraging in the leaf litter or in the branches of the trees. During the summer months, bats are regularly found in our garden, which suggests that they may be roosting very close to the current vegetation. Bats have been witnessed flying in the gardens and the adjacent land this year from the 24 April.

It is noted that an ‘ecology zone’ is proposed within the north-east area of the housing development, but it seems illogical to destroy an established wildlife area by paving it with tarmac only to establish a new ‘ecology zone’ elsewhere. It was also noted that the environmental survey performed described a very limited array of birdlife. Quite clearly the area behind the gardens has a high level of biodiversity beyond that which was originally surveyed.

If the copse were to become a public path with access 24 hours a day, there is a security and vandalism risk to properties and boundary fence and the risk of noise from rowdy members of the public which would impact residents’ privacy. If street lighting were to be installed along the footpath, there is obvious risk of light pollution through residents’ windows.

What I would be grateful for is a Minecraft showing what the copse could look like.

Peter and I paid a site visit on Friday 22nd June, and we were joined by Mark from Exeter City Futures. I had just enough time to put together a Minecraft wilderness before the Planning  Committee meeting on the Monday.

A narrow dirt path winds through mossy stones, tall trees and saplings, creepers, ferns, grasses, fungi, and a few flowers, and eventually gets lost in the undergrowth. My version of Minecraft is a bit limited in terms of bird species, so I had to be content with releasing bats, cats, and rabbits, and a few spider webs.

It’s a small example of how Minecraft can be used to imagine our place, to the extent of forming part of an official planning meeting! Here are some real life photos, Minecraft screenshots before and after, and a video walk-through.