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Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 25 October 2012


I completely understand why people might want to march through the streets in protest at the cuts in public spending in the past two years. The trouble is, whoever is in power, there are more cuts to come.

The West is in relative decline against the rapidly emerging economies of China, India, Brazil, South Africa and others. We have known this for some time. These new countries are characterised by a relentless focus on enterprise and economic growth and tangible improvements in the living standards of their own people, albeit from a very low base. The old world (Europe and North America) is characterised by crippling governmental debt, massive budget deficits and in Europe's case welfare systems that we can no longer afford, and living standards that are stuck or declining.

We have two choices we can remain in our bloated state and watch the rest of the new world overtake us and leave any corrective measures to a future generation, or we can take a stand now, reduce public spending, get the deficit down to zero (by 2017) start thereafter to pay off the mountain of public debt and reshape welfare.

The coalition government has chosen the tougher path and I fully support it. It involves painful measures like freezing public sector pay, reshaping public sector pensions to get them into a framework we can afford (whilst protecting people approaching retirement) and reducing budgets that councils have for their services. All of this is happening at the same time as many costs are rising. No wonder people are hurting.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

If we can slog through the next few years and get our public finances back into shape there is no reason why we cannot then compete in the world as it will then be and hand on a brighter future for the next generation. If we can get the economy moving again, more people will be employed, pay taxes and help reduce the deficit more quickly. Already a million new jobs have been created in the private sector since 2010, an important step towards rebalancing the economy.

But if we do not take tough measures now, there is every chance that we will slither onto a slippery slope of reducing living standards and terminal decline. Is that a credible alternative?.

Those who march in protest should buy themselves stout shoes. There are several more years of this yet.

posted by Gary @ 09:39  



Thursday, 18 October 2012


On Thursday 15th November 2012 you will be asked to vote for the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall.
Please make sure you vote either by post or in person.

The idea is that we need to make the police more accountable to local people in the delivery of their crucial service. As I have written before the current system of a police authority made up of councillors from around the region has not been sufficiently connected or pro-active to encourage the citizens of this region to feel they could influence police priorities or performance at strategic level. So we are trying a new democratic system.

There will be a number of candidates for you to choose from. Each of the main parties is fielding a candidate in our region and there are also several independents. There will not be the kind of leaflet blizzard that comes with a general election, but you should all be getting information soon telling you how to find out about the candidates so you can make an informed choice. Because the region is so large, personal contact will be at a premium, but there will be a number of public events that these brave folk will undertake. If in doubt a visit to will guide you in the right direction, or contact my office.

The idea is not for the Commissioner to interfere in day to day policing, but to help set strategic priorities according to what people want. The Commissioner's main job will be to stay in touch with local communities and ensure that public priorities are reflected in police performance. For most of us tougher action on anti-social behaviour by alcohol-affected youngsters would probably be top of the list. The Commissioner's job will be to make sure the police deliver.

We all respect the work of our police, but I have never met anybody who does not think it cannot be improved.

Is this a good policy? I am on record as saying it is not my favourite policy, although for large cities I can see it being a great success.
I worry about the size of our region, but the current system certainly needed to change. The matter is settled so we must give it a go.
The bigger the turnout the more the successful candidate can claim legitimacy and the more the Chief Constable will listen.

So please vote on 15th November. 

posted by Gary @ 09:56  



Thursday, 11 October 2012


It is not the biggest issue before us right now, but it does symbolise whether or not our law is based on common sense or modern whim. I refer to the right to defend yourself and your property should you be one of the tiny minority ever having your home burgled whilst you are in it.

The law has been settled on this for hundreds of years – you are entitled to use reasonable force. If you are scared and have a shotgun to hand, like many farmers would have, or a knife, you are entitled to use it in the heat of the moment. If the burglars run off and you walk calmly down the road and catch them at the bus stop and blast them into Kingdom Come that is not reasonable force.

But our law became rather blurred over the past twenty years – reflecting societal change when decision makers for a season seemed to favour the perpetrators rather than the victims. There were high profile cases where the home owners were arrested, sometimes charged with assault and in one case convicted.

Happily the mood of the times and recent cases are swinging back towards common sense. If a person chooses to cross your threshold without your permission with the intention of stealing from you, in my opinion they leave almost all of their human rights at the door. Why should you not have the right to defend yourself robustly and if you over-react – because you are scared witless, because your children are asleep in the next room, because your wife is in danger – the law should recognise that possibility and give you the benefit of the doubt.

I was pleased to see this week's announcement by the Lord Chancellor that the government is intending to clarify the law to make this clear.

Of course one other thing needs to change, namely the attitude of the police.  It is no good having robust laws if politically correct risk-averse law enforcement agencies turn up at the house and arrest the goodies not the baddies. There have been too many cases over the years where that has happened. Hopefully a clarification of the law will help bring about a change of attitude in both the police and CPS to better reflect the mood of the people.

Nobody forces a burglar to break into your house. They should be the ones who get hammered, not the innocent homeowner. Simples.

posted by Gary @ 10:34  



Thursday, 4 October 2012


I hereby make a prediction: healthcare in this region will improve significantly over the next 3 years. Why do I say this? Two reasons: system and people.

The much debated health reforms are about to take shape on the ground. The new Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), a board made up of 6 local doctors and people with financial and management skills, is running live from this month. Its territory is all of Plymouth and part of South Hams and West Devon. It will be one of 4 CCGs in Devon. From April 2013 the old structures fall away completely. So from this month three groups will be largely responsible for all health decisions for us: the CCG, the Plymouth City Council (which has responsibility for social care) and the acute hospital (Derriford).

Here is where the really good news starts. All of these three health organisation are run by outstanding people who get on well together and are determined to deliver first class healthcare. Peter Rudge a pioneering doctor from Ernesettle is heading up the CCG. His passion is to put patients at the heart of the health service. Ann James who has run healthcare elsewhere in Devon and Cornwall has taken over (2 weeks ago) at Derriford and I am certain will make a positive impact on that Byzantium structure. She has the experience and ability to make Derriford a world class hospital. This triumvirate is completed by the immensely practical and experienced Carole Burgoyne who heads up the social care team at the council. 

You can have the best systems in the world but in the end, it is people that make the difference. We are fortunate that the three people heading up these crucial health organisations are of the highest quality and are already working together well.

To be frank it has not always been this way. The previous commission group (the PCT) has often been daggers drawn with the hospital and burdened by a bureaucratic mindset. The three entities have not always worked closely together.

The government is putting in extra money every year over and above inflation as well as setting challenging targets for administrative savings, all of which will be ploughed back into front line services.

So for once the stars are in alignment, the right people are in leadership positions, the new system is settling down. It will not happen overnight but we can expect to see gradual and positive change.

posted by Gary @ 13:27