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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, 18 December 2014


We had a wonderful nativity at Ridgeway Methodist Church on Sunday as the pre-school children acted out in words and song the story of the first Christmas.

Nobody misbehaved and the church was full of adoring parents and grandparents enjoying the innocent pleasure of their little angels. It was a proper nativity: no octopuses or giraffes, just the star cast and farm animals as indicated by the gospels. One angel sang in a way that suggests a future X-Factor contestant.

I suppose the key question for all of us, especially at this time of year, is: is it a true story?

Is it just a legend or tradition, like St. George (who it turns out was a Roman warrior who never even visited Britain), or King Arthur who probably never lived in Camelot or anywhere else for that matter.

Some would argue that it matters not whether the nativity story is true. Even if it is just a pleasant tradition it has spawned many good things. The Christian message of peace and renewal cannot be a bad thing can it? To have a day or two where we focus on hope and not fear, light and not darkness, must be of value, must it not?

And what is wrong with a season when families get together and spend time together, even if it leads to the odd bust up? What child would willingly give up the time when they get so many presents showered upon them and when there is usually so much chocolate in the house? Even if it is just a hollow part of our nation's tradition, Christmas is of value and we should all look to enjoy it and recharge batteries.

Or is it more than quaint convention? Could it be that the gospels are a first-hand account of an event that actually happened? Is it possible that our carol services and nativities are underpinned by a stark truth: roughly 2,000 years ago the One who created our planet in the first place intervened in human history and showed us just how much he loves us, by sending that little baby, part of himself, into that stable?

Is that the true power of the Christmas story? Not that it is nice, but that it is true? That is for each one to decide and this time of year gives space for that reflection.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and a joyful new year.

posted by Gary @ 11:34  



Thursday, 11 December 2014


I have never been a train spotter, although I do understand those who marvel at the majesty of this awesome piece of engineering, especially steam driven trains. But I have been spending a lot of time focussing on trains lately.

As I have said many times, improving the rail connectivity of our region to the rest of the United Kingdom is the most important challenge facing us, with upgrading our broadband connectivity a very close second. We live and work in a fabulous area, but we desperately need modern communications to ensure we deliver the economy and the jobs that our young people need.

Since the Dawlish line was swept away in February, the Department of Transport and Network Rail have been consulting on how to tackle this resilience problem. For many months, there were as many different views about the solution as there were possible routes. Thankfully, in October, after some cajoling, the local authorities from Devon and Cornwall and our Local Enterprise Partnerships which have the responsibility to underpin economic growth in our region, have all started to sing from the same hymn sheet.

They met together under the title of Peninsula Rail Task Force. A 3-point plan was published in early November to set forward the requirements of the region for a first class rail service for the future, albeit recognising that it would take years to achieve all this even if we started tomorrow.

In the autumn statement government partially responded to this plan, which was good news, but it did not go far enough. In particular, it put resources behind the possible re-opening of the Okehampton line, but said little about improving resilience between Plymouth to Exeter, known as the Dawlish Avoiding Line.

Last Thursday, I led a delegation to Downing Street to discuss this 3 point plan in detail. We made it clear to the PM that we need the government to embrace this plan in its entirety, not just cherry pick part of it. He understood this and undertook to instruct the Department for Transport to meet with the Task Force to thrash out the plan in more detail, broken down into bite-size chunks, whilst recognising that it will take many years, perhaps twenty, to achieve it in full. It is vital to have a clear plan and work towards it.

A meeting to start this work has already been arranged for early January. Once again we travel in hope.

posted by Gary @ 14:09  



Thursday, 4 December 2014


On Monday evening I had a meeting at Westminster with the Chief Executive Officer of Wolf Minerals Limited to review with him the progress of the tungsten mine at Hemerdon to date. If you have travelled on the Plympton to Lee Moor road recently you will have noticed a change in the landscape. Wolf are digging a great big hole just over the ridge and the displaced earth is being piled up alongside the road.

Wolf are making good progress with this project that is introducing much needed work and finance into our economy.

They have spent £85 million so far, much of that money now circulating in our area. I understand that 95% of all of the kit necessary to assemble the processing plant is now on site, one third of the steel framework has been erected and all of the concrete poured. This is impressive progress given the extremely wet weather we have recently experienced.

Hundreds of thousands of tons of material has already been dug out of the ground; much of it stockpiled waiting to be processed, but some of it already evident on the road to Lee Moor.

There is no doubt that this will disfigure that part of the moor for a season (although it is far from the most attractive section of Dartmoor to start with) but will be redeveloped into natural contours when the operation is at an end.

Thirty people are now directly employed by Wolf a number that will rise sharply as production gets nearer. Many of them hail from the West Country. Over 350 people are working on site as contractors putting in place the substantial processing plant that will process the ore mined in due course and extracting the 0.2% of Tungsten to be found in every chunk dug out of the ground.

There are bound to be tensions with the local community when such a massive construction project takes place, but with the exception of one or two complaints about noise, the process to date has gone reasonably well. That corner of the moor is well used to mining as just up the road the china clay pits continue to provide much needed jobs.

There has to be a balance between conservation and mining where the precious metals are found and a balance between peace of the local community and progress when undertaking a project of this enormity.

So far Wolf have managed the project well.

posted by Gary @ 09:05