Report from Cllr Saywell – 5th June 2020

DCC Update Report for Torrington Rural – 5 June 2020

Public: coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for Devon on our website

It’s National Volunteer Week

On our social media channels we’ve been celebrating new Volunteer Champions each day, showing how ordinary people are doing good deeds, kind acts, and generally being lovely people helping other lovely people during the coronavirus pandemic.

Carers’ Week from Monday 8 – Sunday 14 June

Carers and the Devon Carers team are celebrating Carers Week, from Monday 8 to Sunday 14 June, by walking a mile with a smile! The aim is to get as many people as possible to join in to help walk the perimeter of Devon which is 350 miles in total. There are also a range of online events and activities taking place throughout the week.


Residents urged to watch out for coronavirus ‘Test and Trace’ scam

Devon, Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards Service is warning residents to be aware of scammers looking to exploit the new NHS Test and Trace service. Read more about how to tell if it’s real or a scam, here.

The NHS Test and Trace service will contact people by text message, email or phone. If they call, they will call from 0300 013 5000. Text messages will come from ‘NHS’. All texts or emails will ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contract tracing website.

If people are contacted by the NHS test and trace service, they will NOT be asked:

➡️ to make any form of payment or buy anything
➡️ for details of your bank account
➡️ for any passwords or PINS
➡️ to download anything
➡️ to call a premium rate number to speak to them, starting with 09 and 087
➡️ ask you to access any website that doesn’t belong to the government or NHS

For more information about how the service works visit

Cllr Rufus Gilbert said:

“We are all trying to do our bit to help stop the spread of coronavirus, and this new test and trace service is a big part of that. Sadly, there are criminals who will use this situation to their advantage and exploit people’s uncertainty and fear.

“Remember, the NHS Test and Trace service is completely free, so they will never ask you for any form of payment or financial information or to provide any passwords, bank account details or pin numbers.”

“I urge everyone to remain vigilant and protect both themselves and their friends, family and neighbours who may be vulnerable by knowing what to expect from the NHS test and trace service and how to spot these scams.”

Here is additional important advice from ‘Which?’ about NHS COVID-19 scammers: what to look out for if you think an NHS Test and Trace call or message could be fake.

Keeping people safe

Schooling and welfare

Information returned to DCC indicates that 270 of the 320 primary schools across the county were open on Monday 1 June, with more opening on Tuesday 2 June. Around 185 of schools are offering parents wider access to provision in Reception, Year 1 or Year 6, in addition to classes for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Other schools are planning staged openings early next week (w/b 8 June). By the end of next week, all Devon schools plan to make a wider offer.

Around 40 per cent of families took up the offer of primary school classes this week.

Cllr James McInnes said:

“This is the start of a slow process of children going back to school.

“I understand parents are very concerned about COVID-19 and some parents are choosing not to send their children back to school just yet.

“But the county council has been working as one with our local authority headteachers and our academy headteachers.

“Every school has done their own COVID-19 assessment.”

We are aware that schools are also experiencing a big increase in the number children of key workers attending classes since before the half-term; nearly a third up on last month but significantly on a daily basis. We have alerted the Department for Education (DfE) to the difficulties this volatility is presenting to schools when planning their wider offer and which may result in offers for other children having to be withdrawn if capacity is exceeded.

For reference, Changes to school attendance guidance: full DfE guidance on the temporary changes.

Supporting and protecting our children in care

Public Health Nursing (PHN) The PHN service has adapted during the pandemic offering both a digital service and some face-to-face contact. Working alongside children’s centres and Early Help colleagues has enabled the continuation of a robust service delivery for families and young people across Devon.

The service is now moving into the next phase with the recommencement of health visitors having face-to-face contacts for all newborn babies from 1 June across Devon. School nurses and health visitors will be working closely with education, early years settings and families supporting the re-integration of children.

Feedback from a Paediatrician

A paediatric consultant shared with us how she was impressed with the efficiency of our service response during COVID-10. A health visitor took a phone call from a mum who in the same day had been advised by 111 and her GP to stay at home. The health visitor advised the baby was taken to hospital and it was discovered the baby had a skull fracture following a fall.

Early Help

Early Help commenced daily digital meetings in each of the localities during the pandemic which has facilitated the integration of closer work with health services and other agencies. This has enabled localised responses preventing escalations, and rapid responses to emerging issues in a fast-changing landscape.

One of the key positives from this experience has been the galvanisation across sectors to create one partnership to provide Early Help, so that in the future we can continue working together to provide children, young people and families in Devon with the right response at the right time.

Feedback from education support services:

The Educational Welfare Officers’ and the other team leads who have attended both the daily triage meetings and the locality meetings have been able to use these meetings to problem solve and resolve outstanding issues for children, young people and families. The meetings have supported the escalation process and also fed back where there have been key themes emerging so that the teams at Babcock can put measures in place to work proactively across the whole system. Many thanks for your positive and focused leadership at this time

Open letter to parents and carers of children with SEND

Open letter to parents and carers of children with SEND, from Vicky Ford MP Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families.

Adult care and health updates

Celebrating the success of supported internships

We wanted to share the good news that Reuben Wheatly has successful gained employment in Adult Health and Care after a very successful supported internship followed by a support apprenticeship.

A supported internship is an unpaid study programme specifically aimed at young people aged 16-24, who have a statement of special educational needs, or an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter said:

“Reuben is the first person in DCC to achieve this and we hope many more across the council will follow; congratulations to Reuben and his job coaches for all their hard work.”


Black Lives Matter

Our Lead Member for Equality and our Corporate Equality Officer respond to #BlackLivesMatter, how it resonates here in Devon and what support is out there for staff and communities.

Cllr Barry Parsons, our Lead Member for Equality says:


“The kneeling on a young man’s neck with a posture above of hand in pocket is sickening to say the least. Martin Luther King Jr. once stated, ‘An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.’ He said: ‘There comes a time when he must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right’ – and that, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’

“Let us all to be a part of a world which doesn’t rely on how we look or where we were born. Let us celebrate individual difference in all its forms and in a world where there is, surely, a complete focus on inclusive acceptance rather than exclusive fear. The foundation on which this can happen is only through our efforts together; not to hurt one another, but to move forward together in order to really earn the title of “Humanity” and to demonstrate once and for all that ‘Black Lives Matter’.”

Service updates

Toolkit to help Devon’s businesses reopen launches

A toolkit to help Devon’s businesses reopen has launched. It’s been created by Better Business For All, a partnership of local authorities, business groups, regulators and trading standards services.

Devon moving forward with Active Travel Fund improvements

We have confirmed that a comprehensive series of Active Travel Fund improvements for walkers and cyclists will be introduced as soon as possible.

We are also working on a DCC branded toolkit of images and animations with road safety messages that can be used in social media posts and web pages. These can be used in Member’s own communication or to pass on to your constituents.

The toolkit will have links to safety messages as more people are walking and cycling now, out roads are becoming busier, our schools re-opening, and as we take part in social distancing. We will tell you more soon!

Bike Month will help ‘get Devon moving again’

It’s Bike Month. Cycling is part of a nationwide strategy to encourage everyone to travel actively, help reopen the economy and keep coronavirus at bay.

Vehicle restrictions at recycling centres eased

Bicycles and pickups are allowed again – but vans remain excluded for time being.

And finally…

Making the ‘nest’ of lockdown

Stover Country Park has had a welcome surprise. Over an eight week period during lockdown, a pair of tawny owls used an old nestbox.

In the box rangers found two chicks but only one chick fledged successfully.

By pulling together across the Council, with our partners and our communities, we are doing everything we can to help us all through this incredibly difficult time. Thank you to you and your community and stay safe and well.

Please note that all of our sites and offices are closed to the public, except for necessary prearranged visits

Andrew Saywell

Devon County Councillor for Torrington Rural

07886 446560