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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 July 2013


Most of us can remember where we were when the dreadful news of Diana's death came through, all those years ago. We were on holiday in France and I well remember gathering around the TV in the hotel lounge with other Brits in utter shock.

A better future memory this week, Jan, her mum and I were in Falmouth for a 3 day break when news of the birth of our future king came through. We raised a glass in tribute and I started counting the years forward and realised that this young babe might still be king when this century draws to a close.

We take our political and constitutional stability for granted, but we are mad to do so. I was asked for a list by one of my constituents recently to name any good thing about the UK. I made stability top of my list. He responded that I was talking rubbish.

Most people living in two-thirds of the planet would give their right arms for the kind of stability we enjoy. It did not come cheaply or quickly. It was hard fought-for over centuries and is still evolving, but it is utterly precious.

Of course, if we were starting from scratch we would not have a hereditary monarchy. Nobody would. But we are not starting from scratch; we are building on centuries of tradition and heritage. I appreciate that a small minority of our citizens would rather we switched to a more "modern system" and have an elected monarch/head of state like Ireland does. But what do they gain from it that we do not have? And what would we lose if we threw out all this tradition and stability?

In any event, this is not just our decision. Our Queen is not just our Queen, but queen of the Commonwealth. How moving it was recently to hear an Australian cricketer expressing his pride and delight at being introduced to HIS Queen at Lords (before we thrashed them good and proper).

This royal birth probably means that we will now have three kings in a row: Charles, William and then the new baby.  If we do not mess it up, we can look forward to decades of stability in the United Kingdom as the elected governments try and improve the lives of all, and the Royal Family provide the constitutional framework in which that happens.

Sometimes it is just good to be British.

posted by Gary @ 09:50  



Thursday, 18 July 2013


Every summer our region suffers the challenge of travellers descending upon us. It is time that we took a more robust approach to tackling the menace they bring.

If people wish to live a nomadic life, that is a choice they are free to make. But they are not free to crash into land owned by someone else and turn it into a rubbish tip. I do not care what ethnicity they are or where they come from. What most of us object to is their unacceptable behaviour.

Their recent incursions into Horshams Field at Staddiscombe were an example. They turned up unannounced, occupied fields used for rugby matches by local youngsters and adults, causing widespread inconvenience and disappointment, stayed there until they were about to be evicted and left the place in an absolutely disgusting state. They are currently gracing us with their presence at Langage with the usual impact on the immediate area.

As I have said for many years, we have got our approach to this problem horribly wrong. Some people consider them to be vulnerable groups who need our support. That is not my experience of having met with several such groups. I have found them to be invariably robust families who know exactly what they are doing and who are very skilled at playing the system for their own ends. They are never short of a bob or two and I imagine that HMRC are not collecting too much from their industry.

Two things need to happen. First local authorities need to be much more robust in implementing the existing law. As soon as their armada is spotted, the courier to the court with the necessary papers should be despatched. Anecdotal evidence from around the country suggests that councils that deal with them swiftly and firmly are less likely to receive repeat visits.

Secondly, it is time to change the law so that trespass of this kind becomes a criminal offence enabling the police to eject without waiting for a court order. I recognise the manpower involved in ejecting people against their will, but maybe Devon and Cornwall Police could develop a flying squad-type team of experts.

Where could they go then? They might try and rent or buy places like the rest of us, or negotiate temporary visiting rights subject to certain conditions.

One stipulation would be that they would clear up after themselves and not leave such a disgusting tip behind them.

posted by Gary @ 15:54  



Friday, 12 July 2013


The more you learn, the more you realise how little you know. Apparently Socrates was the first to utter these insightful words. It certainly seems to me to be true about the weather.

Some years ago, we were told that we were entering (and causing) a critical period of global warming. In European countries the reduction of carbon use became our highest priority.  This year it emerged that the planet stopped getting warmer some years ago. Confusion.

Forecasters told us in June that we are to expect a very wet summer and then a few weeks later they sprung a heat wave on us which has arrived in stunning fashion this week. Make your minds up guys!

The lesson is surely that in our climate predicting the weather is a mug's game and all the technology and learning in the world does not seem to make it any better. Perhaps if the Met Office had moved to Plymouth and not Exeter, their predictions might have been more accurate.

A study of history indicates that climate change has always been with us. Our ability to predict the seasons much less to control or influence the weather is extremely limited.  I have had correspondence recently with several local man-made climate change enthusiasts and I consistently ask them for the empirical evidence that we are causing this alleged global warming and the only answer I ever get is a referral to the writings of various scientists. As I point out, that is not evidence, it is simply opinion. Opinion, even scientific opinion, goes through fashions and is subject to change.

I should think that at least two-thirds of my constituents and half of all Tory MPs consider that the case for man -made climate change has not been made. So why are we so slavishly following the prevailing opinion and imposing so many green taxes on us all? If we are creating it what is the point of European countries stifling our economies with so much green tape and yet the gas- guzzlers of USA, India and China carry on regardless.

It is obviously important to care for our planet and reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. But this must be done (collectively) at a rate and at a price we can afford.

Personally, until I see some evidence and until the Met office get better at predicting the weather this month let alone this century, I shall remain a sceptic.

posted by Gary @ 10:21  



Thursday, 4 July 2013


On Saturday I attended the 60th anniversary of 1st Hooe Girl's Brigade. Girl's Brigade is a faith based movement which in a context of fun and friendship teaches timeless values. Contrary to what some might have predicted, the movement continues to go from strength to strength.

As does Boy's Brigade, the Scouts, the Guides,  Cadet forces and a huge host of organisations for young people. But they only survive and flourish because there are sufficient adults willing to put in the effort and slog to lead and oversee these groups.

In Hooe a lady known as Captain Jean has been instilling these good values (love your neighbour, treat people as you want to be treated yourself, go the extra mile and so on) for many years. I met several girls who gave testimony to the genuine difference these principles have made to them. In an age of so much transience it is encouraging to know that timeless values have not lost their resonance. I don't know where Captain Jean will be when she gets to Heaven, but I suspect that she will be a good deal closer to the VIP seats than I will!

Plymouth is full of people who care about the next generation. Scout leaders, football coaches, dance teachers and a whole lot more.
At Colebrook Carnival on Saturday there were dozens of children being taught to dance or twirl batons or bang dustbin lids and make music by a team of dedicated adults. One of my grandsons plays rugby for the Plymstock Oaks Under 9s. He loves it. This would not be possible without the dedication of the volunteer coaches, turning out in all weathers.

It is not just the volunteers. We are also fortunate to have locally a crop of dedicated professionals who live to invest in the next generation. They are called teachers. I have learnt in recent years just how hard they work and how committed they are to the children in their care. I support many of the educational reforms we are trying to introduce, to drive up standards, but one thing my government has not got right is that we do not give the impression that we sufficiently trust our professional teachers. We should not be looking over their shoulders constantly, we should be trusting them to do their jobs.

A huge thank you to all the people out there who invest in the next generation. The future is bright.

posted by Gary @ 07:46