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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, 26 November 2015


The road network and around Plympton in recent weeks has been chaotic. The improvements at Deep Lane junction to pave the way for the main eastern road link into the new town at Sherford has been especially troublesome. We will all be relieved that this week the activity has gone to night time working which should ease rush-hour congestion. I am told it will all be complete by Christmas.

When complete, traffic coming from the Sherford direction will be able to turn right to go onto the A38 in the Plymouth direction without going over the fly-over and back again. Furthermore we should no longer see dangerous queues back onto the A38 from vehicles taking the Deep Lane junction from the east.

The new road being taken into the site of the new town off Haye road will be complete by Christmas and this should speed up flows in that busy piece of road. The amount of engineering that went into the retaining wall just inside the site is impressive. The traffic lights on the other Plympton to Brixton Road are also now defunct.

But 2016 will bring further disruption. The Langage side of the Deep lane junction will be receiving attention in the early months of 2016. The roundabout at that end will be replaced by traffic lights and additional lanes. When it is complete, traffic flows in that vicinity will be improved, but obviously in the meantime there will be disruption. Highways engineers have assured me it will all be done as quickly as smoothly as possible.

The one to watch will be the works to Stanborough Cross, the roundabout on the junction between Haye road and the A379 at Plymstock/Elburton. Again the roundabout is to be replaced by a complex traffic light system. That junction will be the main route into Sherford from the west. I cannot imagine that traffic flows in that vicinity will be easy when work begins in early 2016.

Work on the new town is gathering pace. A show home is to be opened as early as January 2016. The design of the new houses is delightful and there is every hope that the new town will be a very attractive place to live. The new primary school will open in September 2017 and the other facilities: doctors surgery, swimming pool and sports complex etc will be phased in over the next few years as set out in the planning agreement. 

posted by Gary @ 09:39  



Thursday, 19 November 2015


If we didn't know it before, we do now. These Jihadists (ISIL) are determined to attack European countries and cause maximum death and destruction. They are well resourced and utterly merciless. The French president declared these outrages in Paris to be acts of war and who can disagree with him. The Pope has described this as the third world war and perhaps that too is true.

Some people blame the West for invading Iraq and Afghanistan. But that is like the old story of the person asking for directions to Cardiff from a Devon farmer, only for the old guy to answer: if I were you I wouldn't start from here. We are where we are. The issue is: how will we respond.

I support attacking ISIL powerfully in their homelands of Syria and Iraq and taking away their capability to wage war in our countries. If asked, I will certainly support bombing in Syria. If a proper plan is put together by NATO and Russia to put troops on the ground, I will support that too.

But in the meantime how to protect our citizens? It is obvious that you cannot prevent a man with a Kalashnikov under his jacket bursting into a restaurant and opening fire. What we can do is to focus on intelligence.

We have a jewel in the crown in GCHQ. This is superior to almost any other intelligence gathering organisation in the world. Any co-ordination of terror activity requires conversations which can be intercepted. There have been many attempts to blow us up that intelligence from GCHQ has thwarted. If they need more power, they should have it.

We have very professional security services who are experienced at dealing with terror threats and infiltrating when necessary. Our thirty year conflict in Northern Ireland has helped to sharpen the skills we now need to defeat ISIL.
It was encouraging that the Prime Minister immediately ordered even greater investment in our security services after the Paris atrocities. This is the right way forward.

So this is war. But it is not war against Islam. It was good to hear so many Muslim voices condemning the atrocities earlier this week. The vast majority of Muslims are law abiding and are horrified by these appalling events.

This is a war on terrorism and we will need all of our resources and backbone to defeat it. Above all we must focus on intelligence to win the day.

posted by Gary @ 09:29  



Thursday, 12 November 2015


Last Sunday I listened more carefully than ever before to the words of "In Flander's Field" beautifully read at the civilian service just down from the Hoe. For the first time (shame on me) I understood its principle point: that if we do not remember the sacrifice of those who have died in warfare keeping us free, the dead cannot fully enter their rest.

While I suspect that theologically that is not true, it is nonetheless a powerful point, and a further reason why acts of remembrance are necessary. The Hoe was packed out again this year with people of all age groups, remembering, expressing thanks, praying for the fallen and for peace. This year at the end of the service spontaneous applause rippled through the crowd, not something I ever remember happening before.

There are those who believe these acts of remembrance glorify war and they are entitled to their point of view. The harsh reality is that there has been warfare on this planet ever since the dawn of man, and unless something dramatic happens to human nature, it is likely that there always will be. We should work for peace, but we have to prepare for conflict and ensure that we send our brave young men and women into battle to keep us safe with the very best eqipment that we can provide.

It is why we must take better care of those who return from conflict zones with physical or mental handicap. As a boy I used to love war films and had a child's view of war.  Now I wonder how anybody copes under the constant threat of attack. I watched American Sniper the other day and it scared me witless.

We must look after those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When I was first elected, I can recall defence ministers refusing to admit that such a condition even existed.  Thank goodness those days are long gone. Having met many over the years who came back from conflict "changed", I have seen the impact. Still more to do.

Remembrance Day is special. It is an opportunity to express our gratitude to those who have given so much including the ultimate sacrifice. It is a reminder to do more for survivors and veterans. It is a powerful incentive to work for peace
And according to that compelling poem Flanders Field our appreciation helps the fallen to enter their rest. May it be so.

posted by Gary @ 09:09  



Thursday, 5 November 2015


The last few weeks at Westminster have been dominated by the debate on our proposed changes to the tax credit regime. I have had a few hundred e-mails about this, although most of them generated by a campaign website so they do not really count. In my office we do not treat these two-click protests as seriously as individual letters or e-mails.

I support the government's attempt to reform this system which is costing us all £30 billion a year. Over the years in my surgery I have been through the details of tax credits with many constituents and I have oft been amazed at the staggering amounts of money involved. It always seemed to me that the system was flawed for two reasons: first it encouraged employers to keep wages low knowing that the state would step in and support their low paid employees and second, it did not incentivise people to work as many hours as they could, which is what the rest of us do.

Reform was long overdue. Even after five years of austerity the government is still paying £75 billion this year more than it is getting in, and it has to borrow every penny of that. Interest on our borrowing this year is over £50 billion, much more than our education or defence budget. Furthermore, the tax credit changes were part of a wider series of changes that include increased child care support, movement towards a living wage and increased personal tax thresholds. 

However, reform has to happen in a way that is fair. There were simply too many people losing too much money in too short a timescale. And you cannot blame people for playing to the rules, which is what we all do.

I spoke to Treasury ministers early on in the tax credit debate and said that although I would support these reforms for the reasons set out above, they had to do more to ease the transition for hard-working people who had come to rely on this state support. This review was already in progress when the House of Lords voted to send this decision back to us and now the Chancellor will bring forward revised plans later on this month in his autumn statement. A positive outcome.

I am hoping that these new proposals will help families transition into the brave new world we aim to create. A world of higher wages, lower taxes and less welfare. 

posted by Gary @ 09:21