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, 7 January 2016


2016 is likely to be a year of big things, both nationally and locally. Like buses you wait for ages for a game-changer to come along and then three come along together.

First of all, there is almost certain to be an EU referendum. Second, after ten years of debate and planning, the new town of Sherford will open its doors, changing our landscape forever. Finally, the 20 year plan for an upgraded rail network should finally be agreed by government and network rail and form the basis of much improved communications with the rest of the country.

Improving our rail link with the rest of the UK is an utmost priority. A lot is happening that does not make the media. The draft 20 year plan tackling resilience, capacity and speed was produced last autumn by the Peninsula Rail Task Force which represents all local authorities in Cornwall Devon and Somerset and our business leaders. It contains everything to which we aspire: faster journey times, an inland route from Newton Abbot to Exeter, better rolling stock, improved signalling, and the infamous Okehampton line as an addition to the existing network. This is currently being negotiated with the Department of Transport and Network Rail and should be complete by June/July and then form the blueprint of incremental improvements over two decades. 2016 will therefore be a seminal year of this most important strategic regional issue.

By the end of January, the first show homes at Sherford will be open and a new town, long awaited, will burst forth from the ground at about 240 houses per year, along with a school, sports facilities and other amenities. It will impact our locality but provide many much needed homes for local people. Many of the homes will be "affordable" to buy and to rent, something the government is keen to push. It will be a game-changer.

Finally, the future of our country will be settled by a referendum which I predict will be in July or September this year. This is a big deal. Support for the leave and remain camps is fairly evenly balanced. Once negotiations on key changes with our European partners are settled, hopefully in February, we can start a vital debate on the pros and cons of staying or going.

So there is much to get our teeth into in 2016 and big decisions to be made. I wish you all a very stimulating New Year.

posted by Gary @ 09:19