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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, 24 November 2016


At last the new town of Sherford is rising from its muddy foundations. I visited on Friday and it was great to see the houses and flats springing out of the ground.

I know there has been some controversy about the prices of the first properties to come onto the market. It was always the case and is spelt out in the 100-plus page agreement with the planning authorities that the developers were allowed to build and sell 300 houses on the open market before they build any "affordable" houses. So these will be coming sometime next year. The local media knew this very well, but still made a song and dance about it. Shock.

Over the next 20 years roughly 800 affordable homes will be built for rent and to buy for local people. This will make a huge difference to young couples and others waiting patiently for their first home, either currently living with mum and dad or paying rent to a private landlord. As I keep saying I bought my first house when I was 23, not unusual in those days. Now the average age for a first time buyer in Devon is 38. We have a generational crisis and have to build our way out of it. Still 85% of people aspire to own their own homes and why should they be denied?

Of course affordability is not just a matter of special schemes, but of supply and demand. For the past three decades there has been too much demand and not enough supply, pushing prices up. The solution is to build more and that is what we are doing. Of course in the right place. Sherford is the right place.

The new road into Sherford is very attractive and I understand that the developers are going to complete the highway link to Deep Lane sooner than expected to provide a second access point, even though houses will not appear up that end for some time.

The road infrastructure at Stanborough Cross seems to be working well and fingers crossed that the Deep Lane improvements will be just as smooth-running when complete. The people of Plympton have been heroically patient whilst those works are being carried out.

So far the developers at Sherford have built according to the design plans. It will be an attractive environment and a great place to live, with many amenities. Hopefully our children will enjoy living there.

posted by Gary @ 10:18  



Thursday, 17 November 2016


We are fortunate to have the wonderful charity St. Luke's Hospice in our midst. I recently visited their Turnchapel headquarters for an update of their activities and was impressed with all I saw and heard. Most of us know at least one person who has benefitted from their compassionate professionalism over the years.

I was interested to learn that they are continually evolving the way they offer their end of life care. It is easy to imagine that they are mainly a place where terminally ill people go to end their days or stay for a period of respite. In fact, as was pointed out to me, most of us, if we have a choice, would prefer to end our life on this planet in our own home, surrounded by loved ones. St. Luke's has responded to this need by developing expert teams who can offer support for those approaching the end in their own homes. Hospice at home is what they call it. They are doing it because it is what people want. They are moving with the times.

For any organisation this is hugely important. When I take my grandsons to get KFC occasionally (such a sacrifice) they always seem to have new products on offer, even though many people usually order the same as always. McDonalds the same – they never stand still, always breaking new ground. I heard a leader of a large business say once that standing still is the same as going backwards, because your competition will be moving on even if you don't.

This truth applies in all areas of life. I have recently started doing more local preaching. It is not uncommon to visit a church that was once vibrant but has stood still for a decade or more and been left behind. Fatal.

Politicians also have to move with the times. I am so impressed with the new intake MPs who are connecting with their constituents through social media rather than the printed word. If I was starting over again, I would have to do the same. Moving with the times.

Back to St. Luke's. As we know the hospice movement receives little funding from the tax payer, so this big-hearted expertise is largely supported by private charitable giving. In other words by all of us. As we approach Christmas, now would be a good time to redouble our efforts to support this highly professional and much-loved local charity.

posted by Gary @ 10:42  



Thursday, 10 November 2016


The High Court ruling last week that the government cannot start the process of leaving the EU without Parliamentary approval has certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons. I have been swamped by e-mails from many of you. Let me set out my position on all this:

1)    Although I voted to remain (as did at least 50% of this constituency) I accept that the British people voted to leave. Leave the EU therefore we jolly well must. Accordingly if article 50, the mechanism by which we must leave does come to the Commons, I will vote for it.

2)    The High Court was perfectly within its rights to reach the conclusion that it did. It is part of our system of checks and balances that underpin our essential freedoms that the judiciary decides whether the executive (government) has acted lawfully. When I studied law in the 1970's we grappled with dozens of major cases where the courts had found against the government. There is nothing new in this. The media outburst by some of my colleagues about unelected judges were quite outrageous. Do we want elected judges in this country? Surely not. We want an independent high-quality judiciary that supports our constitutional freedoms. We live under the rule of law, not the rule of the Daily Mail or Nigel Farage, thank goodness.

3)    The High Court upheld the sovereignty of Parliament. Many people who voted to leave the EU did so because they wished to support the sovereignty of the UK parliament. They should have been pleased by this judgement. It hands the power to parliament.

4)    This judgement does not scupper Brexit. The UK will leave the EU. But the British People did not decide, nor could they, because there are so many variations, how we leave the EU. That will be a matter for our sovereign parliament to decide. I have no doubt that Parliament will vote to trigger Article 50 and then we can spend the next two years grappling with the detail. If Parliament were to vote down Article 50, this would certainly lead to a general election, which might bring more confusion than clarity.

5)    I support Brexit because the British people have voted for it. But I will be looking for a soft Brexit with the UK remaining part of the single market either indefinitely for at least a set period of time, while we build up our markets elsewhere

posted by Gary @ 13:58  



Thursday, 3 November 2016


What sort of country do you want to live in? One where people who are different are welcome, or one where we pick on people from other countries and make their life a misery? The statistics about the rise of hate crime since 23rd June 2016 are disturbing. In the 38 days following the referendum result in June 2,400 hate crime incidents were recorded in London alone, compared to 1,300 in the 38 days before the result.

In Plymouth and elsewhere in the country, people who had been here for years working and paying their way were insulted, abused and told to clear off by some of our fellow citizens.

Some of you, like me, can remember the Alf Garnett programmes of the 1970's, which at the time many of us thought were funny, but were laden with racial insults and offensive language.

Since about that time, political leaders have realised that racial prejudice does lurk within the human heart and that we have to inspire people to a better way. We have sought to do so firstly by legislation: including several Race Relations Acts. Martin Luther King said that a law cannot make a white person love a black person, but it can stop him from lynching him.

We have tried to impact change by example, encouraging organisations, including Parliament, to look more like the country in which they are rooted. Positive role models and massive engagement from civil society, including the excellent BBC, have all made a difference. My children's generation do not really see race or colour. We have come a long way since the Empire Windrush arrived in 1948 with 500 people from Jamaica on board.

We seemed to take a backward step after the referendum result, hopefully only temporarily. We know that prejudice against people who are different does not lurk very far below the surface for many of us. Most of the time this is constrained by law and social norms. However, with some of the language during the referendum debate becoming over-robust, political leaders appeared to be giving permission to people to unleash their prejudices.

Does this mean we cannot talk about immigration? No. Does this mean we should take into our country anyone who wishes to come here? Of course not.

But it does mean, during the rest of the Brexit debate, conducting ourselves in a way that will encourage the best in us, not play to the worst.

posted by Gary @ 09:21