Previous Posts



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, 30 March 2017


You may have seen Site Access signs dotted around the constituency but no signs of any work and, like me, wondered what is going on. Wonder no more.

National Grid has started work on a £50 million refurbishment of pylons in Devon and part of Cornwall to keep power flowing in the South West and beyond for decades to come. The line of pylons, running between substations in Exeter and Landulph, was built in the 1960s. The signs are part of the preparatory work.

The wires carrying electricity that hang between them, along with other equipment, are approaching the end of their working life and need replacing. Engineers will inspect the condition of over 300 pylons along the 100km route and replace equipment as necessary to hold the wires in place. There are not going to be any new pylons (phew).

The refurbishment follows a similar £30 million project carried out in 2016 on overhead lines in Cornwall. It should all happen seamlessly, but the occasional temporary road closure might be required. Obviously safety is paramount.

I received a briefing from the Project Manager on Friday. He underlined the need to make sure the country's energy infrastructure is able to meet the demands of the future. He explained that National Grid was replacing old components with more efficient fittings, to help them to continue to deliver electricity reliably for many years to come.

Preparation has already begun with survey and exploration work at pylon bases. Engineers have been clearing trees and bushes after agreement by their expert ecology team and local land owners. A need for some temporary gates or stone pathways to access some of the pylons will be required. Actual refurbishment work will start from next week and is scheduled to finish in October. Reinstatement of the land is expected to be completed by end of December 2017.  Most of the work will take place between 7am and 7pm, with some work on weekends to get the job done as quickly as possible.

So this is yet another significant infrastructure project taking place in our midst, along with Sherford and the Hemerdon Mine. There is always some disruption but the benefit to the local economy with direct employment, work for hundreds of self-employed contractors, countless people from upcountry staying in our hotels and guest houses and spending in pubs shops and cafes cannot be under-estimated.

I wish National Grid well in completing this important task.

posted by Gary @ 11:08  



Thursday, 23 March 2017


In the next few years we will see significant improvements in our rail links to the rest of the country. All of this is set out in the twenty year plan submitted to government last October, and well received by ministers.
In 2018 we will get the new Hitachi trains which will be a vast improvement on current locomotives and rolling stock. More comfortable, faster, smoother.

By 2020 (pushing it a bit) Plymouth should have a brand new station which will at last create an attractive gateway to our city, in time for the Mayflower 400 celebrations. The joint venture with Plymouth University should see the back of the eyesore office block which blights that location.

In the meantime, the rail franchise for our region will be up for renewal and the government will require the successful applicant to deliver far better on-board connectivity for mobile phones and Wi-Fi, which is crucial for business users and makes the journey shorter for all travellers. Part of the problem is the lack of phone masts in areas of Somerset and Wiltshire which does not provide the signal infrastructure that on-board connectivity demands. GWR and other potential bidders are talking to service providers about tackling this.

In the meantime, millions is being spent on resilience work at Dawlish to ensure that we do not see our vital rail link severed in the future. Work is starting on designing a long term solution to this structural fragility on Brunel's chosen route.

These improvements are welcome because apart from continued upgrading of the A30 in Cornwall and the dualling of the A303, little major advances to our road network can be anticipated in the foreseeable future. Nor is a commercial airport in Plymouth ever going to fly. 

One activity which is transforming our region is the steady roll out of superfast broadband. This means that many bright young entrepreneurs are setting up their internet based businesses in this idyllic part of the world and changing the face of our local economy.
We should be very grateful to the excellent Plymouth University for the quality of students it is attracting to study here, many of whom are choosing to stay and work.

This is one reason why unemployment is now historically very low in the Plymouth travel to work area. We are beginning to achieve our potential.

No one is complacent but, after many years of pressure we are starting to see progress.

posted by Gary @ 09:35  



Thursday, 16 March 2017


This week at Westminster I attended a talk given by Condoleezza Rice. She was the National Security adviser in President George W Bush's first administration and his Secretary of State (Foreign Secretary) in his second. She was at the forefront of global events including the aftermath of the attack on the twin towers in 2001.

Highly intelligent, she became a Russian specialist at college which first drew her to the attention of the White House before the collapse of the Soviet Union. She is principally an academic, amongst other things, and heads up a department at the illustrious Stanford University in California. Unlike many professors I have heard in the past, she was able to earth her insights into the real world.

She was speaking in the Speaker's House at a packed event organised by the All-Party Group that I chair at Westminster, Christians in Parliament. She was with us primarily to share her personal faith as a Christian, which she did in an inspirational way, but naturally she also set out her view of current global events.

Mercifully she assured us that the Trump administration after a turbulent start will settle down and that the new President has put in place good people around him.

As an expert in Russia, her insights about the government of Vladimir Putin were especially valuable. The Russian people have not enjoyed good governance for a very long time, if ever. The unspeakable old Tsars who cared little for their people gave way to a brutal revolution which quickly led to the even more despotic regime of Josef Stalin and the Cold War. Following the collapse of the Soviet Empire in the 1980's they have now stumbled back into a further autocratic style of government. Putin is determined that Russia will once again be a strong player on the international stage, and he only seems capable of understanding strength if advanced with military might.

If his personal mission is to reunite the Russian people wherever they are to be found: Ukraine, Estonia Lithuania and Latvia, then we might be in for a bumpy ride. It is crucial that NATO remains strong and united and that any aggression against one of its members is deemed to be an act of aggression against all of us.

It was a fascinating evening and Condi Rice was a real star. It was such a shame she could not have been persuaded to stand for President herself!

posted by Gary @ 14:38  



Thursday, 9 March 2017


​What a brilliant, simple idea. Former pupils of a school going back and taking part in extensive workshop sessions sharing their experience of: university, apprenticeships, the workplace – to help to equip sixth formers to face the same challenges. I attended such a gathering at Hele School Plympton on Monday of this week and was very impressed.

You might think that such an obviously beneficial system would have been running for years. Not in the state sector. The idea started from a group of friends in Truro about 5 years ago who got together in a pub and came up with the plan. It went down a treat with their old school and spread by word of mouth until it was incorporated into a charity called Future First that now employs 40 people nationwide! It has secured government funding and is operating in hundreds of schools.

It was great to witness the interaction between bright 17 year olds and their former school mates just a few years older with a little bit more life experience under their belt. When I shared my own experience at university and let slip that this was between 1974 and 1977, it somehow did not have the same resonance.

Some of them had studied periods of history more recent than that! But those who are just a tad older, starting from the same school base, were able to share relevant, current experience, successes and failures.

There has never been a generation growing up under such pressure. Maybe in material terms, we have never been so well off. But what is it like being a teenager today? Access to unlimited information, for good or ill, a world of great uncertainty without the stable long term guaranteed jobs of yesteryear, a world of cyber bullying, sexting and obsessive body-consciousness.

These young people will probably have portfolio careers – moving from one job to another over their working lifetime with the pressure of ensuring their CV remains relevant. The pupils from Plympton will not just compete with the students from Plymstock or Ivybridge, but from Japan, India and China.

Possibly also robots! Any help we can give them to help them flourish in the uncertainty that we have created is time and resources well spent.

I enjoy spending time with sixth formers. I am nothing but optimistic about the future of our country when I experience their energy, passion and ability. Well done Future First – important work.​

posted by Gary @ 09:25  



Thursday, 2 March 2017


This week the independent Boundary Commission publishes all of the responses it has received to its initial proposal for changes to our UK-wide Parliamentary boundaries. These can be found on

A reminder why this is happening: Parliamentary boundaries are reviewed every ten years or so to ensure that the right number of voters are found in each constituency. This time we are also reducing the number of seats from 650 to 600 so the impact is greater. Whether we are wise to do that given the extra workload that Brexit will cause Parliament remains to be seen.

South West Devon constituency does not come out unscathed – with current proposals suggesting that Plymstock be removed and taken into Plymouth Devonport and Sutton to be replaced by Tavistock and its surrounding West Devon delights. I regret the splitting of Plympton and Plymstock which have been my constant companions these past twenty five years, but I see the necessity of it
to get the Plymouth arithmetic right. I welcome the inclusion of all points north to Tavistock and beyond, as I believe it could be a coherent constituency, all of it impacted by the gravitational pull of the city of Plymouth.

I objected to the proposed new name of Tavistock and Ivybridge, suggesting South West Devon should be retained, or at the very least Plympton is added to the name. Might I suggest you all have a look at the proposed changes and people's comments and have your say?

There is another major change I now believe we should make to our political landscape. The time has surely now come for the significant reform of the House of Lords. I voted against the last proposals for Senators and fifteen years terms because of concerns about accountability. But we cannot go on with an Upper House that is so large, elderly and unwieldly. I would support a partially
elected second chamber with people being elected maybe by proportional representation on a regional basis. I would still want to retain a system of appointment for cross-benchers and special people who have something to contribute to national life.

Unfortunately there will be no time in this Parliament to introduce any radical changes as the Great Repeal Bill (paving the way for Brexit) will gobble up most of our Parliamentary time for the next year.

But before too long, as the House of Commons is streamlined, their lordships must follow suit.

posted by Gary @ 08:49