Health Minister, Maria Caulfield, a former nurse, came to the North Devon District Hospital to see the recently opened Jubilee Ward - Credit: David Hoare

Three government ministers visit North Devon in one week

Joseph Bulmer

Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, was delighted to welcome, not one, not two, but three ministers to North Devon last week.

Selaine has raised in the House of Commons improving union connectivity with the re-establishment of regular ferry services between Ilfracombe and South Wales.

Last week she welcomed the Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart to see Ilfracombe for himself and meet councillors, council officials, and the harbour master to better understand the vision from this side of the water.

Selaine Saxby MP said: “Whilst the Welsh have increasingly planned a bigger, grander crossing which will take many years to develop, we remain committed to seeing if a passenger, tourism service can be rapidly brought forward. It was important to bring the Secretary of State to see what we have to offer and I will speak with Welsh colleagues at Westminster, whilst work progresses this side.”

The Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart came to see Ilfracombe for himself - Credit: David Hoare
The Secretary of State for Wales, Simon Hart came to see Ilfracombe for himself - Credit: David Hoare

The group also discussed the Celtic Sea floating offshore wind projects, as Selaine Chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Celtic Sea which is currently working down the northern Devon and Cornish coast as well as South Wales to coordinate bids for port infrastructure from the Government’s recently announced £160M ports infrastructure fund.

Also last week, Jo Churchill MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Agri-Innovation and Climate Adaptation at DEFRA joined Selaine at a private event at Instow Cricket Club where the minister met with a number of farmers and business owners to discuss government plans, as well as their own innovative developments to continue to make farming more productive, whilst improving our environment through biodiversity gains for example.

This week Selaine has also sponsored the Nature Friendly Farming reception, attended by many farmers, as well as Farming Minister, Victoria Prentis, whom Selaine accompanied on her visit to Axminster recently to meet some of Devon’s farmers.

Selaine was made Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to DEFRA in September 2021, promoted to be the Secretary of State, George Eustice’s PPS in February 2022, and has again this week been promoted to be PPS to Simon Clarke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, second to the Chancellor at the Treasury.

Selaine Saxby MP said: “It was great for Jo to meet with businesses and farmers in the Instow sunshine. He passion for agritech and innovation was obvious and inspiring. While sad to no longer be working with Jo directly, the relationships made and enhanced with the DEFRA team will help me to engage with, but also challenge them far more in the House of Commons again on issues which are so vital to our rural and coastal community.”

The final minister to visit last week, was Health Minister, Maria Caulfield, a former nurse, who came to the North Devon District Hospital to see the recently opened Jubilee Ward. This 10-bed, orthopaedic ward, was built from government, Covid catch up funds, only awarded in December, and opened last month.

Selaine Saxby MP said: “This incredible facility, completed on time, and on budget, and operating even on the Saturday the minister visited is testament to the innovation and commitment shown by the entire team at North Devon Hospital. The Minister was clearly impressed by everything in the facility from storage, through the beds that go straight to surgery and back, and the speed of recovery, with patients going home within 24 hours of arrival for hip and knee replacements. This will hold us in good stead for when we see our larger hospital upgrade plans in the next few months.”

“I have committed to ensure North Devon’s voice is heard in Westminster, and in bringing ministers here to lovely North Devon is a vital part of ensuring we can deliver funding and services to our remote communities.”

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