Last week saw the re-opening of non-essential retail, outdoor hospitality, hair and beauty businesses and a range of other industries. Like many of you, I took the opportunity to get out and about and to visit a range of businesses across Newton Abbot. I was especially pleased to be met by David Austin and Mary White, as I popped into Austins for some retail therapy, welcoming customers back into the store. I very much look forward to spending time in Teignmouth and Dawlish this week to see the work that has been done in the towns to ensure that businesses have been able to re-open and begin a steady return to normality.
Last Thursday, I met with Susan Davy, Chief Executive Officer of South West Water to discuss a range of issues including bathing water quality, exciting green recovery initiatives and their fantastic commitment to creating more apprenticeships for young people across the region. South West Water made a commitment earlier this year to offering 500 new apprenticeships in the next five years which is great news. Since the introduction of the Government apprenticeship levy in 2017, the company has fully funded over 400 apprenticeships in a wide variety of roles and now has 140 current apprentices.
In November 2020, South West Water became the first company in the South West, and the first water company, to support 50 placements through the Government’s Kickstart programme, designed to improve social mobility. The scheme funds six-month paid jobs to provide fully funded opportunities for 16-24 year olds who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment, to gain valuable work experience. The company also announced a further incentive of a £500 bonus for each person who completes a placement in addition to comprehensive training and support. I am delighted that the company is currently investing more resources in its recruitment and retention of graduate students.
In terms of combating the issues faced in the future, especially with regard to the environment, it was also great to hear about the relatively new Mayflower Water Treatment Works at Roborough, just outside Plymouth. The new and improved cutting-edge treatment processes not only speed up the water purification process but also offset the carbon footprint. This is a positive step forwards in the desire to ensure that resources are sustainable and accessible. It was also reassuring to hear that systems have been strengthened with regard to bathing water quality, ensuring that the notification system remains in place for bathing water quality here in the South West. The BeachLive system, provides alerts for beaches in Devon and Cornwall when stormwater overflows may temporarily affect bathing water quality, whilst protecting people and property from internal sewer flooding.
Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Reverend Annie Church of St Peter’s Church, Shaldon for her invitation to take part in the service of thanksgiving for His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh last Friday. It was of course terribly sad to hear about the death of the Duke of Edinburgh just over a week ago. He was an exemplary example of a lifetime of public service and devotion to the country. As a naval hero, at the Battle of Cape Matapan, he was Mentioned in Despatches and in his later years he inspired generations of young people through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.
Most of all, he gave steadfast public and private support to Her Majesty The Queen through her years of unstinting service to the UK and the Commonwealth. As Her Majesty put it at the time of their Golden Wedding Anniversary, we “owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know”. My thoughts are with HM The Queen and the rest of Royal Family.
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