Thanks for listening to people of Totnes
I AM delighted that Chris Rogers, managing director of Costa, came to visit Totnes to see the vibrancy of our independent coffee shops and the strength of our Transition Town ethos.
Totnes wants to support local food networks and is proud of its long tradition of independents, we have one of the lowest percentages of branded stores of any town of our size in the UK.
Last week, Costa decided that it will not open a coffee shop in Totnes.
I welcome that decision and I have thanked Costa for being prepared to listen to the people of Totnes.
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There has been a great strength of feeling on this issue and our strong community has worked together to talk about its vibrant character and thriving market.
I want to celebrate the good work done by Costa in many communities and, in particular, its commitment to play fair in paying all their taxes.
There are many places to enjoy a Costa but it is especially welcome that this company is prepared to take account of local circumstances.
WE had great news last week that the economy grew by one per cent between July and September, compared with the previous three months.
The Olympics undoubtedly boosted the economy.
However, economists did not predict growth to be as much as this and only 0.2 per cent is attributed to the Olympics.
I think this is a positive sign for the UK, with low inflation, reduced national debt and falling unemployment, we are on the right path.
However, we cannot be complacent and there is much to do.
We have to be wary of the uncertainty and weakness of our European markets and so I am pleased to see a greater focus on promoting UK business further afield.
I know that there are many other businesses who would like to break into markets in Asia and South America.
I am keen to hear from local businesses who would like to export further afield as well as those which are already doing so.
LAST week I chaired a panel at the Women Human Right's Defenders (WHRD) conference.
WHRDs, non-Government organisations, the UN, office of the UN Special Rapporteur, the UK Foreign Office and the Department for International Development all met to discuss their concerns for the safety of those who speak out.
The panel discussed what can and should be done to help protect those working to support victims of human rights abuse such as sexual violence victims, across the globe.
It became apparent that many grassroots activists and organisations need better information in order to be able to access support.
It is clear that those who are helping people on the ground do not feel their Governments can always be trusted to spend money to the best advantage of their own citizens.
NGOs based in the UK, which have programmes in other countries are a legitimate and useful source of funding for these grassroot activists.
I met the inspirational Betty Makoni.
Betty's story of abuse and rape at the age of just six and her witness to the murder of her mother at nine was moving and I would recommend reading her own story in her words.
Betty founded the Girl Child Network, which cares for Zimbabwe's young sex abuse victims and her organisation has rescued more than 35,000 girls.
As a former police forensic examiner working with victims of sexual assault and now as patron of Devon Rape Crisis Centre, I have seen the devastating effect sexual violence can have an a person's life and it was inspiring to hear how she turned this from being a victim to a victor.
Across the globe many Governments use sexual violence as a weapon of war or oppression.
This is wholly unacceptable and it is important that we continue to support women like Betty who put their lives in danger and face constant persecution as well as holding criminals to account through the international courts.
I have also asked the Home Secretary to investigate the way tyrants now use the Internet themselves and abuse our asylum system to target women like Betty Makoni.
IF you wish to meet with me I will be holding a surgery tomorrow in Totnes from 10.30am until 12.30pm and Friday, November 9, in Brixham from 3pm until 5pm.
To arrange an appointment for a surgery, call Nina Smith on 01803 868378.