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Baltic Wharf - Totnes
On the 2nd of May 2019 the good people of West Dart in the South Hams elected me to be their District Councillor. Since then I have been trying to fulfill some of the promises I made when campaigning, and I will continue to battle to deliver. I knew that there were many things wrong with how local government operates but I will admit to not being prepared for just how dysfunctional it is. However, I do feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to represent the area and to work to achieve better local government and services.
My grandfather John McKay MP open_in_new was a Labour MP for some 20 years (1945-64). He started out down the pits at the age of 12 but was eventually sent to Ruskin College in Oxford by the Miners Union and after the war was elected as an MP for Wallsend (Newcastle). So, probably unsurprisingly, for many years I was a Labour supporter. I still have great respect for the Labour Party and it was sad to watch the madness of the Corbyn years unfold, during which I threw my lot in with the Liberal Democrats and no regrets.
In the end I don’t think local government should be too overtly political. What is more important is to have Councillors that are capable of helping people with their problems and can guide our district council through the many complex legislative and financial challenges it faces, so that it can better serve its community.
I have lived in Devon for 25 years. My background is in IT and after several decades of being a company director I am now semi-retired, living in Harbertonford with my wife. I am very interested in the real social consequences of developments in areas like Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain and the biological sciences. There are many ethical, moral and social questions arising from these disciplines. We live in interesting, though often very worrying times.
As a result of my IT interests I have served on various Council steering-committees in the past as a technology advisor and many years ago used to give talks in pubs to disbelieving farmers on how the internet was going to change the way they do things.
I am currently on the Audit Committee, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Climate Change & Biodiversity Working Group. The latter is a source of a great of stress as I am deeply worried about where the planet is heading and this is not reflected in what this working group is doing ( https://coolearth.uk ).
I spent a couple of years volunteering for the Samaritans and I am now a volunteer for a well know charity that helps people with the many problems of modern life in South Hams and beyond. The work is very interesting but often quite challenging and it brings me into contact with the many problems that people are facing across the district.
I have campaigned for many years against pollution of the environment and have been relatively successful in challenging damaging decisions and in influencing policy. I now know more about the planning system than is probably healthy but I hope this means I will be more able to help people when problems arise.
Harbertonford recently lost its pub, and its shop was under threat. I am working, with the help of many others, to save these essential local services ( https://harbertonford.com ).
As for hobbies, I used to do a lot of sailing and exploring. Crossed the Bay of Biscay a couple of times and explored lots of places around UK, France, Spain and the Mediterranean. Still nurture a dream of doing an Atlantic crossing one day. Play the guitar and go for long walks (sadly not with my boxer ( https://loveofadog ).
If I can be of any help to you, your family or your business please don’t hesitate to contact me.