Visit to Devon from the PM

18 Feb 2024
PM in a pothole

PM’s visit – must be an election year?

Clearly it is an election year, last week we had a visit to the region from the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.  His appearance on the local TV news and radio from Plymouth was apparently to highlight the lack of NHS dentists in Devon. 

Sadly he doesn’t realise that the problem with NHS dentistry is simply that the Government contract simply doesn’t pay enough to do the work, and dentists cannot afford to lose money on every patient. 

Is it that the PM wanted to come and visit to reduce the image of a government that is out of touch with the county and the country?

Radio Devon asked me to suggest the key things that Teignbridge needs from central Government.  The top three I listed were more affordable homes, stopping the sewage pollution of our rivers and sea and fixing the potholes by having a fully funded maintenance programme.

The radio interview turned into a difference of opinion between the conservative leader of Devon County Council and his prime minister.  Rishi said that Devon had had £9M extra last year for potholes, and John Hart said that £7M of that had been swallowed up by inflation.  In either case the money was a drop in the ocean compared to local need.

Rishi Sunak went on to promise more one-off funding from his cancellation of HS2 – but failed to understand that Council budgets and plans work on an annual basis, and gearing up to spend on a large contract needs to be planned to be effective.

We also heard last week that Rishi Sunak’s income last year was taxed at a mere 23%, much less that most of us.  It was also clear that being Prime minister wasn’t his main income, merely his side-hustle.

It is clear that the PM has no concept of many people’s lives in Devon today.  The issues of trying to find a home to rent, of being concerned for how companies are polluting our area for their profit, and of not being able to drive to work or school without having to play ‘miss the pothole’ are far from the world of the multi-millionaire.

Meanwhile the dentistry profession appears to be suggesting that the government’s meagre changes to the NHS contracts won’t help.  Local conservatives say that government is failing the county on potholes, and the water companies are still laughing all the way to the bank.

With a government this out of touch, and a general election expected in the autumn (or sooner) I expect we will start to see our local MPs once again making the rounds.