First ever Sheffield LGBT+ student halls triple oversubscribed, as national debate continues

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Attracting three times more applications than expected, the University’s exclusively LGBT+ student flats could be set to expand before they have begun.

A national first, the 12 rooms originally envisaged for September’s freshers have been met with more than 30 applications.

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Here’s everything you need to know about our new Vice-Chancellor Koen Lamberts

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The University has today appointed a new Vice Chancellor, as Sir Keith Burnett retires after more than a decade in the role.

Professor Koen Lamberts will take up the University’s highest office in November, having been Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of York since 2014.

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Busy bank holiday weekend for ambulance crews in North Devon

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This was an exclusive story. After thinking of the idea and contacting SWASFT, I wrote it for local title the North Devon Gazette and produced a radio report for my hourly news bulletins on The Voice commercial radio.

Emergency ambulances were sent out around North Devon almost 360 times across the bank holiday weekend, the Gazette can reveal.

South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) figures show 358 emergency responses from Saturday, August 25 to Bank Holiday Monday – a slight fall from 370 in 2017.

Across Devon the service responded to 1,797 calls, including 1,309 in the rural areas of North, East and West Devon combined.

A SWASFT spokesman said: “We experienced a busy long weekend, despite receiving fewer calls than we anticipated.”

There were 7,733 calls throughout the South West region – stretching from Wiltshire to Cornwall.

It is a six per cent decrease on the total number of calls in the August bank holiday last year, when the figure was 8,227 and Devon-wide saw 110 more incidents needing a response.

But the average of almost 2,600 emergency calls each day this year requiring an ambulance meant it was still a hectic weekend for paramedics.

It follows SWASFT’s campaign leading up to the August bank holiday to reduce unnecessary 999 calls, encouraging the public to call NHS 111 with non-life threatening issues.

“The reduced number of calls may have been in part down to our campaign,” the trust spokesman added.

 

Exclusive: North Devon cyclists fear decline of cycling despite Tour of Britain

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This was an exclusive story. I was seeing plenty of positive coverage about the Tour of Britain coming to my home town (tourism boost, getting people into cycling, a spectacle etc), but I knew there was. another, less rosy, story deep down. So I went out, spoke to local cyclists and found it. Here it is published online and on my radio bulletins.

As the final potholes are filled for the Tour of Britain’s arrival on Monday, some North Devon cyclists have warned the ‘dangerous’ cracks in North Devon’s roads are causing the decline of grassroots cycling.

Teams of maintenance workers have been seen sprinkled along the tour’s Devon Stage route over recent weeks, racing against time to fill potholes before the cyclists arrive.

Devon County Council says the event will generate £5million for the county’s economy, but the Gazette has learned of a less rosy picture among the cyclists who see North Devon’s roads at their best – and worst.

Cyclist Andy Brock, who works at a North Devon bike shop, said: “The roads are getting worse and worse – it’s just dangerous and to avoid the potholes you often have to swerve onto the centre line, it’s so dangerous.”

The Raptor Racing member added: “We’re finding that most roads are deteriorating badly and they’re just not getting the funding they need. You get certain places like Stibb Cross near Bideford where the actual road condition is appalling, especially going downhill.”

Marten Gallagher, a cyclist from Torrington, said: “It’s certainly a shame that we suddenly buck up our ideas to make sure the roads are nice and smooth when we’ve got a cycle race. Let’s see it happen all the year round.

“It’s definitely putting people off of cycling in the grassroots, a lot of people, my two daughters for one, say that they won’t cycle on the road anymore.”

Devon last hosted the Tour in 2016, when 250,000 people were thought to line the route, and one in five came from outside the region.

Stuart Hughes, DCC cabinet member for highways management, said the route was selected for low maintenance, or where it is already planned, so the cost has been kept low.

He said: “To put the costs into context the last Devon Stage to travel through North Devon in 2012 generated approximately £7.3m of extra spending in the county according to an independent report.

“This was a significant boost to Devon’s economy. This compares favourably to the £200,000 it costs the County Council to hold a typical Devon Stage.”

But Mr Gallagher disputed the economic case, saying: “If there’s an economic benefit to Devon from having the Tour of Britain come through it and because of that we can justify repairing the roads, then what about the economic benefit to the NHS and for the environment generally.

“In pure monetary terms for the NHS, in terms of people keeping fit and reducing our demands on that service, what about paying us back for that, in the same way.”

Featuring the likes of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, the 174.9km Devon stage will finish on The Strand in Barnstaple before travelling around the country ahead of the grand finale in London on Sunday, September 9.

Mr Brock, who works at a North Devon bike shop, added: “It’s not like you want to smash every Strava segment, but actually you can’t ride at a safe certain pace because of the potholes, and as soon as it starts getting wet it’s treacherous – you don’t know how deep that pothole puddle is so you’re starting to move across the road in reduced visibility”

“The A377 is really bad, you’ve pretty much got to ride in the middle of the road. It’s a massive knock on effect with repairs if you hit a pothole.”

Several cyclists that the Gazette spoke to said the roads in France and Italy are worlds apart from North Devon.

Mr Gallagher also said the Tarka Trail was ‘bloody dangerous and not being repaired’, so he feels no choice but to use the roads from Barnstaple to Torrington to avoid the track.

“The main issue for me is that the potholes at the edge of the road, where cyclists have to cycle, don’t seem to get treated with the priority they deserve, simply because they don’t fit in with the depth requirements that are aimed at cars,” he added.

See Ewan’s latest newspaper reporting…

Below are just some of Ewan’s numerous bylines for his local Archant title, the award-winning North Devon Gazette.

stories from summer 2018 here 

more since 2014: search the ‘north devon gazette’ tag on this site!

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Shown are only a selection from 2018 – Ewan has been reporting for the Gazette since 2014

Pictures: ‘You’re not welcome here’ say Barnstaple Trump protesters

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Around 100 people gathered in Barnstaple Square tonight to protest against the Donald Trump’s visit to Britain, “standing shoulder to shoulder to say go away Trump, you’re not welcome here.”

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Summer feast for foodies on the North Devon coast

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North Devon’s wildest foodies are set to stage a summer feast on the rugged rocks of Morte Point this weekend.

Looking across cliff tops, beaches and valleys, foodies will tuck into a seafood stew over an open fire following a valley walk on Sunday (July 15) and revel in dessert from the heights of Bennett’s Mouth.

The ‘one-of-a-kind’ evening is a joint venture between The National Trust and successful local caterers Seadog Foods, which began in 2016, aiming to celebrate the coast and its community.

Seadog Foods has gone from strength to strength since it was established in North Devon five years ago with a street food approach, winning ‘Best of the Best’ at the 2015 British Street Food Awards and making the bill at Glastonbury and Bestival.

Sunday’s event will also feature sea shanty band Anchors Aweleigh, and foodies’ creative streaks will be unleashed in live painting and wood demos.

Peter Cousin from the National Trust said: “Seadog was the perfect partner to bring these foodie events to life as like us, they are committed to creating a sustainable future for food production.

“In North Devon, the National Trust is carefully managing their land to remain agriculturally productive and better for nature.

“We have been looking after beautiful areas across North Devon including Bennett’s Mouth and the Kipscombe, so it will be looked after forever, for everyone.

“These events will be a great occasion to celebrate these surrounds as well as the fantastic produce from the local area.”

The pair team up for another event on August 10 and 11 at Kipscombe Farm on Exmoor, with a long table barn feast, spiced with local ingredients and continuing into the evening with camping and campervan pitches.

Jim Coslett, co-manager of Seadog Foods, said: “Beth and I are really looking forward to creating a unique, intimate dining experience at these amazing secluded locations.

“We’re really happy to be working with the National Trust to showcase some of their best land and we’re confident it’ll be the ultimate foodie experience for everyone involved.”

Limited tickets are still available for Sunday’s event, beginning at 2pm in Mortehoe, for £40 by emailing seadogfoods@outlook.com.