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SARAH WOLLASTON: Vote to influence future of policing

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 15, 2012

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TODAY is your chance to influence the future of policing across Torbay and South Devon. Please use your vote to choose the person you want to represent your views in today's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) election.

The new PCC will have powers to allocate funds to issues that you feel are important to your area.

PCCs will have no control over operational decisions; this power will rightly stay within the remit of the chief constable.

We are fortunate that we have 10 candidates for the Police and Crime Commissioners for Devon and Cornwall.

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If you are unsure what each candidate feels are the priorities for policing then it is worth looking at the following website www.policecrimecommissioner.co.uk/DevonandCornwall

FEW of us would buy a car without comparing its performance or looking at the safety data.

Yet regulators may approve medicines and the NHS buy them on our behalf without having seen all the relevant data from clinical trials.

Important information is hidden from public view and the pharmaceutical industry has a history of broken promises on transparency.

Last week, I met the Health Minister with campaigners to discuss how this long running problem can be resolved.

We know that in 2009 £500million was spent stockpiling a treatment for 'flu called Tamiflu without all the clinical trial data being made available.

The British Medical Journal say that since then the drug company concerned, Roche, has still not released all the results.

If it turns out, as many suspect, that it is not as effective as we were led to expect or that side effects were not fully revealed, then I calculate that could mean that £1 in every £200 spent by the NHS was wasted.

I belive the point is that Roche needs to acknowledge the concerns and hand over any missing data, which I would argue is something that taxpayers have paid for and have a right to examine.

The campaign for transparency and ethical conduct from the pharmaceutical industry touches all our lives as a release of the missing data on all drugs sold in the UK could transform the evidence base upon which doctors base their advice to their patients.

LAST week I met with the Fisheries Minster Richard Benyon (pictured) to discuss the importance of Brixham's fishing industry and in particular the problems facing scallopers.

Scallops are an important export and provide many jobs both at sea and onshore in processing.

There are those who write to tell me that we should only allow dive caught scallops to be sold.

I do not agree as this would make scallops a niche food available only to the rich.

Divers are currently taking scallops from areas of sanctuary and so in some ways are themselves harming important future resources. Brixham scallopers have worked hard to provide evidence for the scientists and it was good to hear an acknowledgement that there were delays in the official collecting bags reaching fishermen.

We all want a sustainable fishery and of course scallop dredgers must be kept away from areas where the seabed needs to be protected.

Networks of protected areas and restrictions on days at sea must be based on the evidence to protect future stocks but those rules must then be fair and consistent.

It was, however, encouraging to hear that the minister is reopening negotiations with his French counterpart to try to resolve the recent issues off the French coast and hopefully to have a mutually agreed closed season in return for a fairer distribution of quotas.

I WAS delighted to attend and speak at South Devon Further Education Awards last Friday to recognise the achievements of students and staff.

South Devon College continues to go from strength to strength and works closely with universities and with 1,000 local employers.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has visited that it is now ranked amongst the top three general further education and tertiary colleges in the country.

Congratulations on this fantastic achievement.

IF you wish to meet me, I hold regular surgeries across the constituency.

To arrange an appointment for a surgery, call Nina Smith on 01803 868378.

I am also holding an open meeting tomorrow in Dartmouth and I will be attending the rural transport debate at Dartington Hall on November 29, which Norman Baker, Transport Minster, will also be attending.

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