IT is very clear that ‘they’ are intent on destroying the public services we rely on and for which we are taxed – at a higher rate I recall than most other European nations, writes retired consultant, Doctor David Halpin.

And so much taxation is not obvious. A good example of this deceit is VAT. The older citizens – and it is they who read my words, will recall that for logic and ease of collection, income tax was to be replaced by a spending tax. This fundamental change was promoted as being fairer. and importantly, it would encourage saving.

Our minds as I said last week are there for the moulding – like putty I said. So what did we have, starting of course with just a few percent of ‘value added tax’, but now at 17.5%?! You are not surprised to know that income tax has stayed and in full measure, but what might be your response now – in September AD 2023?

VAT has been a good wheeze and typical of that which emerges from our ‘Mother of Parliaments’ after that essential debate, sometimes with numbers of ‘honourable’ members that one can count on two hands sitting on those green benches. First, the burden of collection falls on businesses, often small and mostly with good women ‘doing the books’. I had a glimpse of this because my 28 acres of woodland I planted/had planted in Combe-in-Teignhead, and which I maintain with wonderful help, was registered for VAT.

This was advised by Fountain Forestry who planned and supervised the planting of broad leaved species on two separate five-acre parcels.

The basis of this was that there would be eventual value as the trees matured. And matured they have. In the 33 years since they first were planted, some have reached 50 feet and the girth of the sweet chestnuts - a wonderful timber for colour and durability, is about two feet in some.

These, in the 18-acre wood pasture, are in good land on what Devon people call the ‘back sun’ side. That is the soil moisture is retained, even in periods of drought. The leaf fall proceeds to rotting, and with our very good friend the earthworm, humus for ever enriches the soil. When I plant an occasional ‘star’ tree like a Magnolia Campbelli - from the Himalaya, I see the many earthworms which were not numerous when I took over neglected pasture in steep and less accessible paddocks. But I digress in my enthusiasm.

I completed the VAT return every three months aside from a time or two when I forgot. I had to pay a small fine once, and was forgiven another time. It did not take much time nor effort but it was very simple, unlike saying Arnold’s the ironmongers in Bovey Tracey.

This great loss, with an unmeasured fossil fuel cost to follow, happened after 33 years of trading and after Bob had advertised his business for sale over three years. Do not tell me that in addition to the usurious business tax and the rest, the VAT was not another burden that stopped anyone making an offer for a very good local business.

I get slowly round to this. Most readers, and I hope with more to come, will agree with this author in his 84th year that our country has been lowered greatly, and by knaves. These either reside in Westminster, and in a city that one hero of mine William Cobbett called The Wen, (a wen was an old term for a lump on the head – in fact a sebaceous cyst!), or visit it from Monday to Thursday. This is usually via our railway but no doubt with first class booking and with bypass of the ‘automatic’ screen for tickets.

This benefit is not confined to MPs. I recall meeting a well known Teignbridge councillor on Platform 3. He was going up for a meeting at the Local Government Association. Where? You guessed it - right by the Mother. And this leads me onwards below. The LGA probably plans a good deal with the movers and shakers in Whitehall, such as the building of boxes everywhere.

I found this on Page 4 in the MDA of last week, August 31: ‘Order to protect trees on development site for homes’ – Alison Stephenson the reporter. Where? On so-called green belt around old Devon, with its lovely winding lanes up hill and down dale. The ghosts of the carters stopping for refreshment, say at an hostelry by the cross roads at South Knighton. Farmers here at Haytor driving their flocks of sheep in a moorland autumn to Combe-in-Teignhead for their winter keep. Our previous neighbour, the late Arthur Courtier told Sue and I of this over a proper tea – lace doilies and all!

One thousand houses/boxes to be built, and no doubt with handkerchief gardens just sufficient for a row of runner beans. But have no fear, tree preservation orders – TPOs, are being placed on those in Bradmore Woods, Ingsdon. This care, but closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, is coming from, and I quote the title - ‘Business Manager for Strategic Place’. Ms Rosalyn Eastman.

I can see why ‘strategic’ is there. The title has grown from the previous holder Mr ‘Nick’ Davies. Then it was ‘Business Manager’ when he approved at the end of the eight-week window, the conversion of a large barn built in 2011, into a dwelling in 2016, at the top of a hill in Combe. It would appear that Ilsington Parish Council knew of this damnable scheme, so long hidden apparently. This parish council is quoted as wishing to see more trees protected within this ‘development’. Some TDC councillors were concerned that ash dieback - Chalara fraxina, is on ‘the rampage’. It is but some are resistant because they have the right genes, all ashes being seedlings with genetic variety their virtue.

I am pleased to reassure these councillors, that majestic ashes in our hedgerows in our woodlands at Combe show no sign of dying back. I repeat one of my maxims - ‘To care is the most important characteristic of any worthwhile society.’ Do these elected representatives and officers care enough about that we have inherited and are custodians of?

Have the interests of those landowners around Ingsdon been considered? I will develop this next week if I may and include upside down policy, including that concern via the gunge word ‘wellbeing’.

Wellbeing for whom I ask?