Welcome to this page, where I will provide occasional briefings on how the council conducts its business, and on particular issues I feel may be of interest to readers. Of course, I will also be providing my own commentary and observations on the action!

Below I reproduce the text of a column which appeared in my local paper, the Herald Express, on Thursday 8 September 2011. My thanks must go to the HE editor, Andy Phelan, for allowing me the space to air my views on what I consider to be a real and serious problem for children and young people today. The rise and rise of prescriptions for drugs such as Ritalin is horrifying. Please feel free to let me have your views on this subject (contact details on the 'Contact me' page, see left):

Strong medicine for little problems?

When we talk about child protection issues, people think of nasty individuals stalking playgrounds, of parents or family members beating or neglecting children, of bullying by schoolmates. We certainly don’t think of doctors and teachers conspiring to abuse children.

Yet this has happened all across the UK as schools insist that children are medicated to control their behaviour in class. I have been assured that this does not (or does not yet) happen in our Bay, but the statistics for the use of methylphenidate, known by brand names such as Ritalin, make horrendous reading.

The figures show that the number of Ritalin prescriptions for children increased from 3,500 in 1993 to over 661,500 last year, an increase of almost 19,000 per cent.

Ritalin is given to children and young people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The NHS states that each dose produces a short-lived improvement, but is not a permanent cure; it creates a short period when a child can concentrate better, be less impulsive, feel calmer, and learn and practice new skills. The NHS also points out the side effects: an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, loss of appetite, weight loss, trouble sleeping, a dry mouth, headaches, stomach aches, and mood swings. I’m no medical expert, but many of those side effects seem to be exactly the symptoms used in the diagnosis of ADHD.

I have no doubt that there are children who have benefited greatly from Ritalin. But the figures are worrying on other levels, too. There is a proven link between poverty and the use of Ritalin; and no-one really has any idea how the long-term use (or abuse) of Ritalin affects developing minds.
The Association of Educational Psychologists has called for an urgent review into the possible over-use of Ritalin and its chemical siblings. Further, the British Psychological Society has condemned this “medicalisation of natural and normal responses”, stating that poverty, unemployment and trauma are the biggest cause in such cases, and that classifying these problems as “illnesses” is wrong.

Those who know me know that I am a tireless advocate for children and young people. To me, the use of what has been called a “chemical cosh” is an abuse of children, treating one little person’s symptoms, rather than treating any cause. How much easier is it to force a child to take a pill than it is to create jobs and a better standard of living for that child’s parents, for example? I think you know the answer.

As a councillor, as a school governor, and as a concerned citizen, I wanted to know how far the problem extended into our own beautiful Bay. We have three of the most deprived wards in the country here, one of them my own, so I asked the Torbay Care Trust (TCT) for the figures, hoping against hope that the correlation between social struggles and Ritalin was not prevalent here.
The TCT refused to answer my queries, insisting that I complete a Freedom of Information request for the data, so I did this. Under government rules, they have a set amount of time (20 working days) to respond. I received no response within the time limit, so had to chase them for the information. They responded two days later, saying that they do not hold the information. I wonder why it took them nearly five weeks to find out that? I can only assume that the figures are so dreadful that they wish to keep them secret.0

I have my own theories on the growth of diagnoses of ADHD over the past decade. A GP-led state reliance on pills; the wide availability and comparative cheapness of poor quality pre-prepared packaged foods which contain more e numbers, additives, fats and sugars than they do nutrition; a market-led, conformist education system; a complete lack of proper sports facilities at schools (an indoor gym at a school is simply not enough: outdoor sports fields are required … but they have all been sold off for housing); topped off with a ‘now’ generation of parents who are not prepared, or don’t know how, to engage with their own children and who increasingly expect the state and the tax-payer to take responsibility for them.

We are failing our sons and daughters. We are subjecting them to long-term chemical abuse which could be having an appalling effect on their mental and emotional development. We are chemically subduing them to alleviate problems caused by adults. It cannot go on. So I will ask the questions again…and again. And I will go on doing so, though I am unwilling to play any more FOI games with the Torbay Care Trust.

This is, for me an urgent matter of child protection.

Julien Parrott
September 2011
Julien Parrott is a UK Independence Party councillor for Ellacombe Ward, a member of the Overview & Scrutiny Board for Torbay Council, a member of the new Policy Development Group for Children, a Torquay school governor, and a former children’s champion for safeguarding and health.

I make no excuses for continuing to leave up this open letter to all Ellacombe residents. It sets out clearly my reasons for standing for election under the UKIP banner.

Although this letter relates to the general election in May 2010, I am hugely proud that not only did the people of Ellacombe elect me to serve as their councillor for a second term in May 2011, but that they also accepted my decision to stand for UKIP, and gave me a hugely increased majority, too.

An Open Letter to Ellacombe Residents - Winter 2009

You may by now have heard that I have been selected by the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) to fight the Torbay seat at the next General Election.

Over the past five years or so, I hope that you have got to know me pretty well. I certainly feel that I have got to know you, your concerns and, more importantly, your ambitions. Since being elected as your independent councillor I have vigorously stood up for you and voiced our views to the Council. This is the reason that I campaigned and stood up for Ellacombe: purely and simply because, like you, I put the needs of people before the needs of any political or bureaucratic machine.

You elected me as an independent, but I am standing for the general election as a UKIP candidate. You have every right to ask why, when I am so fiercely independent as a councillor. Well, I believe that we need to fight to protect the voice of the individual against the anti-democratic bureaucracy of the European Union (EU), and UKIP is the only main party prepared to do this.

We now know that all the other main political parties have given in to the Eurocrats. The capitulation over the Lisbon Treaty by the Labour Government, the refusal of the Liberal Democrats to see that working for change within the EU is impossible, and now the betrayal of its promise of a referendum by the Conservative opposition, leaves only UKIP to fight to take us out. We must do this because the EU does not have the UK's interests at heart.

I think it is important to remember that I have never belonged to a political party before in my life. I am not, therefore ‘jumping ship’ to join the UKIP because I have not been on a ‘ship’ before. That is, in part, a measure of how seriously I take this threat to our liberties.

The UK has to pay £45,000,000 - yes, forty-five million pounds - EACH DAY, EVERY DAY to the EU. That is £16,425,000,000 every single year.

Consider the fact that we are in a battle to recover from a major recession. Ellacombe was given precious little investment before the collapse of the world's economies. How much investment can we expect to get now? Imagine what we could do with the minutest fraction of the obscene amounts of money paid each year to the EU. In my view, and, if the results of June’s European Elections are anything to go by, the view of many, many people in Torbay is that this drain on our economy is totally unacceptable.

A common misconception is that, because we are now a member state (did you know, as of 1 December, we ceased to be a country and became just a state?) of the EU, we are stuck with our membership. This is nonsense: we can just leave at any time. Treaties can be broken when they no longer suit.

The coming general election will be different from others that we have known. It will be a stand-up fight for the future of democracy: government by the governed. I will not be found wanting in that fight and I welcome the opportunity to fight with UKIP.

How will this work in practice? Up until the general election, I will continue to work on both fronts. If you know me at all, you will know that I am a workaholic, so this dual role does not daunt me! I have taken some local people, people I respect, into my confidence, and they are content that I do this.

You will still be able to contact me, up to ten hours a day, six days a week, exactly as you have been able to do since I was elected - and before. No couple of hours once a month for me! As always, if I am not available, there is always a real person to speak to for leaving messages or who will be able to point you in the right direction at the council if you cannot wait until I get back.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and your comments on this. I know that many of you are not keen to leave comments on message boards, so feel free to email me (votejulien@btopenworld.com) or telephone: 293217, or drop me a line c/o Sparkle, 63 Princes Road, TQ1 1NW, or just drop in to see me.

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