Freeports: what does it mean to live in a freeport or special economic zone and does it matter? Event TOMORROW live-streamed

What exactly is ‘one of the largest economic development projects in the South Hams’ – and why has no-one heard much about it?

Why did South Hams District Council enter into a legally binding agreement with multi-million pound risks and liabilities over a year ago without asking its tax-paying residents?

Is anyone pulling the strings of our councils and to what end?

And with significant investment into a partnership with private companies whilst council services are cut, what do residents really get in return?

The Plymouth & South Devon Freeport is raising significant concern, not least because of the lack of clarity on its arrangement, integrity and economic effectiveness.

The public have been given a short time in which to express their opinion on South Hams strategic plan (which includes reference to working with the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport) through a public consultation, yet unbiased information is very hard to come by.

Register HERE to attend in person or via YouTube.

Chaired by George Monbiot, this session is designed to help residents in the South Hams to make informed comment and to share information with viewers from elsewhere about freeports and special economic zones generally. 19:00, Friday 17 November, St Mary’s Totnes and Y


George Monbiot – Chair. George, who barely needs an introduction, is a renowned journalist, author and activist, covering topics from climate and ecology to politics, culture and human rights. He spoke on Freeports at a recent event in Dartington, where it was clear that the region’s involvement was news to most.

Jim Funnell is an independent writer and campaigner who fights for transparency on the use of public money, and for social and environmental justice. 

Jim writes for West Country Voices and the new, relaunching Totnes Pulse online magazine. 

Jacqi Hodgson is a Totnes Town and South Hams District Councillor and former mayor of Totnes. Jacqi has been a member of the Green Party for more than 30 years. For most of her professional life she worked for charities concerned with environmental care and community development.

David Powell is an artist and reluctant political activist. He goes by the name of Europeanpowell on Twitter and has amassed a good-sized following. Since 2016, he’s been researching and posting about deregulated Freeports, Special Economic Zones (SEZs), and charter cities where the dangers of corporate governance depend on an absence of democracy to succeed.

Anthea Simmons is the editor-in-chief of West Country Voices. She is an author, activist and campaigner for real democracy, amongst other things.

We hope to address a range of questions including:

  • What exactly IS a freeport?
  • How did we come to be living in one?
  • Why does the Plymouth and South Devon freeport encompass such a large area, including Dartmoor? 
  • What opportunities and threats does it present for our region?
  • Where does the power lie?
  • Should we be thrilled, worried or indifferent?

There are conflicting views as to the desirability or otherwise of these deregulated, tax-free zones and the official information on them is often opaque, while media coverage is either enthusiastic or mistrustful. Some see the freeport as a fantastic opportunity for prosperity and jobs. Many fear that  the combination of tax breaks and deregulation threatens important rights and protections for people and the environment. Others worry about the scope for crime and corruption or about the agenda of politicians looking to turn England into Singapore-by-Sea.  

Where does the truth lie? Join us to find out more!