News courtesy of Kevin Foster
(MP for Torbay)
On Wednesday George Osborne set out the details of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
The Spending Review comprises hundreds of pages of detailed projections ranging from how our economy is expected to grow, to the level of extra taxes that will be collected by clamping down on evasion. Far too much information to list here. However, you can find a range of details on the statement, including the Chancellor’s speech to parliament, on the Government website by clicking here.
South West Water Bills
The £50 rebate on our water bills from the Government has helped reduce the burden for local residents of this bill.
On Wednesday the Chancellor confirmed that this rebate will remain in place for the rest of this Parliament, meaning we can look forward to £50 off our bills each year until at least 2020. There was some unfounded speculation earlier this year that this might be removed after the General Election, but this commitment makes clear the position.
Small Business Rates Relief
The Small Business Rate Relief that was doubled on a temporary basis a few years ago.
This doubling was due to finish in April 2016, meaning some small businesses faced an increase in their business rate bill or having to pay one. The Chancellor has now extended the doubling of the relief until at least April 2017.
Over the last few months Kevin Foster has been supporting the campaign led by our local Police and crime Commissioner to get a fairer funding settlement for Devon & Cornwall Police.
The current funding formula does not reflect the demands on our Police Force and recent proposals for changes to it were abandoned after it was realised that incorrect data had been used in the projections of funding under it. There had also been a number of discussions about the possible effect of future cuts to Police Budgets.
Given the current situation both in the UK and abroad the Police are facing a range of demands on their time, along with the need to continue their work to keep us safe locally. Consequently, the Chancellor pledged on Wednesday that there will be no further cuts to the police budget at all with funding protected in real terms.
The Government will also invest in state-of-the-art mobile communications for the emergency services, new technology at our borders and deliver a 30% rise in the counter-terrorism budget.
Fair Funding Campaign
Last week Kevin Foster launched a campaign to get a fairer deal on education funding for our schools.
Schools in Torbay receive an unfair deal regarding funding per pupil compared to other areas. I am therefore actively supporting the F40 Fair Funding Campaign who are pushing the Government to amend the formula. What this means for Torbay is an opportunity to increase education funding by up to £2.6m, equivalent to £160 per pupil. You can find out more about the campaign by clicking here.
You can help by signing the petition that can be downloaded by clicking here. You can send it back to Kevin at the House of Commons FREEPOST address given on it. Please note this address can only be used for parliamentary petitions, not general correspondence.
The Chancellor announced on Wednesday that the Government plans to abolish the current funding formula to remove the unfairness contained in it. A consultation on a replacement is due in the new year.
Council Budget Consultation
A Bay wide event will be taking place in Paignton on Monday 7th December 2015 to discuss the current Council Budget proposals for the 2016/17.
Torbay Mayor, Gordon Oliver will host the event at the Redcliffe Hotel, Paignton from 6.30pm. Everyone is welcome to the meeting to find out more about the proposals and discuss the issues and the event is being held during a six week consultation period, which ends on Friday 18 December 2015.
Torbay Council has already made savings of £50 million in the last five years and now needs to make further reductions estimated at £32.4 million over the next three years, including £12.4 million in 2016/17. Along with other local authorities, it is in the process of identifying further savings to meet the challenges posed by significant grant reductions and increasing service pressures.
Despite these cut backs, the council still spends approximately £3.1 million per week on services in the community (excluding funding for schools and housing benefit payments) and also plans to spend more than £22 million on capital schemes during 2016/17.
People who would like to express their views are also being encouraged to provide formal feedback through the consultation. The online questionnaire can be found by clicking here and paper copies are available at all Torbay libraries, harbour offices and in Connections offices.
Council To Pay Living Wage
A recent Freedom of Information Request revealed that 97 Torbay Council staff are paid below the National Living Wage Rate of £7.85 per hour. The Council has now confirmed that from April 2016 all staff will be paid above this rate. You can read more by clicking here.
Civic Carol Service
The Bay’s Annual Civic Carol Concert is taking place on Tuesday 8th December at the Riviera International Conference Centre (RICC) in Torquay.
Starting at 7.30pm, with tickets costing only £3 including a programme, this extremely well attended event is open to everyone. The concert is a celebration of traditional and modern Christmas carols and other seasonal songs. Proceeds will go to the Council Chairman’s chosen charities, which this year is Torbay Hospital League of Friends and The Rotary Club of Torquay.
Event tickets will be available on the door but to secure a ticket in advance, please call the RICC Centre Box Office on 01803 299992 or click here.
Congratulations to Hero Nurse
Last week an Off-Duty Nurse from Torbay Hospital’s A & E Unit was on the scene when a car mounted the pavement near Corbyn Head, seriously injuring a Mother and Child walking along it.
By pure coincidence former Miss Torbay, Katie Heaselden, was on the scene and used all her professional skills to help the injured pair. She is now being widely credited for helping ensure the incident did not become even more tragic. You can read the full story on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
The incident happened on Sunday 22nd November and anyone with information about it is asked to contact the Police on their non-emergency 101 number quoting reference 400 of November 22.
Torbay Calendar Available
The Celebrating Torbay 2016 calendar, which features 20 rarely seen photos of bygone Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, is now available to buy at all Torbay Libraries.
The calendar will be celebrating Torbay’s history by displaying a picture for each month of the year as well as a selection of photographs on the back that Torbay Libraries hope locals may be able to help identify. It costs £5.
Dambuster Johnny Reaches 94
In a week when the role of today’s RAF was at the forefront of political debate, the last British survivor of the Dambusters Raid celebrated his 94th birthday.
Johnny Johnson was a bomb aimer on board one of 617 Squadron’s Lancasters during the raid on the Sorpe dam in the Ruhr Valley and is the last surviving British member of the crews who took part in the raid. After retiring he spent many years living in the bay, including time as a member of Torbay Council. He now lives in Bristol.
The Herald Express included a few more details of his life that you can read by clicking here.
Sat 28-Sun 29th Nov: 10.30am-4pm, Santa’s Grotto, Gallery Level, Fleet Walk, Torquay
Tues 1st Dec: 10am-12pm, Christmas Fayre for Animals in Distress, Palace Hotel, Torquay £2 entry includes coffee and biscuits
Tues 1st & 2nd Dec: 10.45am, Lectures at Torquay Museum, ‘The Days When F1 Was Fun’ and ‘The Man Who Wrote Alfie’ – free to Torquay Museum Society Members or £4 donation for non-members.
Tues 1st Dec onwards: A Victorian Christmas at Bygones, including breakfast and tea with Santa
Thurs 3rd Dec, 7.30pm: Torbay Film Club, ‘As It Is In Heaven’, St Matthias Church Hall, Babbacombe Road, Torquay
Thurs 3rd – Sun 6th Dec: 10.30m-4pm, Santa’s Grotto, Gallery Level, Fleet Walk, Torquay
Thurs 3rd Dec, 7.30pm-9pm: Goodrington Methodist Church, Grange Road Prayers and Puddings. Eat your main meal at home and join us for a selection of delicious puddings, followed by interactive informal prayers. Everyone welcome.
Fri 4th Dec, 4-8pm: Goodrington Methodist Church, Frosty Friday with food, barbecue, craft stalls, fun and games for all ages including bouncy castle and Father Christmas.
Sat 5th & Sun 6th Dec: 10am-4pm, Christmas Fayre at Cockington Court. Santa’s grotto, mince pies, lantern parade and more. Free Entry