News courtesy of Kevin Foster
(MP for Torbay)
South Devon Highway Opens
The early hours of Tuesday morning brought a significant moment for the bay as the South Devon Highway opened.
If you have not yet used the new road you can find diagrams of the junctions by clicking here.
Who Was First?
As the minutes ticked away towards the opening of the South Devon Highway the question we were all asking was “Who will be first?”.
We all wondered if someone would really be so keen to be first that they would hang around for a couple of hours in the early hours of the morning to do so, even though no announcement had been made to confirm the road was about to open. We quickly had our answer as one motorist was spotted keenly following the convoy of vehicles heading down the road marking its actual opening to general traffic.
By doing this Steve Parr from Kingskerswell claimed his place in history as the first motorist to drive down the road, with the Herald Express even getting a photo to confirm it. You can read the full story by clicking here.
Travelling by Train This Christmas?
If you are planning to travel by train over the festive season, check before you travel as Network Rail is conducting a large amount of engineering work between Christmas and New Year.
Services to London Paddington from the west will be particularly affected so if planning a journey do take time to check the dedicated section of the GWR website by clicking here.
As normal there will be no trains on Christmas Day or Boxing Day.
Launch of Consultation on Respite Centre
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust has launched a consultation on proposed changes to Torquay’s Baytree House, a short-breaks-and-respite unit for carers of people with a learning disability.
The Trust wants to look at alternative ways of providing short breaks. It is therefore proposing to close its in-house facility, Baytree House, and work with carers and individuals to find new short-break options.
You can find more information, including details of how to respond to the consultation, by clicking here.
Need to Use the Lift At Newton Abbot Station?
If you need assistance when travelling by train or planning a trip with heavy luggage then you may wish to note that the lifts at Newton abbot Station will be out of action for refurbishment works.
As this is a major refurbishment, it will take some time to complete and both lifts at the station will need to be closed for 13 weeks starting from Monday 11thJanuary 2016.
Great Western Railway said that additional staff will be on hand to help, and free onward road transport (including wheelchair accessible taxis) will be provided for customers who cannot use the stairs to and from either Totnes or Exeter St Davids. These are the nearest accessible stations.
The national assisted travel booking system has been amended to alert customers to the temporary situation so they can allow more time, and so that road transport is ready for them when they travel
If you might need assistance this can be booked in advance on freephone 0800 197 1329 (between 0700 and 2200) or online at www.gwr.com.
2016 Riviera Guide Now Online
This week the ERTC published their 2016 Tourist Guide to the English Riviera on line.
You can download a copy by clicking here.
Council Finance Settlement and Peer Review
Yesterday, in the House of Commons, the funding settlement for local councils was announced.
Traditionally each Council has had to wait until December to find out exactly how much cash it will have to run services for the year ahead. This has made it more difficult for councils to plan ahead or plan sensible use of reserves. This year the Government has announced a guaranteed level of funding for the next four years, a welcome move.
The first few years of the settlement see further reductions in government funding as the remainder of the deficit is removed, but at a reduced rate compared to that seen over the last five years. Funding is then set to rise again in the last years of this parliament. The Government also made a number of changes to how funding is calculated, including assuming Council Tax will rise by inflation, rather than the 2% maximum (The 2% precept for Social Care will be on top of this)
A number of comments were made during the statement about the split of funding between rural and urban areas. There were also several comments made about the future funding of Social Care given more people are living well into their 80’s and 90’s.
Kevin Foster flagged the issue of funding for coastal communities during the debate on the statement and you can read the question he asked by clicking here.
The Local Government Association has recently been working with Torbay Council on a Peer Review, part of which has been looking at the financial situation of the council. The results of this will be published in the new year.
Homeless Clothed at Pop Up Store
The Festive Season can see lots of so called “pop up” stores spring up to help us spend even more on all the things that seem so essential at this time of year.
Yet a recent pop up shop held in Central Church, Torquay helped ensure some have the real essentials. “Street store” is an idea that has spread across the globe in recent years helping distributed clothing to the homeless. The recent event in Torquay was the 370th to open worldwide.
You can read more on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
Are You On Google?
If you can recall seeing an odd looking car with cameras on it driving through Paignton last summer, then you might be the latest star of Google Street view.
The cars with their 360° view captured a number of views of people going about their daily business and you could be one of them. The Herald Express has created a gallery of the 14 best pictures that you can find by clicking here.
Latest on Torre Traffic Reversal
The plans by the Council to reverse the flow of traffic through Union St in Torre are still taking shape.
In the past traffic heading into Torquay Town Centre would follow the direct route through Union St, yet changes to the road layout made about 40 years ago mean a detour via Lymington Road is necessary. Whilst locals who are familiar with the route can find their way, visitors can quickly get confused looking for the Town Centre.
The Council’s Transport Working Party considered the plans this week and decided to approve them. You can read the papers considered at that meeting by clicking here.
Thurs 17 Dec – Sun 20 Dec & Thurs 24 Dec: 10.30am-4pm, Santas Magical Reindeer Grotto, Gallery level, Fleet Walk, Torquay. Organised by the Rotary Club of St Marychurch, Babbacombe and Tormohun.
Sat 19 Dec: 10am-2pm, Babbacombe Cliff Railway. This Christmas, our popular “Santa’s Postbox” is back. Go on the Cliff Railway and enjoy a trip to the Visitor Centre full of sparkle where the children can write and post their letter to Father Christmas. There’s mulled wine and mince pies for the grown ups too. Just £5.95 per child (to include one adult).
Sat 19 & Sun 20 Dec: 1-4pm Christmas family fun at Torre Abbey. Making wreaths, xmas cards plus children’s trails in the house and garden. Prices £3.50 for children, £5 for adults
Thu 24th Dec 4pm Come and make a Christingle at Goodrington Methodist Church, Grange Road, Paignton, for use in worship at 4.30 (materials provided). Tea will be served at 5.15. Everyone is invited to take a break from the Christmas rush and look forward to the birth of Jesus.
Lots of local churches are holding events this week that residents will find a warm welcome at. The Church of England has a special website to help you find details of events at local Parish Churches which you can find by clicking here.