News courtesy of Kevin Foster
(MP for Torbay)
Torbay School Decision Deferred
Councillors were due to take a decision on a plan to move Torbay School to the Parkfield Site as part of a scheme to open a new Primary School in Paignton.
The new Primary School would be the first in the bay for 20 years and is linked to the desperate need for more school places in Paignton. On Thursday Councillors voted by 16 to 14 to defer the decision until July. You can read more about the debate at the meeting on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
Council Broadcast On Line
Conservative Group Leader Cllr Dave Thomas decided to give voters a “fly on the wall” view of a Full Council meeting this week by broadcasting live from his desk during the meeting.
The result is a video that gives a feel of what it is like to sit through a meeting as a Councillor. The stream sadly cuts off after 90 minutes and the sound quality is not great, but it is well worth a view.
Dave has posted a recording of the video on his Facebook site which you can find by clicking here.
Pothole Cash From Government
On Wednesday it was announced that Torbay Council will be receiving £71,000 of funding from the government to help fill in approximately 1,300 potholes.
The money is part of nearly £50 million of funding that will be made available to local councils over the next 12 months. The amount allocated to each Council is based on the size of its road network, rather than the population it serves.
Pension and Tax Changes Come In
Wednesday marked the start of the new financial year and with it changes to tax allowances, plus the implementation of one of the biggest changes to the State Pension system in decades.
Pensions: The new State Pension, which will be paid to those reaching State Pension Age on or after 6th April 2016, is intended to make entitlements clearer with only 1 pension that is calculated based on your National Insurance records.
The full new State Pension is £155.65p per week. This differs from the previous system where 2 State Pensions were paid, the Basic State Pension and an additional Second State Pension based on the number of years you had paid National Insurance (NI) for. There is also an ability to count some years spent bringing up children towards it.
As there is now only one State Pension the ability to “contract out” from part of NI contributions has ended. This means all in work paying NI will be building up qualification years required for their pension, a point that has been missed in some recent media coverage about this change.
If you have any queries about the new State Pension system there is a wealth of information on the Government website. Just click here to find it. It is worth checking this information regularly as the amount you are likely to receive, as well as the age you will receive it at, may change over coming decades.
Those already receiving their State Pension are not affected by these changes.
Tax Changes: The change you are most likely to notice is that the Personal Allowance for Income Tax has risen to £11,000 per year for the first time. In addition to this a new Personal Savings Allowance has been introduced which means the first £1,000 of interest a basic rate taxpayer earns on their savings will be completely tax free.
There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently following the Government announcement that all schools will convert to Academy Status.
This debate is slightly different in Torbay as two thirds of our local schools have already chosen to convert to academy status since the first academies were created over a decade ago, with more set to convert having already decided to do so. This means there was already an emerging issue about requiring Torbay Council to maintain a Local Education Authority structure for the small number of schools choosing not to convert.
Whilst the Academy status debate has attracted the most attention nationally the review of the schools funding formula has more significance for the bay. At the moment our schools receive one of the lowest amounts of funding per pupil in the country. Changing this could see millions in additional funding for our schools, hence Kevin Foster’s petition calling for Fairer Funding that he submitted to parliament last year.
Business Drop In Event
The Heart of the South West LEP is running a series of free Pop-Up Business Cafés at established café venues across the region.
The next event is at Dot’s Pantry in Union St, Torquay on Friday 15th April, starting at 9am until 12pm.
The informal event, which is co-hosted by TDA, Torquay Chamber of Commerce and local business organisations, offer one-to-one ‘no pressure, no sales pitch’ advice. The Business Cafes complement the main “Service for All” element of the Growth Hub, which started to operate last month, providing a one-stop shop for business advice and signposting.
Have Your Dogs Had Their Chips?
On Wednesday, 6 April 2016, a new law came into force that requires all dogs to be micro-chipped.
The new law states that all dogs, over the age of eight weeks, will be required to have been implanted with a working microchip and that up to date contact details of their owners are available on a registered database. If the microchip and contact details are not in place dog owners could face a fine of up to £500.
It was already a legal requirement to make sure that a dog is wearing a collar and ID tag when in a public place, which includes if it strays from a private property and onto public land. The change in law has been put in place to try and reduce the number of stray dogs that cannot be reunited with their owners due to there being no way of identifying who the dog belongs to, it also makes it easier to deal with dogs being used for illegal purposes where owners are, predictably, not keen to implant an ID Chip.
If you have any concerns about the new law there is some easy to follow advice on the Dogs Trust website that you can find by clicking here.
Town Councils For Paignton & Torquay
A debate on whether Torquay and Paignton should follow Brixham by setting up their own Town Council’s was started this week after Torbay’s Elected Mayor, Gordon Oliver, raised the idea.
Those with long memories will recall that prior to amalgamation in the 1960’s to form the current Torbay all three towns had their own council. The amalgamation means Paignton and Torquay are now the largest towns in the South West not to have their own specific Council. This has prompted a debate about whether a Town Council, based on the Brixham model, would help bring focus to discussions around issues specific to the Town, such as revival of local High Streets and heritage assets.
What is not being suggested is that these Town Councils should undertake the delivery of services such as Social Care or Highways that are undertaken by Torbay Council as a Unitary Authority. Only the largest towns and cities in our region (Plymouth, Bournemouth, Swindon and Bristol) have their own Unitary Authority. Others such as Exeter City Council are District or Town Councils covering a more limited range of local services.
Police Ask For Help Identifying Torquay Car Vandals
Torquay Police are appealing for help in identifying two men they would like to question about vandalism to six cars in Museum Road on the night of 28th/29thMarch.
Thanks to CCTV the Police have two clear pictures of the men and someone on this update list may recognise them. The pictures have been posted onto the Herald Express website and you can find them by clicking here.
Take a moment to have a look as the incident is also being linked to significant damage to the Simla Spice Restaurant that evening.
Seeing Potential In All
Torbay’s Blue Sea Food Company is one of the business case studies being used by the Department of Work and Pensions in their national See Potential campaign.
See Potential is a campaign that helps employers realise the benefits of recruiting people who are either long-term unemployed, ex-offenders, rehabilitating drug or alcohol addicts, care leavers, homeless or at risk of being homeless.
For many being given a chance to work by a local employer marks a turning point and a chance to build a future that moves away from past problems.
An initiative from the TDA is aiming to ensure those thinking about their future career get a taste for technology.
As part of British Science Week and National Apprenticeship Week, hand-picked students were invited into Gooch & Housego’s headquarters in Torquay. The students were given a glimpse of what their future could look like as part of the TDA’s portfolio of MADE activities.
Year 12 and 13 A level Physics and Maths students with an interest in manufacturing or engineering were given a tour of the site to see fibre optic technology in action, followed by an opportunity to speak to apprentices and graduates about their experiences.
MADE (Manufacturing Activities Designed to Engage) is a pilot project delivering a variety of manufacturing focused activities to inspire and excite young people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) learning from Primary School, through Secondary School into further education and beyond.
Engineering and Manufacturing companies that are interested in providing a one week work experience placement to young people interested in careers in engineering can contact Debbie Passmore on 01803 208378 or click here for more information.
Torbay Business Forum, Business Breakfast – Tuesday 12th April 2016
This month the Forum welcomes Steve Harper from SHADO Car Design Consultancy who will be talking to us on his 35+ years of designing cars & how he achieved international success. The Breakfast is being held from 07:30am till 9am at the Riviera International Conference Centre, Torquay. Click here to purchase tickets.
Sat 16th Apr 2016 Stone Age School: Hunter
Which materials were used by Stone Age people to make their hunting tools? come and find out in this session and then make your own bow and arrow or spear before trying it out!
The sessions at Kent’s Cavern run from 10.00 – 12.00 or 14.00 – 16.00 whatever the weather and are open to children aged 6 – 12. Pre-Booking is essential and you can select an annual pass to all 10 Stone Age School sessions for £35 or select individual events for £5 each. Just click here to find out more.