Some local (and otherwise) news


News courtesy of Kevin Foster

(MP for Torbay)

Oldway Development Deal Cancelled

Earlier this week it was announced that the Council and the prospective developers had agreed to cancel the development deal involving Oldway Mansion.

The council issued a short press statement confirming this news and basic information about the agreement, which included bringing to an end the court proceedings in relation to it. You can read the statement by clicking here.

Given the lack of any real progress in terms of getting work underway to both repair and refurbish the mansion the cancellation of this deal is welcome news. It had been clear for some time that there was no realistic prospect of the developer fulfilling the agreement, but alternatives could not be discussed whilst it was in place.

That said the same challenges that faced Oldway Mansion when this deal was signed remain and this includes finding a practical solution for the long term. The mansion and associated buildings need millions of pounds of repairs, with a large ongoing maintenance bill to ensure it does not end up in the same state in 10 or 15 years’ time. It is also worth noting that whilst the state rooms in the building are magnificent, many others reflect their use as council offices for many years, with unsympathetic additions.

In response to some thoughts expressed on Social Media Kevin Foster will be making enquiries with the National Trust, although I understand they have been approached before about the building and declined. He is also arranging a meeting with the Chair of the Friends Group to discuss his thoughts on the next steps.

It is important that any ideas for Oldway are practical ones as unrealistic or undeliverable demands will just see the place left to rot further. That said this jewel in the bay’s crown could, with the right vision, become a real asset again as is happening with the Paignton Picture House.

Full House For Paignton Picture House

Whilst Oldway has been in the headlines another much loved building, Paignton Picture House announced this week it would be open for the first time in decades to mark the Heritage Open weekend.

This was great news given how long it has been closed, yet like many of the blockbusters it once showed on its silver screen the tours quickly booked up.

The Picture House Trust advises that it is looking to add some additional tour dates throughout the autumn and you can find the details on their dedicated page by clicking here.

TV Licence Needed For iPlayer

If you watch or download programs from the BBC iPlayer and do not already have a TV Licence then you will soon need to buy one.

From 1 September 2016 you will need to be covered by a TV Licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer. This applies to any device and provider you use to access it. You can find out more on the TV Licensing website by clicking here.

This change is being made to reflect the way many are using the iPlayer to access BBC programs rather than watching them on their TV. That said video commercial on demand services such as Netflix and YouTube are not covered by this requirement to buy a TV licence.

Whilst the TV Licence is going to continue for the next decade my own view is that technology is rapidly overtaking it and in the 2020’s there will need to be a serious debate about how we fund our public service broadcaster.

Imperial Hotel Sold

It was announced yesterday that Torquay’s iconic Imperial Hotel will soon have new owners, the Brownsword Hotel Group.

The new owners have spoken to the Herald Express and it is welcome to note their intention to invest in the hotel over the next two to five years. In the not too distant past the Hotel was the only 5* star in the region although it now operates as a 4*.

You can read more on the Herald Express website by clicking here.

Bats Get A Boost

Bats in the bay will have a better future after over £20,000 has been raised to enhance and repair roosting sites.

Staff from the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project, which is led by Devon Wildlife Trust, identified £26,000 of funding required for work to improve bat roost sites. The funding will cover enhancement of at least one damaged maternity roost and restoration of insect-rich habitat around roosts such as the one at Berry Head. After the first month, the Homes for Bats appeal has reached 80 per cent of that target.

You can read more about it on the Herald Express website by clicking here.

Shark in the Waters

The hit film series “Jaws” gave sharks a bad name, yet this week it was beach users saving, not being threatened by, a shark that hit the headlines.

A rare Starry Smooth Hound Shark had got confused in shallow waters at Woolacombe Beach and was likely to die if it did not reach deeper water. Luckily Beach Rangers and the RNLI helped it out.

You can read more on the Herald Express website by clicking here.

Rail Fares To Rise With Inflation

On Wednesday it was announced that regulated rail fares will rise by 1.9% in January.

The annual increase in fares is currently tied to the July rate of inflation (based on the RPI measure), unlike in the past when above inflation rises were common. The increase in ticket prices is below the average increase in earnings.

Culture Funding Confirmed

Torbay Culture Board has secured £245,000 of funding from Arts Council England to deliver the next phase of Torbay’s ten year cultural strategy.

The award will be used to develop cultural projects, audiences and engagement in Torbay over a three year period, including a ground-breaking new ‘arts and culture on referral’ initiative in partnership with Torbay’s health sector.

You can read more about the work this will help fund on the Torbay Culture website by clicking here.

Zombie Knives Ban

A ban on the sale, importation and manufacture of zombie knives comes into effect across England and Wales yesterday.

The knives can have cutting blades of up to 25 inches, have a serrated edge and include images or words that glamorise violence. Whilst some buy them as “collectors’ items” there is no legitimate purpose that requires a knife of this nature to be used, hence the government moving to ban them. Those breaking this new law could face up to four years in prison.

You can read more about this on the Government website by clicking here.

Rhino Trail Continues

Across South Devon and Exeter many visitors and residents are enjoying spotting the 42 colourful Rhinos that make up the Great Big Rhinos trail.

If you have not had chance to spot some yet then it is easy to do, just visit the dedicated website by clicking here.

The project is not just about having fun, the serious purpose is to help support conservation work for these magnificent, but endangered species, several of whom have a home at Paignton Zoo. You can see some wonderful photos of one enjoying a water spray session this week on the Herald Express website by clicking here.

Did He Take The High or Low Road on 900 mile ride?

Perhaps you have been following the success of Team GB at the Olympics, in particular the storming successes achieved on the cycle track.

Yet this week there was another cycling feat of note as Torquay Grandad Ron Keegan completed his 900 mile ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Ron was in a group with other local riders helping raise money for charity.

Ron, who celebrates his 78th birthday today, managed this epic challenge in just 10 days, with his journey ending at approx. 6:30pm on Wednesday after a final 120 mile ride from Inverness. It is not known whether Ron took the high or low road to get to Scotland, but he will be able to put his feet up on the journey home as the group he travelled with are flying back south. You can read more about the ride, plus details of how you can support the charities involved, on the Herald Express website by clicking here.


John Bryden Organ Recital

20th August 2016 – 19:30, St Matthias’ Church, Wellswood, TQ1 1HW
Cost: £10 includes wine & nibbles
Booking: No booking necessary, tickets available on the night
For more information, call 01803 214175

French Market

20th – 24th August 2016- Princess Promenade, Torbay Road, Torquay, TQ2 5EZ
Cost: Free
Booking: No booking necessary.
For more information, click here

Torbay Royal Regatta Fireworks

22nd August 2016, 21:30 – Corbyn Head, Torquay, TQ2 6RH
Cost: Free
Booking: No booking necessary
For more information, click here

Torbay Regatta 10k Run 2016

21st August 2016, 18:00 – Beacon Terrace, Torquay, TQ1 2BH
Cost: £11 if competing
Booking: Must book to compete
For more information, click here


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