News courtesy of Kevin Foster
(MP for Torbay)
Any views expressed in this news post are those of Kevin Foster, unless stated otherwise.
BHS Store Gets New Tenant
Retail chain BUYology announced it would be moving into the former BHS store in Union St, Torquay.
The retail chain currently has stores in South Wales, Plympton and Bridgewater. It sells a wide range of products ranging from furniture and carpets to food. You can read more on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
It’s good news that a new tenant has been found so quickly for this large building as it would have been a disaster for it to be left vacant like the old B&Q.
Geo Park Conference Rocks Torbay
On Tuesday morning the world’s eyes were on Torbay as the 7th International UNESCO Conference on GeoParks kicked off with a wonderful opening ceremony at the Riviera Centre.
The opening ceremony focused on how the rocks link us all and the way time is layered in them. One interesting point made during the ceremony is that a new geological age is seen to have started with the impact of man on the earth over the last 60 years. The testing of nuclear weapons in the past, the search for natural resources and the impact of development is leaving traces of our existence in the way dinosaur fossils tell us about their times.
The conference has seen nearly 700 delegates from over fifty countries visit Torbay, bringing an estimated visitor spend of £1.6m with them.
HI Tech Funding Boost
There was good news for efforts to create more hi-tech skills in the bay this week as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) awarded a £1million grant toward the new Hi-Tech and Digital Centre to be built at South Devon College’s Vantage Point campus.
This award is one of the largest grants from the HEFCE Catalyst Fund to a Further Education College to date and recognises the importance of the new Centre which will offer even more opportunities for local students to develop higher skills and gain university level qualifications in Torbay and South Devon.
The facility is set to open in September 2019 and individuals will have access to workshops and studios to practice 3D printing, develop Augmented and Virtual Reality environments and explore techniques for rapid prototyping of new products. There will be zones for creative and technical design including Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) facilities, alongside design suites and zones for more traditional activities such as classrooms and lecture theatres. In total the project will see £17m invested to deliver these facilities.
It is great to note this project is moving forward and you can read more about it on South Devon College’s website by clicking here.
Meeting with Pluss
On Wednesday, Kevin Foster met with representatives from PLUSS, a Devon-based organisation that offers employment, training and development opportunities to those with disabilities.
A number of services are offered by PLUSS here in the Bay, including Project SEARCH, a program that arranges 12 month internships for young people with learning disabilities; Work Choice, the DWP’s specialist disability employment program, and Opportunities, a support program for people with mental health issues.
He’s looking forward to working more closely with PLUSS over the coming months, including helping to arrange a ‘Disability Confident’ event early next year.
Summer Dog Ban Lifted
Tomorrow (Saturday 1st October) marks the end of the summer ban on dogs being exercised on many of the beaches across the bay.
That said the ban on not cleaning up after your dog is year round and whilst the vast majority of dog owners are responsible a small minority let the side down. If dog fouling is a problem in your area you can report it on the council website by clicking here.
Whilst we all like to see the roads we use getting repaired or improved this does mean roadworks taking place to do so.
The latest list of works is available on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
Do You Know An Unsung Hero?
Kevin Foster has been asked to promote the fact that nominations are open for the 3rd Annual Community Awards and the search is on for South Devon’s Unsung Heroes.
There are a range of categories you can nominate someone for, including awards specifically aimed at recognising younger residents who make a big contribution. You can find details on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
The Government announced this week that Arriva, the current operator, had secured the franchise to run the Intercity Crosscountry Network until October 2019.
Under the new deal trains which link Paignton to Manchester may get a little quicker as it includes taking up to 12 minutes off the journey time from Birmingham to Manchester. There is also a promise of 37,000 extra seats on the route from Plymouth to Edinburgh (That passes through Totnes and Newton Abbot) by December 2017. The government will support this with a £20m investment in more modern trains.
The change that most passengers will benefit from is the promise to roll out free WIFI by April 2018 and invest in 4G to improve connection speeds. At the moment WIFI is only free in First Class carriages and connection speeds for the paid service in standard are fairly slow. Finally the new agreement includes waiving the £10 ‘change of travel’ fee for advance tickets from January 2017
Whilst the main focus of our rail network is connections to London, the Crosscountry routes connect the bay with many parts of the country that provide a regular source of visitors each summer. The more that decide to come by train to the bay the better.
Who Makes The Better Drivers?
It is the age old debate that splits the nation virtually 50/50: Who makes the better drivers women or men?
This week some statistics were released that might provoke some further discussion as it was revealed that Torquay women were more likely to pass their driving theory test first time than Torquay men.
You can read more about this on the Herald Express website by clicking here.