Some local (and otherwise) news


News courtesy of Kevin Foster

(MP for Torbay)
Any views expressed in this news post are those of Kevin Foster, unless stated otherwise.

Christmas In Torquay Town Centre

Given the negative publicity around the issue of Christmas Lights. here are the plans that have been announced by Torbay Council for Christmas in Torquay Town Centre.

Creative installations, workshops and choirs all feature in a programme of activity in Torquay Town Centre which will run from Saturday 26 November to Saturday 24 December 2016. These have been made possible through funding from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund (£25K) and Elected Mayor Gordon Oliver’s event fund (£5K).  The Coastal Communities funding cannot be used for anything other than a new event with the aim for it to be sustainable in future years.

There are plans for four spaces around the town centre to host sound and light installations made by local artists. There will also be free activities available each Saturday including:

  • Saturday 26 November – a story trail throughout the town centre
  • Saturday 3 and  Saturday 10 December – craft and lantern workshops
  • Saturday 17 December – a choir competition which will be open to the public vote

More details of the programme, including timings, artists and how to vote for your favourite choir performance, will be forthcoming in early November.

Homelessness Reduction Bill

The Homelessness Reduction Bill was debated in the House of Commons today and was supported by all MPs present for the debate.

It started out as a private member’s bill brought forward by a Conservative back-bencher with little chance of becoming law. Yet over time it has gained cross-party support and been redrafted, and last Monday saw the welcome announcement that the government would be supporting it.

Charities working in this sector, such as Crisis, believe this is the most important development in law for nearly 40 years. Kevin Foster also took the chance during my own speech today to highlight the work done by local charities in the bay to support those who either face homelessness or are going into new accommodation. These include Anode, the Leonard Stocks Centre and the Salvation Army. You can listen to what he said by clicking here.

The bill provides extra support to those who are currently not entitled to receive any meaningful assistance. It puts an end to the current situation whereby single homeless people are often turned away by local councils because they are not deemed to be a ‘priority’.  It also puts more focus on early intervention and prevention so that fewer people become homeless in the first place.

Significantly, the Minister confirmed he is looking at ways to cover the extra costs that will fall on local authorities such as Torbay Council from these new duties. Kevin will be monitoring this aspect of the bill very closely as it is vital the bill does not just see the law change, but makes a real difference to those affected by the threat of homelessness.

The bill will now be considered in detail and is expected back on the floor of the House of Commons for its final consideration in January.

Family Home Protection Bill

Earlier today parliament debated a bill aimed at tackling the issue of family sized homes being converted into much smaller residential units.

This is a real issue in parts of Torquay and Paignton Town Centres where homes have been converted into what can be poor quality accommodation. During the debate I took the chance to raise the particular issues in Morgan Avenue and Melville Hill with the Minister.

Whilst the bill will not make further progress due to shortage of time for debate it was encouraging to hear the minister’s comments on the matter.

You can listen to Kevin’s speech and the rest of the debate by clicking here.

NHS Drugs Rip Off

Given the debates ongoing about the future of Paignton Hospital and the need to better fund mental health services you can imagine some anger when it was heard that a small number of companies have been dramatically increasing the cost of some drugs to the NHS.

Kevin used the benefit of Parliamentary Privilege (which means MPs cannot be sued for their comments in parliament) to name two such companies in a debate this week on a proposed new law to stop this practice. You can read his comments and the entire debate by clicking here.

The sole suppliers greatly increasing the prices of these drugs (beyond any necessary level due to inflation) has seen the bill to the NHS for just 50 items raise by £267m annually. Several examples have risen by 1,000s of percent leaving an awful choice under the current law of either not treating someone in pain or accepting the new price.

There is no issue with a pharmaceutical company getting a fair reward following investing in the development of a new treatment. Yet this issue is not about a reasonable profit but profiteering.

Concentrix Debate

Over recent months several residents have been having had problems with their Tax Credit payments after receiving letters from Concentrix.

Concentrix was contracted by HMRC to help identify those who may be claiming tax credits incorrectly, yet things quickly went wrong. Residents in Torbay received letters indicating they may be in a relationship with someone living down the road or a former resident. Some Scottish families were asked if they had moved in with the shop on the ground floor of their property. Finally when calling to correct these issues many faced unacceptably long delays on hold.

The Labour Opposition called a debate on this contract and you can read Kevin’s speech and the comments of other MPs by clicking here.

The National Audit Office is now investigating what happened with this contract and the lessons that can be learned.

Water Problems in TQ1

South West Water issued a ‘discolouration notification’ to customers in the TQ1 area yesterday morning, warning customers that water is not completely clear when the tap is turned on.

Whilst the water is likely to not be harmful, South West Water advised customers not to use the water for drinking or washing, and to ‘run the water through’ by running your cold water tap in the kitchen for up to 2 hours until the discolouration has cleared.

If you have been affected by discoloured water, and if you are on a meter, you are able to claim a ‘run-off allowance’. Please call 0344 346 1010 or click here for more details on how to claim.

Public Meeting on Paignton Hospital

The consultation on plans to close Paignton Hospital is continuing and just a quick reminder that Central Paignton Churches will be holding a public meeting on the proposed closure on Saturday 5th November at 10am.

The venue is Paignton Parish Church and all are welcome to attend.

Torquay Road Roadworks

From Monday 31 October 2016 major road works will commence at the junction with Cecil Road, Paignton, for an estimated four weeks.

During the first two weeks, work will be undertaken under three way traffic lights while work takes place in the Paignton bound lane. During the second two week period, the Torquay bound side of the road will be reconstructed. During this period, Cecil Road will be closed at the junction and a diversion will be in place with Torquay Road operating under two way traffic lights.

Once all the works have been completed, there will be a new road surface which will be smoother to drive on, but bear these works in mind if planning an important journey during peak periods.

Roadworks at Scott’s Bridge

Work has started to widen the Newton Abbot bound side of Riviera Way at the junction of Riviera Way and Newton Road, known locally as Scott’s Bridge.

The road works, which will take up to 18 weeks to complete, will provide a dedicated left turn lane into Newton Road. This lane will improve the traffic flow on Riviera Way, allow additional time when the traffic lights are green and will increase the amount of traffic moving through this junction.
At certain periods during these works, one of the Newton Abbot bound lanes will need to be closed, but this will be limited to outside of peak traffic hours.

Again, bear these works in mind if planning an important journey.

Ring Tone Protection For Bank Details

Many of us will be concerned that a relative might be conned by scammers looking to get their bank details over the phone.

This can be a particular issue for those suffering from Dementia, so local campaigner Norms McNamara has worked to produce a ringtone that gives helpful reminder not to give out these details. The aim is to remind the user at the key moment not to give out details via a musical track.

You can find more details by clicking here.

Stagecoach Service Change

Travellers who use the Stagecoach bus between Torbay and Exeter face major changes to bus times as the company is planning to halve the service.

The X46 bus service, which completes around ten journeys each day between Torbay and Exeter, will be relaunched next month, and renamed the 46, yet it will make fewer journeys between Exeter and the bay each day. The bus company is blaming a drop in passenger numbers on the route for this decision

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

Sending A Letter To Santa?

As the big day gets a bit nearer many children will be thinking about letting Father Christmas know what presents they would like.

If your children or grandchildren want to request a train set, cuddly toy or board game it is easy to do so via his helpers at Royal Mail.

All they need to do is write his special address on a stamped envelope and include their list, plus their own details, so he can respond. They just need to write by Friday 9th December. You can find all details needed to get the letter to Reindeerland on Royal Mail’s website by clicking here.



Jollyween Party
Saturday 29th October 2019 5pm – 7pm at St Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road, Torquay
An evening of fun, food, games and activities that is an alternative to Halloween. All are welcome although no fancy dress is requested.

Halloween Evenings of Mini Horrors
Until 31st October 2016, 10:30-19:30, Babbacombe Model Village, Hampton Avenue, Torquay, TQ1 3LA
Cost: Regular Admission Prices Apply
Booking: No booking necessary.
For more information please click here.

Halloween Ghost Hunt
29th-30th October 2016, 20:00-02:00, Torquay Museum, 529 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, TQ1 1HG
Cost: £25 per ticket (No U14s – U18s must be accompanied by an adult)
Booking: Can be reserved by calling 01803 293975
For more information please click here.

Halloween Half Term Fun
Until 31st October 2016, 10:30-16:00, Kents Cavern, Ilsham Road, Torquay, TQ1 2JF
Cost: Regular Admission Prices Apply
Booking: No booking necessary.
For more information please click here.

Fireworks Displays
4th-6th November, Various Times and Locations
Please click here for a list of all fireworks displays – more information next week.

Ageing Well Woodwork Workshops
Various dates between 16 November and 15 December.
Using crafting, carving or pyrography, to express yourself in a unique way.
Click here for more information.

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