News courtesy of Kevin Foster
(MP for Torbay)
Any views expressed in this news post are those of Kevin Foster, unless stated otherwise.
Arrests Made Following Poppy Box Thefts
At least seven Poppy Appeal boxes were stolen in Torquay and one in Paignton over Remembrance Day Weekend.
The thefts occurred between Friday 11th November and Monday 14th November. At a time when we should all have been paying our respects to the fallen and honouring our veterans thieves were helping themselves to the collection.
Kevin Foster commented: “The valuable work undertaken by the two branches of the Royal British Legion we have in Torbay ensures that our local heroes and their families continue to receive the support and help they need after serving our country so valiantly. The Poppy Appeal provides much needed additional funding, so the theft of these boxes, especially over Remembrance Weekend, is particularly abhorrent.”
He used a little known bit of parliamentary procedure to enable him to put on the record the anger felt across the bay about this crime and you can read his comments here.
Torbay Police have been quick to investigate and have made two arrests in connection with the thefts. You can read more on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
CrossCountry Service Cuts to Our Bay Raised in Parliament
The proposals from CrossCountry Trains to cut direct services between Manchester and Birmingham and the Bay by up to 70% in 2017 were raised in the House of Commons.
As things stand, from December 2017 Torquay and Paignton could lose three of the direct trains each weekday to Birmingham and Manchester. Residents in Torquay and Paignton (and much needed tourists!) would therefore be left with just one weekday train to Birmingham and Manchester (That departs at 07:02am), and no direct train to Torquay and Paignton from Manchester and Birmingham.
These cuts will badly impact on our ability to welcome visitors to the Bay who rely on public transport and will be harmful to our wider local economy should they go ahead. Equally worrying, CrossCountry makes NO reference in the document to the future of direct services between Torquay/Paignton and Manchester/Birmingham at the weekends.
The proposed changes were buried on one page of a 58 page document that had to be downloaded from an online website, with no meaningful attempt to draw them to the attention of any interested parties or service users. The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, was questioned and you can hear his response by clicking here.
A meeting has been arranged, by Kevin Foster, with the Chief Executive of CrossCountry Trains, Mr Andy Cooper, at the House of Commons later this month to make clear profound concerns about their proposals and those of the wider community across the bay.
Also, Kevin is speaking to a number of people about launching a campaign to Keep The Bay On Track and will include more details next week.
Government Announce £10m of Funding For Dawlish Railway Plans
Yesterday the Government confirmed an additional £10 million to help strengthen the resilience of our coastal railway at Dawlish.
The funding comes as Network Rail publish a report which sets out their proposals for strengthening the route, which was significantly damaged by extreme weather in the winter of 2014. The closure of the line was estimated to have cost the South West economy more than £1 billion pounds.
The funding is for Network Rail to carry out further planning for how to keep the track better protected from extreme weather.
In their report Network Rail identify 3 priority areas where action is needed to prevent our vital rail link being blocked by further extreme weather. These are:
- the risk of landslip from the steep cliffs between Teignmouth and Parson’s Tunnel which would block the main Exeter to Plymouth railway line
- rock falls from the cliffs above the Parson’s Tunnel north entrance
- flooding from the sea of the railway and the road at Marine Parade between Dawlish station and Kennaway Tunnel
The £10 million funding will allow Network Rail to continue their development work on mitigation against these risks from 2017, when the current funding comes to an end.
This news is welcome, but there remains a lot of work to do and I will be seeking further commitments from the Government. That said after decades of only limited investment it is welcome to see the progress being made to secure our railway for the future.
Bathing Water Standards
Earlier this week, the national bathing water results were published, the second time that the results have been reported against tougher EU standards introduced in 2015.
All twelve beaches in Torbay met the new standards, with 8 of them being rated as excellent.
This comes alongside South West Water’s commitment to spend £463m between 2015 and 2020 to improve the region’s sewerage network and treatment works.
Problems in the Prison System have been in the news this week following an unofficial “strike” by Prison Officers.
On Tuesday MPs debated the issue, in particular efforts to recruit more Prison Officers to help relieve pressure in key areas. Kevin Foster asked what efforts were being made to recruit military veterans, many of whom have experience of working in challenging environments that would make them ideally suited to becoming a Prison Officer.
You can read his question, plus the Justice Secretary’s answer, by clicking here.
Questions on New Emergency Services Network
The Home Office is currently working on a project to replace the airwave communications system used by our emergency services.
The new Emergency Services Network is due to be rolled out over the next three years with all but one region, ours, having a period where both the new and existing system are due to be operating. When prompted for clear commitments and reassurances from the Home Office about what would happen if any delays emerge with the new system when the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) discussed the project this week, the following response was received: “The existing system will continue, even though this might mean a costly contract extension, if the new one was not fully ready by the deadline. The costs of this would be borne by the Home Office with no specific detriment to the services in the regions affected.”
The PAC will be revisiting this contract next year and you can watch our discussion at this week’s meeting by clicking here.
Paignton Double Deaths Enquiry
There was sad news this week when two people were found dead at their Paignton home on Monday.
The investigation into what happened is continuing and an update has been placed on the Herald Express website which you can read by clicking here.
Zombie Knife Amnesty
Earlier this year the law changed, banning so called “Zombie Knives”, lethal weapons that have only one purpose, to kill and maim.
‘Zombie knives’ which tend to have a serrated edge and can be up to around 60cm in length are inspired by horror films and have been advertised as collectors’ items. Freely available on the internet, there is a concern these could end up in the hands of criminals.
If you or someone you know has bought one in the past there is a chance to hand it in to the Police as part of an amnesty they are running until Monday (21stNovember). A special red bin has been placed in the entrance area of Torquay Police Station where you can dispose of any potentially dangerous knife you have no legitimate use for without fear of prosecution. For more details of the amnesty click here.
Parkfield Closure Announced
There was some surprising and concerning news in relation to the Parkfiled Centre in Paignton this week as it was announced it would close for a year.
The announcement is linked to plans to move Torbay School to the site that were approved by the Council earlier this year. You can read full details of the plan, including the reaction from a local ward Councillor who objected to the plan, on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
As mentioned in the article closing the site for a year raises real questions about the future of youth provision on the site given existing users will relocate and lose interest in it. Answers will be sought from the Council about this and whether alternatives have been considered to such a long closure.
Paignton Hotel To Make Way For Flats
A seafront hotel in Paignton will be demolished to make way for ten new flats.
The council has given planning permission to knock down the Preston Sands Hotel on Marine Parade and replace it with a new three-storey building consisting of eight two bed and two three beds flats.
You can read more on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
Latest Fall In Unemployment
The latest unemployment statistics were released this week.
The figures show that the number of people claiming the main unemployment benefits in Torquay and Paignton Unemployment in October 2016 was 4% lower than in the same period last year. Despite positive figures overall, several constituencies saw rises compared to last year making this more significant for the bay.
Could You Be Devon’s Milk Tray Man?
If you watch a bit too much television in the 1980’s you may recall the daring hero of the Cadbury’s ads who did all sorts of stunts to deliver a box of chocolates.
If you found the abseiling, speed boat racing and sky diving of “the Milk Tray Man” inspiring then the chance to be Devon’s very own Milk Tray Man will be right up your street. As part of a promotion Cadbury’s will be deploying hundreds of Milk Tray Men across the country for a day later this month to swoop in and do a good dead at local supermarkets. You can find out more by clicking here.
Torquay Christmas Carnival
Saturday 19th November – Torquay Town Centre
Time – 16:30 -19:00
Cost – Free of charge to attend
Booking – Booking not required
For more information and detailed route please click here
Christmas Fayre Saturday 19th November – Torquay Museum, 529 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, TQ1 1HG
Time – 10:00-12:00
Cost – Usual charges apply (£6.45 adults, £3.95 children, Under 3s go free) – ticket lasts for one year
Booking – No advance booking required
Shakespeare Schools Festival 2016
Thursday 24th November – Princess Theatre, Torbay Road, Torquay, TQ2 5EZ
Time – 19:00
Cost – £11.90 plus transaction fee; £10 for theatre card members
Booking – Can be booked in advance here
For more information please click here.
Party in the Caves
Thursday 24th November – Kents Cavern, Ilsham Road, Torquay, TQ1 2JF
Time – 19:00
Cost – £10
Booking – Can be booked in advance here – 18+ only & 100 spaces available
For more information please click here