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.

A Mayor for the City and The Bay?

A suggestion that Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter could come together and elect a Mayor covering all three as part of a suggested devolution deal have grabbed the media’s attention yesterday.

The idea is based on the deals being struck by councils in other regions, eg. Greater Manchester, with the government for the devolution of powers over, plus funding for, a range of issues including Transport, Skills and Regional Growth Funding. Unlike the present Elected Mayoral arrangements in Torbay the suggested combined authority would not have responsibility for day to day council services like refuse collection, parking or grounds maintenance. These decisions would stay with our local council.

Cllr David Thomas, the Leader of the Conservative Group on the Council, who has been involved in discussions around this suggestion, was clear that no decisions have been made, only in principle discussions and a lot more detail needs to be firmed up. Yet with a proposed devolution deal for Devon and Somerset making little progress Torbay, Plymouth and Exeter felt they needed to explore alternatives to avoid other areas of the UK being able to overtake us in the race for key funding pots.

The devolution agenda is one of the biggest areas of Government policy affecting regional development and growth. We cannot just ignore it or opt out of it purely on the basis of whether the person leading the Combined Authority is directly elected. Ultimately any deal will be based on powers currently sitting in Whitehall, not the Town Hall. You can read more on the Herald Express website by clicking here.

There will be a lot of details to be considered but with some figures suggesting funding streams of up to £1bn could be involved it is right to at least look at whether this idea would be of benefit rather than just dismiss it out of hand.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Last Saturday the Clifton with Maidenway Community Partnership had a Christmas Celebration outside Palace Avenue Methodist Church, Paignton.

The Choir from Sacred Heart RC School did a great job signing carols and the big man himself took a break from loading his sack with presents to join them. If you missed him in Paignton, Santa said that he will be passing through the following areas in Torquay this week:

Santa will be out and about in the area listed from 5:30pm – 8:00pm: Mon 12th Watcombe, Tues 13th Ellacombe, Wed 14th Hele and Thurs 15th Ilsham Christmas Fair.

More Children in Good or Outstanding Schools

Last weekend, Ofsted published their Education and Skills Annual Report, summarising the findings of nearly 25,000 inspections of schools, colleges and education providers over the 2015/16 academic year.

94% of pupils taught in primary schools in the Bay have been rated as good or outstanding, whilst every single early years provider has been rated as good or outstanding, compared to a national average of 91%.

Given that the primary schools figure stood at 85% just three years ago, the results show that a lot of hard work is going from local teachers and school staff to ensure more of our youngsters get the best possible start in their education.

Finally it is worth noting that these results are being achieved despite Torbay Schools being in one of the 40 areas which receive the lowest amount of funding per pupil. The Government has pledged to change this and introduce a fair funding formula, although a detailed proposal is yet to be brought before MPs.

People’s Health Trust Funding

The People’s Health Trust is an independent charity which funds local groups and charities with great ideas in order to create fairer places to grow, live, work and age.

They have just opened ‘Active Communities’, a funding programme which is offering grants of between £5,000-£50,000 to community groups and not-for-profit organisations with an income of less than £350,000 per year.

For more information, or to apply, please visit their website by clicking here, call 020 7749 9100 or email

Save Our Trains Campaign Update

Over the last week the Save Our Trains campaign to stop Crosscountry axing most of its direct services to Torquay and Paignton has been building up a head of steam.

In less than a week over 1,000 people have signed the petition being run by the Herald Express and if you have not done so yet it is easy to do. You can either click here, print off the coupon at the bottom of this email, cut out the coupon in your Herald Express or pop into Dot’s Pantry in Union St, Torquay whilst doing your Christmas Shopping.

It is vital that as a bay we make our voices heard on this one as there will be little point lobbying for government investment to secure our rail tracks if there are few trains running over them.

Station Usage Figures Revealed

Whilst on the subject of trains this week the Rail Regulator published the latest station usage statistics.

They are handily broken down by constituency and you can find them online by clicking here.

All 3 stations in the bay saw strong growth in passenger usage compared to the last set of figures. The latest data for 2015/16 (14/15 in brackets for comparison) shows Torquay Station was used by 488,854 (457,724) passengers, Torre by 306,802 (274,708) and Paignton by a whopping 678,656 (631,506).

Yet let’s spare a thought for those who have the lonely experience of using the quietest station in our region, Coombe Junction Halt on the Looe Valley line. Last year it was used by only 48 passengers, yet that was a large % increase as in 2014-15 only 26 did.

Christmas & New Year Bin Collections

Just a quick reminder that waste and recycling collections are scheduled to continue as normal until Friday 23rd December.

But in the week starting Monday 26th December waste and recycling collections will be delayed by one day for all residents.
Collections will return to their normal day on Monday 2nd January 2017.

Iconic Torbay Sites Out To Tender

Ever fancied running a business in a light house or got a great kiosk idea for the old gatehouses at Torquay Recreation Ground?

If you have then the TDA has prepared a portfolio of concessions ready for tender to be released for the 2017 season.  The concessions available are a diverse range of unique opportunities including some unusual sites such as Brixham Breakwater Lighthouse and Torquay Recreation Ground Entrance Gate Houses. (The sites are available for rent, not purchase).

In addition to this, there are opportunities such as, boating and floating rights, power boat concessions, mobile catering, stores, shelters, kiosks, beach offices, trampoline sites, mobile car cleaning sites and ice cream concessions. The list will be open until 16 January 2017 and successful tenders will be in place and open for business from Easter 2017.

You can find out more and how to bid for a tender on the TDA website by clicking here.

How Can A Fiver Be Worth £20K?

It is not uncommon to hear older residents of the bay reminiscing about what a fiver used to be worth in the past.

Yet now a small number of the new £5 notes could be worth up to £20,000 and it has nothing to do with inflation.

Four of the new plastic £5 notes which have just been released into circulation carry a tiny engraving by world famous “micro engraver” Graham Short, from Birmingham, who was commissioned to etch a microscopic image on to just four of the polymer notes.

He painstakingly carved tiny portraits of Jane Austen on to the special notes, next to the images of Sir Winston Churchill and Big Ben. Art experts estimate they could each be worth up to £20K at auction. If you want to know what to look for you can watch an ITV report on the notes by clicking here.


Creative Christmas by the Sea – Christmas Beach Party
Saturday 10th December – Unit 7, Fleet Street, Torquay
Time – 10:00-16:00
Cost – Free of Charge
Booking – No pre-booking required
For more information please click here

Festive Weekend at Living Coasts
Saturday 10th December-Sunday 11th December – Living Coasts, Beacon Quay, Torquay, TQ1 2BG
Time – 10:00-16:00 BUT main events from 12:00-14:00 – see link below
Cost – Usual admission applies
Booking – No pre-booking required
For more information please click here

Cockington Caper for THHN
Saturday 10th December – Occombe Farm, Preston Down Road, Paignton, TQ3 1RN
Time – From 10am
8 mile trail run to raise funds for THHN, those interested should contact Brian Lewis at
For more information please click here

Christmas at Babbacombe Model Village
From Saturday 10th December – Hampton Avenue, Torquay, TQ1 3LA
Time – 12:30-16:00
Dates – Meeting Santa and Mini-Panto are 10th, 11th, 17th-24th only
Cost – Adult £10.95; Senior £9.95; Child 3-14 £8.95; Family £36.50. Santa visit £3.50 per child.
Booking – No pre-booking required
For more information please click here

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