News courtesy of Kevin Foster
(MP for Torbay)
Any views expressed in this news post are those of Kevin Foster, unless stated otherwise.
Security In Our Area
In view of the recent incidents at Westminster, here in the bay our Police are rightly advising residents to be alert, not alarmed.
We are advised there is no specific intelligence to suggest any additional threat local to Devon and Cornwall or any risk to our communities locally. However the threat level for the country as a whole remains severe. You can read the full statement from our Police Force by clicking here.
The Police have maintained an enhanced presence at main Railway Stations today and will also be doing so at large gatherings such as football matches this weekend. If you see anything suspicious relating to terrorism report it to the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789321.
There is no reason to change your plans if thinking of visiting London or anywhere else in the UK. Just remember that there is heightened security in some locations and that any instructions from the Police on duty there should be complied with immediately.
There have been queries about whether we should routinely arm our Police Force.
The UK mainland has a proud tradition of Policing by consent, not at gun point, one which many officers take pride in. There will be times when Police Officers need to be issued with Tazers or Firearms to undertake their role safely and protect the public. It is for Chief Constables and their command teams to decide when this applies, rather than for any political policy to dictate it.
New Electronic Device Rules on Planes
If you are planning on taking a trip that involves flying to the UK from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia or Saudi Arabia do check the new rules on hand luggage before you go.
On Wednesday the Govt announced restrictions on what electronic equipment can be carried onto some flights. You can read the full details on the Government website by clicking here.
The Secretary of State for Transport answered MPs’ questions on the restrictions this week. Kevin Foster spoke during the session and you can read what he said by clicking here.
Travelling to London On Sunday?
If you are travelling to London this weekend please be aware that additional improvement work will take place between Reading and Paddington this Sunday, 26 March.
This means significant changes to London Paddington rail services throughout Sunday morning, although they will operate normally after 1300. GWR is encouraging customers to switch to later journeys and to help with this we are advised that they will accept fixed train tickets on services running later in the day.
Full details are available on their website by clicking here.
Local Link Services Update
As reported elsewhere on this site, we are delighted to say that there has been further progress this week with securing the future of the routes provided by local link.
Last week we reported that a new operator had been found for most of the routes under threat and that work was continuing to secure the future of the 60\61. We are pleased to say that yesterday confirmation arrived that the Torbay Community Development Trust (TCDT) has joined forces with a team of dedicated volunteers to take over the running of the recently withdrawn 60/61 bus service between Paignton and Torquay.
The new community led service renamed the 60 will come into effect from Monday 3 April and offer passengers a similar service to the old route, travelling from Paignton to Torquay, via Occombe Farm, Preston, Livermead and St Lukes. The new route will also offer a Saturday service enabling local residents who rely on the bus greater flexibility to travel around the Bay on the weekend. The continuation of the service, which has created a number of job opportunities for drivers, was made more viable due to Torbay Council offering a favourable concessionary fare agreement to the new providers.
Extra Social Care Funding Confirmed
Two weeks ago the Chancellor announced in the Budget that Social Care services would receive an additional £2bn of funding over the next three years.
This week it was confirmed that Torbay will receive the £7.4 million boost in three tranches over the next three years.
2017/18 – £3.8 million
2018/19 – £2.4 million
2019/20 – £1.2 million
Given the growing demands on these services this funding is very welcome, but there is still a need for a debate about how we find a long-term solution.
School Funding Issues
A number of residents have shown concern about School Funding.
The figures that have been quoted in some correspondence are from a campaign website (School Cuts) that makes a number of presumptions in its calculations which are designed to produce statistics that would support the campaign. The concern is that these figures are then being presented as final and precise in terms of encouraging Parents and Schools to contact me.
The presumptions need to be considered alongside a wider briefing note on School Funding recently produced this week by the House of Commons Library which you can read by clicking here.
The concern is that opposition to aspects of the current proposals should not be converted into an argument that reform of a formula that has not served the bay well for decades should be completely abandoned.
Private Parking Companies Debate
On Tuesday Kevin Foster staged a debate in Parliament on the relationship between the DVLA and private car parking enforcement companies.
He highlighted the lack of effective regulation in this sector, described by another MP during the debate as a “cowboy industry”, as well as the poor working practices, including repeated complaints that faulty car park machinery led to motorists who do the right thing subsequently finding themselves hit with steep fines. These “fines” being issued because the DVLA supplied the details of the registered keeper to the company concerned.
He asked the Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP to look at new regulations in this sector, critically reviewing the way private car park companies are able to access DVLA records to obtain drivers personal details, and in turn demand money from them. This in turn frightens and alarms people, with many paying up to avoid argument, even if they feel the fine was unjust.
Nobody is arguing that motorists deliberately abusing private car parks should not face penalties, but these companies should not be allowed to profit from sharp practices. The Cowboy Clampers have become the Cowboy Finers and it is high time for them to ride off into the sunset for good.
You can watch the debate by clicking here.
Police Appeal For Help
Torbay Police are appealing for help finding a man wanted in connection with several assaults committed over the last six months.
He is 21 year-old Jacob Day and you can see his photo on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
If you have any information that may help in the hunt for him do let Torquay Police know on their non-emergency 101 number.
Judicial Review of Pavilion Decision
A Judicial Appeal is set to be lodged against the decision by Torbay Council to grant planning permission to the development at the Torquay Pavilion.
You can read more on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
Summer Parking Charges
If you have not noticed already this week Summer Parking charges came into effect in Torbay Council Car Parks across the bay.
You can find details of the new tariffs and the £50 annual off peak permit offered to residents on the council website by clicking here.
Homelessness Bill Becomes Law
A number of residents have raised concerns about the number of people visibly sleeping rough in the shelter opposite the Princess Theatre.
As mentioned in previous updates £400,000 of Government Funding has been provided to support a two year project in the bay tackling homelessness. In addition this week a major new piece of legislation became law, the Homelessness Reduction Bill. This new law will improve the work local councils do to prevent homelessness, with the new duties backed up by increased Government Funding.
You can read more about the bill on the Parliament website by clicking here.
It was not so much Free Willy as Free Doris when a visiting Humpback Whale needed a helping hand to freedom in South Devon this week.
Doris, as she has been christened, has been delighting whale watchers in recent weeks with mighty flips of her magnificent tail fin and the odd breach near the coast. Yet she became trapped in a heavy line of whelk pots and needed some help.
You can see the wonderful footage of her being cut free on the BBC website by clicking here.
Optimist Class – Single Handed Boat Championship
Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th March – Royal Torquay Yacht Club, Beacon Terrace, Torquay, TQ1 2BH
Time – Racing from 10:00 onwards
Cost – Free to watch
Click here for more information
Saturday 25th March – Torquay Squash and Leisure Club, 78 Barton Road, Torquay, TQ2 7NS
Time – 12:00-15:00
Cost – Free to attend – all proceeds in aid of Brain Tumour Research
Click here for more information
Big Noisy Spring Fling
Saturday 25th March – Upton Vale Church, St Marychurch Road, Torquay, TQ1 3HY
Time – 19:00-22:00
Cost – Adults £8; Children £5; Under 5s go free
Click here for more information
Torbay Schools’ Festival of Performing Arts
Monday 27th – Wednesday 29th March – Riviera Centre, Chestnut Avenue, Torquay, TQ2 5LZ
Time – 18:30-21:30
Cost – £5 adult; £3 children + booking fee – book in advance
Click here for more information