News Courtesy of Kevin Foster
(MP for Torbay)
Any views expressed in this news post are those of Kevin Foster unless stated otherwise.
After a glorious week weather wise it is time for my latest update.
If you have been following the media over the last week you will have seen I have been focussed on work to get action on a range of issues relating to Anti-Social Behaviour in Torquay Town Centre. This included speaking with BBC Spotlight on Wednesday (As pictured above) and local Radio. There is more on this below and, as the front page of the Herald Express rightly says this week, enough is enough on a range of problems that have been raised over recent months.
On a more positive note on Monday I was delighted to meet with the National Citizen Service (Vent Team) who are working on a Social Action Project to tackle bullying in South Devon and Torbay. We discussed a range of issues including how Cyber-Bullying is tackled and how Bullying is defined. You can find out more about this project on their Facebook Page by clicking here.
I meet with Andrew Coleman who works for Local Partnerships, a company partly owned by the Local Government Association, on Tuesday. They are working on a report for Torbay Council in relation to the future delivery model for its services. This may involve a move to integrate a range of service delivery with neighbouring councils. The one service that must be included is Torbay’s Children’s Services which have been directed to merge with another council following poor inspection results over a number of years.
Wednesday saw me meet with the CQC’s Inspection Team to discuss their recent report on Watcombe Hall Hospital. The patients at this hospital were Children and Adolescents needing specialist mental health care, hence its rating as inadequate in all but one area of the inspection was deeply concerning. All patients have now been moved to other facilities, but I meet the team to discuss what exactly went wrong and how they were working to prevent similar problems elsewhere in England.
Yesterday I paid a visit to Humanity Torbay who are based at 1A Castle Road, Torquay. They provide a range of support to those who are looking to get off the streets and change their lives for good. This week’s update is below and includes: Crackdown on Town Centre Anti-Social Behaviour, Meeting With Elected Mayor, First Fines Issued At Hope’s Nose, Brexit Position Papers Published, Draft Transport Accessibility Action Plan, People’s Health Trust Funding, Fire Fighters Kit Challenge, Power Boats Set Course For Torbay, Paignton Neighbourhood Plan Submitted, Gymnasts Jump For Joy, Behind The Scenes At The Zoo, Kev’s Column: Terror Will Not Win and finally…..Looking For A New Licence Plate?
Crackdown on Town Centre Anti-Social Behaviour,
I have spent much of this week focused on getting action to tackle the problems with anti-social behaviour and drug use in Torquay Town Centre.
Residents and traders have been in touch with me regularly over recent months and living close to Castle Circus I have seen for myself the growing problems. This culminated in a day when 6 people had collapsed in the area around the Town Hall by 2pm. This figure attracted a great deal of press interest, providing an opportunity for me to put further pressure on the relevant authorities for action to be taken
Torquay Police have been active on a number of fronts. This week two regular trouble makers in Castle Circus were sent to prison, whilst two others appeared before Torquay Magistrates to face charges in connection with supplying drugs (Click here for more details). Two Bogus Beggars have also been banned from the Town Centre (Click here for more).
The Police have also implemented a Dispersal Order across Torquay Town Centre and the Harbourside. This gives officers in uniform the power to disperse anyone engaging in crime and anti-social behaviour from the area. On the first day it was in place five dispersal notices (Requiring someone to leave the area) were issued and two arrests made. The order can last for up to 48 hours, but a further order can be made immediately and include other areas if problems move. The recent order has been renewed and will last till 5pm on Sunday.
The Police will also engage with anyone who appears vulnerable, including those genuinely facing sleeping on our streets, to ensure they are referred to the agencies and charities that can help them. Sadly it is not uncommon for them to receive abuse when doing this, hence they are requesting support from local people. You can read more on their Facebook site by clicking here.
Groups like Humanity Torbay, TESH and the Living Room will provide those in need food and (non-alcoholic) drinks, plus advice and support that can get someone off the streets for good. When I visited Humanity Torbay yesterday I was given some first-hand examples of the difference such support can make.
Making a donation to these groups will make a real difference to those in need, money given to those asking for it on our streets will not.
Meeting With Elected Mayor,
On Monday I meet with Elected Mayor Gordon Oliver and Members of his Executive Group to discuss a range of issues, with the problems in Torquay Town Centre first on the Agenda.
We discussed some of the frustrations with getting action on them and the need for a more responsive approach to simple tasks such as cutting trainers off a telephone cable. There were also some positive signs that work to improve Castle Circus more generally would soon follow.
The Mayor and I also agreed on the need for a concerted effort to get some long-stalled regeneration schemes underway, in particular the Torwood Street development. Ultimately a Town Centre that is declining will become a magnet for problems. New investment, growth and jobs is therefore the best long-term solution.
In addition we also discussed a range of issues including Waste Collection Services, Children’s Services and Oldway Mansion.
First Fines Issued At Hope’s Nose
It is not just Torquay Town Centre that has been seeing action to deal with long standing problems with inappropriate behaviour.
The first fines for breaking rules designed to protect Hope’s Nose have been issued. The three £80 fines were issued on Saturday to people breaching the Public Space Protection Order which imposes conditions on visitors to the landmark. One fine was for camping and two were for catching more than 20 mackerel at one time. Cameras are also being used to help enforce the new rules.
I know many residents enjoy popping to Hope’s Nose for a day’s recreational fishing, but 20 is plenty for that purpose. A minority have been fishing at a commercial level, threatening the future of this environment.
I therefore welcome this crackdown at a beauty spot that has been abused for so long. I hope more fines will be issued to those who think it is their personal rubbish dump or fish farm. You can read more on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
Brexit Position Papers Published,
The Government has published several documents setting out the UK position on a range of key issues ahead of the next round of talks with the EU.
There is inevitably a large amount of speculation in the press about the exact shape any future agreement may take, along with what reaction there will be to particular parts of the position papers being set out by the UK Government. The House of Commons will also be voting on the key bill to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 when it returns in September.
You can read for yourself the positions being set out by the UK Government by clicking here.
Draft Transport Accessibility Action Plan,
The Government launched the draft Transport Accessibility Plan this week and is asking for comments on it.
You can find the draft plan, along with details of how to respond to the consultation, on the government website by clicking here.
People’s Health Trust Funding,
Local groups and organisations with great ideas to make their communities an even better place to live are being invited to apply for funding to turn their ideas into reality.
People’s Health Trust (Using money raised through the Health Lottery) has just launched Active Communities in Devon and Torbay, a funding programme for local people wanting to create fairer places to grow, live, work and age.
Active Communities is a funding programme for not-for-profit groups with an income of less than £350,000 a year, or an average of £350,000 over two years, seeking investment of between £5,000 and £50,000 for projects lasting up to two years.
I am advised that projects could be almost anything that encourages strong connections between people, and that help people to make their communities or neighbourhoods even better places to grow, live, work and age. These ideas could be based in one neighbourhood, or cover a wider area.
You can find more details on their website by clicking here.
Fire Fighters Kit Challenge,
The crews at Brixham Fire station will be completing a sponsored walk from Brixham to Torquay tomorrow (26 August).
That might sound simple enough, yet this isn’t going to be a normal sponsored walk as they will be wearing full fire kit and Breathing Apparatus! Their chosen charities are Cancer Research UK and The Firefighters Charity.
You can sponsor them through Virgin Money Giving by clicking here.
Power Boats Set Course For Torbay,
Powerboats will be heading for the bay on Sunday (27th August) as the prestigious Cowes-Torquay-Cowes Race takes place.
The race will start at 09:30am, with the boats taking a break in Torquay before racing back.
At Torquay, the boats will form up and parade past Haldon Pier at 1pm before lining up for the race start back to Cowes at 2pm. There is a chance to viewing of the boats from Torquay’s Haldon Pier between the races. Access to the pontoons will be limited to officials and race teams, but drivers will meet with spectators on the pier.
You can read more on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
Paignton Neighbourhood Plan Submitted,
The proposed Neighbourhood Plan for Paignton has now been submitted to Torbay Council, as the Local Planning Authority.
The plan contains a range of detailed aspirations for the future and was produced by the Paignton Neighbourhood Forum. The next stage involves the council publishing a formal notification that the plan has been received and giving notified bodies and persons the chance to make any comments for consideration by an Independent Assessor. Once this is complete there will be a Referendum of all registered voters in Paignton to decide if the plan should be adopted.
You can read the details of the plan on the Forum’s website by clicking here.
Gymnasts Jump For Joy,
There was great news for the South Devon School of Gymnastics this week as their new home was given planning permission.
The school had been required to leave its previous home at Parkfield due to a plan to turn the building into a school (which has now been side lined). The new site is one of the Epwin Group’s former window factories in Aspen Way, Paignton.
The grant of planning permission means the group can make this unit its permanent home. You can read more on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
When there is any further news about Parkfield I will include it in a future update.
Behind The Scenes At The Zoo,
One of our Bay’s biggest tourist attractions, Paignton Zoo, also plays a vital role in conservation work, helping many species avoid possible extinction.
Much of this work takes place away from the public gaze and involves working with conservation projects across the globe. This week the Devon Live website was given a behind the scenes tour and you can see their video of this by clicking here.
Don’t forget you can also see many of the Zoo’s residents in the new CBBC series “The Zoo”. If you have not seen it yet then you can watch it via the BBC I-player by clicking here.
Kev’s Column: Terror Will Not Win
Every fortnight I write a “Kev’s Column” for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition by following the link below:
and finally…..Looking For A New Licence Plate?
Ending on a lighter note with the new “67” plates due for release next Friday you might be thinking of reserving one as a special gift for someone you know.
Yet if thinking of snapping up one of a range of rather naughty combinations, you will be disappointed to hear the DVLA has published the list of plates it will not be issuing on grounds of taste. That means no matter who much you may feel someone’s poor driving has earned the recognition a couple of the plates listed might deliver, they won’t be issued.
You can see some examples on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.