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 busy week it is time for my latest update.
The weather has been very wet in the bay today and do take care, particularly if driving, as there may be flash flooding. Videos of cars picking their way through the water on Paignton Sea Front are a good reminder of how quickly conditions can change.
Parliament returned this week and so did my weekly commute to London. There was plenty for MPs to discuss this week given the situation in North Korea and Hurricane IRMA, along with the start of the debate on the Second Reading of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. In the midst of all this I also presented a petition signed by 1,278 residents calling for the reinstatement of bus services in parts of Hele, Babbacombe and Ellacombe. There is more on this below.
Last Saturday I started the day by addressing the Monthly Prayer Breakfast arranged by Christians Together in Torquay at Central Church. The format is informal with a short speech from me followed by questions and prayers. I always reflect at each one that something significant seems to happen between each of them, with the last one being a few days before the General Election.
In the afternoon I joined the Babbacombe Ukulele Strummers for a concert in aid of the Friends of Tessier Gardens. If you have not visited the Gardens in a while they are looking superb and well worth popping by. At the end of the concert I was pleased to help draw the raffle and send another House of Commons Teddy Bear off to a good home.
In May 2018 Universal Credit will go live in Torbay. The aim of this new system is to reduce the number of different agencies benefit claimants need to deal with to get support. Several benefits will be merged as part of single assessment, rather than having to provide similar information to both the DWP & the Council. Whilst this sounds simple the complexity of it cannot be underestimated given the numbers of people involved.
In light of this I visited Torquay’s JobCentre Plus on Monday to meet the team and also to see the facilities being prepared to support people through this process. I spoke with staff members who work with claimants and work coaches who support those needing to find new employment. Whilst there I also signed up to be a Disability Confident employer as part of encouraging more employers in the bay to look at the unique abilities many people have who have in the past struggled to find work.
Finally, as pictured above, I was delighted to welcome Torquay Academy’s Governing Body to Westminster as they visited Parliament for a National Awards Ceremony.
This week’s update is below and includes: Bus Petition Presented, Road Resurfacing Schedule Confirmed, Childcare Question, Korean Peninsula Statement, Shipbuilding Strategy Announced, Free Seeds Available To Get The Bay Buzzing, Two More In Court For Town Centre ASB, Police Forces Look To Merge, SADS Looks For New Members, Kev’s Column: Town Centre Update and finally……..New Graduate Gets Standing Ovation.
Bus Petition Presented,
On Wednesday I presented a petition in the House of Commons to restore bus services in areas left isolated when Local Link ceased operating in April.
The cancellation of the Number 65, plus the shortening of the 64 route, was detrimental for many residents along the route who find it difficult to walk up or down a steep hill to access the nearest alternative. Other routes previously provided by Local Link have been taken over by new operators.
Over the summer local residents have been busy collecting signatures with 1,278 having singed by the time I presented it to the House on Wednesday. By bringing this issue up in parliament it may help spur action to either restore the previous service or organise a practical alternative. A few months ago I was advised the main obstacle is the initial costs of purchasing the bus itself, which the Government might be persuaded to help with.
Sadly the petition was rejected for consideration by Council Officers on the basis it did not meet their guidance for one, despite it being acceptable to the House of Commons. I made some comments on this when presenting it, which I understand were featured on BBC Spotlight yesterday.
You can watch a video of me presenting the petition to the House by clicking here.and I will include any further news in a future update.
Road Resurfacing Schedule Confirmed,
There was some good news this week as Torbay Council confirmed the scheduled dates for some road resurfacing work.
Whilst the roads concerned will be a lot better once the work is completed there will inevitably be some disruption whilst the works are ongoing. These works, which will take until March 2018 to complete, are part of the Council’s structural maintenance programme and will cost £1.2 million in total:
- Leys Road, Torquay – Wednesday 13 September with 3 days road closure.
- The Reeves Road, Torquay – Monday 18 September with 4 days roadclosure.
- Huxtable Hill, Torquay – Friday 22 September with 4 days road closure.
- Hennapyn Road, Torquay – Thursday 28 September with 3 days roadclosure.
- Cadewell Lane, Torquay – Monday 2 October. The road will be closed in stages over 40 days.
- Grafton Road, Torquay – Thursday 5 October with 2 days road closure.
- Thatcher Avenue/Whidbourne Avenue, Torquay – Monday 9 October with 4 days road closure.
- Fowey Avenue, Torquay – Friday 13 October with 4 days road closure.
- Colley End Park, Paignton – Thursday 19 October with 3 days road closure.
- Luscombe Road, Paignton – Tuesday 24 October with 4 days road closure.
- Milton Street, Brixham – Monday 30 October with 4 days road closure.
- Torquay Road, Paignton (Langs Road to Preston Bus Shelter) – Tuesday 2 January. The road will be closed in stages over 22 days.
- Preston Down Road/Sandringham Gardens, Paignton – Monday 29 January. The road will be closed in stages over 45 days.
These dates are correct at this time, but could change as some of the work is weather dependant.
I am advised residents will be notified in writing by the councils surfacing partner CORMAC Construction Ltd nearer the time and pre-warning signs will be placed on the highway giving additional information ahead of work starting.
The progress with introducing up to 30 hours free childcare was questioned by MPs on Wednesday.
Whilst the increase in hours is set to benefit many working parents, some providers have queried the funding rates and how the new system will work. I was called near the end of the session so asked the Minister whether analysis of the pilot areas had seen more parents being able to increase their working hours, one of the main arguments advanced in favour of the scheme. You can read my question and the Minister’s answer, along with all the other points made, by clicking here.
You can check the details of all schemes available to assist with the costs of Childcare on the Government website by clicking here.
Korean Peninsula Statement,
The recent missile and nuclear tests undertaken by North Korea have produced a crisis that raises the spectre of a conflict breaking out on the Korean Peninsula.
The Foreign Secretary updated MPs on Tuesday about efforts being made to bring about a diplomatic solution and to pressurise North Korea not to undertake further missile tests. He made clear this was the focus of UK efforts following the recent UN Security Council vote to impose additional sanctions.
Whilst diplomatic efforts are rightly the focus of the UK Government if an ally in the region was the subject of an unprovoked military attack by North Korea they should not face this alone. The deterrent of facing a coalition of democratic nations is what has kept aggressors at bay since 1949, preventing conflict, hence the question I asked which you can read by clicking here.
Shipbuilding Strategy Announced,
The National Shipbuilding Strategy was unveiled this week and with it plans to transform the procurement of Navy Ships.
Over recent decades the procurement of Royal Navy vessels has found itself mired in controversy, with costs overruns and delays meaning that the fleet found itself left with key capability gaps. The previous approach to purchasing Navy vessels also deterred some companies who could offer their skills from getting involved in bidding for contracts. A fixed price for a new class of Light Frigate aims to avoid the situation where budget overruns mean the Navy ends up with less ships than planned.
Given our region’s strong links to the Royal Navy, plus the long term economic impact of refitting work at Devonport Dockyard on South Devon, a future expansion of the surface fleet is very welcome. You can read a copy of the new strategy on the Government website by clicking here.
When MPs debated the new strategy I highlighted hopes the new ships would be based in Devon and sought assurances lessons have been learned from past mistakes. You can read my question and the Secretary of State’s response by clicking here.
Free Seeds Available To Get The Bay Buzzing,
The humble Bee is facing a range of challenges, but we can all do our bit to help.
In 2016 and 2017, Torbay Council worked with Buglife to create a number of wildflower meadows and pollinator habitats to make space for our bees and other pollinating friends. Now residents are being asked to help link these up and create a wonderful network of flight paths for our bees to be able to feed their families across the seasons.
By signing up to help, you will reserve a pack of wildflower seeds to plant in your window box, on your balcony or in your garden this autumn and be kept up to date with the Bee-roads and Torbay Nature Network Campaign.
Its easy to get involved and just click here to be taken to the campaign’s dedicated website.
Two More In Court For Town Centre ASB,
Two more people have found themselves before the courts this week following the crackdown on anti-social behaviour in Torquay Town Centre.
The first was a man who made a series of threats to the Police in Factory Row having been drinking heavily. He was jailed for 32 weeks. You can read more about his case on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
The second was a nuisance beggar who returned to the Town Centre only 24 hours after being banned from it. You can read more details of his case on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
Police Forces Look To Merge,
Devon & Cornwall Police has announced it is looking to merge with Dorset to create the 5th biggest force in the country.
The merger would see a single Police Force created to cover the three counties. This reflects the strategic alliance that has seen the forces share back office functions for some time. The merger date indicated is 2020 when the next Police & Crime Commissioner Elections are due to be held. The merger will require Home Office approval. You can read more about this plan on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
When I spoke with the Chief Constable about this proposal I made clear my focus when considering it will be what it means for policing here in Torbay. The two forces need to clearly explain how this merger would release resources for frontline policing work and provide reassurances about neighbourhood policing teams.
I will be following this issue closely and will include any further news in future updates.
SADS Looks For New Members,
If you want to tread the boards and take part in a range of plays, Shiphay Amateur Dramatic Society’s is always looking for new members.
To find out more you can drop in to their ‘Open Day’ on Saturday 16th September at St John’s Church Hall, Cadewell Lane, Shiphay between 10.30am and 1pm. You can meet some of their members, have a chat and a cup of tea/coffee, they might even run to cakes and biscuits!
Whether you would like to act, direct or help behind the scenes with costumes, set construction, props, sound and lighting, use your musical skills etc., the SADS team would love to meet you.
Kev’s Column: Town Centre Update
Every fortnight I write a “Kev’s Column” for the Herald Express and you can read this week’s edition by following the link below:
and finally……..New Graduate Gets Standing Ovation.
Ending on a lighter note many people will be looking forward to their graduation ceremony this summer, yet one graduate’s tale provoked a standing ovation.
Johnny Johnson, Britain’s last surviving veteran of the famous Dambusters Raid, received a standing ovation at Lincoln Cathedral as he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Lincoln. Johnny is now 95 and lives in Bristol, although many in the bay will have fond memories of meeting him during his time living here after the war.
You can watch a video of Johnny’s graduation on the This Is Lincolnshire website by clicking here. The advice he had for today’s graduates is worth a listen as well.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Corner Care Coffee Morning – Saturday 9th September – from 10:30am to 12:00pm at Cecil Road Church Hall, Cecil Road, Paignton. Tea Coffee and biscuits. Cake and preserves stall, Bric a Brac stall, Books, Raffle – Price: £1-50 including refreshments
Blue Cross Open Day – Saturday 9th September. Join us for our Annual Open Day! There will Refreshments and lots of Cake. Our famous Wheelbarrow of Booze etc. Torbay Blue Cross, Ashley Priors Lane, Torquay TQ1 4EA
Torbay Cats Rehoming Centre
Open Day – Saturday 9th September – 10.30am to 2.30pm
at Ashley Priors Lane, Watcombe, Torquay TQ1 4SE
Have a fun day out and meet the cats currently in their care, whilst raising funds for the charity.
BRUNEL Friends of Rowcroft
Cream Tea – Sunday 10th September – 2pm till 4pm
at Brunel Manor, Teignmouth Road, Torquay TQ1 4SF
Admission £5 for adults (to include cream tea) , children free.
For more information contact Kathy Woolnough on 01803 459883
The Acorn Choir – 11th September – youth group run by Emily Howard, a Wren Music Leader, at The Acorn Centre in Torquay. Monday 5-6.30pm, FREE, ages 8-16 years old, snack and drink provided. The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Tourquay TQ2 8ET
“One Love” Community Cafe at Torquay Salvation Army – 13th September – Come along to Torquay Salvation Army’s coffee morning and enjoy a cup of tea/coffee and some delicious cakes. All proceeds go towards the work of The Salvation Army in Torquay.
International Agatha Christie Festival, to be held over the week of 13-17th September 2017. Visit www.iacf-uk.org to see programme highlights.
Are you running an event in the Bay? I am always looking to promote local events, big or small. If you have an event coming up, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so it can be included.
16th September 2017 – 11am – 1pm @ Paignton Library, 22 Station Lane, Paignton TQ4 5AR
22nd September 2017 – 11am – 1pm @ 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD