News Courtesy of Kevin Foster
(MP for Torbay)
After a week when it felt like Autumn has really arrived it is time for my latest update.
The week started energetically as I took part in the Pedal for Pengelly Fundraising Challenge at Torquay Museum. The challenge was to ride the 1000 miles (1700km) distance from Torquay Museum to Muzeum Trebova in the Czech Republic, yet without moving an inch as static bikes were being used. As pictured above I joined the team early in the day and contributed 10km towards the total.
On Sunday I joined Torquay Royal Air Force Association, the Royal British Legion and the congregation of St Luke’s Church, Torquay for their Annual Battle of Britain Sunday Service. The service held each year gives thanks for the crucial victory secured in the skies over Britain in 1940 and remembers those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is to visit local schools. This usually involves a short talk about what being an MP involves and answer a few questions. Given Parliament is in recess it is easier to arrange these visits and this week I visited four schools: Watcombe Primary School, Our Lady of the Angels Primary School, Warberry C of E Academy and Devon School of English in Paignton (A bit more about that visit below).
Earlier today Torquay was the latest stop for Google on its coastal towns tour, offering local businesses and residents free digital skills training with its pop-up ‘Digital Garage’. Google’s Digital Garage employs experts to provide one-to-one free mentoring and workshops to anyone interested in learning or furthering their digital skills. The session today covered a range of issues from writing for social media to developing a digital marketing plan.
In addition to visits I have also been meeting with residents and been out & about doing some final deliveries of my latest leaflet\newspaper. If you have not received a copy do let me know and I will be happy to e-mail an electronic version to you.
This week’s update is below and includes: Town Centre ASB Update, Town Centre Regeneration, Clennon Valley, Sea Front Upgrade Approved, Deer Herd Culled, EPIC Centre Given Planning Permission, Paignton Academy, Freedom of Torbay Given To RAF’s Biggest Base, Union Street Toilets, Torquay Neighbourhood Plan, Christmas Lights, PM’s Speech on Brexit, Kev’s Column: Bus Petition Presented and finally…… 3 x 80 Equals a Large Celebration.
Town Centre ASB Update,
Over recent weeks my team and I have spent a considerable amount of time pushing for action to tackle the problems with Anti-Social Behaviour that have been afflicting Torquay Town Centre.
Since the height of the issues over summer the Police have been taking firm action, including the use of dispersal orders, to deal with issues including drug dealing, theft and fake beggars. Two people charged with dealing Spice in Torquay appeared at Exeter Crown Court today, following another regular nuisance being sent to prison on Wednesday for possession of Heroin and theft.
Torquay currently has nine Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBO) in place for people Police know to have caused problems throughout the town and they are pursuing a further two for persons arrested since August.
Yesterday the Police were out in force in Torquay Town Centre, along with a four-legged officer who was keen to help them sniff out any illegal drugs. A dispersal authority was also put in place to assist the officers in dealing with begging, anti-social behaviour and drug offences.
A quantity of drugs ranging from cannabis to spice were seized and two people were dispersed from the town until 0900hrs on Saturday. I am advised a further dispersal would be authorised if they returned and engaged in further anti-social behaviour. (It is a specific offence to break a dispersal order.)
Two arrests were made for drug possession offences following separate stop checks. During one arrest, a Police Officer was assaulted, sustaining visible injuries. I am pleased to report that the offender concerned has now been charged and remanded in custody. I know every update reader will want to wish the officer a speedy recovery and his attacker an unenjoyable stay in prison.
Further action days are planned between now and the end of the year. The Police will not be advertising the dates ahead of them happening as they don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone who might seek to avoid them.
When out and about in the Town Centre this week it has been noticeable that some regular problems appear to have reduced. Brunswick Square (Where some had relocated to from Castle Circus) in Torre has been quieter during the day, the Strand had no-one sleeping rough on Wednesday night when I deliberately paid a couple of late night visits (A fake beggar left earlier in the evening) and Castle Circus has again been quieter. I understand two suppliers of spice are also being evicted from a property near Chapel Woods, in addition to prosecution, following them being identified as part of recent investigations.
Finally Inspector Si Jenkinson spoke to Devon Live this week about the work being done and how making physical changes in Castle Circus is helping the Police deal with these issues. You can watch a video of his interview by clicking here.
Town Centre Regeneration,
Whilst the crackdown on anti-social behaviour has been welcome the long-term solution to many of the issues raised is the regeneration of our town centres.
Earlier this week I spoke with the Chief Executive of Torbay Council about a range of issues and took the chance to again emphasise the need for long stalled projects, such as Torwood Street, to get underway. I was briefed on some decisions the Council has taken recently to move things forward.
As some may have seen Newton Abbot was in the news this week for a plan to improve its Market Walk. This follows Plymouth starting a major scheme to rejuvenate part of its Town Centre earlier this year. Looking at how are neighbours are working does give some food for thought, not least the presence of a specific Town Centre structure to co-ordinate work and drive things forward.
After I mentioned in the media how Newton Abbot’s and Plymouth’s models for Town Centre Management are ones to consider for Torquay a local trader rang my office to say there was “zero support” for this idea (in their view). Yet their comments raised this question: If theirs is the wrong approach, when was the last time a Plymouth or Newton Abbot Town Centre Trader came to Torquay to see how we were doing things right? The answer as to why they have not is obvious.
Members of Torbay Hockey Club have been in touch with me about the proposal to grant a lease over sporting facilities in Clennon Valley to Parkwood Leisure.
Their concerns centre on the future of facilities for Hockey, especially the all-weather sports pitch area.
I will be raising their points with the council and will include the response I receive in a future update.
Sea Front Upgrade Approved,
The Council has recently approved a £1.7m programme of work for Princess Pier to tackle a long backlog of maintenance and the near derelict condition parts of it are in.
For the last decade this pier has looked a sorry site with parts fenced off and inaccessible, it is therefore welcome this improvement will be made rather than leaving it to rot further. You can read more on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
Deer Herd Culled,
There was sad news from Paignton Zoo this week as it was reported a small herd of antelope had to be put down due to bovine tuberculosis.
The disease was discovered after an antelope died in May. The law requires instances of this disease to be notified and the Animal & Plant Health Authority advised the Zoo on the steps which had to be taken.
You can read more on the ITV website by clicking here.
EPIC Centre Given Planning Permission,
The planning application for the new Electronics and Photonics Innovation Centre (EPIC) has been approved by Torbay Council.
The project represents a £8.015M investment into Paignton comprising of a 3,834m² modern, purpose-built hi-tech innovation Centre, along with car parking, landscaping and accompanying estate road. The centre will be four stories high, comprising of fifteen laboratories and clean rooms, up to 27 offices, along with reception and meetings rooms.
Work is due to start on site at the end of October 2017, with construction completed by the end of 2018.
You can read more on the TDA website by clicking here.
I visited the Borough Road Campus of Paignton Academy on Wednesday to discuss the condition of their buildings dating from the 1930’s, including the canteen.
Some of the current buildings on the site are well past their best, with previous attempts to secure funding to deal with them having been unsuccessful. .
I will again be raising their concerns and seeing what support can be secured to move the school’s plans forward.
Freedom of Torbay Given To RAF’s Biggest Base,
The Royal Air Force has long had a strong association with our bay, with many of our hotels being converted into hospitals during World War 2 to care for injured airmen.
As the centenary of the RAF approaches the Mayor and Councillors unanimously agreed to offer the Freedom of our Borough to the RAF’s largest base, RAF Brize Norton or “Brize” as many know it.
This is a welcome gesture of support for the RAF and one I am delighted to endorse as the bay’s MP. I know a warm welcome will await the first parade when this freedom is exercised.
Union Street Toilets,
Some residents may have noticed the Toilets in Union St (Under the Old Town Hall) have been closed.
Torbay Council this week issued a statement explaining the situation which I copy below:
“The ladies and disabled toilets in Union Street are closed for health and safety reasons. A water leak from private premises above the facility has caused an electrical fault and we’re trying to contact the property owner as a matter of urgency so we can fix the problem. We’re really sorry for any inconvenience and are trying our best to reopen the toilets as quickly as possible.”
Torquay Neighbourhood Plan,
The proposed Torquay Neighbourhood Plan has been in the news this week after parts of its proposals were objected to by Torbay Council.
You can find out more about the plan on the dedicated website by clicking here.
The plan will ultimately need to be approved by a Referendum of voters living in Torquay before taking full effect.
There are 93 sleeps left till Christmas Day, but there was a sense of Groundhog Day as a familiar row resurfaced.
Last year Torquay Town Centre came close to having no Christmas Lights until a local Radio Station stepped in and sponsored the display. Ironically having faced the prospect of no lights they then remained up for some weeks after Christmas. This week the Chamber of Commerce indicated there may be no lights again as they have again been unable to secure funding.
Christmas light displays in Brixham, Torre and Paignton are not funded by the Council. I understand Torbay Council last contributed financially to Torquay’s display about 13 years ago. Earlier this year Torbay Road Traders’ Association in Paignton installed new lights on their road to brighten their street.
There was a ray of light for Torquay when Steve Holdup, the owner of Torbay Display, indicated he would provide lights in Fleet Street if nothing else comes forward. You can read his comments by clicking here.
Whilst it is not too late for this year a lasting solution needs to be found to ensures this row does not become an unwelcome Christmas tradition.
PM’s Speech on Brexit,
Earlier today the Prime Minister gave a speech in which she outlined further details of the Government’s approach to Brexit.
You can read her speech on the Government website by clicking here.
Kev’s Column: Bus Petition Presented
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…… 3 x 80 Equals A Large Celebration.
Ending on a happier note, three sisters had a special reason to celebrate their birthdays earlier this year as they turned 80 on the same day.
The Squire Triplets were born in Plymouth in 1937, with their combined birthweight totalling less than 10 pounds. This lead Doctors to conclude they may not last the night as in an age before much of the modern medicine available today it was very rare for multiple birth babies to survive.
Their story was recently featured on the Devon Live website and with a combined age of 240 they are still going strong. You can read more by clicking here.
Paignton Art and Craft Society Exhibition of Local Artist’s work, in the Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey Torquay, from 23rd September– 3rd October 10am-5pm Daily. All work is for ‘Sale’ and Admission is Free – Contact Terri, (P.A.C.S) Contact 01803 521329 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
NEW! Autumn Stand Up / Comedy Writing Classes – Wednesdays 27 Sep to 1 November 7pm-9pm Stand up/ comedy writing ‘n’ performing @ Artizan Gallery, Lucius St. Torquay. Further details and to book contact: Maggie E: email@example.com T: 07791910223
The Quality Curtain Company – Macmillan Coffee Morning
Friday 29th Sept. from 10am – 2pm at 296 Union Street, Torquay.
St John’s Church – Macmillan Coffee morning – Friday 29th Sept. from 11.30am to 2.00pm St John’s Church, Montpellier Road, Torquay TQ1 1BJ for further details check out their website – www.stjohntheapostle.org.uk/events.htm
Blackberry & Apple Fayre – The annual Blackberry & Apple Fayre organised by the Friends Fundraising Group, will take place at St Matthias Church Centre, Babbacombe Road, Torquay on Saturday 30thSeptember starting from 10.30 am through to 2.30 pm. -Further details on the Fayre are available on 01803 291033.
Ageing Well – Festival 2017 – Sat. 30th Sept. from 10am to 6pm
At Lupton House, Churston Ferrers TQ5 0LD. Free entry – Arts & Crafts, Music, Dancing, Exhibits and more. For enquiries call 01803 212638 or click on www.ageingwellfestival.com
Cockington’s 24th Apple Day promising to be a show stopper, and this year it’s free! – at Cockington Court on Sunday 15 October between 10am and 4pm.
For more information on the event or for a Stall Holders Enquiry Form visit the Apple Day page on the Cockington Court website, www.cockingtoncourt.org
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
7th October 2017 – 11am – 1pm @ Paignton Library, 22 Station Lane, Paignton TQ4 5AR
21st October 2017 – 11am – 1pm @ Torquay Library, Lymington Road, Torquay TQ1 3DT
27th October 2017 – 3pm – 5pm @ Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, TQ3 2RB