It is time for my latest update and there is lots of news to cover in this edition.
Storm Brian is expected to hit our region tomorrow and do bear in mind the likely weather conditions, particularly if planning to head out to sea or going near the coast. You can check the latest forecast for Torbay on the Met Office website by clicking here.
My week started at Kent’s Cavern with the St Matthias Men’s Prayer Breakfast. This month’s speaker, David Scott, is a former journalist who spent many years working on local newspapers. He gave a talk which was interesting not just for him discussing his faith, but also his concerns for the future of the local newspaper industry.
In the evening I headed to the TOADS SMC Barn Dance at St Martin’s Church Hall. I am not a keen dancer, but the chili and rice on offer was worth the ticket price in itself.!!!
I sometimes think parliament is the bastion of ancient traditions and legal practice, yet one organisation exceeds it, the Church of England. One example took place on Sunday as Revd John Beckett was formally made Rector of St Matthias and admitted to “the cure of souls in the benefice”.
John has been an asset to the bay since joining St Matthias and it was a pleasure to witness him taking part in this ancient tradition.
The week at Westminster saw a range of issues discussed, including a bill on Nuclear Safeguards, Universal Credit, job losses at Vauxhall, measures to protect companies vital to national security from takeover, our exit from the EU and… the Middle Level Bill.
A quirk of our history and constitutional continuity is that many ancient laws are still in force. The Middle Level is a very large drainage system in the Fens built in the 17th century, with a legal system to manage it set up in the 18th & 19th centuries. Earlier this year I was asked to sponsor a “private” bill to reform this system.
Private Bills are ones that only affect a particular location or group, rather than a “public” bill that affects everyone or the country as a whole. The benefit for me has been a chance to find out about the procedure involved in such a bill, although it has been rather strange spending time discussing old acts including the River Nene Act 1749. You can hear my speech on the bill by clicking here.
Finally, as pictured, I was delighted to attend an event to mark the launch of Labour MP Chris Bryant’s bill to protect emergency services workers who are assaulted in the line of their duty. Too often people who have attacked an A&E Nurse, spat at a Police Officer or tried to stop the Fire Brigade putting out a dangerous bonfire have not been dealt with adequately by the courts. Chris’ bill intends to change this.
This week’s update is below and includes: Edginswell Station, Torre Post Office Consultation Launched, Get Onboard The 32 Bus Campaign, The Breeze Wins FM Licence Contest, Letting Agent and Leasehold Reform Announced, Parental Bereavement Leave Bill Passes, Could You Help Children Get To School Safely?, Council Backs Development Plan, Homelessness Reduction Act Funding, Time To Get Your Flu Vaccine, Kev’s Column: A Home of Your Own and finally….The South Devon X Files.
Following suggestions Torbay Council might be reconsidering its support for a new station at Edginswell I asked the Rail Minister for his thoughts on the scheme.
Whilst the bid for funding from the latest round of the new stations failed, very positive feedback was given. Helpfully the regular session of Transport Questions in parliament took place on Thursday providing an ideal chance to invite the Minister to comment on Edginswell. In response he agreed to meet with Torbay Council and myself to discuss how we take this plan forward. You can listen to my question and his response by clicking here.
The station at Edginswell would be the first built in the bay since WW2 and I am pleased to note Councillors also re-affirmed their commitment to the scheme yesterday.
Torre Post Office Consultation Launched,
If the relocation goes ahead, subject to consultation, I have been advised the branch will trade as a “new style” of local post office in the premises in Lymington Road, currently trading as McColls.
Whilst those living in parts of Upton might find the proposed location closer to them, several residents have already pointed out the lack of easy car parking. The current Post Office is directly opposite Brunswick Square Car Park which has bays allowing 20 minutes free parking. The closure of the existing branch would also see the last banking counter removed from Torre following the closure of the Lloyds Branch.
If you live in the Torre & Upton area it is important to have your say on this plan. You can do this on the Post Office website by clicking here and entering the Branch code number 18955299.
The consultation ends on 1st December 2017 and the proposed relocation of Torre Post office is scheduled for Feb/Mar 2018.
Get Onboard The 32 Bus Campaign,
A campaign has been launched against proposals to terminate the popular 32 bus service at Torbay Hospital, resulting in it no longer serving The Willows.
I am advised the proposal by bus operator Stagecoach follows a decision by a national retail chain to remove a subsidy it was providing for this link. A large petition is being gathered and earlier this week two of my team met with residents to discuss the next steps.
If you would like details of the campaign, which is being supported by local Cllr Mark Kingscote, do let me know by replying to this email.
The Breeze Wins FM Licence Contest,
The team at Breeze Radio will keep rocking the bay on 105.5fm for the next 12 years after OFCOM announced its decision on the recent bidding round for a broadcast licence covering Torbay and South Devon.
As the incumbent operator The Breeze (Owned by Celador) was the favourite and will continue to provide the range of shows many local listeners enjoy. The other bidder, Radio Exe, will continue to be available in the bay on DAB Digital Radio. Whilst digital and online radio listening figures are growing, stations with FM frequencies still have the most appeal.
You can read OFCOM’s decision on the licence by clicking here.
Letting Agent and Leasehold Reform Announced,
Plans for new measures to help create a fairer property management system were announced in the House of Commons this week.
The Government is formally seeking views (A call for evidence) on:
- whether regulatory overhaul of the sector is needed;
- measures to protect consumers from unfair costs and overpriced service charges; and
- ways to place more power in the hands of consumers by giving leaseholders more say over their agent.
The Government is also asking if a new independent regulatory body is needed and if separate bodies should be established, for both leasehold and private rented management, and letting agents.
While the sector is partly self-regulated through professional bodies such as ARMA and ARLA, which have a code of conduct, other property agents operate outside of any system and can provide a poor deal for consumers.
The majority of agents provide a good service at a reasonable price, yet bad practices need to be tackled.
If you have experience of these issues and would like to take part in the call for evidence, you can find details of how to do so on the Govt website by clicking here.The call for evidence will last six weeks (from Wednesday 18 October 2017).
Parental Bereavement Leave Bill Passes,
Losing a child is a traumatic experience no parent wants to go through, yet one many face each year.
There is currently no statutory entitlement to paid bereavement leave for a parent. Many employers do grant leave on compassion grounds, but they do so at their own expense.
This is about to change as earlier today a bill to create a statutory right to two weeks bereavement leave cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons. The right would be extended to any parent who loses a child aged under 18 and businesses will be able to claim back parental bereavement pay from the government. The likely cost of this to taxpayers is estimated to be between £1.3 & £2m a year.
I welcome this bill and hope it will help people at the most difficult time of their lives.
Could You Help Children Get To School Safely?,
Preston Primary School has a new Crossing Patrol as Rod took charge of the famous lollipop this week.
He is the first at the school for some time as they have been trying to recruit a Crossing Patrol for some years. I am advised Rod has been overwhelmed by the positive response from parents, children, staff and motorists who have given him such a warm welcome.
If you are interested in helping children get to school safely then click here to see the current vacancies.
Council Backs Development Plan,
Our Town Centres desperately need action to regenerate them after decades of decline.
I am therefore pleased to note the ambitious plans backed by Torbay Councillors this week, including a project to revamp one of our bay’s hidden gems Paignton Harbour. The overall package includes suggestions of funding for a significant new hotel (With indications an operator has been secured for it) in Torquay Town Centre and a welcome package of upgrades and repairs to Lower Union Car Park. You can read the full details on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
Whilst there will be aspects of the individual schemes we may all have some queries about, doing nothing will just result in further decline. The Council needs to ensure it gets good value out of the contracts concerned and individual schemes are not delayed in delivery, yet overall it is welcome to see this ambitious vision coming forward.
Homelessness Reduction Act Funding,
The Homelessness Reduction Act will make major changes to the duties councils are under to help those facing being homeless when it comes into force in April 2018.
This week the government published the consultation on the revised statutory Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities. The statutory guidance sets out the steps local councils should take into account when providing support to people who are homeless.
The Government also confirmed that £72.7m of new funding will made available to Councils in order to implement the new duties they will be under. Torbay’s share of this is £203,620 over the next three years. This money is in addition to funding already announced.
Time To Get Your Flu Vaccine,
Pregnant women across Torbay are being urged to protect themselves and their unborn child from flu by getting the flu jab this winter.
Now is the ideal time to have the flu vaccination, available from your GP, maternity service provider or pharmacy, before the flu virus starts circulating. Pregnancy naturally weakens the body’s immune system and as a result, increases the risk of a mother and unborn baby becoming seriously ill from flu. All pregnant women are recommended to receive the flu vaccine irrespective of their stage of pregnancy.
The vaccine is offered free on the NHS Annually to adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone aged 65 and over), pregnant women and children aged six months to two years at risk of flu. You can find out more on the NHS website by clicking here.
Kev’s Column: A Home of Your Own
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….The South Devon X Files.
Ending on a lighter note fans of the X Files will be interested to hear they might not have to go very far to investigate if there really is anyone out there.
This week Devon Live produced a compilation of potential UFO sightings ranging from strange to extraordinary. Our bay appears to be a particular hotspot. This could be due to the fame of our beaches reaching beyond this world or explanations more linked to alcohol consumption on a night out!!!!
You can judge for yourself on their website by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Earlier this week I was contacted by a number of residents via Social Media about signs which had appeared at Watcombe Beach Car Park.
The signs (one is pictured) indicated the car park would be closed, permanently, from “Wednesday 3rd November”. Given the 3rd is actually a Friday, the signs looked amateur in their production and there had been no consultation on a closure I thought it could be a clever hoax. The local Ward Councillors also had heard nothing, along with the owner of the popular Beach Cafe.
Yet today, following pressure from St Marychurch Cllr Ray Hill and myself, the Council confirmed the closure plan is genuine, albeit their sign should have read Wednesday 1st November. The reason given was “complaints about anti-social behaviour”.
To close the car park permanently appears to be an over reaction to the issues cited. I know Ray, plus his two ward colleagues, will be calling for this closure to be abandoned and a consultation involving the community, not just council employees, takes place
Velopark parkrun – A 5km run around the Velopark is being held every Saturday. Next run is on 21st October. Whether you’re young or old, male or female, fit or unfit, able-bodied or not, you’re always welcome. Starts at 9am and is free. for further details go to website http://www.parkrun.org.uk/torbayvelopark/
Autumn Fayre – Furrough Cross Church – Babbacombe. Saturday 21st October 10am – 2.30pm. Books, Craft, Cakes, plants. etc.
Humanity Torbay Jumble Sale – Palace Avenue Methodist Church
Saturday 21st October from 10.30am – 1pm For full details click here
Craft Fair – Church Hall at St Martin’s Barton Saturday 28th of October from 10 – 3PM. There will be a great variety of stalls selling home made crafts,home made jams, cakes, sandwiches and light lunches. Free Admission.PUBLIC LECTURES AT TORQUAY MUSEUM Tuesday 31st October, 10.45 – 12.00pm – ‘Spirits of Health and Goblins damn’d: English Ghosts 1500-1700’ by Dr Laura Sangha of Exeter University and Wednesday 1st November. ‘Horses in Art’. Museum Society member, Roger Hamilton. Admission is £5.
Torbay Hospital League of Friends – A CHORUS OF FASHION (SONGS WITH STYLE) at the Grand Hotel, Torquay – Thursday 16th November 2017, 7pm. Tickets £12.50 to include a welcome drink. Booking recommended available from 01803 290230.
4th November 2017 – 11am – 1pm @ Chelston Manor, Old Mill Road, Torquay TQ2 6HW
8th November 2017 – 2pm – 4pm @ 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD
18th November 2017 – 11am – 1pm @ Torquay Library, Lymington Road, Torquay TQ1 3DT
24th November 2017 – 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ