After a surprisingly warm couple of days it is time for my latest update.
Parliament has been in recess this week due to the ongoing Party Conferences, so I have been able to spend time here in the bay and take a couple of days off to spend with my family.
The very wet weather last Saturday meant my planned session out on the doorsteps had to be cancelled, although it did not stop a big crowd turning out at the Princess Theatre for the final performance of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. The popular family musical was superbly performed by local amateur company TOPS to a full house. Whilst the car was the star for many, the performances of the two leads was exceptional.
Sunday and Monday saw me spend time with my family, but Tuesday was a chance for reflection on the challenges ahead for the Government as I headed back to London for a Cabinet Office meeting at Lancaster House. The Cabinet Office covers a range of areas including the Constitution, Electoral Law, Civil Contingencies, Government Procurement and Cyber Security. The meeting was a look ahead to issues coming up over the next few months, including Brexit.
Wednesday saw me spend time with family, including a rather poignant visit to Lanhydrock House in Cornwall, which I last visited as a teenager. On display in its church is the wooden cross which marked the grave of the MP for St Austell, Thomas Agar-Robartes, who died because of wounds received in the Battle of Loos. His former bedroom is preserved as it was when he left to fight, including some of his election leaflets and letters.
Yesterday I was back in the bay in time for a session out on the doorsteps in Upton. I enjoyed speaking to several residents about a range of issues in the Town Centre and surrounding areas, including crime, parking and town centre regeneration.
I was up early this morning for the Torbay Business Network Breakfast at Pierpoint, Torquay. Paul from the TDA gave a fascinating talk on Crypto Currencies and what these may mean for local businesses. After this I headed back to my East St office to make the latest presentations from my Foster’s Fund, more on these below.
Today saw the “World’s Biggest Coffee Morning” take place in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. There were many events across the bay and I managed to attend two. The first at Gargan & Hart Estate Agents in Chelston. The second in Forest Road, Upton. There was a great selection of cakes on offer at both and if you hosted an event today I hope it went well.
Finally I joined local resident Fleur Barr for a visit to the Torquay Hub, on the Torbay Hospital site, to discuss how local Mental Health Therapy Facilities and services could be improved. Our visit included seeing the Place of Safety, meeting mental health workers, seeing the two main wards and discussions about a major funding bid for an expansion of the services provided there.
This week’s update is below and includes: Police Merger Update, TUFC Stadium Plan Update, Crackdown on Gangs, New Hospital CEO Appointed, The World Comes To Torbay, Watching The Grass Grow, Plainmoor Road Safety Scheme, Violent Torquay Rapist Sent To Prison, GWR Autumn Upgrade Schedule, New Train Takes The Spray, Wellswood Wheels Volunteers Appeal and finally…….“Horned Beast” on the Loose?
Police Merger Update,
A plan to merge Devon & Cornwall Police with Dorset Police was put on hold this week as our local Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez indicated she was minded to oppose it.
For the plan to progress the Chief Constables and PCCs for the two areas must support it. Whilst the PCC for Dorset and the two Chief Constables indicated their support, Alison expressed her doubts about the disruption a formal merger would cause given the relatively limited savings it may achieve.
The matter will now be discussed by the Police and Crime Panel for Devon & Cornwall, which is made up of local Councillors from the areas covered by the force, prior to Alison issuing her final decision. You can read the papers they will consider by clicking here. Two Councils, Plymouth and Cornwall have already formally indicated their opposition to the merger.
Whilst I am not opposed in principal to a merger of the two forces, any change must make clear what benefits it will bring for Torbay, not just how a larger rural force would be created. It should also be clear how Council Tax rates will be merged. Dorset Residents currently pay on average £18 a year (per household) more in terms of the Police Precept. This may not seem a significant amount, but if applied across the combined force area it could see significant extra sums raised, with clear questions about how these resources might be used.
I spoke to Alison about her decision this week and agreed it is vital the business case is scrutinised, plus any benefits for Torbay clear, if it is to proceed any further.
TUFC Stadium Plan Update,
Earlier this week Torbay’s Councillors were briefed on the plans announced by Torquay United Football Club for a new stadium at Nightingale Park.
The meeting was held in private, but I understand no significant new details will be forthcoming any time soon.
Meanwhile I am conducting a survey of residents living near to Nightingale Park asking them what they think of this plan. So far the majority of responses have indicated they do not support it.
Crackdown on Gangs,
Work by our Police to crackdown on the unacceptable behaviour of gangs in Torquay and Newton Abbot has taken a step forward.
Special gang injunctions have been imposed on 11 teenagers after seven appeared at Plymouth Magistrates Court this week and four more agreed to the injunction.
The various conditions of the injunction include giving police the power to arrest the youths if they make threats in groups of three or more or make threats over social media, by phone or text messages. It is understood to be one of the first times Devon and Cornwall Police have applied for gang injunctions. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
I welcome this action by the Police to deal with those who make life a misery for others and it sends a strong message their behaviour will not be tolerated.
New Hospital CEO Appointed,
Torbay Hospital’s Chief Executive, Mairead McAlinden, decided to retire earlier this year.
Since then Liz Davenport, the substantive Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer, has been covering the Chief Executive role on an interim basis. This week the Trust which runs the Hospital confirmed she has been appointed as the new Chief Executive.
I have worked with Liz on several issues over recent years and look forward to working with her over the coming years to the benefit of Torbay’s NHS.
The World Comes To Torbay,
“The World” has literally come to Torbay this week as it anchored in our bay.
Whilst “The World” looks like any other Cruise Ship it is the world’s largest privately-owned passenger ship. There are 165 Residences ranging from studio flats to expansive three-bedroom apartments and a six-bedroom penthouse suite, which boasts accommodations for up to 12 people. Approximately 200 people live on the ship.
She is in our bay for refueling and is due to leave tomorrow (Saturday 29thSeptember). You can read more about her on Devon Live by clicking here.
Watching The Grass Grow,
Watching the grass grow has a very different meaning at Torquay’s Living Coasts.
Out of the sight of guests, staff at Living Coasts are working on a project to propagate the seagrass species Zostera Marina. The long-term aim is to find ways of growing it on a large-enough scale to make planting out areas of suitable seabed viable. They have successfully grown some seagrass plants from seed and whilst it may not look like much, it’s a significant achievement, as the seeds are notoriously tricky to germinate.
Seagrass is threatened by coastal development, irresponsible anchoring, dredging and other activities which disturb the seabed, including certain fishing methods. Seagrass beds are also at risk from pollution and increased amounts of sediment in the water, which block sunlight and prevent growth. If the seagrass beds disappear, the seahorses living among them will disappear, too.
You can read more on the Living Coasts’ website by clicking here.
Plainmoor Road Safety Schemes,
As part of planned Road Safety Schemes for this year, Torbay Council have identified the School Crossing Patrol point on Reddenhill Road and the area around The Spires School as needing improvement works.
Reddenhill Road will incorporate improved signage and lights to indicate an advisory 20mph limit when lights flash. There will also be additional parking restrictions to improve visibility of the crossing point and signage.
The Spires School scheme will comprise of an enforceable 20 MPH zone restriction along the rear lane running parallel to Bronshill Road, which is used by school children walking to the school. There will also be parking restrictions on the junction with Cary Park Road to improve visibility of pedestrians crossing the road and allow safer access and passing ability for vehicles at this junction.
Ward Councillors have been asked for comment before Torbay Council formally advertises and commences works on these schemes.
Violent Torquay Rapist Sent To Prison,
A Torquay man convicted of rape is now where he belongs, in prison.
He was convicted after a week-long trial at Exeter Crown Court, with the Judge handing down a six-year sentence.
You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
GWR Autumn Upgrade Schedule,
Several rail upgrade projects will be taking place across our region this autumn.
If planning an important trip by train later this year you can find all the details of the planned work on a dedicated part of GWR’s website by clicking here.
The key date for our bay is on Sunday 11th November when track renewal work will take place from Newton Abbot to Paignton until 16:00. As this is Remembrance Sunday do bear this in mind if planning to use the train to travel to an event.
New Train Takes The Spray,
Whilst talking about trains one of the most common questions I get asked about the new Intercity Express Trains is if they will be able to withstand the waves at Dawlish.
Since the first service west of Exeter (to Paignton) in July many have been waiting to see what would happen when the sleek new trains got a wash from the sea at Dawlish. Whilst the Class 43 sets have ploughed through the waves for nearly 40 years, a weakness in the newer Voyager sets used by Crosscountry means their electrics fail if a big splash hits them.
This week saw the first winter weather put the new trains to the test and the Dawlish Beach Camera captured the moment one headed through the sea spray. You can see the video by clicking here.
Wellswood Wheels Volunteers Appeal
Wellswood Wheels is run by the Wellswood & Torwood Community Partnership (CP) for those whose mobility problems prevent them from engaging in the social events many of us take for granted.
The CP have been invited by the Practice Managers at Parkhill and Brunel Surgeries to attend the Flu Surgeries in October and November to talk with those attending who might benefit from Wellswood Wheels, but do not currently use it. They are therefore looking for volunteers who would be prepared to give up a couple of hours of their time on a Saturday morning to deliver leaflets to patients as they leave the surgeries. The dates are:
Saturday 6th October, Saturday 27th October, Saturday 3rd November and Saturday 17th November between 10am and 1pm. If you could help let me know and I will pass your details to the CP Secretary Sue Kenway.
and finally……. ”Horned Beast” on the Loose?
In what sounded like the plot of a bad 1950’s “B” move it was reported a “Horned Beast” had escaped from Paignton Zoo into the nearby Clennon Woods.
The West Caucasian Tur, which looks like a mountain goat, escaped from Paignton Zoo by leaping over a fence while being herded to a new area. Whilst she could have been dangerous if cornered or feeling threatened, the image created by some reports of a “horned beast” escaping were rather wide of the mark.
After two days on the run she walked back into the Zoo following a trail of food left by Zoo Keepers to entice her into doing the right thing. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Saturday 6th October, 11am – 1pm @ The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET
Friday 12th October, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, 43 Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ
Saturday 20th October, 9.30am – 11am @ 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD
Saturday 27th October, 11am – 1pm @ Preston Baptist Church, 62 Old Torquay Road, Paignton TQ3 2RB
It’s always best to book a slot to guarantee being able to see me. Full details of how to do this are on my website or you can call my office on 01803 214989, Monday – Fridays, 9am – 5pm.
You can either email me at email@example.com or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.