Thanks to MP Kevin Foster for his latest update which follows below.
After what has been a noisy week in the political world it is time for my latest update.
My week started with a busy Saturday out and about across our local area, starting with the St Matthias Men’s Prayer Breakfast at Kent’s Cavern. It was then down to Torquay Harbourside for the commissioning of the Disabled Sailing Association’s new yacht “Freedom” by BBC Spotlight Presenter Victoria Graham.
The new boat is a tribute to the efforts of the volunteers who support this amazing charity, giving the freedom of the sea to those who may be restricted in their ability on the land.
The end of the First World War saw dramatic political changes, including Poland re-emerging as an independent nation. This event was marked with a celebration at the Abbey Sands Hotel on Saturday afternoon including historical talks, dances and plenty of food.
Seeing a new Ministry start at a local church is always a great time for celebration and looking forward to the contribution which will be made. Paignton Baptist Church welcomed its new Minister Rev Stephen Cole on Saturday afternoon with a service full of joy and excitement. I was pleased to join a lively congregation for the installation service and some refreshments afterwards.
The Festival of Remembrance at Central Church, Torquay struck a more reflective tone as the events of a century ago were remembered. The Torbay Police Choir sang a range of songs and hymns which not only paid tribute to those who lost their lives, but also recalled the spirit of that age. The event setting the tone perfectly for the events of Armistice Day on Sunday, more on these in the inset story below.
Late on Sunday I headed up to London for a week in Parliament which included debates on Veterans, Education Funding and an opportunity to spend over two hours “bobbing”. More on these below.
I returned to the bay late last night ahead of a busy day of appointments today. These included meeting with the team at Paignton Citizen’s Advice Bureau to discuss the work they are doing with those going onto Universal Credit. A seminar arranged by the Charities Aid Foundation at my East St Office where they advised local good causes on how to make the most of Giving Tuesday and their services. Then a visit to St Margaret’s School to speak with their juniors about my work as Torbay’s MP.
Finally I held my weekly advice surgery at Paignton Baptist Church this afternoon with a range of issues brought to me by residents seeking my help.
This week’s update is below and includes: Park Hotel Planning Approved, Brexit, Veterans Strategy Debate, 60 & 65 Bus Routes, Education Funding Debate, Dawlish Rail Update, HIV Testing Week, Neighbourhood Plans Progress, Beach Water Quality, Pension Cold Calling Ban, Paignton Restaurant Fined for Poor Hygiene, Off Licence Faces Costs Order, Kev’s Column: Armistice and finally……..Can You Make The Dolphins Dance at 9pm?
Park Hotel Planning Approved,
Councillors on Torbay’s Development Management Committee have voted to back a £14m plan for a new 161 bedroom hotel creating 100 jobs on the site of the derelict Park Hotel.
The investment is the first of three planned by the Fragrance Group and will see the first major new hotel to be built on Paignton’s Seafront in decades. The now derelict building will be demolished to make way for it, only 12 objections were lodged with other residents and Torbay Civic Society expressing their support for the scheme. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
Whilst there will be some sadness at seeing the current building demolished the prospect of a long-term derelict eyesore in this key location is not a choice Paignton or our bay can afford. The previous hotel was rated 91 out of 97 places to stay in Paignton on Tripadvisor.
Whilst the Council was required to vote on giving it planning permission the costs of its construction is being borne by a private investor, not the taxpayer. Some residents have queried if such a large hotel can make money, ultimately the Fragrance is prepared to put £14m of their own money at risk because they believe it will.
The debate over the UK’s future as we leave the European Union was ignited this week after the Prime Minister published a draft Withdrawal Treaty.
The document itself looks like a large phone directory and has a very large amount of detail, along with several accompanying documents. You can read it for yourself by clicking here. I am due to start working my way through it this weekend.
I do not use these updates to push party political points or to comment on Westminster gossip, there is enough of those in the national media. Yet disagreement on this issue should not descend into disrespect.
I bobbed for over two hours yesterday to ask a question to the Prime Minister. I decided to raise one of the key opportunities for the UK after Brexit, joining the major Trade Deal which includes Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the CPTPP. You can listen to my question by clicking here.
Veterans Strategy Debate,
Following the events to mark the sacrifices of the past it was appropriate that yesterday parliament discussed how to support the Veterans of the present.
The recently published Veterans Strategy seeks to improve the support offered on a range of issues, whilst also championing the role many veterans plan in our society.
I took the opportunity to reflect on the work done by our local Royal British Legion Branches, along with the need to sort the issue of legacy investigations in Northern Ireland.
You can listen to my speech by clicking here.
60 & 65 Bus Routes,
News the 60 and 65 services are to be suspended for four months (last service Saturday 8th December) will be a blow for those who rely on them for everything from a trip to the shops to attending a hospital appointment.
When the previous operator pulled out last year a major campaign was launched to get them running again, yet despite being delivered on a “not for profit” basis it has been revealed they are running at a loss of £1,000 a week. Whilst some passengers make a voluntary additional donation towards running the service, 90% of passengers on the routes only pay concessionary fares.
A community model of delivering bus services which are not likely to make a profit, but provide a vital service, makes sense. Now Torbay must find a solution which ensures those with free bus passes have a service they can use. I will be meeting with local Councillors and residents to see how we can do this.
Education Funding Debate,
The funding needs of our schools were being debated this week in parliament.
I took the chance to outline recent progress made in terms of securing funding for key projects and the work done by local schools. I also raised concerns about the impact Torbay Council’s current consultation about the higher needs funding block.
You can listen to my speech by clicking here.
Dawlish Rail Update,
Some eagle-eyed residents spotted me getting some exercise during Prime Minister’s Questions as I “bobbed” to try and catch the Speaker’s eye.
Following the latest issues with closures of the line at Dawlish, cutting off Devon and Cornwall from the national rail network, I wanted to again put pressure on for progress on delivering a longer-term solution. Sadly despite my efforts I did not get called by the Speaker, but helpfully did get an update from the Transport Team which I copy below:
“This month marks the next phase of work to protect the railway from the force of the waves by repairing four breakwaters at Boat Cove, Coastguards Point, Colonnade Underpass and Langstone Rock.
It is set to take six months and will be carried out by world leaders in coastal, tunnel, cliff and railway engineering from Network Rail and BAM Nuttall.
Investigations also continue into whether loose material from the clifftop above Parsons Tunnel at Holcombe can be removed to stabilise the cliff and reduce the risk of landslips.
The Government has already provided £15m for Network Rail to design a long-lasting solution to this problem, in addition to the £40m spent by Network Rail to repair the damage caused in the 2014 storm. Further plans for major improvements of the seawall at Dawlish will be published in the summer 2019.”
HIV Testing Week,
National HIV Testing Week begins on Saturday 17 November to raise awareness of HIV testing.
In 2017, there were an estimated 106,119 people in the UK living with HIV of these it is estimated that 12% don’t know they have the condition, which increases the risk of onward transmission greatly. In 2017, 4,363 people in England were diagnosed with HIV and there were 428 deaths. In 2016, 46% of the people diagnosed in the South West were heterosexual and 44.7% were diagnosed late.
Torbay has the third highest prevalence rate for HIV in the South West of England. It also has a late diagnosis rate of 40% which is slightly below the South West’s average of 44.7%. The test is quick and simple, with results available within 20 minutes.
Neighbourhood Plans Progress,
Plans drawn up by the community for the development of our bay’s key towns took a step forward this week.
The Neighbourhood Plans drawn up for Torquay, Paignton and Brixham were considered by Councillors, with them voting to progress them. The plans are now likely to be the subject of Referendums due to be held on the same day as the Torbay Council Elections in May. Each Town will vote individually on their own plan, with a simple majority being required in each case.
You can read more about the Neighbourhood Plans and the process involved in drawing them up on Torbay Council’s website by clicking here.
Beach Water Quality,
The bathing water quality results for 2018 have been announced and Torbay’s beaches continue to meet the highest European standards.
Of the 15 designated bathing waters in Torbay this year 12 have met the excellent standard.
This is up from the 9 which met the standard last year with Torre Abbey, Preston Sands and Broadsands all improving their results from ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent’.
Pension Cold Calling Ban,
The freedom to choose how you access your pension pot provides welcome flexibility as you retire, yet sadly some are looking to exploit these to scam hard working savers.
One problem has been the use of cold calling to target those in or approaching retirement, with use of pressure sales tactics following on to try and prevent the pensioner concerned from making a properly considered choice.
A random sales call is not the way any legitimate company should approach a resident about their pension. I therefore welcome the Government’s move to protect consumers from pensions fraudsters, by presenting to parliament legislation to ban pensions cold calling. This proposed new law will shortly be debated by MPs before coming into force early in the new year.
A response to the Government’ recent consultation on this issue was published alongside Budget 2018 and can be found by clicking here.
Paignton Restaurant Fined for Poor Hygiene,
A local Indian restaurant who failed to comply with food safety legislation and was awarded a ZERO rating has been prosecuted by Torbay Council and ordered to pay costs by local magistrates.
Tandoori Nights in Paignton were found to have very poor standards of cleaning, food safety practices and personal hygiene which posed a serious risk to health. The owner pleaded guilty to four offences and was fined £880 per offence (£3,520) and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £88 and court costs of £3,583.18, a total of £7,191.18. You can see photos of the disgusting conditions Torbay Council’s enforcement team found on Devon Live by clicking here.
Comments from the Magistrates who heard the case at Newton Abbot Magistrates Court on the 5 November stated that the photographs of the poor standards were some of the worst they had seen.
Recent cases in the national media highlight the importance of food safety and labeling laws so I welcome the tough line taken by Torbay Council in this case.
Off Licence Faces Costs Order,
The owner of an off licence in Torbay has been ordered to pay court costs to Torbay Council following an appeal against the revocation of their Premises Licence.
Off Licence TQ Ltd had their Premises Licence revoked by Torbay Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee following an application by the Police for a review of the licence due to a number of failings and criminal offences.
The case was heard at Plymouth Magistrates Court on the 8 October 2018 where the owner was ordered to pay over £9,200 in costs.
Kev’s Column: Armistice
Every fortnight Kevin writes a “Kev’s Column” for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition (Published on Wednesday 14th November 2018) below:
and finally……..Can You Make The Dolphins Dance at 9pm?
Ending on a lighter note this week Travelodge published details of the weirdest requests their staff have received from guests and some would even make our bay’s most famous hotelier, Basil Fawlty, blush.
Requests as to whether a horse could stay in the room with its owner or a duvet for a Ferrari which does not like the cold, pale against the one made by a guest at the Travelodge in Newton Road, Torquay. A male guest was keen to make the proposal to his Girlfriend extra special, so he asked: “Can you arrange for the dolphins to be dancing at 9pm – the same time that I will be proposing to my girlfriend?”
You can find this and more hilarious examples on the Devon Live website by clicking here. They make asking for a Waldorf Salad or a more interesting view from your hotel room window look rather tame.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Sat 17 Nov, Sun 18 Nov, Sat 24 Nov and Sun 25 Nov – 11:00 – 16:00
Coleton Fishacre Community weekends: FREE entry for TQ postcodes
On November weekends you can crunch through fallen leaves, soak up the changing colours in the garden, discover the stories of the house and treat yourself to something warming in the café. Just bring along a proof of your TQ postcode to redeem this offer on November weekends. Children are very welcome. Dogs on leads are welcome. Booking not needed. Brownstone Road, Kingswear, Devon, TQ6 0EQ – https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/coleton-fishacre
Saturday 17th November – 12.00pm to 2.30pm. Inner Wheel Club of Torquay. Pasty and Puds Lunch @ St Matthias Church Hall, Babbacombe Road, Torquay. Call 01803 21142 for tickets or email firstname.lastname@example.org – proceeds to Children’s hospice South West. Click here for info.
Saturday 17th November – 7.30pm – 12am. Charity Ball in Aid of Rowcroft Hospice @ Preston Conservative Club, 299 Torquay Road, Paignton, TQ3 2EY. Night will include a raffle, buffet, entertainment and auction. Singers: Tony England and John St John. Tickets £20. For more information or to purchase tickets email email@example.com
Wednesday 21st November – Jasmyn House, 1 Midvale Road, Paignton, TQ4 5BD – Sensory Team Coffee Morning 10am-12pm – cost £2 with Raffle. For more information click here.
Friday 23rd November – The Friends of St Matthias organ recital by David Davies @ St Matthias’ Church, Torquay TQ1 1HW at 7.30pm. Tickets £10 (Friends £9 and Students £8), to include Wine and Nibbles. Tickets available at the church office call or T/P 01803 214175. Click here to see flyer.
Friday 30th November – Churston Golf Club – Xmas Fayre 10-12am, entry fee includes coffee and mince pie, stalls and raffle – Proceeds to RNLI
Friday 14th December at 7.30pm – Christmas Quiz – Cost £5 in advance, or £6 on the door (open at 7pm). To include wine and pasty (vegetarian option available) at Paignton Parish Church, 31 Winsu Avenue, Paignton TQ3 1QE – for more details click here.
Saturday 15th December 11am to 2pm – Paignton Parish Church, 31 Winsu Avenue, Paignton TQ3 1QE – Christmas Fayre – Free entry – Christmas Draw tickets 50p a ticket will be available for purchase from end of October.
Every Tuesday from 0930 till 1230. The Royal British Legion Office, 39 Church Street, Paignton is open. It is where ex members of the armed forces can receive help and advice. Appointments can be made by phoning 01803 555838, or email firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com so it can be included
Saturday 24th November, 11am – 1pm @ The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET
Saturday 1st December, 10am – 12pm @ St Martin’s Church, Barton Hill Road, Torquay, TQ2 8JA
Friday 7th December, 3pm – 5pm @ Age U.K. Denby Road, Paignton TQ4 5DB
Saturday 15th December, 11am – 1pm @ Barton Baptist Church, Happaway Road, Torquay TQ2 8EU.
Friday 21st December, 3pm – 5pm @ 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD.
Friday 4th January, 3pm – 5pm @ 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.