As the Christmas Decorations come down it is time for my first update of 2019.
I hope all update readers had a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas. I took time to be with my family here in the bay and enjoyed attending several Christmas Services, especially the Crib and Christingle Service at St Martin’s Barton on Christmas Eve. It always ends with dozens of excited children gathered round the candlelit crib to sing the final carols.
After the excitement and indulgence of Christmas Lunch with the Community at the St Peter’s Centre in Chelston, there is nothing like a bracing swim to help work it off. I therefore joined dozens of people taking part in the Boxing Day Walk Into The Sea organised by Paignton Lions. Whilst not taking part in the fancy dress competition I did pop in for a brief swim, as proved by the photo of me looking rather damp with the Chairman of Torbay Council afterwards
On Wednesday I was back in the office for a meeting with Susan Musselwhite from the British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association (Top right). Whilst the last UK Nuclear Tests took place a generation ago many veterans are still living with the impacts of them. At the time large numbers of servicemen were drafted in to witness the tests and the immense power of these explosions can be seen in the News Reels from the time. (You can watch the one reporting Britain’s First H-Bomb by clicking here.)
During our meeting we discussed the need for ongoing research into the long-term health impact of being part of these tests, along with issues which have affected veteran’s children. The BNTVA is also campaigning for those who took part to be recognised with a medal.
Over the Festive Period one post got debate started on my Facebook Page in a way no other issue has recently. Thousands viewed it and dozens of comments and reactions were left on it by residents. Whilst Brexit is dominating the national headlines and challenges around regeneration our local media front pages, the hot subject on my Social Media Feed? The new Public Toilets being built in Union St (Bottom Left).
Earlier today I held one of my regular meetings with the Chief Executive and Chairman of the trust which runs Torbay Hospital.
During the meeting we discussed progress on plans to build the new Emergency Department and the new 16 Mental Health Ward, two multi-million pound investments in improving Torbay’s NHS Services. These projects should start construction later this year, but as with any such projects detailed planning is needed beforehand, especially as the existing Emergency Department will need to continue working up to the moment the new one is ready for patients.
After this I headed over to Paignton Library (Bottom Right) for a meeting with Ciara Eastell, the Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited a mutual which took over the running of Torbay’s Public Libraries in April. It was good to hear of how the service is working together with the libraries they run in Devon to ensure more discover the joy of reading, plus some other fun activities aimed at making them a hub for the local community.
Finally this afternoon I held my weekly advice surgery, with residents coming to see me for help on a range of issues affecting them personally. I also stopped by Torre Post Office to see how the refurbishment work is coming along. More on this below along with this week’s update which includes: Toddler Found In Main Avenue, Could You Be A Special?, Preston Parking Meters, Torwood St Update, High St Fund Launched, Flu Jab Reminder, CPR Teaching To Be Mandatory, Mayor’s Forum, New Railcard Launched, ECHO Building, Kev’s Column: Happy New Year and finally…….Could They Have Come In a Taxi?
Toddler Found In Main Avenue,
On Wednesday a very young child was found wandering the street on their own in Main Avenue, Torquay.
He was found by neighbours who alerted the Police due to him being very pale and cold. A major search was launched to identify his parents following which a woman in her 40s and a man in his 30s were arrested on suspicion of child neglect. They have both since been released on police bail. The child was taken into police protection and I am advised he is safe and well.
Police investigations are ongoing, but anyone who has information which may assist their inquiries should contact them on 101.
Could You Be A Special?,
The incident above is a reminder of how our Police work to protect and serve the local community.
Our local Police are now looking for some special people to help support their work by becoming a Special Constable. Specials are members of the community who are also trained Police Officers.
If this sounds like a role for you then you will find all the details on the Devon & Cornwall Police website by clicking here.
Preston Parking Meters,
Proposals to introduce parking meters on Preston Seafront have prompted hundreds of residents to object.
By Wednesday lunchtime more than 1,700 people had signed an online petition opposing the meters, plus a local campaigner has collected over 500 signed objection letters.
Parking is currently free on Marine Drive, although there is a restriction to prevent overnight parking. The consultation period for the parking meters proposal ended today (Friday, January 4).
The proposed meter charges are: up to 30 minutes 60p; up to 1 hour £1.40; up to 1.5 hours £2.40; up to 2 hours £3; up to 3 hours £4; up to 4 hours £5; up to 5 hours £6; up to 6 hours £7; all day £10; overnight (6pm to 8am) £3.50. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
I have spoken with Preston Cllr Chris Lewis about this issue and he advises me most Councillors disagree with this proposal and will seek to block it.
Torwood St Update,
The most positive moment of 2018 for Torquay Town Centre was the sight of the long awaited Torwood Street Development finally getting underway.
Demolition of the derelict buildings which had lined this key street for too many years was completed in early November, with works to underpin and prop adjoining buildings and walls having been undertaken since.
The next major phase is about to begin which will include piling foundations, drainage and substructure works. I am advised these are expected to take 4 months to complete. The piling rig will return this month to complete the remaining piles across the rest of the site.
The Tower Crane is scheduled for delivery and erection in Mid-February. This is expected to take two days, including testing once completed. Additional site cabins are also expected to arrive in March as the number of workers on site expands.
It is great to see this work is now progressing so quickly, helping spur other investment into our area.
High St Fund Launched,
The challenges facing our High St have been all to visible in the news over the festive period.
Growth in online shopping and the ability to access many services via the internet has changed for good how many people do things they once headed to their local high street for. This leaves many Town Centres, including Torquay and Paignton facing a need for urgent change and investment to reshape themselves for the 21stcentury.
Over Christmas the Government announced the launch of a £675m Future High Streets Fund to provide co-funding towards improvements to town centre infrastructure, including increasing access to high streets, reducing congestion, supporting development around high streets and enabling housing and new workspaces to be created.
The Government has published a prospectus, or Call for Proposals, inviting local authorities (Including Torbay Council) to set out the challenges facing their high street and town centre and their strategic approach to bring transformative change to the high street at an Expression of Interest stage for the Fund. The Government will assess these before deciding which places to move forward to develop business cases bidding for capital funding.
Sorting out the issues in our Town Centres is vital to the economic future of our Town, hence it is vital our bay gets a strong bid into this fund.
Flu Jab Reminder,
If you are eligible for your Free NHS Flu Jab there is still time to get it before it may be too late.
Flu is more than just a bad cold, it is potentially deadly for those who are more vulnerable. You are eligible for the free flu vaccine if you are pregnant, are aged 65 years or over, have a long-term health condition or are a carer. Children aged 2 or 3 years are also eligible.
You can find details about where you can get your Flu Jab and other advice on staying well this winter just click here to be taken to the NHS website.
CPR Teaching To Be Mandatory,
Just over a year ago a close relative of mine collapsed in the early hours of the morning, thankfully her young Son could help his Dad deliver CPR thanks to what he had learned at Sea Cadets.
Basic First Aid and CPR skills can be vital at any age hence I welcome the Government announcement this week confirming children will be taught basic first aid in schools under proposals due to be rolled out from 2020. You can read more on the Government website by clicking here.
Groups like the Red Cross and St John Ambulance already do a great job ensuring more people know the basic skills which could save a life, yet this news will ensure it becomes a skill all ages are familiar with.
Torbay residents, organisations and businesses are invited to attend the next Mayor’s Forum, which is taking place at 6pm on Wednesday 16th January.
Hosted by Torbay’s Elected Mayor Gordon Oliver, the event at the Riviera International Conference Centre (RICC) will include the opportunity to hear about a range of issues affecting our bay.
The forum will take place in the Rosetor Room, Riviera International Conference Centre starting at 6 pm, Doors open at 5:30pm. No need to book, just turn up.
Parking for the event is free.
New Railcard Launched,
The Government has announced it will introduce a brand-new railcard, which will halve all rail fares for 16 and 17-year-olds, plus a “Millennial Railcard”, for 26 to 30 year olds, has now gone on sale.
The new railcard will give 16 to 17 year olds 50 per cent off all fares by allowing them to use discounted “child” tickets. Access to these discounted tickets, which includes season tickets and peak services, will provide a real boost for young people and their parents in Torbay. It will be launched in September 2019.
The “Millennial Railcard” for those aged 26-30 years old is now on sale, giving this age group a fairer deal when commuting to work, visiting relatives or travelling to meet friends by cutting a third off many rail fares. You can purchase it online by clicking here.
The two new Railcards are in addition to the existing Young Person’s Railcard which is available to those aged 16 to 25.
Just before Christmas there was good news as the ECHO Building in St James Road was listed as an Asset of Community Value.
This designation means the community would get the first bite of the cherry if it comes up for sale, allowing time to put plans together for it. This is a great achievement for residents and is thanks to the efforts of the Torre and Upton Community Partnership.
The Partnership is keen to hear residents’ views on the future of this building which can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Double Delivery For Post Office Customers
After a successful campaign to save it from closure it was great to see refurbishment work well underway at Torre Post Office.
The branch is getting a complete makeover having been taken over by Carters who run the nearby convenience store. Customers will notice a significant difference as it is planned to have two low-screened, open-plan, modern serving points as part of the retail counter. The new look Torre Post Office is scheduled to reopen on Monday 14th January 2019.
Yet this is not the only good news for our Post Office. It has also been confirmed a new Post Office will be opening near the heart of Torquay’s busy Harbourside area.
The new Post Office will be based inside McColls on Torwood Street and will open for business at 1pm on Friday 1st February 2019. The new branch will provide a range of postal services, plus help replace some counter banking services lost following the closure of nearby Banks.
Kev’s Column: Happy New Year
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…….Could They Have Come In a Taxi?
Ending on a lighter note after a long journey to attend an away game the most determined football fans can then find themselves having to endure listening to a chant about “having come in a Taxi” from the Home Stands.
Yet the tables were turned in dramatic style on New Year’s Day as Torquay United attracted 2,760 supporters for their “away” match against Truro City, compared to only 52 in the Home Crowd. Yet there is a twist in this tale……..the game was played at Plainmoor due to a ground share agreement.
The best news is the Gulls notched up a 3 – 1 victory and are top of their league after a superb recent run of form. You can read the BBC match report by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Tuesday 8th January at the Torquay Museum – Training The Afghan Army
Alexander, author of Afghanistan: a Tour of Duty, recalls his time as an officer in the guards in Afghanistan. Expect stories of courage and endurance.
Lectures every Tuesday & Wednesday. 10:45 – 12 noon) Lectures are free to Torquay Museum Society Members & cost £5 on door to Non-Members – click here for full details.
From Thursday 10th January till Saturday 12th January – Jack and the Beanstalk. Start time 7:30pm (and Saturday matinee at 2:30 pm). Tickets are £7.50 (adults) £5.00 (children). St John Hall, Shiphay, TQ1 7HP. Please click here for full details.
Sunday 20th January – 10am to 3.30pm – Bird Watch Day Workshop @ Cockington Visitor Centre, Cockington Village, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 6XA. For full details click here.
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 email@example.com.
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.