After a mild but sunny day here in the bay it is time for my latest update.
My week started with a chance to hear about the work of the Torquay Branch of the Royal Air Force Association at a coffee morning held at Torquay’s RAFA Club. It was good to hear a recap of the fundraising and events which took place in 2018, but the best bit was hearing how the Branch is helping support those who are hoping to be the next generation to serve in the RAF.
Saturday afternoon saw me out on the doorsteps in Shiphay. I was joined by local Councillors and it was good to hear what residents were thinking after the events of the week before.
Later in the evening I attended the TOADS SMC Dinner in Torquay. Those who have been to a TOADS show know the only thing which is amateur about them is the performers are not being paid. The same goes for the Cabaret at their events, with me being invited backstage for a photo afterward with the dance troupe. For those wondering Mrs Foster was the photographer, so no explaining to do when I got home!!
Sunday evening saw a large congregation gather at All Saints, Torre for a service to mark the week of prayer for Christian Unity. I was pleased to read one of the lessons and to share in prayers led by representatives from all denominations in the bay.
There was an early start on Monday as I cut the ribbon to mark the re-opening of Torre Post Office. A hard-fought campaign, led by the Torre and Upton Community Partnership, not only saved the Branch from closure, but helped secure new investment as Carters have taken it over. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
After cutting the ribbon I headed for London, with a week of debates on issues including Northern Ireland’s Security Situation, Brexit and appropriate treatment for ME. More on these below.
My time in Parliament is mostly focused on being in the chamber speaking up for our area, yet I also make time for meetings on issues residents have contacted me about. On Wednesday I met with campaigners from the Motor Neurone Disease Association following an inspiring meeting with local resident Peter Scott-Morgan who has MND but is determined to thrive not just survive with it.
Finally today I was back in the bay for a visit to the Palace Theatre in Paignton. The purpose of my visit was to discuss how we could best promote our bay during English Tourism Week.
There is more on this below along with this week’s update which includes: Torquay B&B is World Champion, Oldway Update, £50k Boost For Paignton Seafront, Northern Ireland, Free Trade Deals, Torquay United Update, Tower Block Safety, Court IT Systems, Appeal For 4X4 Owners, Town Centre Toilet Block On It’s Way, Final Budget Proposals Published, ME Debate, Kev’s Column: Brexit Vote and finally…….Where’s the Orange Elephant Gone?
Torquay B&B is World Champion,
For too many tourists Fawlty Towers is all too fresh in their mind when thinking of a stay in our bay, yet one B&B has shattered this image by becoming a World Champion on Tripadvisor.
Run by couple Andy and Julian Banner-Price, The 25 Boutique B&B, which costs £179 per night, won the Travellers’ Choice award for best B&B. This award is based on the quality and quantity of traveller reviews and opinions specific to each award category.
The experience of guests at this B&B is a world away from the antics seen by guests at Fawlty Towers, with the two guys knowing how to make a Waldorf Salad. Having decided to invest in their business to make it a quality visitor experience I am pleased to see the national recognition they have been receiving this week for it.
You can read the Daily Telegraph’s piece on their success by clicking here.
Torbay Council has agreed in principle to set up a Charitable Trust to run Oldway.
Councillor Chris Robson, Chairman of the Oldway Working Party, has confirmed the first steps have been taken towards setting up a charity which will enable the community to take over Oldway Mansion.
The new Charitable Trust will initially work in partnership with the Council to make joint grant applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund. These grants will help pay for the immediate repairs and renovations to enable the Trust to open the mansion for business. The Council will support the formation of a new community-led Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), or Trust for Oldway.
An agreement will now be drafted to set out how the Trust and Council will work in partnership to seek funding for repairs and restoration and, to maximise the chances of success, the agreement will also stipulate the conditions which must be met to enable a transfer to the CIO. These will include the satisfactory completion of building works and the mansion is ready to be financially self-supporting.
The new Trust can be set up relatively quickly and from the outset will be able to do things Torbay Council cannot, for example recruit volunteers, fund raise, and organise events.
Oldway Mansion will also be open to the public on the weekend of 6th and 7th April 2019 to formally launch the new Trust. Exhibits from the “Paignton Heritage Society” and the “Friends of Oldway” will be on show as well as guided tours of the principal rooms and grand staircase.
£50k Boost For Paignton Seafront,
The Government has confirmed a £50,000 Coastal Revival Funding boost for work on Paignton’s Iconic Seafront.
Torbay Community Partnership will receive £50,000 from the Government’s Coastal Revival Fund to kick-start a restoration project on the iconic Victorian seafront shelters in Paignton. The project, ‘Shelters for Posterity’, aims to restore six Victorian shelters to their original grandeur, improving their current look and use as well as improving the landscape.
The grant is one of 23 being announced in England, taking the number of projects supported in this round of the Coastal Revival Fund to 48, worth almost £2m. The news was confirmed in a letter to me from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP.
Whilst this sea front is much loved, its historic Shelters need some TLC. I am therefore delighted this funding has been secured and congratulate Colin Hurst and the team at the Community Partnership for making it happen.
Last weekend saw a dark reminder of Northern Ireland’s troubled past when dissident Republicans planted a car bomb outside the Courthouse in Londonderry.
Those behind this attack are part of the tiny minority who have never accepted the peace process or the principle ballots, not bullets, should decide Northern Ireland’s future. The Secretary of State updated MPs on Monday, so I asked what support would be given to ensure those responsible face justice.
You can listen to my question and her response by clicking here
Free Trade Deals,
Yesterday MPs questioned the Minister of State for Trade about work being done to roll over 40 separate agreements with 3rd countries (Non-EU States) the UK is part of via our EU Membership.
This may sound a large number yet 21% of the value of trade done under them relates to one agreement with Switzerland. Progress was also announced this week in relation to the agreement with Israel.
I took part in the session and asked for confirmation of the figures in relation to the Swiss Agreement. You can listen to my question and the Minister’s response by clicking here.
Torquay United Update,
There was another twist in the tale of plans by Torquay United’s owner to build a new stadium.
Late last year the Elected Mayor of Torbay agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in relation to the project, yet this was immediately “called in”, a formal challenge to his decision, by Councillors. The Council has now confirmed in a statement this decision was rescinded at an Overview & Scrutiny Meeting which followed the call-in.
For some clarity on what this means I spoke with Conservative Group Leader Cllr Dave Thomas. He advised me there had been a meeting involving the Mayor, Group Leaders and Clarke Osborne to discuss the MOU. The Group Leaders representing Councillors questioned the need for a MOU, especially one which just referenced working professionally, with Cllr Thomas taking some objection to the idea an agreement needed to be signed to think this would happen.
During the meeting I understand both the Conservative and Lib Dem Group Leaders indicated their respective groups would oppose the MOU if referred to a meeting of all 36 Councillors, more than enough to defeat it.
I will continue to include any further news in future updates.
Tower Block Safety,
The tragedy at Grenfell Tower in 2017 brought to the fore concerns about how our fire safety regulations and the system of enforcing them works.
This week MPs questioned the Minister responsible for ensuring those living in Tower Blocks are safe about the progress of work to deal with cladding issues. I took the chance to ask about the wider review of how our Fire Regulations work, especially the system for enforcement. You can listen to my question and the Minister’s response by clicking here.
Given the Cabinet Office is the sponsoring department for the public inquiry into the Grenfell Disaster I cannot comment on the details of it.
Court IT Systems,
The public sector is no stranger to IT problems and this week it was the turn of the Courts Service to have problems with their IT.
The Courts Minister was required to attend the House of Commons and explain what had gone wrong to MPs. I challenged the Minister directly on press claims this may have resulted in offenders being released.
You can hear my question and her response by clicking here.
Appeal For 4X4 Owners,
Following last year’s ‘Beast from the East’, Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust is looking for more volunteers to join their 4×4 Volunteer Driver Response Team which plays an essential role in supporting patients and staff during adverse/extreme weather conditions.
The Trust already has around 50 4×4 volunteer car drivers on its books across Torbay and South Devon. However, the Trust is looking to recruit more people to join its ranks. Any local 4×4 drivers who are thinking of volunteering, or those who helped support last year, are urged to come forward by calling 01803 654600.
In the event of extreme winter weather, the volunteers play a vital role in helping to keep local NHS services running across the community. The volunteers will help by taking staff to and from work as well as out and about to patients’ homes. They may also be asked to take patients (with no mobility problems) to and from hospital and treatment centres.
You can read more about this on their website by clicking here.
Town Centre Toilet Block On It’s Way,
It was the subject of my most popular Facebook Post over the festive season and soon the new Toilets in Union St will be in place.
The new block, which is being built off site, will be delivered and installed using a crane overnight on Sunday 3rd February. The block will then open shortly after this following it being connected and the access ramp being built.
You can see a picture of it on Torbay Council’s website by clicking here.
Final Budget Proposals Published,
Just as I was writing this update Torbay Council published the Elected Mayor’s final proposals for next year’s Budget.
Following the public consultation and recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee several proposals in the Elected Mayor’s draft budget publication have been changed as follows;
Recommendations have been made to:
• Fund the reactive maintenance linked to the routine inspections of playgrounds at existing levels,
• Keep the registration service in its current locations,
• Maintain the capacity of the Senior Leadership Team at existing levels.
Recommendations have been made to delay the implementation of the following savings for six months:
• Illuminations – to allow time to raise sponsorship or finding different ways of funding illuminations in Torbay,
• Contract savings in Natural Environment – to explore if alternative arrangements can be found with local communities and communicate clearly as to exact impact of the reductions,
• Reduction of grant to the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust – to enable market testing of the works and further negotiations with the Trust.
Recommendations have been made to amend the following:
• Highways – Increase the reduction in this budget and offset it with the current year’s underspend.
This will be the last Budget presented to the Council by the Elected Mayor whose post will be abolished on 2nd May 2019.
Yesterday the House of Commons discussed a Cross-Party Motion calling for more appropriate treatment for ME.
The lack of a test to identify the condition means many suffers face sceptical reactions rather than getting the support they need. Due to the number wishing to speak I was only able to make some short remarks which you can listen to by clicking here.
Kev’s Column: Brexit Vote
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…….Where’s the Orange Elephant Gone?
Ending on a lighter note, Gateshead may have the Angel of the North, but here in Devon we have our own highly visible landmark generations of travellers have seen, the Orange Elephant next to the A38 at Exeter.
As a kid I can remember looking for it on journeys, with its distinctive trunk. Yet after it disappeared some may have been wondering whether it had been poached or just gone into hiding, some pranksters even set up an event on Facebook claiming you could have a slide down its trunk.
Yet its safety and current location, next to the Ice Cream Parlour it advertises, has now been confirmed, although whether it will return to the side of the A38 has not. You can read more, including how this landmark ended up there, on Devon Live by clicking here.
Wednesday 30th January and every Wednesday – Music Rhythm & Rhyme – Torquay Library, This free event introduces babies and toddlers to the magic of books with songs, stories and fun. For more details click here.
Wednesday 30th January – Torquay Museum Society Public Lectures – PAIGNTON PICTURE HOUSE: THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS – from 10.45 till 12pm. costs £5 on the door to Non-Members. For more details click here.
Thursday 31st January and every Thursday – Music Rhythm & Rhyme – Paignton Library, This free event introduces babies and toddlers to the magic of books with songs, stories and fun. For more details click here.
Thursday 7 February – Torbay Film Club (St Matthias Church Hall, Babbacombe Road) are showing “Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool”. Doors open at 1900 for a film start at 1930. All welcome, non members £5.50. For full details click here, to be taken to their website.
Wednesday 13th February in Paignton, ‘Hidden Crime Awareness Events’ across Devon. The aim is to raise awareness around some of the important, current, key safeguarding messages which are impacting on our communities, including those with learning disabilities and or autism. events start at 9.15am until 1.00pm with tea / coffee and are FREE. Click here for full details.
Thursday 14th February – Big poetry returns to the Blue Walnut Cafe, 14 Walnut Road, Torquay TQ2 6HS – Show starts at 8pm, tickets £6, contact firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations – click here for more information.
Saturday 16th February – YOUNG ARCHAEOLOGISTS CLUB – ARCHAEOLOGY ON FILM: A PRACTICAL WORKSHOP. 10 – 4pm at Torquay Museum; Cost: £15 per child member
SPACES LIMITED TO 10 CHILDREN – SO MUST BE PRE-BOOKED. Click here for more details.
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.
2nd Wednesday of each month at the Quaker Meeting House in Torquay – Torbay Interfaith Forum meet. For more details click here.
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.
Friday 1st February, 3pm – 5pm @ AGE U.K. 12 Dendy Road, Paignton TQ4 5DB
Saturday 16th February, 11am – 1pm @ St Peters Church, Queensway, Torquay TQ2 6BP
Friday 22nd February, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, 43 Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ
Saturday 2nd March, 10pm – 12pm @ St Martins Church, Barton Hill Road, Torquay TQ2 8JA
Saturday 9th March, 11am – 1pm @ Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, TQ3 2RB
Saturday 16th March, 11am – 1pm @ The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET
Saturday 23rd March, 11am – 1pm @ Paignton Library, Great Western Road, Paignton TQ4 5AG
Friday 29th March, 3pm – 5pm @ The Windmill Centre, Pendennis Road, Torquay TQ2 7QB
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.