After a sunny day here in the bay it is time for my latest update.
My week started on Saturday with a session out and about in Livermead. It was good to meet some regular readers of these updates whilst doing so and glad you find them a useful source of information.
Later in the day I headed over to The Willows for a meeting with Liz Wimbledon, the Chair of Torbay Olympic Gymnastics Club to discuss recent changes made to parking restrictions outside their premises. Whilst it is Torbay Council, not myself as the local MP, who decides on traffic issues there are several concerns they wanted me to raise about the new restrictions and the impact these have had on their activities.
It was an early start on Monday as I headed up to London for a busy week in parliament. There were more dramatic moments as a major debate on Brexit was held, with the prospect of the Government suffering a significant defeat becoming very clear. More on some of the issues discussed below.
Whilst the Main Chamber is the focus of business in parliament significant decisions on proposed legislation are also taken during the Committee Stage. This is where a smaller group of MPs conduct “line by line” examination of the detailed aspects of a bill. Tuesday morning saw me take part in such a Committee scrutinising a bill from the House of Lords on Financial Services looking to make changes essential for Brexit.
Animal Welfare is an issue I have taken a great interest in for some time, including presenting two Private Member’s Bills. One issue which has regularly been raised over the last four years is the sentencing for those who steal pets. An event on Tuesday saw MPs from across the political divide call on the Government to alter the rules so those involved are no longer sentenced as if they had just stolen an item of property.
Yesterday I returned to the bay in time to attend a Public Exhibition on plans to strengthen the Dawlish Sea Wall, more on this below. I also attended the Digital Torbay event being held at Tubers in Lymington Road (Bottom Left). Not only did I have my first introduction to the gaming phenomenon which is “Fortnite”, but also saw the work this new business is doing with others to promote and develop tech businesses here in the bay.
Finally today I was pleased to welcome to our bay the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and De-Facto Deputy Prime Minister, David Lidington. Regular readers will know I act as his Parliamentary Private Secretary (Fancy title for note taking and bag carrying) which during the current Brexit process is providing a fascinating insight into the Government’s workings.
This week’s update is below and includes: Paignton Murder, New Hotel Investment For Torquay Harbourside, Palace Hotel Exhibition Reminder, Brexit Debate, Windy Corner, Minigog, Relationships Education, ESA Underpayments, Trade Remedies, Sea of Azov and finally……Waiter’s Race.
A woman appeared in court yesterday charged with the murder of a 74 year-old man in Midvale Road, Paignton.
You can read more about this incident on the Devon Live website by clicking here.
If you have any information which might assist Paignton Police with investigating this incident do get in touch with them on their 101 non-emergency number.
New Hotel Investment For Torquay Harbourside,
Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, has signed an agreement with Torbay Council to build a new 120-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and Whitbread-branded restaurant to Torquay’s Harbourside area.
The new Premier Inn hotel will be located on Montpellier Road, next to the Torwood St Development currently under construction. Whitbread, Premier Inn’s parent company, will be taking a long-lease on the completed hotel building. Approximately 30 new year-round jobs are expected to be created at the hotel.
Subject to planning permission, the new hotel and restaurant will bring back to use a piece of under-used land by the main entrance to the Terrace Car Park, on Montpellier Road.
The site is being delivered by TDA, on behalf of Torbay Council, and will be constructed by Midas Construction, part of the Midas Group. A planning application is expected to be submitted to Torbay Council in the next three months and subject to planning approval, work could begin on site this autumn. There will be a public exhibition of the proposed development during the afternoon and evening of 14 March at Torquay Museum.
Subject to planning permission the proposed hotel will be Premier Inn’s second hotel in Torquay, adding to the seafront hotel on Shedden Hill Road.
Palace Hotel Exhibition Reminder,
In addition to the news about the new hotel being built by Premier Inn, this week will see the unveiling of plans for what maybe the biggest Hotel scheme in our bay for several decades.
The now empty Palace Hotel in Torquay was once one of the great hotels of our region, with many residents having memories of special occasions or events there.
The Hotel was acquired by the Fragrance Group 18 months with promises of a major redevelopment, potentially as a 5 Star Hotel. I have been advised an exhibition of their proposals for the site of the Palace Hotel, Babbacombe Road will be held on the following dates:
THURSDAY 7th MARCH 1pm – 7pm and FRIDAY 8th MARCH 10am – 7pm at the Pengelly Hall, Torquay Museum, Babbacombe Road,
From Thursday 7th MARCH you will also be able to obtain more information at: www.palacehotelexhibition.co.uk
After many years of concern about the future of our Tourism Industry we could soon be seeing one of the biggest periods of hotel building in our bay for decades. A very welcome sign of us being able to offer the standards modern travellers demand, whilst also boosting the wider economy.
As mentioned above Wednesday saw the latest major debate on Brexit in the House of Commons.
Whilst the motion submitted by the Government was a neutral one, in effect noting the ongoing negotiations, the ability for backbenchers and the opposition to propose amendments to make it a more substantive motion gave the debate much greater significance. This was especially the case as it became clear a rebellion could see the Government lose a key vote which would have altered House of Commons procedure. This would have seen control of the parliamentary process shift from the Government to a group of Backbenchers promoting a bill to delay or even stop Brexit.
In the face of this almost certain defeat the Prime Minister made several announcements in relation to when the next votes will take place. The next Meaningful Vote, which could approve a deal with the EU, will be by 12th March. If not then by 13th March MPs would vote on leaving with “No Deal” and then after this on a potential delay.
Just delaying the date does not change the arguments or the choices MPs face. I am aware talks in Brussel on the NI Backstop are going better than some might have predicted, but when the vote returns MPs will have to face deciding on the options which exist, not those we may wish for.
If travelling to Brixham over the next few months then do bear in mind the final phase of Torbay Council’s £16.5 million Western Corridor project is due to start on site on Monday 11 March 2019.
The £700,000 scheme at the Windy Corner junction between Paignton and Brixham will improve traffic flow and reduce queueing at peak times. The works will provide an additional approach lane for traffic heading towards Paignton by constructing a new lane towards Brixham, which uses a short section of Bascombe Road.
I am advised this scheme, along with the works currently taking place on Brixham Road by Sainsbury’s, are scheduled to be completed in time for the main 2019 summer period.
Let’s hope this deadline is met!
Torbay Council and Continental Drifts are delighted to announce Minigog, a micro version of Grinagog Festival, will be coming to Torbay this Easter holiday.
Minigog will run on Saturday 13 April 2019 at Torre Abbey’s Spanish Barn and Gardens.
Festivalgoers can expect an action-packed day of fun and mischief with performances from the likes of Dutty Moonshine Big Band, Neville Staples (The Specials) who will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of 2 Tone Records.
There will be family friendly events during the day, followed by an evening of live music and DJ performances including Dat Brass, DJ Chris Tofu, and Drum and Bass legend Mr Nice. In addition, there will be a full day line up in the One World Café, creating the ultimate party atmosphere in the heart of Torbay.
You can find out more on the dedicated website by clicking here.
The guidance on Sex and Relationships Education was last updated in 2000, a time when Social Media did not exist, internet connections did not allow the type of streaming services commonly used today and “Tinder” might be something used to start a fire.
Given this delay there was a welcome from all sides of the house on Monday to the publication of revised guidance. The new guidelines are designed to ensure the curriculum is appropriate for an era when Social Media and the Internet has changed dramatically the way these issues are perceived.
All lessons must be age appropriate and parents retain the right to withdraw their children from sex education classes (Apart from exceptional circumstances) until the last 3 terms before they reach the Age of Consent when they can opt to take part themselves.
Whilst some concerns have been raised the new guidance does strike a balance between the many competing demands. I am also clear lessons should not just be about the “mechanics”, but cover how relationships should be based on love, respect and consent.
You can listen to the points I made and the Minister’s reply by clicking here.
On Monday MP’s questioned the Minister responsible on the progress being made with ensuring those who were underpaid their ESA entitlement receive they amounts they are due.
A series of questions were asked by MPs and I decided to focus on what work had been done with local advice services to ensure those eligible were aware of how much money they were owed.
You can read my question and the Minister’s response by clicking here.
If you think you might have been affected by this issue do contact my office in East St on 01803 214 989 and we will be happy to help chase any amounts outstanding.
The term “Trade Remedies” may prompt readers to think of medical matters, yet it is the term used for Tariffs designed to protect key industries from unfair competition.
Whilst a member of the European Union the UK is part of a common system of Trade Remedies shared by all 28 nation states. These include measures designed to prevent dumping of subsidised steel products from China on the UK market.
As Brexit approaches the International Trade Secretary gave a statement to MPs on Monday setting out what the UK’s approach will be to these after Brexit. In effect we will continue Tariffs where there is a domestic industry to protect, yet not if there is no UK production of the item concerned which needs protection.
I raised the issue of Torbay’s vital Photonics Industry and you can listen to the response I got by clicking here.
Sea of Azov
A unique aspect of my role is the range of issues I get involved with.
Whilst I focus my time on matters affecting our bay earlier this week I was selected to ask a question to Foreign Office Ministers on any subject relevant to their brief. I checked which issues were already due to be raised and decided to question them on the latest support being offered to Ukraine following recent Russian attempts to deny their shipping access to key Ports located on the Sea of Azov.
You can watch my question and the Ministers response by clicking here.
and finally……Waiters Race.
The news of another new Hotel being built on Torquay’s Harbourside brings reminders of an event which used to be a highlight of the summer season, the Torquay Waiter’s Race.
In a time before modern event safety rules Waiters from Torquay’s Hotels would dodge the traffic whilst running from The Queen’s Hotel (by the Clock Tower) to the Town Hall with a drink on a silver tray. You can watch the “highlights” of the 1963 Race on the BFI website by clicking here.
The closure of the Queen’s Hotel some years ago and changes in the industry saw this event fall by the wayside. Yet with two new hotels due to open on the Harbourside perhaps it might make a comeback?
Dawlish Sea Wall Exhibition
As mentioned above I got back to the bay just in time to attend an exhibition being held at the Grand Hotel detailing Network Rail’s Plans to improve the resilience of the line at Dawlish.
One of the exhibition boards made clear what most residents and those who depend on this crucial rail artery realise, doing nothing is not an option. The collapse in 2014 brought to a head an issue which has been rumbling for decades, especially since the closure of the former Southern Rail Line from Tavistock in 1968 which left this iconic rail route as the only one heading west of Exeter.
The Exhibition showed in some detail how Network Rail plans to spend £80m creating a new sea wall at Dawlish. This will not only better protect the rail line, but enhance the Town’s flood defences as well. It will upgrade the wall, increasing its height by 2.5m, whilst also widening the walkway on it to 4m.
Plans have been submitted by Network Rail to Teignbridge Council for “prior approval” under permitted development rights.
I appreciate those with sea front properties at Dawlish will not welcome a higher wall to look at from their ground floor, yet these concerns cannot override the interests of our whole region in getting this work done. The most encouraging part of the discussions I had with Network Rail’s team was how quickly they could get to work. If permission is granted they could be on site in May.
When asked for my formal view as Torbay’s MP I simply said: “Start Work ASAP”
If you could not make the exhibition yourself you can find out more by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
5 March to 23 March – Tuesday – Friday 11:00 – 18:00, and Saturday 10:00 – 18:00. Natural Affinity at Artizan Gallery Cafe Torquay, 7 Lucius Street, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 5UW. Click here for full details.
Wednesday 6th March from 1:30pm to 2:30pm and the session on Thursday 7th from 10:30am to 11:30am. World Book Day is on 7th March 2019 and Paignton Zoo have teamed up with Torbay Libraries to bring you some storytelling and mask-making fun! In collaboration with Torbay Libraries, the zoo will be running FREE* storytelling and animal mask making sessions on the 6th and 7th March 2019. Also for both days, children can come to the Zoo dressed as their favourite book character to be in with the chance to win a standard animal adoption of their choice! Click here for more details.
Thursday 7 March – Torbay Film Club are showing the Academy Award nominated animation The Red Turtle on at St Matthias Church Hall, Babbacombe Road, Wellswood. Doors open at 1900 for a film start at 1930. Non members very welcome for £5.50 on the door. For more details go to website http://www.torbayfilmclub.co.uk/
Starting on Thursday 7th March, every Thursday until 18th April – Lent Lunches at the Parish Hall of St Mary The Virgin, St Marychurch. Lunch only £4.50 – All proceeds to Charity of the week. Click here for full details.
Friday 8 March – Get Active in Nature with your Grandchildren! Are you over 55 and wanting to get more active? Come and join us for a free outdoor walk and activities with your grand child! Let us know you are coming by ringing 01803 696244 or emailing Chloe on firstname.lastname@example.org – for info click here.
Sunday, March 17 (All day) – Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, Paignton, TQ3 2RB Membership Explored Lunch – For those interested in becoming church members. For more details click here.
What’s Going On In Wellswood? – click here to see a full list of the many social events taking place in Wellswood throughout February.
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.
Every Tuesday & Wednesday (10:45 – 12 noon) – Lectures at Torquay Museum
529 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 1HG – Lectures are free to TMSM,& cost £5 to Non-Members on the door! For more details click here.
2nd Wednesday of each month at the Quaker Meeting House in Torquay – Torbay Interfaith Forum meet. For more details click here.
PARKFIELD Youth services have a range of activities throughout the week for young people – click hereto see what’s on and when.
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.
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.