After a week where glorious weather has shown off our bay at its very best and cruise ships anchoring in our bay it is time for my latest update.
Saturday started with one of my regular advice surgeries at the Acorn Centre in Barton. This was my first visit to the centre since Marilyn Martin passed away. It seemed strange not to see Marilyn and have a quick chat before my surgery, but her legacy was clear as a number of activities were taking place filling the centre with life.
Not everyone can easily get to my surgeries so afterwards I headed over to Shiphay for a home visit to a lady who would struggle to attend one of my surgeries due to the impact of having an operation where mesh was used. Sadly she is not the first resident I have met who has found their life dramatically impacted by a procedure presented as an almost “routine” way to deal with bladder issues. What was described as “tape” was in fact the MESH many women have highlighted in the media.
Given the intimate parts of the body affected by MESH procedures few affected are happy to talk about it publicly, with some not wishing to tell anyone beyond their close family. The bravery of those women who did come forward has prompted changes in policy at a national level. If you know someone who has been affected do urge them to get in touch with me. I can also arrange for a female member of my staff to meet with them if this would be preferable.
Saturday Afternoon saw me head to Preston Conservative Club for the AGM of the Disabled Sailing Association. Long standing Chairman Dave Musgrove stepped down after many years helping build up this organisation which provides a unique opportunity for those with disabilities to experience the freedom of the sea.
After a bit of time with family Sunday evening saw me head up to London ahead of a busy week in parliament, which included responding to a debate on moves to relocate Government jobs out of London and taking part in my first Wales Questions.
The session on Wednesday was dominated by questions from Opposition Members and whilst I knew the overall subject to be discussed on each one, I did not have any tip off as to the actual question they were planning to ask. You can watch the session by clicking here.
Thursday saw me head to Edinburgh for a day of visits in my role as Minister for the Constitution, including a meeting with the Scottish Government’s Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans. The main subject for our meeting was the review of UK procedures on agreeing legislation around issues currently covered by EU Single Market Regulations following Brexit. Given he is an SNP Member and I am a strong unionist it was not a meeting of minds, but we did have a respectful and constructive discussion.
Afterwards I headed to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Law Society of Scotland for talks about how these issues can be addressed from a Scottish civil society perspective.
Today I was back in the bay for a busy day out and about which included performing the formal opening of the new Premier Supermarket in Preston. Whilst “premier” is a brand many will recognise each store operating under it is owned by an independent retailer. This was followed by a visit to Homelands Primary School in St Marychurch, where pupils questioned me about a range of issues from how parliament works to stopping plastic litter getting into the seas around our coast.
This week’s update is below: New Council Leadership Announced, One Public Estate Debate, Brexit Votes Due, European Elections, Public Health Delegation In The Bay, Palace Hotel Update on CP Agenda, Offensive Weapons Bill Becomes Law, 43 Homes Plan For Former Dairy Crest Site, Muddy Stilletos Award Vote, On Their Bike For Prostrate Support, Cliff Rescue In Torre, Kev’s Column: Torbay Together and finally……..Back To School For Time Capsule.
New Council Leadership Announced,
Earlier today it was confirmed a coalition of Liberal Democrat and Independent Councillors will take over the administration of Torbay Council.
Whilst the recent local elections saw the Conservative Party emerge as the largest group with 15 seats on the Council, no party secured an overall majority. The Conservative Group will now form the Opposition. The position of Elected Mayor has been abolished following the Referendum in 2016 and UKIP lost its sole seat on the Council at the recent election.
Cllr Steve Darling is expected to become Leader of the Council and Cllr Darren Cowell Deputy Leader of the Council. Earlier today I had productive telephone conversations with them both. I look forward to working with them in a constructive spirit focused on the needs of our bay and those we jointly represent.
We share several local priorities such as regenerating our Town Centres, protecting our environment and creating new jobs.
What is important is we look to work as a team in our bay’s mutual interests. I will make my views known when I think the wrong approach is being taken by the Council, as I did with the Mayoral Administration prior to May, but will seek to work together with them rather than focus on petty arguments or political point-scoring.
Finally a constructive and effective opposition is a vital part of a healthy democracy, a role I know Cllr Dave Thomas and his team in the Conservative Group will work hard to fulfil.
One Public Estate Debate,
Ensuring a more efficient use of public buildings, providing better working environments for staff, creating new NHS facilities and relocating jobs out of London are the key objectives of a Government Scheme debated by MPs this week.
The “One Public Estate” program seeks to encourage Councils, the NHS and other Public Sector bodies to look at how they could work together to share locations, delivering saving for taxpayers by releasing older less energy efficient buildings or seeing services such as Reception shared. One part of it is creating “Government Hubs” which see hundreds of Civil Service jobs relocated to them from London.
South Devon is aiming to secure this type of investment, along with support to develop a new Health Hub for Paignton, a point I was only too happy to reflect on as the Minister asked to reply to the debate.
You can read my comments by clicking here.
Brexit Votes Due,
Parliament will vote again on Brexit during the week starting Monday 3rd June 2019, although cross-party talks between the Government and Opposition ceased earlier today without agreement being reached.
I cannot say I am looking forward to another round of debates on this subject, especially as Parliament has already seen several “groundhog-day” style debates where the same people give the same speech about the same subject as they have done several times before. Yet it is vital progress is made and decisions to end the current impasse taken.
If my votes had been in the majority the UK would have left the European Union on Friday 29th March and we would now be negotiating not only a future Trading Relationship with the EU, but potential deals with the CPTPP and the USA. Instead we are having to hold European Elections.
I hope the week of 3rd June will finally see progress made.
The European Elections will take place on Thursday (23rd May).
Polling Stations across our bay will be open from 7am till 10pm but do check the details on your Polling Card as it may have changed since the last time you voted.
If you have not yet returned your Postal Vote already you can take the completed pack to your polling station on Thursday.
Public Health Delegation In The Bay,
A group of prominent scientific advisers to the government visited Torbay today to better understand the health challenges faced by residents and to see how research can help address these challenges.
Dr Louise Wood, one of government’s top research funding and policy leads met with representatives from Torbay Council and Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust. She also called into Action for Children’s Zig Zags Children Centre to see the work that is being undertaken in Torquay.
The day’s agenda also focused on prevention and showcasing projects which are designed to help keep residents well. You can read more by clicking here.
Palace Hotel Update on CP Agenda,
Residents of Wellswood and Torwood will get a chance to hear an update about the Palace Hotel project at their Community Partnership’s AGM later this month.
The Annual General Meeting of the Wellswood & Torwood Community Partnership will take place on Thursday 30th May 2019 at the St. Matthias Church Hall from 7pm – 9pm, with a Councillors Surgery also taking place from 6:30pm till 7pm.
Also on the Agenda will be an update on the Walls Hill Shelter.
Offensive Weapons Bill Becomes Law,
Last year I was one of a small group of MPs picked to undertake detailed scrutiny of proposed new laws on Offensive Weapons.
The bill concerned passed through parliament and came into force this week, giving the Police significant new powers enabling them to intervene when someone is suspected of carrying a knife.
The bill also bans the possession of weapons such as zombie knives and knuckle dusters, updates the law on flick knives and creates a new criminal offence of selling corrosive substances to a person under the age of 18.
These changes are welcome and will not only help tackle knife crime, but the horrific problem of acid attacks.
43 Homes Plan For Former Dairy Crest Site,
The former Dairy Crest site in Parkfield Road, Torquay could see 43 homes built on it after a local developer submitted a Planning Application to Torbay Council.
All the existing buildings on the site would be demolished making way for the scheme, with blocks of apartments built up to 5 floors (including ground) in height.
You can see the plans and leave a comment on the Torbay Council website by clicking here.
Muddy Stilletos Award Vote,
The Muddy Stilettos Awards 2019 are on the scene and local gallery Artizan is in the final!
In 2017, they were pipped to gold by friends over in Teignmouth, but this year they would love to bring this award to Torbay! There’s an added incentive this year too, with the chance of a financial prize which would go a long way to carrying out new projects at Artizan to support the South Devon arts community.
Other businesses in the Bay have also reached the final in other categories, Cockington (Best Family Attraction) Isabella Day (Best Jewelry Store) and Palace Theatre Paignton (Best Theatre)
Voting is really simple, you just click here and drop in your email to get your unique voting link
On Their Bike For Prostrate Support,
Three couples set about forming the Torbay Prostate Support Association in 1999.
Today their main objectives remain the same:
• Creating awareness – spreading the word within the community.
• Producing Regular Quarterly Newsletters.
• Providing informative and interesting Talks by ‘experts’.
• Raising funds for equipment for the benefit of Torbay Hospital patients.
With the help of Bay Rotary Clubs they are fundraising for a Multi-Parametric MRI Scanner or mpMRI which is designed specifically for the early detection of Prostate Cancer. The scanner will cost £105,000.
A Charity Bike Ride has been organised at the Velopark (Next to Torbay Leisure Centre), on Saturday 15th June, 10-4pm. The event will be a family fun day with stalls and activities.
If you can not be there and wish to donate you can visit their Just Giving page by clicking here.
For more information contact email@example.com or Tel 07951659514
Cliff Rescue In Torre,
Normally news of a cliff rescue would mean a team heading to our coast, yet this week a mum called 999 to report her eight-year-old son was stuck 40ft up a cliff in Torquay’s Chapel Hill woods.
A Torquay fire crew and an Aerial Ladder Platform were immediately sent, along with a specialist rescue team from Camels Head in Plymouth. The boy was safely rescued.
Kev’s Column: Torbay Together
Every fortnight I write a “Kev’s Column” for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition by following the link below: https://www.kevinjfoster.com/news/kevs-column-torbay-together
and finally……..Back To School For Time Capsule.
Ending on a lighter note we all have memories of our school days and one Paignton resident got a visible reminder of his this week.
Paignton Academy is currently undertaking work on a new £3.4m block at their Borough Road site which will replace semi-derelict buildings constructed in the 1930’s. Those who have been reading these updates for some time will recall Dr Sarah Wollaston and myself campaigning to secure this funding, with then Education Secretary Justine Greening providing vital support.
As demolition work progressed a 70-year secret was unearthed in the depths of the old boiler room. In November 1948 two 14-year-old boys, Doug Cole and Colin Brewer, hid their exercise books in old milk bottles. There they had lain, untouched, until being found by demolition contractors, with 85-year-old Doug invited back this week to see today’s students bury their own time capsule which could be there for another 70 years.
A number of residents have contacted me this week about vegetation removal work being carried out by Torbay Council’s contractors at various sites across the bay including Hele Road and Cleveland Road.
Concerns expressed included the effect this work is having on local wildlife living in the trees and hedges, as well as the removal of natural tree-lined screens in local neighbourhoods. My team and I have been in contact throughout the week with Torbay Council, and I visited one of the sites in Cleveland Road this morning.
While the coppicing of trees can be essential in terms of safety for residents and those using the highway, I have sought assurances from the Council about how bird’s nests and local wildlife are being protected, and ensuring sites are properly assessed before any work takes place.
Earlier today the Council issued a statement which you can read by clicking here.
8th– 31st May Tuesday – Friday 11.00 am – 6.00 pm Saturdays 10.00 am- 6 pm.
Artizan Gallery Exhibition: ‘Our Place in the Seven Heavens’
For more information on Artizan Gallery visit www.artizangallery.co.uk or for what to expect in 2019 head to www.art-hub.co.uk/2019. More details on the May exhibition can be found at www.art-hub.co.uk/geo19.
Saturday 18th May Garden Party -11am till 3pm. Paignton Parish Vicarage Gardens. Paignton Community Larder is holding an extravaganza in the beautiful setting of the vicarage gardens, directly opposite Paignton Parish Church and with the Coverdale Tower overlooking them. Entry is an item of non-perishable food. There will be stalls, tombola, crafts and bric-a-brac stalls.
AN INTRO TO RIVERFORD ORGANIC VEG “Colourful, inspiring, outstanding ! “ The Friends of St Matthias are looking forward to welcoming you at the Riverford evening on Thursday 23rd May at 7.30 pm in the Peter Larkin Hall. Join them for a demonstration and tasting session. Tickets £7.50 of which £2.50 will go to the Wellspring Appeal. Tickets available from Friends table over coffee on Sunday mornings or from the Church Office during the week. Alternatively call Christine Tibbets on 01803 291 033.Saturday 25th May 2pm – 5pm – Jazz concert by the Blues Monday Jazz band – Barry a DSA skipper is a member. Dartmouth Band stand Poster attached CLICK HERE
Wednesday 29th May @ 10.30am to 12.00pm – NSPCC Spring Coffee morning at the Palace Hotel Paignton
On behalf of Disabled Sailing Association – Stall on Marina Torquay. Andy and Pauline Baker are running this and would appreciate help. They need BOTTLES of glass or plastic for prizes – they are wrapped and placed among empty bottles filled with sand. If a “good” bottle is chosen it is kept. So anything in a bottle, edible or cleaning or beauty needed. Please either contact Andy or bring to the Musgroves at Morden House or make a small monetary donation so Andy can buy things. Most are less than £1 – Andy’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 25th May, 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.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.