After a momentous week in politics it is time for my latest update.
My week started on Saturday with a visit to South Devon College’s New Sports Facilities The new all-weather football pitch, netball courts and indoor facilities have been built in a fantastic position looking over the bay and the College site in White Rock. In addition to a range of fun sporting activities on offer, Play Torbay was present with craft activities and their famous badge making machine.
Later in the afternoon I headed over to a place thousands of Paignton residents walk past every day, but may not realise just how historic and scenic it is. Paignton Vicarage Gardens are surrounded by an ancient wall and overlooked by the Coverdale Tower. Saturday afternoon saw them alive with fun for an event in aid of Paignton Community Larder, with fun and entertainment on offer all for the entry fee of a non-perishable item of food.
Sunday evening saw a wonderful Choral Evensong Celebration at St John the Apostle, Torquay to mark Fr Peter March becoming the new Vicar of the Parish. If the name sounds familiar it is because he is already the Vicar of All Saints and St Luke’s. The three churches which lie at the heart of Torquay are looking to work in closer partnership to further their mission in the local community. Fr Peter and I did share a joke about me not being the only person in the bay with three roles!!!
Sunday evening saw me head off to Westminster for what turned out to be a far more dramatic week than many predicted, culminating in the Prime Minister’s statement this morning. Highlights of my week included summing up two debates and a meeting with the local Government Minister to discuss the funding formula. More on these below.
Last night I got back to the bay in time to vote in the European Parliamentary Elections, the results of which will not be counted until Sunday. This is because under EU rules no state should declare their results before all have finished voting. Holland and the UK voted yesterday, Ireland today and many other will do so over the weekend.
This morning I headed over to Livermead for a talk with local Cllr Andrew Barrand about the current position with the Planning Application for the redevelopment of the Corbyn Head Hotel. Unlike other projects from the Fragrance Group this one has been controversial due to the impact it could have on properties to the rear. Torbay Council will shortly decide on the application, once the Planning Committee is re-established following the local elections.
I also visited Our Lady of the Angels RC Primary in Queensway to speak with pupils and hear about their concerns on a range of subjects. These included the criminal justice system, parks, how parliament works, our environment and what my favourite ice cream is!
Finally this evening I head to Torquay Museum for a preview of their fantastic new summer exhibition. You can find the bare bones of this below, along with this week’s update which includes: Prime Minister’s Resignation, What next?, Brexit, Torbay Airshow Set For Takeoff, Operation Footfall, Last Class 43 Services, 120 Curledge Street Kids On The Run, Local Government Funding, Intimidation in Public Life, Restoration and Renewal Bill and finally……Little Roofs Mean A Big Thatching Job.
Prime Minister’s Resignation,
Earlier today the Prime Minister confirmed she would resign as Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7th June 2019.
In what was an emotional speech outside Number 10 Downing Street Theresa May confirmed her Premiership will shortly come to an end. This followed it becoming clear a proposed “New Brexit Deal” she announced on Tuesday night would not be supported. You can watch her statement by clicking here.
Whatever anyone thinks of her politics Theresa May is someone who was diligent and hardworking, committed to preserving the Union of the United Kingdom. She is a genuinely decent person who is easy to talk with, very different to the image sometimes given of her in the media.
Being Prime Minister is a uniquely challenging role, which takes its toll on all who hold it. I wish her and Philip all the very best for their future.
The Leadership contest will start formally on Monday 10th June, the week after two key events: A State Visit by the President of the United States of America and the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings.
Members of the Conservative Parliamentary Party will vote in successive knock out rounds to reduce the number of candidates to two. This is expected to be completed by the end of next month, with Party Members then voting between the two final candidates. A new Leader will then take office near the end of July.
Theresa May remains in office as Prime Minister until a new Leader is elected and identified as able to form a Government which commands the confidence of the House of Commons.
Many update readers will wonder what all this means for Brexit overall.
It is impossible to say with certainty given the many different opinions held in parliament and the country.
As it stands the default is the UK Leaves the European Union, possibly without a Withdrawal Agreement, at 11pm on 31st October 2019. This is when the latest extension period of Article 50 expires. Yet there are many debates about how a majority of MPs could seek to block this, even if the new Prime Minister sought to pursue this course of action.
Further serious moves on Brexit will not now be made until the new Prime Minister is in place and the proposed Withdrawal Agreement Implementation Bill announced earlier this week will not now be tabled or voted on by MPs.
Torbay Airshow Set For Takeoff,
With just over a week to go until the Torbay Airshow, organisers have announced details of the flying programme and opening times for Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 June.
The iconic RAF Red Arrows will perform on both days of the show: Saturday 1st June between 3pm – 4pm and on Sunday 2nd June 11.30am – 12.00noon.
On Saturday 1 June, the display programme will commence at 2pm and finish by 5pm. The running order for the afternoon will open with the Tigers Freefall Parachute Display Team followed by Twirlybatics (Pitts Special), Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Chinook Display Team, RAF Red Arrows, Fireflies, RAF Tucano T1, Royal Navy Black Cat, Strikemaster, The Blades Display Team and the RAF Typhoon Display Team will close Saturday’s proceedings.
On Sunday 2 June, the display programme will commence earlier at 11.30am and finish by 3pm. The second day of the show will open with the RAF Red Arrows, RAF Chinook Display Team, Twirlybatics (Pitts Special), Tigers Freefall Parachute Display Team, Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, Strikemaster, Fireflies, RAF Tucano T1, The Blades Display Team, Royal Navy Black Cat and the RAF Typhoon Display Team will also close the weekend’s display programme.
The Event Village will be open to the public from 11am to 6pm on Saturday and 10.30am to 6pm on Sunday to allow visitors plenty of time to enjoy all the Airshow has to offer before the spectacular displays take eyes to the skies.
This year the Event Village will feature a live music stage, air display team stands where visitors can meet the pilots, trading stands featuring everything from artwork and books to toys and furniture, family activities, simulators, a fairground, food stalls and bars.
The Airshow is run by Torbay Council. For further information on the event and to keep up to date with the latest news follow @torbayairshow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit the event website by clicking here.
A new discounted shopping scheme, Operation Footfall, is being started in Torquay.
It sees Town Centre retailers offering discounts to shoppers who can show a valid parking ticket from a local car park. It aims to increase the number of people using the town centre and support local traders. The project has been described as a “Treasure Hunt” where shoppers can seek out specific offers.
You can hear John Doherty, vice chair of the Torquay Town Centre Partnership, talking to the Breeze about the scheme by clicking here.
Last Class 43 Services,
For over four decades the iconic Class 43 “High Speed” Intercity Trains have traveled between our region and London Paddington.
When introduced they represented the cutting edge of design, not least the absence of “buffers” on the front of the power cars. Whilst very popular with many train fans, modern demands on the railway for more seats, wifi and better travelling facilities, plus a need to end the practice of toilets emptying directly onto the track, have seen them replaced by the new Intercity Express Trains on the GWR line, with the first one to head west of Exeter having come to Paignton in July last year.
The last Inter-City 125 “Sir Kenneth Grange” on GWR scheduled services departed the depot at Laira on Saturday morning, with the final regular service departing at 6.30pm from Paddington to Exeter St David’s, where it was met by a large crowd of Rail Enthusiasts. You can watch it depart the depot on Devon Live by clicking hereand see more about the final scheduled journey on the BBC website by clicking here.
The High Speed Train will make a special return to Paddington for a charity charter tour on June 1, which will be raising money for First Group’s chosen charity, Action for Children.
120 Curledge Street Kids On The Run,
A record-breaking number of children from Curledge Street Academy in Paignton (120+!!) are set to run the Torbay Half Marathon.
The School’s Year 5 pupils recently decided they wanted everyone to attend a residential camp during their time at Curledge Street. They rallied children from across the school (from reception class to year 6!) and press ganged a member of staff to run the Torbay Half Marathon on Sunday 24th June 2019.
They have been clocking up the miles each Friday night after school. With the final mile being run on the day as part of the children’s marathon.
It is great to see so many children wanting to be part of giving their classmates a unique experience. You can sponsor their efforts via their Justgiving page by clicking here.
Local Government Funding,
Ensuring a future local government funding formula is fair to our bay was the subject of a meeting I arranged on Monday.
Torbay Council’s Chief Finance Officer and Chief Executive joined me for a meeting I organised with the Local Government Minister to make clear how the formula must reflect the needs of coastal communities.
Our bay is not unique in facing pressures through growing demand on areas such as adult social care and child protection services. There is also a need to drive forward regeneration schemes and ensure affordable housing is delivered for those on the local housing need list. During the meeting I was pleased to note the two officers made clear, on a technical basis, how the proposed formula could be altered to reflect these needs and ensure fairness between different councils for the funding available.
The meeting was a valuable chance to put over the needs of our bay and the Minister clearly recognised the points being made.
Intimidation in Public Life,
Social Media has opened new ways of engaging in politics and sharing information, yet it has also given a platform for a small minority to engage in abusive and intimidatory behaviour.
Other methods of intimidating those involved in public life or seeking to deter certain groups\people from getting involved at all also appear to be growing. Hence on Tuesday several MPs secured a debate on this issue and I was asked to respond to it on behalf of the Government.
During the debate some very powerful accounts of long-term harassment and abuse were shared by MPs. This included one MP outlining how for over a decade someone had sought to undermine and be abusive to her, all due to him not liking having a female MP.
You can read my comments and the rest of the debate by clicking here.
Restoration and Renewal Bill
The destruction of Notre Dame brought into sharp focus the urgent need for major repair, refurbishment and fire safety works at the Palace of Westminster.
For many decades parliament has, for understandable reasons, not prioritised spending money on its own maintenance versus the other issues Government faces. Yet the situation has now become untenable with regular maintenance no longer able to keep up with the rate of deterioration of the building.
The solution is a dramatic one, move parliament out of its historic home whilst the biggest programme of refurbishment and repair since the medieval Palace of Westminster burnt down in 1834 is undertaken. The scale of the works to be done mean “decant”, as it is called, could last for over 5 years.
I was asked by Andrea Leadsom, whilst she was Leader of the House of Commons, to be the “Second Minister” on the Bill and to undertake its Committee Stages. I therefore wound up the Second Reading Debate at the Despatch Box and you can watch my speech by clicking here.
A Torquay family have spoken about the impact the DIY SOS team has had on their lives.
Thanks to dozens of local volunteers the DIY SOS team built care facilities including a bedroom, physio space, wet room, living space and the ability to access the entire ground floor and garden.
You can read more on the BBC website by clicking here.
And finally……Little Roofs Mean A Big Thatching Job.
Ending on a lighter note one Master Thatcher has a big job on his hands dealing with some of our bay’s smallest Thatched Roofs.
Richard Dray is renovating 17 miniature homes in the display at Babbacombe Model Village. Yet small in size can mean big in challenge as he described thatching the small homes as “more fiddly” and taking up to four days to repair each roof.
You can read more on the BBC website by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend.
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 25th to 31st May – The Geopark Festival, across the English Riviera – There’s something for everyone – for more information and details log on to www.globalgeopark.orgSaturday 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
Sunday 26 May – Circus Starr @ The Market Field, Stantor Barton Farm, Torquay, Devon, TQ3 1SU. Circus Starr is an independent, charitable organisation that supports disadvantaged and disabled children in their communities – For more details click on https://www.englishriviera.co.uk/whats-on/circus-starr-p1695903
Wednesday 29th May @ 10.30am to 12.00pm – NSPCC Spring Coffee morning at the Palace Hotel Paignton
25 May 2019 – 31 August – Green Heart Project. As the Green Heart Project reaches completion in June visit this exhibition showcasing the projects’ fantastic achievements from the very start in 2015. Meeting point: Cockington Visitor Centre, Cockington Village TQ2 6XA – Price: FREE – Suitable for: All Ages – Exhibition open 10.00am – 4.00pm daily
Saturday 8th June – ToADS Little Theatre – Special Charity Performance in support of local Mencap. Tickets at discount price of £8.50 available on the door or in advance from the Bright Bean Cafe near Preston Bus Shelter or contact email@example.com
Every Wednesday night through to 25th September, BMAD, Paignton Esplanade, gates open 6pm. Raising funds for sick, disabled and under privileged children in the TQ area. (Not 31st July but Thursday 1st Aug due to Paignton Carnival.)
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 1st June, 10am – 12pm @ St Martins Church, Barton Hill Road, Torquay TQ2 8JA
Friday 7th June, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, 43 Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ
Saturday 15th June, 11am – 1pm @ 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD
Friday 21st June, 3pm – 5pm @ AGE UK, 12 Dendy Road, Paignton TQ4 5DB
Saturday 29th June, 11am – 1pm @ Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET
Saturday 13th July, 11am – 1pm @ Torquay Library, Lymington Road, Torquay TQ1 3DT
Friday 19th July, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Library, Gt. Western Road, Paignton TQ4 5AG
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.