After a glorious day in the bay weather wise it is time for my latest update.
My week started on Babbacombe Downs as I joined thousands of local residents for the Torbay Armed Forces Day Celebration.
Following the big parade I headed over to All Saints, Babbacombe for their summer fair. After a chance for a burger and a go at the Treasure Hunt, Fr Paul “volunteered” me to help with judging the main event of the afternoon, the Dog Show. As update readers will appreciate there is a lot of science and expertise needed when it comes to deciding which dog has the waggiest tail and quickest to sit when told to!!!
Later in the evening I headed to the Little Theatre for a very special production by Unleashed Theatre Company. Unleashed provides a chance for many who may have faced challenges in their lives, including rough sleeping, to express themselves through drama. The show “All the World’s A Stage” was a mixture of songs from the shows, comedy and thought provoking pieces, all in aid of local charities.
Sunday provided a chance to reflect on the life of my former colleague Jo Cox.
Jo was taken from us by a senseless act of violence three years ago, yet rather than remember that attack every year people come together in their community for a get together to continue her work. The “Great Get Together” in Torbay was organised by Meg Jolliffe and whilst the weather was wet outside, the atmosphere was warm inside.
After a chance to watch the Lionesses book their place in the Quarter Finals (and now the Semi Final as well after last night’s fantastic 3-0 win) I headed up to Westminster for a busy week of events, meetings and my latest session answering questions at the Despatch Box on Wednesday. This time for the Wales Office (You can watch the session by clicking here).
One highlight of my week was being able to give a tour of the Houses of Parliament to a retiring police officer and his family from Torquay. Nick is retiring from the force having served for over three decades. His Mum is a regular update reader and it was great to hear about the work he has been doing.
Yesterday I was in Wales discussing the North Wales Growth Deal and took the chance to meet with Tourism businesses in Llandudno to discuss what challenges they are facing. Given the distance between our two areas it was interesting to note the familiar themes of parking problems, business rates, difficulties recruiting and developing business in the shoulder months.
Today I was back in the bay and headed over to one of our largest holiday parks, Hoburne Devon Bay in Goodrington. It was a pleasure to meet the team there and hear how business is going for them. After this I headed over to Torre CofE Academy for a talk at an assembly, followed by some questions.
Finally this evening I headed down to the Princess Theatre for the latest TOADS SMC production, The Addams Family. The only thing which is amateur about a TOADS production is the performers are not being paid for taking part. I went backstage to meet the cast and congratulate them on a brilliant performance. If you have not seen it yet there are still two chances to do so tomorrow, just click here to book your tickets.
This week’s update is below and includes: Shedden Hall Hotel, Fire Cover Changes Campaign, Animal Cruelty Sentences, Network Rail Consultation, New Investment for Recycling Service, Where Does Our Recycling Go?, Travellers on Ilsham Green, Witness Appeal After Babbacombe Coastal Deaths, Paignton Zoo Given all Clear, Tourism Sector Deal Launched, Old Toll House Revamp Plans, Kev’s Column: Fire Changes and finally…….It’s a Work Of Art.
Shedden Hall Hotel,
The recent fire saw much of the derelict former hotel building destroyed.
Shedden Hill Road which runs alongside it remains closed and this week I asked Torbay Council for an update about progress with re-opening it. I am grateful to Cllr Mike Morey, the relevant Cabinet Member, for the information supplied.
Following the fire, cellars were uncovered beneath the road. The presence of these cellars and the level of damage caused by the fire has brought concerns about their potential collapse. I am advised machinery will be brought in to remove large debris so a thorough investigation can be carried out on the stability of the road to confirm whether it is safe to re-open it to traffic.
Pedestrian access along Shedden Hill Road has been restored. A walkway has been made available with sufficient width for pedestrians, prams and wheelchairs. This is sited on the opposite side of the road from the “Hotel” and I am advised it opened this afternoon, although have not been able to confirm this personally.
Turning to the Hotel building itself the Leader of Torbay Council has written confirming they are in contact with the owner of the building to identify their future plans. One aspect is the current planning permission is for a conversion of the building into apartments, the letter I received indicates its demolition by the fire means new plans will need to be brought forward for it.
Fire Cover Changes Campaign,
Over the last week many residents have expressed their concerns about proposals to cut overnight fire cover in Paignton.
The proposal from Devon & Somerset Fire Service would see the pump at Paignton Fire Station only full-time manned for half a day, with night time cover being provided by “on-call” crews. Torquay currently has three engines, but only one is manned by a full-time crew with two by “on call” Firefighters. It is proposed to remove one of the “on call” engines.
Tomorrow I will be meeting with representatives of the Fire Brigades Union to discuss plans for campaigning against this plan. A Cross-Party Group of Councillors will be joining me for it as residents want to see us working together on behalf of those we represent, not scoring political points.
I will include further news in next week’s update.
Animal Cruelty Sentences,
Two years ago I backed a cross-party Private Members Bill to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to five years.
Sadly the previous bill ran out of time due to arcane parliamentary procedures, but there was superb news this week when a Government Bill was published which will deliver this promise.
The current maximum of 6 months dates from 1911 and is woefully inadequate in dealing with those who sadistically inflict extreme suffering on an animal or engage in the shameful practice of Dog Fighting. The maximum sentence has already been raised to five years in Northern Ireland and this bill will bring England and Wales into line with them.
I am pleased this bill is now before Parliament after so much campaigning. It will have my wholehearted support.
Network Rail Consultation,
Major plans to secure the Dawlish Rail Line were on display in our bay today as part of a public consultation being undertaken by Network Rail.
Four years ago, mud slides and rockfalls, along with the breach of the sea wall at Dawlish saw much of the coastal route blocked and our region cut off from the national rail network. A major storm could prompt further collapses, with some having the potential to close the line for months at a time.
The plans put forward by Network Rail would see a major project to rebuild the line and buttress the cliffs behind it, whilst also seeking to enhance its protection against the sea. You can see them for yourself by clicking here.
Securing the future of our national rail links is a key priority for our future economic development, this means the line at Dawlish must become more resilient. Whilst it will see some loss of beaches near Teignmouth, it does not affect the main tourist beach area and new leisure and walking opportunities along the line are created as part of the scheme
This project is a welcome proposal and I would urge all update readers to register their support for it before the close of the consultation on 15th July.
New Investment for Recycling Service,
Torbay Council is set to invest £3.25 million in 22 new recycling vehicles, two of which are now working the rounds across the Bay.
A further nine will be delivered in the autumn with the remaining 11 to arrive next year.
This investment is to update the current recycling vehicles which are coming to the end of their life, have become unreliable and having an impact on collections. Problems which have regularly been raised with me as the local MP.
I am advised these new vehicles will have the ability to collect more recycling as they optimise the load space, meaning they can stay out longer and return less to the recycling depot to offload. This is done by moving plastics and cans to the upper deck via a vertical loader which gives a maximum capacity of 850 kg. They also include a new heavy-duty cardboard compaction system which can compact up to one tonne of cardboard. The new vehicles have also been designed to reduce the noise of glass being collected.
For more information on what you can recycle at home and the items you can put in each box click here.
Where Does Our Recycling Go?,
One question regularly asked is once materials for recycling have been collected where do they go?
This query has been prompted by many seeing documentaries about how too much of the UK’s waste ends up being sent abroad for recycling, with a quantity of it never being recycled or if processed it is done by exploiting labour or environmental practices which would not be tolerated here.
Torbay Council has now produced a handy summary of where it all goes next, including how our plastic goes to Manchester, our cardboard to Caerphilly and cooking oil to a plant in Newton Abbot.
The Council tweeted an image with a list and if you are on Social Media you can find it by clicking here.
Travellers on Ilsham Green,
Travellers who set up an unauthorised encampment on Ilsham Green this week have now (I am advised) been moved on.
This latest incident again highlighted the need for reform of the current legal process to ensure it is effective and does not allow such sites to be used as “holiday” pitches for a short-stay based on the time eviction proceedings can take.
Last year the Government consulted on changing the law and earlier this year published its response to the views received. You can read this response on the Government website by clicking here.
Witness Appeal After Babbacombe Coastal Deaths,
Two men have died following an incident off Torquay on Thursday 27 June.
Police were called by the coastguard at around 2pm with reports two bodies had been pulled from the water near Babbacombe Beach by the RNLI lifeboat.
Enquires into what happened are ongoing. Anyone with information which may assist is asked to contact Torquay Police on 101 quoting log 552 of Thursday 27 June.
I know all update readers will want to join me in sending their deepest condolences to the families of the two men.
Paignton Zoo Given all Clear,
There was some great news this week as it was confirmed TB restrictions at Paignton Zoo have been lifted.
The conservation charity has been constrained since August 2017, when a single case of TB was discovered. A crucial final test has come back all clear, meaning the Zoo can get back to work on some key conservation work.
You can read the full story on the Zoo’s website by clicking here.
Tourism Sector Deal Launched,
Earlier today the Prime Minister launched the Tourism Sector Deal.
Last year around 38 million people visited the UK, contributing £23 billion to the local economy. By 2025 experts predict there will be an additional 9 million visitors to the UK. The key aim of the deal is to prepare for this increase in visitors.
The new deal will revolutionise the way data is used by the sector, through the creation of new Tourism Data Hub. The hub will collate regularly updated data showing the latest trends and spends, allowing businesses to better target overseas visitors.
The deal will also support the creation of an additional 10,000 apprenticeships for people building their careers in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Of particular interest for our region is the pilot of up to five new “Tourism Zones”, local partners are already considering a bid for one which I will be happy to support.
You can read more about this initiative on the Government’s website by clicking here.
Old Toll House Revamp Plans,
New plans for one of Torquay’s oldest seafront buildings have been unveiled this week.
The old Toll House near Torre Abbey Sands has lain empty for some years, with previous plans to revamp it not coming to pass.
Yet a new investor, spurred by the success of the Abbey Sands development next door has come up with an exciting new vision for it.
You can read more about their plans and see some images of them on Devon Live by clicking here.
Kev’s Column: Fire Changes
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…….It’s an £8m Work Of Art.
Ending on a different note figures released recently confirmed we all have a stake in an art collection estimated to be worth almost £8m.
Torbay Council’s Annual Statement of Accounts includes estimated values of items it owns, including masterpieces such as William Holman Hunt’s The Children’s Holiday painted in 1864 and a rare proof set of Victorian Artist and poet William Blake’s The Book of Job. Much of the collection has significant historical value for our Town making it irreplaceable, yet the estimated value has fallen by £300,000 in cash terms.
Finally those who have seen the Civic Mayor with her chain of office, might be interested to know the entire collection of regalia, including the Council’s Ceremonial Mace, is valued at £200,000. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Artizan Gallery Claire Harmer’s Exhibition ‘Chapters’ extended until 6th July and ‘On the Edge of Infinity’ and ‘Coastal Resonance’ featuring Andrea and Jerry Shearing, will launch on July 6th, 18:00-20:00 with the exhibition running from 3rd-23rd July. For more information on Artizan Gallery visit www.artizangallery.co.uk More details on theJuly exhibition can be found at www.art-hub.co.uk/july19.
Artizan, 7 Lucius Street, Torquay TQ2 5UW
Now until 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 29th June. 10.30 am – 12 noon. Friends of Rowcroft Coffee Morning in aid of Rowcroft Hospice, at St. Matthias Church Centre, Babbacombe Road, Wellswood, Torquay TQ1 1HW. Admission £2.50. Cake stall, raffle, bring & buy. Everyone welcome.
Saturday 29th June. 2pm St Martin’s Church Barton, Grand Summer Fete.
A Grand Draw, Cakes, Stalls, Bouncy Castle, Teas, Refreshments and lots of fun on offer for all the family.
Saturday 6th July – starts at 7.30pm – The Central Church, Tor Hill Road, Torquay – The South Devon Choir presents Opera Classics including – March of the Toreadors, The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves, Brindisi, Habanera and duets and arias by our professional soloists including “Au Fond du Temple Saint” from The Pearl Fishers and “Vissi d’Arte” from Tosca.Date –
Tickets – £12.00 on the door or online at https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/southdevonchoir
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.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com so it can be included.
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
Friday 2nd August, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ
Saturday 10th August, 11am – 1pm @ Torquay Library,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.