After an eventful week, which has seen me do quite a bit of travelling, it is time for my latest update.
My week started with a cross-party effort to help tidy up Hele Village and surrounding streets. I joined local Councillors, including the Leader of Torbay Council Cllr Steve Darling and Hazel, for a litter pick organised by the local Community Partnership. I spent a busy hour collecting a range of drinks bottles, crisp bags and a seemingly endless supply of dumped cigarette butts!!!
After this I headed to The Acorn Centre for my weekly advice surgery, followed by a visit to St Martin’s, Barton which was packed with all the fun of their Summer Fair. I was quickly relieved of my loose change at a range of stalls and picked up some plants for the hanging baskets at home.
Afterwards Hazel invited me out for an afternoon stroll along the coast in Babbacombe, calling at letterboxes on the way with her Thank You leaflet. Whilst a group of nesting seagulls in one cul-de-sac were not very welcoming, it was good to chat with a couple of regular update readers.
One of the aspects of my Ministerial role I most enjoy is being the link between the military and the Wales Office. This meant an early start on Monday Morning as I headed for LLandaff Cathedral for a service of dedication for the Regimental Memorial of the Queen’s Dragoon Guards.
Hearing the names read out of those who have given their lives in the service of our country is always moving, but on the 103rd anniversary of the darkest day for our Army (1st July 1916, when The Somme Offensive started) it had an added poignancy. The relatives of some of those on the memorial attended the service as a reminder these were ordinary men who showed extraordinary courage in recent times. I also met Prince Charles just before the service.
The rest of my week at Westminster was focused on key votes around the Government’s finances and funding for public services. An attempt to use arcane procedure to cut off money for vital services in the event of a “No Deal” Brexit was blocked by The Speaker when the relevant amendments were not selected.
As the 20th Anniversary of Devolution was marked across Wales & Scotland, the Prime Minister gave a speech on our Union and my role as interim Minister for the Constitution was in the limelight.
Yesterday I headed to South Wales for a day highlighting how the Union affects daily life across our nation, this included a visit to the Royal Mint where our coinage is produced. I got the chance to strike a proof version of a 50P myself and see how the Mint serves its overseas customers, ironically the Royal Mint was the UK’s first cashless workplace as you are banned from having any coins on you for obvious security reasons!
Finally today I undertook what was my most sensitive Ministerial visit since my appointment, as I headed to Northern Ireland for a day focused on highlighting the benefits of the Union, before finally returning home to the bay late this evening.
You can read more about my activities in Northern Ireland below, along with this week’s update which includes: Fire Cover Campaign, Barton Hill Academy Nursery Boost, Come On England!!, TUFC Fixtures Confirmed, Coastal Railway Consultation Reminder, 80% Say No To Town Councils, Paignton Traders Parking Scheme, Queen’s Nurse, Fox Hunting Debate, Parliamentary Procedure Online and finally…….A Fishy Tale.
Fire Cover Campaign,
A campaign to oppose plans to cut our bay’s Fire Cover is getting underway and its one I will be fully supporting.
As reported in recent updates proposals from Devon & Somerset Fire Service could see Paignton Fire Station converted into a part-time station, with only an “on-call” crew overnight, rather than full time cover 24/7. The proposals also include the removal of one of the “on call” fire engines at Torquay Fire Station. The proposals would leave only one Fire Engine in our bay manned 24/7 by full time Firefighters, despite Torbay being the second largest conurbation in the area served by the Devon & Somerset Fire Brigade.
I am advised the local Fire Brigades Union will be out collecting a petition against these changes over the coming weeks. I would urge residents to support the Firefighters who are doing this.
As Torbay’s MP I can undertake surveys on local issues and will be taking this opportunity to give residents living near Paignton Fire Station a chance to express their views on the proposed changes.
The Fire Service is undertaking a consultation on the proposals which will last until 22nd September 2019. You can find it here and I would encourage all residents to respond making clear their views on this plan.
As part of the consultation a series of drop in exhibitions have been arranged, yet despite the biggest impact of the plans being on Paignton the service has decided to only arrange an event in Torquay (Torquay Library, Monday 5th August 2019 from 11am-3pm). This is unacceptable and residents most affected should not be expected to travel across the bay to make their views known.
There are several venues close to Paignton Fire Station where an exhibition could have been held, I will be asking the management of the Fire Service to urgently look at arranging an event at one of them so they can avoid the impression an event was held further away to lessen the chance of residents attending.
Barton Hill Academy Nursery Boost,
There was good news on Tuesday as it was announced Barton Hill Academy, Torquay had been successful in securing funding from the School Nurseries Capital Fund (SNCF).
The SNCF is designed to create high-quality, school-based, nursery places for 2,3 and 4 year olds in disadvantaged areas in order to deliver the Government’s commitment to build more school-based nurseries and boost social mobility.
Overall the Government received 143 applications across 68 council areas. Following an assessment process 66 projects with an overall value of just over £22m have been approved, with Barton Academy being one of the successful projects. Barton is one of six successful schools across the South West.
The first few years of a child’s life are critical to shaping their future development. Barton Hill Academy does a great job giving many children a positive start in life and this funding will help them do even more to help all of Barton’s kids succeed.
Future High Streets Fund Disappointment,
Sadly Paignton’s bid for funding from the Future High Streets Fund has not been successful.
Whilst several projects across the country have made it through to the next round an exciting bid which would have seen major investment to reshape the town has not.
I will be arranging an urgent meeting with officials at the relevant Government Department to find out what issues there were and what could change in the future to ensure a successful bid could be made. I will be inviting representatives from Torbay Council and the Torbay Development Agency to join me for it.
Come On England!!,
The Lionesses have played with pride and done our nation proud in France, with 11.7m people cheering them on here in the UK, making it the most watched television event this year.
Whilst the players gave their all on Tuesday night in the Semi-Final the USA just had the edge. Yet their performances have helped inspire a future generation of girls to play who will one day get their hands on the World Cup.
Yet the tournament is not over for the team as tomorrow (Saturday 6th July) they will play in the 3rd place play-off against Sweden. Kick off is at 4pm.
TUFC Fixtures Confirmed,
As the World Cup ends attention turns to the start of the Football Season as the Gulls aim to make it two promotions in a row.
The fixtures list for the 19/20 season has now been published, along with some “friendly” local derby games. You can find all the dates for your diary on the TUFC website by clicking here.
Coastal Railway Consultation Reminder,
As mentioned in last week’s update major plans to secure the Dawlish Rail Line are being proposed as part of a public consultation being undertaken by Network Rail.
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.
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.
80% Say No To Town Councils,
A consultation on whether to create new Town Councils for Paignton and Torquay produced a resounding “No”.
Of the 585 replies to the consultation 80% disagreed with the idea, yet despite this Torbay Council’s administration appears determined to press ahead. The claim being they would “only” add £90 to Council Tax Bills. The Town Councils would be in addition to Torbay Council and would not replace it. You can read more about this on Devon Live by clicking here.
Brixham’s Town Council was the result of a genuine community campaign, yet these proposals were dreamed up in the Town Hall and are being promoted by political figures. Few would look at the issues in our bay and conclude the solution to them was more councillors.
Whilst Town Councils might be an option if a future Local Government Review saw our bay become part of a larger Unitary or if there was a genuine community demand for one, this idea strikes me as little more than a move to put up Council Tax given Torbay’s is the lowest in Devon.
Finally suggestions Town\Parish Councils always operate without party groups are not correct. There is no restriction on party candidates standing and there are a number which are under the control of a political group.
Paignton Traders Parking Scheme,
Traders in Paignton have launched a new scheme aimed at encouraging people into the town centre.
Fourteen business have signed up for the Paignton Parking Initiative where shoppers can take in the tear-off section of their parking ticket or show the activated parking app on their phones to claim a range of benefits. These vary from 10% discounts to a free cup of coffee.
Shops participating in the scheme are displaying posters confirming this. The scheme is being organised by the Paignton Chamber of Commerce, you can find out more about them on their website by clicking here.
There is no limit on the discounts which can be claimed, if it is done during the period your ticket is valid. You can get more in discounts then you paid for your parking under this scheme.
A Torbay Nurse has been awarded one of the professions most prestigious titles “Queen’s Nurse”.
Lisa Pullen was awarded the title by the Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) at a ceremony in London, recognising her high standards of community nursing practice. She is the service manager for four specialist children’s nursing teams who deliver nursing care in the community setting across Devon.
You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
Fox Hunting Debate,
This week saw the unwelcome return of a decades old debate about the ban on hunting wild animals with dogs.
Fifteen years ago the Hunting Act was passed bringing to an end cruel practices like Hare Coursing and killing a fox with a pack of hounds. Like the overwhelming majority of MPs I support the ban and will not vote to repeal it as Torbay’s MP. I believe there are other more relevant issues to be debated in parliament and we should move forward with animal welfare, not take it back two decades.
Those listening to the Today Program on Radio 4 yesterday may have heard my views on this being quoted after I tweeted my thoughts on the prospect of any future Prime Minister seeking to resurrect this debate.
Parliamentary Procedure Online,
Fans of BBC Parliament and those who love to watch every aspect of debate in the House of Commons can now consult the ultimate guide to parliamentary procedure online.
Erskine & May is the definitive guide to the rules which the House of Commons operates under, but until this week was only available in a hardback edition costing hundreds of pounds. Now it has been made available for free on Parliament’s website.
You can find it and a handy search facility by clicking here.
and finally…….A Fishy Tale.
Ending on a lighter note we have all heard the story of a fisherman who claims to have caught a massive fish, yet finds his story greeted with some considerable scepticism.
Yet one Devon man has every right to carp on about his recent catch, which weighed in at a whopping 232lbs!!
John Harvey, from Westleigh, near Tiverton, spent 80 minutes reeling the Siamese Carp at a lake in Thailand last month. At a staggering 232lbs, or 16-and-a-half stone, or 105kg, it reportedly beats the previous world record set for a Siamese Carp by 10lbs. You can see the pictures which prove the catch on Devon Live by clicking here.
One thing is for sure a truly jumbo portion of chips would be needed to go with it!!
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
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 6th July – from 10.30am till 5.30pm – in the Torre Abbey Grounds and Spanish Barn – “In To The Mix “, a new and inclusive event for Torbay, celebrating Torbay’s Diversity. Live Music & Entertainment stages, Storytelling, Games and Creative Activities. Free and Family Friendly – for more info go to www.intothemix.org.uk
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 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 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 email@example.com or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.