After a week which saw not just the political temperature rise it is time for my latest update.
Long standing readers will know these updates operate under a no party-political point scoring role, so I won’t cover all the events of the last 7 days. Yet it was an extraordinary time to be in Parliament. On Monday the Liberal Democrats confirmed their new Leader, Jo Swinson, then Boris Johnson was elected Conservative Party Leader on Tuesday. This was followed on Wednesday by the formal transfer of power and the biggest Cabinet Reshuffle since the 1960’s.
I was on the Government Front-Bench for the first statement to parliament by the Prime Minister, which was followed by two hours of questions from MPs. You can watch the statement and hear the questions asked by MPs by clicking here.
Earlier today I spoke with the Prime Minister and was asked to continue in my three Ministerial roles in the Whip’s Office, Wales Office and Cabinet Office.
My week started last Saturday with a focus on my most important role, being our bay’s MP. I went out with a team of helpers in Paignton campaigning against proposed changes to our local Fire Services. So far over 4,000 surveys have been delivered to homes around Paignton Fire Station, with hundreds already returned, if you receive one do drop it back to me at the Freepost address given.
Having worked up a thirst delivering leaflets in the sunny weather my visit to Paignton Royal British Legion’s Coffee Morning at Palace Avenue Methodist Church afterwards was most welcome. I not only had a welcome drink and a fantastic scone, but also had a go on some of the games on offer.
The refreshments helped build up my energy ahead of an energetic session of waving at Goodrington Sands. More on this one below!!!!!
On Sunday it was wonderful to join Fr Colin and the congregation of Our Lady of the Assumption in Abbey Road for a service of celebration to mark the completion of their re-ordering project. The historic church is looking superb, with many of its original paint colours restored. My favourite aspect was the new sanctuary, where the colours of the stained glass windows reflected off the new marble floor. A perfect moment to reflect on what was likely to be a stressful and hectic week ahead.
Later in the day I joined Fr Gorran and the congregation at St Martin’s Barton for a service to mark the 79th Anniversary of their Church Building being consecrated. During the service we looked back to the time when the then congregation had gathered for a service to dedicate the building to God, late July 1940, when the Battle of Britain was raging and invasion seemed imminent. A reminder how hope survives even in the most difficult of times.
I returned home to the bay late last night ahead of a busy day of meetings with residents here in the bay, including a large meeting with residents concerned about the latest plans being put forward for a new Corbyn Head Hotel.
This week’s update is below and includes: Fire Cover Campaign, Our Police are Recruiting, Torbay Hospital Theatres, Paignton Community Nurses, Corbyn Head Hotel Plans, GWR Community Fund, Education Funding Boost, Public Sector Pay Boost, New Goodrington Toilets, Kev’s Column: PM Boris and finally……. A Seagull Took My Chihuahua!!!
Fire Cover Campaign,
The campaign against plans to reduce Torbay’s Fire cover is continuing with over 5,000 people having already signed the online version of the FBU petition opposing them.
The proposals would see the third engine (manned by on call firefighters) at Torquay Fire Station removed and Paignton Fire Station only having full time cover during the day.
A consultation by the Fire Authority on these proposals is already underway online and you can find full details of it, plus leave your own comments, by clicking here. I would encourage all update readers to respond to it. You can sign the petition organised by the FBU online by clicking here.
A series of public exhibitions on the plans is also taking place. Two will be held in our bay: Torquay Library, Monday 5th August 2019 from 11am-3pm and Paignton Library, Great Western Rd, Paignton TQ4 5AG on Tuesday 3rd September from 2-6pm.
I am opposing the plans for our bay, especially the proposals for Paignton which would leave our bay with only 1 appliance manned by wholetime firefighters overnight.
Finally there is an open day at Torquay Fire Station tomorrow (Saturday 27th July) from 10 am till 4pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Our Police are Recruiting,
Now is a great time to think about applying to become a Police Officer as our local force is recruiting and the Prime Minister has confirmed plans to recruit another 20,000 will start forthwith.
Over the last four years I have seen first-hand the dedication, bravery and hard work of our local Police Officers. Yet with increasing demands on them from a range of sources, including a growth in on-line crime and the scourge of county lines, the need for further resources is clear.
It is yet to be confirmed the specific number coming to our area from the 20,000 pledged, but an expansion of officer numbers to 3,100 in Devon and Cornwall had already been planned by our local Police & Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez.
You can find the details about how to apply online, with registration open until Monday 26th August. Just click here to find the relevant pages.
Torbay Hospital Theatres,
Wednesday saw me appear on BBC Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight discussing the position with 2 of Torbay Hospital’s 10 Operating Theatres being out of action.
They were closed late last year after an inspection revealed concerns about the reliability of the air handling units. Given the reduction in capacity some patients are being sent to private hospitals for operations (Paid for by the NHS).
Figures obtained by the BBC confirmed private hospitals have carried out procedures for 70 south Devon patients in the last eight months, at a cost to the NHS of £370,000. Hospital bosses originally thought the Theatres would re-open in May but the work, costing £2.7m, is taking longer than expected.
This problem with the theatres has been raised in my regular meetings with the trust over recent months. I have offered whatever support is needed in helping to secure long term investment for their operating facilities.
As I mentioned on the radio the Hospital will shortly start construction work on two major projects a new Emergency Department and an additional Mental Health Ward.
Paignton Community Nurses,
I have been contacted by residents with some concerns about proposals to restructure the community nursing team in Paignton and Brixham.
I spoke with local NHS Managers and asked them for explanations of the proposals and what they may mean for patients. On Monday I will be meeting with representatives of staff to hear their response.
I will keep residents updated on any further news via future updates.
Corbyn Head Hotel Plans,
Earlier today I visited Cromartie Point to see for myself the impact of the proposed new Corbyn Head Hotel.
Recently Torbay Council’s Planning Committee refused consent for an application from the Fragrance Group for the major new hotel which would be significantly taller than the current building. During my visit the residents affected made clear they have no objection to the current building being redeveloped at the same height level, their concerns are focussed on the height and traffic arrangements for the new building.
After the visit I attended a meeting with a larger group of residents at Preston Conservative Club for a further discussion. One point of concern was just how quickly a second application, with only a minor change, has now been submitted for consideration by Torbay Council.
You can see this second application, plus leave your own comments, on Torbay Council’s website by clicking here.
GWR Community Fund,
GWR has opened bidding for a further round of their Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF). This will be for projects that can be delivered between April 2020 and March 2021.
If all goes well, subject to Department for Transport (DFT) approvals, GWR should have over £750,000 to support schemes proposed by customers and stakeholders in the community.
Over the last four years GWR have awarded over £3m supporting 133 schemes and projects. They have kept the application form very simple, and you can find it along with the relevant guidance by clicking here.
I am advised GWR want to encourage a variety of bids for projects of all shapes and sizes. It would be especially welcome if the fund could help close the gap on projects where some existing funding has already been secured or where funding is available from other sources, but this is not an essential requirement.
Schemes must be delivered in the 2020/21 financial year, so you will need to be sure you can start and finish within that time frame. So schemes can start in April 2020, GWR are asking for proposals by 17:00 8th September 2019.
Education Funding Boost,
One issue I have spent a lot of time focussed on since being elected is the way Torbay’s schools have historically received one of the lowest amounts of funding per pupil in the country.
This discrepancy affects a number of areas and is based on reasons which are now lost to history, such as coastal communities like Torbay being part of larger rural counties until the 1990’s. Some progress was made with a revised funding formula earlier this year, although a large chunk of this extra funding was then top sliced by Torbay Council to cover costs in the additional needs budget.
The announcement by the Prime Minister of an increased minimum per pupil funding level for both Primary and Secondary Pupils is therefore welcome. I will look forward to hearing the details of how this announcement will affect our bay.
Public Sector Pay Boost,
Earlier this week above inflation pay awards were announced for almost a million public sector workers.
I copy a few examples below of what the headline figures announced mean for some key jobs:
Teachers – the average classroom teacher will see a 2.75 per cent pay increase, worth on average £1,000.
Armed Forces – a soldier at Corporal level on average wages will see a 2.9 per cent raise worth £995, while the starting salary for an officer will rise by £769.
NHS – Doctors and dentists will receive an increase of 2.5 per cent, with hospital doctors seeing an average £1,500 more to their salary. Nurses are seeing a pay increase of 6.5 per cent over three years, as agreed as part of a 3-year deal in 2018.
Police – police constables will see a 2.5 per cent average pay increase, earning up to £978 more this year.
Prison officers – prison officers will get at least a 2.2 per cent rise this year, with many receiving 3 per cent.
You can read more details on the Government website by clicking here.
New Goodrington Toilets,
The newly built toilet block at Goodrington is now open.
This new block, which can be found in the car park in front of Quaywest, is a replacement for the original block that used to be next to the Inn on the Quay and is part of the council’s £1 million investment into modernising toilets across the Bay.
The new block, which will cost 30p to use and will be cleaned and maintained by Healthmatic, includes five unisex toilet cubicles along with a urinal area and three hand washing sinks with dryers. The block also includes a disabled unit. The new toilets will be open seven days a week, 8 am to 8 pm in the summer and 9 am to 6 pm in the winter.
I am advised the next toilets to receive an investment will be Brixham Harbour, which will be a refurbishment, and Victoria Square in Paignton, which will be a new build.
Kev’s Column: PM Boris
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-pm-boris
and finally……. A Seagull Took My Chihuahua!!!
Ending on a different note it is a headline one might have associated with a popular satirical show, but this week the fate of Gizmo the Chihuahua has dominated the local media.
Gizmo, a four-year-old chihuahua, was reportedly carried off in the bird’s beak from his owner’s garden in Paignton on Sunday, and the miniature pooch has not been seen since. Local wildlife experts Paignton Zoo indicated they had not heard of anything like this happening before.
You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Now until 31 July ‘Pest and the Profound’ What do insects, wool and Trump have in common? They all feature in Sarah Vaci’s debut solo exhibition “Pest and the Profound”. Artizan Gallery 7 Lucius Street, Torquay for more information visit, https://www.art-hub.co.uk/pest19
Now until 31 August 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 27th July Classic Car show – St Martin’s, Barton from 11am in the Church Grounds. Free entry with a range of classic cars on show and a model railway exhibition in the Church Hall. The Church will be open for visits with floral displays inspired by the song “My Favourite Things”. Cream Teas, BBQ and Raffle on offer.
Saturday 3rd August from 10am – 4pm, Harry Potter birthday celebration at the Torquay Museum. They anticipate there being high demand for this event so visitors can pre-book their tickets for the Harry Potter Birthday Celebration Day on Eventbrite to avoid disappointment or buy your tickets on the day at Torquay Museum for £5 each. Click here for more details.
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.
Friday 2nd August, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ
Saturday 10th August, 11am – 1pm @ Torquay Library, Lymington Road, Torquay TQ1 3DT.
Saturday 17th August, 11am – 1pm @ Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, Preston TQ3 2RB.
Friday 30th August, 3pm – 5pm @ Age UK, 12c Dendy Road, Paignton TQ4 5DB.
Saturday 7th September, 10am – 12pm @ St Martins Church, Barton Hill Road, Torquay TQ2 8JA
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.