Thanks to Kevin Foster for his latest update below:
After a remarkable week in the political world it is time for my latest update.
My week started with a friendly competition at Goodrington Sands as I joined the Torbay Beach Hut Action Group (TBAG) to judge their latest Train Wave competition. Whilst the weather earlier in the day had put off some from attending a good crowd of us got together to wave at the passing steam train, with extra points for energetic waving.
Later in the day it was a pleasure for Cllr Foster and I to join TOADS SMC for their river cruise down the River Dart. As the sun set it was great to share some good company, great food and the superb jazz music being played. The boat also guaranteed a great view of the fireworks at the Dartmouth Regatta.
Sunday started with a perfect opportunity to deal with some of the tensions the week ahead at Westminster promised, the plate smashing stall at the Lions on the Downs event!! It was great to catch up with many residents there and see the hot coals being prepared for the firewalk.
Later in the afternoon I was pleased to join the St Luke’s Residents Association for the opening of their street party in Cary Road. A range of stalls and some great cakes made for a fun hour, plus a drinks raffle which delivered a good chance of a win or two. This was followed by a Cream Tea organised by St Martin’s Church, Barton.
Before heading up to London on Monday I spoke with the media ahead of the Public Exhibition held in Paignton about the proposed changes to Torbay’s Fire Cover. I could not make the exhibition the next day due to parliament sitting, but I was pleased to hear a large turnout of residents did to ensure the Fire Authority heard loud and clear the concerns we all have about their plans. More on this issue below.
On Tuesday parliament sat for the first time since the Summer Recess and it turned out to be quite a momentous week. I was invited onto BBC Radio Devon to discuss the situation and the caller just before me, Sue from Torquay, perhaps spoke for many in the bay. When asked for three words about how she felt on Brexit she said: “Bored to Tears”. I have posted a separate update about Brexit on my website which you can read by clicking here.
Wednesday morning was a highlight of my week in parliament as I took part in my latest session of Welsh Questions. The 30-minute session took place just before PMQs, so my last couple of answers were delivered with the Prime Minister sat right behind me, presenting the practical challenge of not sitting down on him after each answer. You can watch the session by clicking here.
Thursday saw me sitting in on a debate about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which will replace many European Funding streams after Brexit. This saw MPs from our region attend to highlight how it is vital we get our fair share and ensure future schemes deliver real economic benefits.
Earlier today I attended a family funeral before returning to the bay this evening, although not before hearing some fantastic news for our bay in relation to funding for a Town Deal. More on this below, along with this week’s update which includes: Schools Funding Increase Confirmed, Teacher Pay, Spending Round, Police Officer Recruitment Campaign Launched, Fire Cover Campaign, General Election?, Registering For a Postal Vote, Town Council’s Consultation, Bin Collections, Kev’s Column: High Street To The Future and finally…….Are Paignton’s Donkeys Riding Into the Sunset?
Schools Funding Increase Confirmed,
In last week’s update I mentioned the very welcome news of an increase in Schools Funding which had just been made, worth £14bn extra over the next three years.
For many years Torbay’s Schools have been received some of the lowest amounts of funding per pupil for reasons now lost to history. Whilst a recent change to the funding formula helped to rectify some of this the overall issue remains, especially after much of the resources gained for our bay were top sliced by Torbay Council due to an overspend on their higher needs budget.
I asked for details about what the latest announcements meant for Torbay and the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson MP, wrote to me this week confirming some further details.
The Minister confirmed in his letter every school will attract increases at least in line with inflation or higher. He also confirmed schools that are already attracting their National Funding Formula allocations can expect significant cash increases of 4% per pupil on average (subject to changes in pupil characteristics and numbers). The Government will also remove the cap on gains for schools not yet attracting their full gains under the new formula. This is expected to benefit some schools in Torbay.
Illustrative funding allocations for each school will be announced early next month and Mr Williamson has promised to write to me with these once they are available. He did though confirm to me the list of schools in the area I cover which attracted less than £3,750 or £5,000 funding per pupil in 2019-20 and will therefore benefit from the new minimum per pupil funding levels in 2020-21.
Ilsham Church of England Academy
Oldway Primary School
Preston Primary School
Roselands Primary School
Sherwell Valley Primary School
Shiphay Learning Academy
Warberry CofE Academy
Torquay Boys’ Grammar School
Torquay Girls Grammar School
I also received a couple of queries about the impact for 16-19 education and Sixth Forms of the announcements. The investment includes an extra £400 million to provide better education for 16-19 year olds in 2020-21. This means a 7% nominal uplift to overall 16-19 funding. This is the biggest single year increase since 2010.
The government also announced a major boost in the starting salaries for Teachers.
Subject to the School Teachers’ Review Body process, the recent investment will make it possible to increase teachers’ starting salaries by up to £6,000, with the aim of reaching £30,000 by 2022-23. I am advised the funding package also gives schools complete assurance their increased contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme will be fully funded.
This change would make starting salaries for teachers amongst the most competitive in the graduate labour market. It will ensure students in our bay have some of the brightest talents available to prepare them for their future careers.
You can read the full details on the Government website by clicking here.
On Wednesday the Chancellor updated MPs on the latest spending round, with a range of announcements which may have a positive impact in our bay.
- An additional £1 billion of funding for adult and children’s social care. In addition, the government will also consult on a 2% Adult Social Care precept to enable councils to raise a further £0.5 billion on top of this.
- £2.2 billion of additional funding for Defence.
- £422 million resource funding to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping, including an additional £54 million in 2020-21. This represents a real terms increase of 13% compared to 2019-20.
- over £200 million of increased funding to transform bus services, making best use of technology and promoting decarbonisation
This Spending Round delivers the fastest planned real growth in day-to-day departmental spending in 15 years. From 2019-20 to 2020-21, day-to-day departmental spending will now grow at 4.1% in real terms. For the first time since 2002, no government department faces a cut to its day-to-day budget.
Since 2010 the amount the government borrows each year has reduced significantly and is now just 1.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) compared to nearly 10% in 2010, enabling the government to spend more on the UK’s public services in a sustainable way. The Spending Round has been delivered within the current fiscal rules: keeping the structural deficit below 2% of GDP in 2020-21 and debt falling as a percentage of GDP overall.
You can read more about the spending review on the Government website by clicking here.
Police Officer Recruitment Campaign Launched,
The campaign to recruit an extra 20,000 Police Officers nationally got underway this week.
Devon & Cornwall Police was already recruiting under a budget plan to increase officer numbers from our Police & Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez.
This week the Chancellor confirmed £750 million to fund the first year of the national initiative, during which 6,000 new police officers will be enlisted. The remaining 14,000 will be recruited in the following 2 years, backed by government funding, and will be additional to any officers hired to fill existing vacancies.
You can find details of how to apply and the various routes to becoming a Police Office (You don’t need a university degree) on the campaign website by clicking here.
Fire Cover Campaign,
The campaign against changes proposed to Torbay’s Fire Cover continued this week with a large turnout by residents at a public exhibition of the proposals for cuts.
I have been supporting the campaign against the proposals and when the Fire Service first unveiled its series of public consultation events Paignton was not included. After I objected this week’s session in Paignton was arranged, so I am delighted to note hundreds of residents then attended it.
The proposals from Devon & Somerset Fire Service could see Paignton reduced to being only an “on call” station at night, rather than having an engine crewed by wholetime Firefighters 24/7. The consultation also proposes removing the third engine at Torquay Fire Station, which is operated by “on call” firefighters.
If you are yet to do so you can have your say about the proposals via the online consultation document. You can find it by clicking here.
Finally you can sign the FBU Petition opposing the plans by clicking here, over 9,000 already have.
Given the endless delays and indecision over the last three years, plus the sign of no real consensus emerging in parliament other than to yet again delay making an actual decision on Brexit, I supported the motion to call a General Election on Tuesday 15th October. It failed as not enough MPs voted for it.
A further attempt to call an election will be made on Monday. I will support it as whilst it might not be comfortable for MPs personally, our nation and politics cannot go on like this.
Registering For a Postal Vote,
As an election may happen at short notice at any time over the next few months now is the time to register for a Postal Vote if you may be unable to vote in person for any reason.
It is very easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes to print the required form and post it to Torbay Council. You can find all the details necessary on the Electoral Commission website by clicking here.
You do not need to specify a specific date just indicate you wish a Postal Vote until further notice.
Town Councils Consultation,
Despite a decisive result in a consultation held earlier this year Torbay Council is again consulting on setting up Town Councils for Paignton and Torquay.
One major aspect of Town Councils is they can charge an additional precept on top of the Council Tax Bill you already pay to Torbay Council. In Torbay’s case the Council is indicating at least an extra £90 a year for year 1, with this set to rise much further.
This aspect is not mentioned on the webpage promoting the consultation, but you can make your views known by clicking here.
Whilst a genuine community plan for representation would be worth looking at, this plan is based on the Council looking to avoid limits on Council Tax rises. A future review of local government creating a wider South Devon Unitary would give a sensible reason to consider this idea, but for now this strikes me as just an extra bill for residents to pay for more administration and more politicians.
I was still getting some feedback about problems with bin collections this week.
If your bin is not collected do leave it out the next day and if you have not been collected after a couple of days do let my team know.
Kev’s Column: High Street To The Future
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…….Are Paignton’s Donkeys Riding Into the Sunset?
A donkey ride on Paignton Green is a seaside tradition many of us have enjoyed in our younger years, yet the future of the much-loved attraction could be in doubt.
Julie and Peter Wibrow have been running the donkey rides on the green at Paignton for 19 years, but the end of this season will see their final trips around the green. They are trying to keep all 11 of them together, by finding a new owner, especially as the Paignton donkeys were voted ‘Britain’s Best Beach Resort Donkeys’.
You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here. Hopefully a buyer will be found so this tradition does not ride off into the sunset.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
7th -22nd September With the kind support of Fleet Walk Torquay, Artizan Collective CIC are pleased to be bringing this year’s launch event to Torbay. Hosted on the Torquay high street, the launch venue will also be running a mixed taster show allowing visitors to see several artists’ work at a glance and then choose which studios they particularly wish to visit.
Unit 5 Fleet Walk
7th -22nd September Artizan Gallery is delighted to be taking part once again in Devon Open Studios for a fifth year since opening, playing host to eight talented and diverse artists from Torbay. With a variety of contemporary 2D and 3D work on display this promises to be an exciting feature in the Artizan calendar as well as the Devon Open Studios 2019 programme.
7 Lucius Street Torquay
19th October @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm – Ageing Well Festival 2019, at the Riviera International Conference Centre, Chestnut Ave Torquay TQ2 5LZ – FREE ENTRY – for more details click here.
From October 2019 – an exciting new series of daytime talks on the Palace Theatre stage.
The talks will be on a range of fascinating subjects and will take place once a month on a Thursday morning. Please see the attached leaflet for dates and details. Click here to see leaflet.
There will be lots of opportunities to socialise in the Theatre Bar before and after the talks, to meet new people, learn interesting facts and to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee (which is included in the ticket price!)
Tickets can be bought online via the Palace Theatre website or by calling the Box Office on 01803 665800 (between 11am and 3pm on weekdays).
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 here to see what’s on and when.
Friday 13th September, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Library, Great Western Road, Paignton TQ4 5AG
Saturday 21st September, 11am – 1pm @ The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET
Saturday 5th October, 11am – 1pm @ Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, Paignton TQ3 2RB
Friday 11th October, 3pm – 5pm @ Windmill Centre, Pendennis Road, Torquay TQ2 7QR
Saturday 19th October, 11am – 1pm @ Torquay Library, Lymington Road, Torquay TQ1 3DT
Friday 25th October, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, 62 Winner Street
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.