Given the events to come my week got off to the perfect start with my quarterly visit to the Christians Together in Torquay Prayer Breakfast. It was welcome to reflect on the challenges ahead and the hope by the time we get to the next one in December we may have seen some resolution to the arguments currently dividing our nation.
After this it was up to St Martin’s Barton for my weekly Advice Surgery. My surgeries are not only a chance to meet people in need of my help, but also provide a helpful grounding in terms of what matters to people here in the bay. I followed this with a visit to a trader in Torquay Town Centre to talk about the latest issues they are facing and the work to recruit a new team of Police Community Support Officers.
Later in the day I was out in Paignton continuing the campaign against proposals to downgrade Paignton’s Fire Cover. I have had a great response to this campaign and with just over a week left on the consultation do click here and let the Fire Service know what you think if you have not done so already.
Sunday morning saw an early call from BBC Radio Devon as I went live on air at 07:10am to reflect on how Christians in Parliament feel about current debates and aspects holding a shared faith might bring when disagreeing on issues around Brexit. Given the resignation of Amber Rudd the night before this was a slightly livelier discussion than might normally have been expected!
On Sunday night I travelled up to London ahead of Parliament sitting the next day and as some may have noticed I was sat right at the heart of proceedings when Black Rod arrived in the Commons Chamber.
I don’t use these updates to go into party political arguments, residents can judge for themselves the events of the evening in the chamber as they were shown live on TV and repeated on news programs. Yet one point sadly missed in the coverage was how it was the first time in centuries of parliamentary affairs a Lady (Rather than Gentleman) Usher of the Black Rod had entered the Commons Chamber.
Whilst parliament was not sitting there was still plenty for me to do in Westminster both for our bay and as a Minister. This included organising a cross-party delegation to push the needs of local rail users, meeting with UK businesses at a major exhibition being held in London and even hosting a delegation of Japanese Housebuilders visiting the UK to look at how they could bring their experience of different methods to bear on the effort to build more homes here.
Finally today I was back in the bay for meetings with residents, my weekly surgery at Paignton Library and to attend the launch of the Wild Planet Trust at Paignton Zoo.
This week’s update is below and includes: General Election 2019?, Going Away Later This Year?, Oldway Trust Formed, New Hotel Plan For Lighthouse Unveiled, Preston Parking Meters, David Watts, Restoration & Renewal, Prorogation Debate, Friends £1.3m Cancer Treatment Equipment Boost, New Road Resurfacing Works, Preston Beach Parking Meters, PATH Seeks A New Home, Wages Rising, Universal Credit Changes, and finally……..Beach Hut For Sale.
General Election 2019?,
After a difficult week in parliament it should now be YOUR chance to decide in a General Election on Tuesday 15th October what happens next, yet this was blocked again due to not enough MPs voting for it as the opposition parties mostly abstained (Although Dr Sarah Wollaston did vote for an election to be held).
I voted for an election as whilst it does put my own job at risk, I believe we should have allowed the electorate to decide how to break the current impasse. The argument last week from some of waiting until a bill went through before voting for an election to be held no longer applied on Monday night, but the vote still failed to reach the 434 votes in favour needed under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.
For those wondering why Tuesday 15th it was chosen to allow the UK Prime Minister elected to attend the European Council on Thursday 17th October, ideally with a clear decision and mandate from voters about what position the UK should take.
Our constitution is based on a balance between the Government and Parliament, with the electorate asked to make a judgement in a General Election where a dispute needs to be resolved between the two. This is what should be happening now.
Going Away Later This Year?,
Given the potential for an election to be held now is the perfect time to sort out a Postal Vote if you are due to be away on holiday or regularly go away on business.
It is easy to do and only takes a couple of minutes to download and print out a simple form. You can ask for a Postal Vote until further notice and simply cancel it at a later date if you would prefer to vote at the Polling Station.
Just click here to find the relevant page on the Electoral Commission website.
Oldway Trust Formed,
There was good news this week for Oldway Mansion as a new trust was formed to secure the future of it and the grounds around it.
The Oldway Trust will shortly be registered with the Charity Commission. Torbay Council has agreed a Memorandum of Understanding which shows its support for the Trust and the future direction of the Oldway Estate. The Oldway Working Party has also been expanded to incorporate all interested parties.
I understand an application is being made to the Heritage Horizon Awards, which allows not for profit organisations to bid for projects demonstrating heritage at risk. It is expected an application for up to £15m will be made in relation to Oldway Mansion.
You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
New Hotel Plan For Lighthouse Unveiled,
A Planning Application has now been submitted for a second new hotel on Paignton Seafront on the site of the derelict former Lighthouse Nightclub.
The plan is the latest from the Fragrance Group and is the fourth hotel they have proposed in our bay. The neighbouring new Park Hotel scheme will see a five-storey 161-bedroom hotel built. This latest scheme is smaller at 117- bedrooms but would still be a sizable investment on the seafront.
The two hotels will both be the largest investments in Paignton Seafront for a generation, with the Lighthouse site having been completely derelict for several years. This new investment is welcome and will help deliver the type of modern hotels many travellers look for when deciding which resort to visit for a holiday.
You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
Preston Parking Meters,
New car parking meters appear set to be installed on Preston Seafront after a decision by Torbay Council.
This is despite more than 1,800 people signing a petition against 24-hour meters on the road and a campaign against the plan which resulted in almost 1,300 letters of objection. The road currently has free parking, with a restriction to prevent overnight and all day stays.
The move to install the meters were opposed by Preston’s Councillors. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
It is with great sadness I heard the news David Watts, chair of the Paignton Neighbourhood Plan Forum, had died earlier this week.
David was passionate about Paignton and a key driver behind the work which produced the Paignton Neighbourhood Plan which was so overwhelming endorsed by voters back in May. His legacy will be felt for many years to come and benefit future generations.
What made the news especially surprising was on Monday he had been at Torbay Council’s Planning Meeting representing residents opposed to a plan for new homes at Little Blagdon Farm. You can read more about this on Devon Live by clicking here.
I will be writing to his wife to express my deepest condolences.
Restoration & Renewal,
Amidst all the arguing and disagreement in parliament on Monday night there was one item which managed to bring MPs of all sides together.
The Restoration & Renewal Programme will see the Houses of Parliament undergo a major refit to deal with a backlog of maintenance dating back decades and to safeguard it for future generations. Whilst there are many debates to come about how best to do this, a key part was getting a new law to set up a Sponsor Body which will take the legal responsibility for the work. This is a similar structure to how the London 2012 Olympics were delivered.
As Minister for the Constitution I have been the Minister leading on taking this bill through the House of Commons. Monday night saw the final stage where MPs considered the amendments made by the House of Lords. Given all parties were supporting the bill, plus the Prime Minister was waiting in the wings to move a motion for an early General Election, most in the house were delighted when I decided to keep my comments short.
You can watch my speech by clicking here.
One area of our constitution which has had much debate in recent weeks is the subject of prorogation, with two petitions which between them attracted 1.7m signatures being debated by MPs on Monday.
Yet despite the large numbers on the petition it was safe to say the debate on them attracted little interest. Only one member of the public sat in the Gallery in Westminster Hall as a small number of MPs attended and spoke in the debate.
I was asked to reply on behalf of the Government and you can read my speech by clicking here.
Friends £1.3m Cancer Treatment Equipment Boost,
New cancer detection equipment worth a staggering £1.3m has been donated to Torbay Hospital by Torbay Hospital League of Friends.
The League presented 34 brand new, high definition endoscopes to the hospital’s endoscopy unit to support thousands of procedures a year, helping to prevent, detect and diagnose a wide range of illnesses.
The charity’s mammoth fund-raising challenge also provided the latest digital video recording equipment linked to the scopes for the three medical rooms in the hospital’s Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Department.
New Road Resurfacing Works,
Several carriageway reconstruction and resurfacing roadworks are planned across Torbay this autumn.
The following roads are part of the programme:
Albany Road, Paignton (Shorton Road to Windmill Hill)
Hyde Road, Paignton
Kings Ash Road, Paignton (Luscombe Road to Whitebeam)
Headland Park Road, Paignton (Great Headland Road to Cockington Lane)
Summer Lane, Brixham
Babbacombe Road, Torquay (Torwood Gardens to Lower Warberry Road)
Redavon Rise, Torquay
The value of the works is approximately £900k. The works will be carried out by Torbay Council’s surfacing partner Cormac Construction Ltd.
PATH Seeks A New Home,
PATH, a charity supporting the homeless in Torquay, is again facing having to find a new home of its own.
Earlier this year there was significant controversy when the then Mayoral administration evicted them from their former base in Abbey Road without finding a new permanent residence. A local church stepped in to provide a temporary venue, but later this year they will need to recover the space concerned and cannot offer a further extension. Their current base is their third home in just over a year having been moved out of Roebuck House due to its redevelopment.
You can read more about their situation on Devon Live by clicking here.
I have contacted Torbay Council about any work they might be doing to find an alternative premises, although despite supportive comments earlier this year when in opposition I am not sure exactly what support will be provided now.
The Office for National Statistics published its latest figures this week showing in the South West there are now 2,845,071 people in work, meaning 350,755 more people are in a job compared to 2010
The figures also confirm there are more people with a full-time job than ever before and the employment rate is at a joint record high.
Wages are also rising at their fastest pace in more than 11 years, ahead of inflation for 18 months in a row. Some encouraging statistics, but there is still more work to do in ensuring our bay reaches its full potential.
Universal Credit Changes,
Earlier this week new legislation was passed making changes to Universal Credit.
At present, a claimant has until the end of their monthly Assessment Period to report childcare costs so these can be reimbursed. The new legislation eases this rule and allows childcare costs to be reimbursed up to 85% if they are reported in the Assessment Period during which the claimant paid them (as applies now) or the Assessment Period immediately following it.
This extension for submitting costs provides parents with more flexibility and could help claimants with two or more children avoid losing out on more than £1,100 per month. Childcare costs can be submitted online, and those in work while in receipt of Universal Credit can apply for up to £646.35 per month if they have one child and up to £1,108.40 for two or more children. The support can also be claimed in the month prior to starting work if a person has accepted a job offer.
and finally……..Beach Hut For Sale.
Ending on a different note if the thought of spending summer on the beach appeals then an available business opportunity might be right up your street.
The hut concerned is one of the large kiosks on Paignton Beach and comes with a seasonal lease agreement, plus plenty of sand and sea views!!! You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Until 22nd September Artizan Gallery and Artizan Collective host Devon Open Studios across two locations:
A taster exhibition will be hosted at Artizan Collective Gallery (Unit 5, Fleet Walk, 74 Fleet Street, Torquay, TQ2 5EB) from 7th – 22nd September and Artizan Gallery will also be opening their doors for the studio event throughout these dates. For more information on Artizan Gallery visit www.artizangallery.co.uk and for more details on their work with Devon Open Studios 2019 head to www.art-hub.co.uk/dos19.
16th September onward – Coffee and Conversation get together, every Monday. They will be in the new big coffee shop in Brunswick Square from 10am
19th September – The Blue Walnut Film Club (Walnut Road, Chelston) is showing the all time classic The Lady Eve (1941) on Thursday 19 September. Doors open at 1930 for a film start at 2000. Non members very welcome (£6) but please ring 01803-392522 to reserve your place.
21st September – An open invitation has gone out to children, young people and families to come along and share their ideas and concepts at the Torbay Imagination Festival being held at Parkfield in Colin Road in Paignton between 2pm and 8pm on Saturday 21st September 2019. Click here for more details.
27th September – ‘MacMillan Coffee Morning on Friday, 27th September, 10.30am-12.30pm. Come along for yummy cakes, fun time, meet people and helping a very good cause. Taking place at Engage Torbay (Hillsong) Church, 8A Lower Union Lane, Torquay, TQ2 5PN
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.
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 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, Paignton TQ3 3BJ
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.