Thanks to Kevin Foster for his latest update. (please note any views expressed are those of Kevin and not necessarily endorsed by this group)
After a good week weather wise it is time for my latest update.
My week started with a session out in Preston delivering the last of several thousand leaflets opposing the proposed changes to Fire Cover at Paignton Fire Station. If you have not yet had your say there is still time, but you must do so before midnight on Sunday. Just click here to be taken to the relevant part of the Devon & Somerset Fire Service website.
After a bit of exercise it was great to attend Torquay ARFC’s first home game of the season and to meet the team who ensure the club not only keeps going, but can build for the future. The Club has its first female Chairman and it was great to talk with her about plans for the expansion of their youth work and the provision of women’s rugby at the club. Best of all Torquay beat visitors Liskeard 36 – 18!!!
On Sunday afternoon I headed to St Luke’s Church for their Annual Battle of Britain Memorial Service. More on this below.
Parliament was not sitting this week so I have been able to get out and about in the bay, with sessions out on the doorsteps on Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Amidst all the debate in the media and online it is always good to get a sense of what residents here in the bay are thinking. This week I was out on the doorsteps in Watcombe, Torre, Roselands and Plainmoor, with lots of feedback including many who just wanted “the B Word” sorted!!
On Wednesday morning I headed to Preston for a meeting with local businesses about issues with shoplifting and crime. This was followed by a visit to Whitley Court for a meeting with residents concerned about the number 25 bus. We discussed how the new bus being used on the route was awkward for disabled passengers and what could be done to persuade the company to use a more suitable vehicle.
Next on my list was a visit to St Cuthbert Mayne School to talk with pupils working on a new anti-bullying policy and to support their fellow students who just need a friend to talk with. It was good to hear their ideas and to reflect on the impact Social Media can have.
Yesterday I headed up to London for a series of meetings at the Cabinet Office, with issues such as the 2021 Census, Government Communications and the Union on my Agenda.
Finally today I was back in the bay for a bit more campaigning, a catch up on some correspondence and an evening at Paignton Beach taking part in a Beach Clean organised by the Marine Conservation Society.
This week’s update is below and includes: Preston Parking Meters Protest, Town Council Consultation, Police Recruitment, Paignton Car Park set for Redevelopment, Torwood St Update, Community Bid To Improve Torquay Station, Students With A Message, Sadness After Death Of Local Teenager, Brexit Info, Community Use For Echo Building, Free Admission for Heritage Weekend, The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, Lighthouse Hotel Plan, Paignton Police Surgery, Kev’s Column: Torquay Town Deal and finally………Eight Legged Friends?
Preston Parking Meters Protest,
Despite a petition signed by over 1,800 residents, 1,300 objections and the opposition of Preston’s 3 Councillors to them, Preston Beach (Marine Drive) is set to have parking meters installed following a decision by the coalition running Torbay Council.
Parking restrictions are already in place to prevent long term parking by camper vans or other vehicles, with neighbouring roads set to see even more vehicles parked in them as motorists seek to avoid the charges if the scheme goes ahead. Torbay Council Officers have indicated the meters will be installed within the next three months if there is not a rethink.
The new meters not only impact beach users, but set a precedent in terms of their introduction into Preston which could see them spread into other streets in future. I will therefore be joining campaigners against the meters for a demonstration of public opposition at 10am Tomorrow (Saturday 21st September) at Sara’s (Preston Beach Kiosk). Do come along if you can.
Town Council Consultation,
Another issue where the Council appears determined to ignore residents’ opinions is on Town Councils.
Earlier this year a consultation was undertaken on plans for new Town Councils in Paignton and Torquay. Little enthusiasm was shown for the plan, with 80% of residents who responded opposing the plans. Yet another consultation has now been launched, backed by a publicity campaign on social media, to ask residents to think again.
The proposed Town Councils would be in addition to Torbay Council, not a replacement for it. The suggestion is the Councils could provide some of the services Torbay Council might have provided, in exchange for residents paying an extra charge (Known as a Precept) on their Council Tax Bill. This charge would not be subject to the limits on Council Tax rises which apply to Torbay Council, with the obvious potential for bills to be pushed up rapidly.
The latest consultation suggests up to £90 extra on the average Council Tax in the first year alone, but this could easily rise to the “up to £300” a year suggested in the consultation earlier this year. Whilst there will be a debate about the balance between what we pay in tax and the services we receive, this proposal strikes me as just a backdoor way to put up Council Tax, with residents also having to pay the bill for the extra administration involved in running the two new town councils.
A genuine proposal from the local community to change the way we are governed would be worth looking at, perhaps as part of a wider review of local government structures in Devon, yet this proposal from the Council is not.
You can find the consultation and submit your own views by clicking here, although it is safe to say some of the questions are points few would disagree with before getting to more genuine questions. Interestingly the question about paying more council tax comes after the question about whether you want a Town Council.
The national campaign to recruit an additional 20,000 Police Officers is now underway.
If you would like to be one of them, a special website has been set up where you can find all the information you need, plus which forces are already recruiting (Ours is one of them). You can find it by clicking here.
Following a couple of queries it is worth noting the 20,000 is additional officers, it does not include replacements for those retiring or moving to another job.
Paignton Car Park set for Redevelopment,
A major plan to build housing on the site of a multi-storey car park in Paignton Town Centre moved forward this week.
The car park in question is in Garfield Road, next to the popular Victoria Car Park which will not be affected. The car park has coach bays at the bottom and is connected to the Victoria Car Park, but much of it is disused due to the poor physical condition it is in. I am advised Councillors were told a survey back in 2012 found repairs to the structure would cost more than £500,000, with its condition having got a lot worse since then. Alternative coach parking provision is being identified.
The demolition would be funded by a £900,000 grant from the Government’s Land Release Fund to unlock the site for housing. A contract must be in place for the development by March 2020 under the terms of the grant. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
Torwood St Update,
The Torwood Street development is transforming what was once a derelict site.
The building has now reached its full height on Torwood Street, although there are still another 3 levels to construct on The Terrace which will complete in November. The building work is expected to be completed in early 2020.
During early October the developers will be undertaking the connection of the building to the public sewer in Torwood Street. This will entail excavation in the roadway to lay pipes and connect to the existing sewer. Traffic management will be in place during these works which will take about 10 days in total. I am advised the builders are finalising details with Torbay Council and will post them on the hoardings nearer the time.
It is great to see the progress being made with this development and the further investment it is helping generate for the Town Centre.
Community Bid To Improve Torquay Station,
The Torbay Rail Users Group has submitted a bid which aims to improve the facilities at Torquay Train Station by providing a waiting room on the “up” platform.Of the 200,000 passengers a year who use the station over 90% depart from this platform, yet apart from a ticket machine and some benches there is little in the way of facilities, an issue in the colder months of the year. Their plan would see what was once the First Class Waiting Room converted into a passenger lounge with toilet facilities.
Improving the facilities for rail passengers is a key part of attracting more onto local services and I am only too pleased to support this initiative.
Students With A Message,
A group of students at Torquay Girls Grammar School has produced a video looking to get their message across about the environment and promote a petition they have started.
I meet with the group earlier this year and their passion to make a difference was clear. The video was featured by the BBC this week and I have offered to help arrange a meeting with the Environment Minister so they can get their points over directly.
You can watch their video by clicking here.
Sadness After Death Of Local Teenager,
There was sad news in Paignton this week as the body of a 19-year-old was found at the popular Geoplay park.
Hearing the news of any death is sad, but of someone so young is especially tragic. Several floral tributes have been left and I know the thoughts of all update readers will be with his family.
I cannot hope to cover every issue relating to Brexit in these updates and many residents on the doorsteps indicate they are getting rather tired of it dominating the media, hence I have a separate email list for updates on this issue.
I am though receiving regular requests for information about how to prepare for it and what the implications might be on some issues.
The best place for factual answers to the questions Brexit poses is the dedicated Government website. You can find it by clicking here.
Community Use For Echo Building,
There was good news this week as Torbay Council agreed to sell the Echo Building in Upton to the King’s Arms Church.
The evangelical church has been established in Torbay for 20 years (Using Torquay Academy) and earlier this year I met its new Pastor Pete Clayton to discuss his vision for developing its community work. The intention is to make the ECHO building its permanent base.
I am pleased the Council has agreed to support this and you can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
Free Admission for Heritage Weekend,
Torre Abbey Museum is throwing open its doors, with FREE entry over the weekend of Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 September, to celebrate its heritage, community and history as part of National Heritage Open Days.
In addition to the house itself visitors an access the Abbey’s beautiful gardens, the Agatha Christie Potent Plants Garden, a Victorian Palm House and ruins of the great medieval church.
The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning,
I have been delighted to receive many invitations to events being held in the bay next Friday to mark the World’s Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Whilst it is not going to help my diet plan I am planning to drop in on a couple, especially to try some of the great home baking on offer.
There are a few too many to list them all here, but you can find the details of some on the Macmillan website by clicking here.
Lighthouse Hotel Plan,
Last week I featured news of the latest planned new hotel to be built by the Fragrance Group on the site of the old Lighthouse Nightclub on Paignton seafront.
If you wish to read the full details or leave a comment on the Planning Application you can find it on Torbay Council’s website by clicking here.
Given how many years this site has been a derelict eyesore it is welcome to see plans for investment in it.
Paignton Police Surgery,
The Paignton policing team will be holding a surgery at Paignton Library this week.
If you have any issues you would like to discuss with them its on Thursday 26th Sept from 5-6pm.
Kev’s Column: Torquay Town Deal
Every fortnight I write a special “Kev’s Column” for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition by following the link below:
and finally………Eight Legged Friends?
They are the subject which divides opinion even more than the most contentious political issue, Spiders.
For some they are a free form of insect control, for others a uniquely frightening prospect to find one at home. (I find a pint glass, beer mat and a trip back to the garden is the best solution). Yet like them or loathe them you will probably notice a lot more spiders appearing at this time of year.
There are two main reasons for this, the eight-legged creatures search for warmth as the nights draw in, and because it’s reportedly mating season. You can find many more spider facts on Devon Live by clicking here.
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
23rd September onward – Coffee and Conversation get together, every Monday. They will be in the new big coffee shop in Brunswick Square from 10am
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.
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.
Torbay Interfaith Forum – The Forum will be re-named as Torbay Faith and Belief Forum from 1st January 2020. Please click here for the updated talks until the end of this year and click here for the new Programme that has just come out for 2020.
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 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.