I started my week last Saturday with one of my regular advice surgeries, this time at Preston Baptist Church. It is always good to be able to help residents who come to see me about their concerns and provides useful feedback on how public services are performing locally.
Later in the day I headed out on the doorsteps in Roselands and it was great to meet several regular update readers, plus sign a few more people up to it. It was interesting to hear the thoughts of residents on all the recent goings on at Westminster and some recent decisions by Torbay Council.
Saturday evening was a chance to relax with friends at the Open Mic night organised by the Friends of St Matthias. There was some real local talent on display with performances including a piano recital, poetry, classic songs and some great one liners from Dean the compere.
St Marychurch held its Harvest Lunch on Sunday, so Cllr Foster and I headed over to join the congregation for some delicious food and some wonderful fellowship. It is also safe to say the portion sizes were generous
On Sunday evening I headed up to London ahead of Parliament sitting for two days before being prorogued again on Tuesday evening. There was a lot less controversy this time as Parliament will return on Monday for the Queen’s Speech, plus a potentially very significant session could take place on Saturday 19th October.
The Queen’s Speech is a wonderful state occasion and well worth watching on the TV, although I am not the Government Whip due to be held hostage at Buckingham Palace as an insurance for the Monarch’s safe return from parliament under a centuries old custom!!
The restart of the Parliamentary session did though give me a chance to get through a piece of legislation I have been piloting through the House of Commons. More on this below.
Wednesday saw a major announcement on Policing, as the allocations of the first tranche of 6,000 new officers from the 20,000 promised were announced, with more heading to Devon & Cornwall.
Yesterday I was back in the bay in time to attend the South Devon Business Awards. It was great to catch up with many familiar faces and to see the former Principal of South Devon College, Stephen Criddle, receive a well-deserved life time achievement award. Yesterday was also World Homeless day and I joined with Torbay Council and others in making a pledge to tackle this issue here in the bay.
I have also spent quite a bit of time this week taking part in meetings about what many people now describe only as “the B word” given how fed up they are of hearing about it. This included dialling into meetings with the Scottish and Welsh Governments. Very constructive discussions were had, but not a meeting of minds.
Finally this evening I finished my week as I started, with an advice surgery, this time at the Windmill Centre.
This week’s update is below and includes: TUFC Dump Barton Tip Stadium Plan, Schools Funding Boost Announced, Hays Travel Buys Thomas Cook Stores, Torbay Council Buys £30m Oxfordshire Warehouse, Bus Crash, Drunk Driver Jailed After Fatal Incident, Vegan Business Network, Flu Jab Time, Census Bill Passes, Ageing Well Festival and finally……Shelling Out For Physio.
TUFC Dump Barton Tip Stadium Plan,
In news which came as little surprise to those who know the site well, Torquay United yesterday confirmed it was abandoning plans to build a new Stadium on Nightingale Park, which was formerly known as Barton Tip.
Long standing update readers will be aware I was sceptical when a range of images of a new stadium first appeared in the media, not least given one appeared to be of a stadium design for Hull with the TUFC Badge superimposed. A meeting with the club to ascertain some details of their plan produced little in the way of further information, with my suggestion being they needed to get key ground condition, transport and environmental impact studies undertaken before this idea could be considered any further.
Nightingale Park was not developed as part of the Willows estate due to the issues with its former use. It has now become a useful green space for residents and home to a range of local wildlife. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
The gulls are having a good season after promotion last year and show all the signs of heading back towards the League fairly soon. I know the team appreciate every voice cheering them on to victory.
Plainmoor Stadium is the Club’s historic home, but like many Gulls Fans I accept in the long-term a modern stadium with conference and other non-match day facilities could help create sustainable revenue for the club and be a boost for the bay’s economy. Yet any such proposal must be based on realistic business and construction plans.
Schools Funding Boost Announced,
There was good news today as the Government announced a major funding boost for Torbay Schools.
Schools in Torbay will receive (on average) 5.13% more funding per pupil next year as part of the Government’s recent multi-billion investment in primary and secondary education. This compares to 4.86% in Devon and 4.16% across England as a whole. The total provisional funding for Torbay Schools in 2020-21 will be £81,311,648.
The extra money, available from April, will ensure per-pupil funding for all schools can rise at least in line with inflation and will deliver promised gains in full for areas like Torbay which have been historically under-funded. You can find the details of indicative funding for each school on my website by clicking here , opening the spreadsheet and selecting “Torbay” Constituency, although please note to find details for schools in Brixham, Churston and Collaton St Mary (inc Paignton Academy) you need to select “Totnes” Constituency on the spreadsheet.
The Government has committed every secondary school will receive a minimum of £5,000 per pupil next year and every primary school will receive a minimum of £4,000 per pupil by 2021-22.
This funding follows the Prime Minister’s announcement in August that the budget for schools and high needs would be increased by a total of over £14 billion over three years, rising to £52.2 billion by 2022-23. Schools and local authorities were today being advised how the first part of that investment – £2.6 billion – will be allocated for the coming year.
For too many years Torbay’s requests for historic underfunding issues to be addressed were ignored. Whilst there is still work to do, I am pleased we are now making real progress in righting this historical wrong.
Hays Travel Buys Thomas Cook Stores,
There was a moment of sunshine for our high street this week as Hays Travel acquired the entire retail portfolio of over 555 former Thomas Cook shops in the UK.
Hays have announced they intend to re-open every Thomas Cook store in Devon and reinstate former staff. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
This is great news for those in the bay who were made redundant by Thomas Cook and were facing having to look for new jobs in the run up to Christmas.
If you have a compensation claim relating to a lost booking with Thomas Cook it is best to use the online forms available on the CAA website. Just click here to be taken to them.
Torbay Council Buys £30m Oxfordshire Warehouse,
Earlier this week it was revealed Torbay Council has spent £30m buying a chilled and frozen food distribution centre 150 miles away in Didcot.
The purchase is the latest to be undertaken as part of its policy of making commercial property investments in order to generate income returns. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
Update readers can judge for themselves the wisdom of this, but it is interesting how those who were quick to criticise the former Mayor for purchasing a Pasty Factory in Cornwall under the same scheme, have now approved this purchase.
The images of a double decker bus on its side in a field having left the road between Paignton and Totnes were shocking.
Thankfully due to the skill of our local emergency services and NHS staff dozens were rescued and treated. Miraculously no-one was killed. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
The role of the Fire Crews who were quickly on the scene is a reminder they don’t just deal with fires, but provide a vital rescue service, hence my support for the campaign to retain the wholetime crew at Paignton 24/7. This week the Fire Service announced they were pushing a decision on their proposals back to December due to the sheer volume of responses to their consultation, hopefully a sign of a rethink in the offing. You can read more on The Breeze website by clicking here.
Given the ongoing investigations into the crash it is not appropriate for me to comment on the details of it.
Drunk Driver Jailed After Fatal Incident,
A drunk driver who failed to stop after hitting a woman lying in Torbay Road has been jailed for four and a half years.
The driver is believed to have drunk at least 8 pints before getting behind the wheel, with the court rejecting the excuse he was unaware he had hit someone. You can read more by clicking here.
This tragic incident serves as a reminder why drinking and driving is totally unacceptable. The safety of others is worth far more than the price of a cab ride home.
Vegan Business Network,
If you run a vegan business in the bay then a new business network is for you.
The Vegan Independent Trading Association Torbay (VITAT) is a group of 100 per cent vegan small businesses who are getting together to help develop their offer and make more people aware of it. The network already includes some unique local businesses like the Kind Grind in Lucius Street and the Vegan Bakery in Torquay Market.
You can find out more on Devon Live by clicking here.
Flu Jab Time,
As the nights get longer and winter approaches a record number of people in England are being offered a vital vaccination against flu this winter.
The total number eligible has topped 25,000,000 as for the first time all primary school children will be offered the nasal spray vaccine.
People who are eligible for the NHS flu vaccine this year include:
· Those aged 65 and over
· Those aged 6 months to 64 with a long-term health condition
· Children aged 2-3 (on 31 August 2019) via their GP practice
· School children in years reception, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6
· Pregnant women
· Health and social care workers
Flu is not just a bad cold, it can be a killer. You can find all the details you need about the vaccine, plus where to get yours, on the NHS website by clicking here.
Census Bill Passes,
Just before the longest parliamentary session for 400 years came to an end one final bill completed its passage on Monday night.
The bill sought to allow any questions on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation in the 2021 Census to be asked on a voluntary basis, rather than be compulsory as most other questions in the census are. This reflects the provisions made when a question on religion was added in 2001.
I was the bill minister guiding it through the House of Commons and you can listen to the speech I gave by clicking here.
Ageing Well Festival
The Ageing Well Festival is an annual celebration, marking International Day of Older Persons celebrating ageing and promoting the concept of growing older in Torbay.
This year’s festival will be taking place on Saturday 19th October, 10am-5pm, at the Riviera International Centre, Torquay. There will be a fantastic line up of dance, music, talks, pampering and fashion, exercise and relaxation.
You can find out more by clicking here.
and finally……Shelling Out For Physio.
Ending on a lighter note many of us will often reach for a heat pack to ease aches and pains, with a visit to the physio if something more serious is wrong.
35-year-old Sophie, who weighs 16 stone and lives in Paignton, has been under the weather recently, causing her to lose muscle and strength in her legs. To help a physiotherapist has been helping treat her and ensure she can come out of her shell.
This all sounds very normal, except for the fact Sophie is an Aldabra giant tortoise. You can read more about her rather unique treatment program on Paignton Zoo’s website by clicking here.
Hopefully the physio will do a good job as Sophie’s breed can live to the ripe old age of 200!!!!!
Police Numbers and CCTV Boost
There were two crime fighting boosts in our bay this week.
The first was confirmation Devon & Cornwall will be allocated 141 of the first tranche of 6,000 police officers being recruited under the target to recruit 20,000 extra officers over three years. These officers will be recruited in 2020-21 .
All officers recruited as part of the 20,000 uplift will be additional to those hired to fill existing vacancies. They will also be in addition to the extra police officers being recruited under the budget plans agreed by local Police & Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez which was already seeing officer numbers increase to 3,100.
Government funding for recruitment in 2020-21 will cover all associated costs, including training and kit.
A new CCTV system also went live in Torbay this week following a £420,000 investment by Torbay Council and our PCC. The Torbay system is the first of its kind in Devon and replaces ageing analogue cameras and wiring with state-of-the-art, high resolution digital equipment. The mostly wireless network now consists of more than 300 cameras and includes cover in areas where previously there was none.
On Wednesday Government Ministers were asked to visit forces across the country to discuss the new resources. Given my Wales Office role I was asked to join officers on patrol in Cardiff to talk about their work.
Artizan Gallery 7 Lucius Street ‘The Hidden View’ Rosemary Bonney, Diana Booth and Ann Chester King show their latest work of contrasting, harmonising and distictive styles featuring the Devon Landscape. Tuesday – Friday 11 am – 6 pm Saturday 10 am – 6 pm. Runs until 19th October.
Artizan Collective Unit 5 74 Fleet Walk ‘Autumn Showcase’ Join us at our pop-up venue on Fleet Walk to view paintings, photography, ceramics and sculpture from some of Devon’s finest artists. Wednesday – Sunday 11 am – 4 pm
Monday 14th October onward – Coffee and Conversation get together, every Monday. They will be in the new big coffee shop in Brunswick Square from 10am
Thursday 17 October – The Blue Walnut Film Club (Walnut Road, Chelston) are showing Touch Of Evil on . Doors open at 1930 for a film start at 2000. Non members very welcome (£6). Please ring 01803-392522 to reserve your place
On until 19th October // Tuesday-Friday: 11:00-18:00 // Saturday: 10:00-18:00 // The Hidden View Feat: works of Rosemary Bonney, Diana Booth and Ann Chester King. Three accomplished Devon artists come together to show their latest work of contrasting, harmonising and distinctive styles featuring the Devon landscape.
For more information visit https://www.art-hub.co.uk/oct19
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).
Wednesday 30th October at 10.30 – Wellswood branch of the Torbay Hospital League of Friends will be holding a fundraising Coffee Morning at the Imperial Hotel on . Liz Davenport, Chief Executive of the Torbay and South Devon Healthcare Trust, will be speaking about the future plans for healthcare in our area. Tea/Coffee (with top-ups) will be served together with Danish pastries. Please buy your tickets in advance from Lynne and Shirley, click here for full details.. The group has just raised £1.3m for the latest Cancer detection equipment and would be very grateful for your support.
Every Monday Noon until 2-pm (Soup from Noon) – Snack and Natter is in the Coverdale Centre, Church Path, Paignton. We are also looking for volunteers to come along and help out, either at Snack & Natter or Christ Church. Please call Anita 07895925785 for more information – for more info click here .
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.
The Corn Centre –
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 2nd November, 11am – 1pm @ The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET
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.