Kevin Foster’s Residents’ Update 14th February 2020


Dear All,

After a very varied week weather wise it is time for my latest update.

This week’s update is below and includes: £3.7m Seed Funding For Hospital Rebuild Plan, Council Funding Settlement, Torbay Council Budget Approved, Three Weekly Bins, Cash for projects to improve health across Torbay, Bus Funding, Occombe Festival Cancelled, Urgent Question, Home Office Question Time, Immigration Debate, Cash In The Pocket Park, Resurfacing work in Torbay in February and finally……..Picking Up A New Language.

£3.7m Seed Funding For Hospital Rebuild Plan,

There was a further boost for a major rebuild of facilities at Torbay Hospital as the Secretary of State for Health confirmed to me £3.7m of seed funding has been allocated to the trust for it.

This funding is designed to support work drawing up plans for what will be the largest investment in our local NHS for decades. The rebuild of facilities at the Hospital, under the second phase of the Health Infrastructure Plan, include some of the buildings which date back to the 1920’s when the Hospital first opened on the site.

The scale of the seed funding is welcome and ensures work to prepare for this major project will not take resources away from continuing to provide day to day services.

Council Funding Settlement,

The Government has confirmed the final funding settlement for local councils.

Councils across the country, including Torbay, will receive a share of £49.2 billion of local government funding this year, a 4.4 per cent real terms increase and the largest year-on-year real terms increase in a decade. When combined with allowed increases in Council Tax and the Scoial care Precept this means Torbay Councils Core Spending Power has risen from £119.1m for 2019/20 to £127.7m for 2020/21, a rise of 7.2%.

The latest Local Government Finance Settlement also includes an additional £1.5 billion for social care. When added to the existing social care package, local councils will now have access to over £5.5 billion of dedicated funding across adult and children’s social care in 2020-21.

Local authorities will also be rewarded for building new homes, with another £907 million committed to the New Homes Bonus scheme for 2020-21.

Torbay Council Budget Approved,

The Council’s final budget proposals for 2020/21 were considered at a meeting of all 36 of Torbay’s Councillors held last night (13th February).

Several objections were raised by opposition Councillors, but all were voted down by the two groups which form the ruling administration. The proposed Capital Plan of £143 million for 2020/21 was also approved at the same meeting.

Torbay Council’s Capital Plan totals £394 million for the four-year programme to 31 March 2023, with £125 million scheduled to have been spent in 2019/2020 and £143 million due to be spent in 2020/21. 

There is a wide range of schemes and projects expected to be undertaken in 2020/21.  Investment of £44m towards supporting thriving people and communities including the development of affordable housing, expansion of pupil places in Paignton and, subject to progress, the redevelopment of Crossways.

Investment of £30m to support a thriving economy including Regeneration Fund projects, industrial units at Claylands, the Riviera International Conference Centre and the final payments in relation to South Devon Highway.  Purchasing of commercial properties will continue with £65m expected to be spent in the next year. The 2020/21 budget estimates a £5.1m surplus to support council services.

Final Council Tax levels will be fixed later this month after the Police and Fire Precepts have been set.

Three Weekly Bins,

One issue bound to raise plenty of debate is the Council’s decision, by a vote of 18 to 16, to pursue the introduction of a three-weekly collection of residual waste bins.

The Council’s leadership has indicated it wishes to explore this system to boost recycling rates across Torbay. The theory being collecting the residual bin only once every three weeks would force more householders to fully sort their waste into recycling containers. The system would not be introduced into every part of Torbay, especially where there is higher density housing, and a pilot will take place. Many residents already have their bin collected once a fortnight

This proposal is not one I support and raises several issues. If you were away the week your bin was due to be collected, this proposal would mean a six-week gap between it being emptied. If increasing recycling is the goal then areas which potentially have some of the lowest rates will be those where the system would cause real difficulties, such as some Town Centre areas.

The debate will go on and I suspect many residents will not be happy to see this change made, although ultimately Councillors will make the final decision on it.

Cash for projects to improve health across Torbay

The 11 schemes from the voluntary sector and community groups will receive £180,000 from the Better Care Fund.

The awards are being made under a joint initiative between Torbay Council and the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust. The projects include community groups in areas of deprivation, organisations focused on healthy eating and skills, homelessness, support with benefits for isolated people, good neighbour support groups and a scheme related to hospital discharge and the use of volunteers.

You can find more details on Devon Live by clicking here.

Bus Funding,

The Government has announced £30 million extra bus funding to be paid direct to local councils to enable them to improve current bus services or restore lost services.

The money was part of an overall package of funding for buses worth £220 million. I am advised the funding for Councils is intended for improving current services and restoring lost services where they’re needed most. You can read more on the Government website by clicking here.

I look forward to hearing how Torbay Council will spend its allocation, especially in terms of restoring the 65 service to places like Babbacombe and Hele.

Occombe Festival Cancelled,

The festival has been going on for 14 years but is ‘taking a break’ this year.

This is due to the planned regeneration of Occombe Farm where the festival takes place. Building will be over the period when the event normally takes places meaning the barn and farmyard would be unavailable for use. The team behind the festival are not saying never again, just not this year.

The regeneration of Occombe Farm includes having an indoor and outdoor play area, a bigger farm shop and an improved café.

Cash In The Pocket Park,

There was good news for the Friends of Upton Park this week as an application for Pocket Parks funding has been successful. It means that they will receive £25,000 of funding to providing the new play area on the old netball courts.

In recent years several improvements have been made to the park, for example the installation of lighting and the creation of the Galaxy Play Area, so this new funding will help continue to build and refresh this much needed community open space.

Pocket Parks grants are funding, from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, aimed to help communities in England transform unloved, neglected or derelict areas into new green spaces.

Anyone who has an interest in the Park can become a member of the friends for the modest sum of £2. Just click here for more information.

Resurfacing work in Torbay in February,

Resurfacing work will be taking place in a number of areas of Torbay in late February.

At the end of this month, there will be reconstruction works on Babbacombe Road, Torquay between lower Warberry Road and Old Torwood Road.

And finally……..Picking Up A New Language.

Ending on a lighter note one Torquay resident has been learning more of their native tongue this week with the help of a few recordings.

Yet there is a twist to the tale as the language being learned is not French, German or Spanish, but Penguin……

Keepers at Torquay’s coastal zoo are playing digital recordings of the zoo’s colony of African penguins during feeding times while a Penguin Chick is being hand-reared away from the other birds. The sounds help get the chick used to the complex din of a penguin colony and forge an association between penguin noise and food, basically helping it to pick up Penguin phrases.

You can learn more on the Zoo’s website by clicking here.

That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.

Best Wishes,


Public Meeting on Brunel Surgery Changes

Over recent weeks many residents have been speaking out over proposals to merge the services provided by Brunel Medical Practice on one site, the former Magistrate’s Court in Union Street.

The practice currently operates from three buildings located in Shiphay, Babbacombe and St Marychurch. 

The plans would see the former Courtrooms, associated offices and the former Civil Defence Bunker in the basement converted into treatment rooms, waiting areas and a range of necessary support services. She advised they have had an offer to purchase the building, which has been vacant since the court closed, accepted.  
I am advised the 10,000 patients at the Practice should have received either a text or a letter in the post alerting them to the proposals, with a survey of patients being undertaken. Final approval will be needed from the local Clinical Commissioning Group who commissions on behalf of the NHS the services provided by the practice.

The St Marychurch & District Community Partnership has arranged a public meeting to hear from representatives of the practice and discuss concerns about the proposals for the Babbacombe and St Marychurch Services. It will be held on Tuesday 25th February at 7pm at the Precinct Centre, St Marychurch.
Friday 21st February from 11am till 11pm – Local MENCAP ‘Rock around the clock’ Charity event at Boots & Laces, Plainmoor, Kind invitation of Torquay United. Entry by donation (sponsors free). Enquiries to 01803 698377 or click on
Wednesday 26th February from 10am till 12pm –  RNLI Torbay Lifeboat coffee morning @ The Birdcage, Bolton Cross, Brixham.  Raffle and home-made cakes available. For more details click on this link

Saturday 7th March 12 – 3pm raising money for Path Torbay –  Jumble and Craft Sale on in Paignton Methodist Church Hall. for more details click here.

Saturday 7th March  – The Male Trail, Rowcroft’s men-only event is back for 2020!
Once again, we’re calling upon the men of South Devon to do their bit to support their local hospice involving pints, pasties and watching the 6 Nations with your mates – all in the name of charity!

This 8-mile charity walk kicks off at 11.00 on Saturday 7th March with a Hakka warm up, ready for an 11.30 start from Torquay Rugby Club. The Male Trail takes in some stunning views of Torbay from the South West Coast Path as well as over 20 conveniently located watering holes (what a coincidence!).

Thursday 12th March –   Hot Rocks And High Places: Hair-Raising Stories Of Filming On Location With The BBC And Blue Peter – for full details click on this link.

Thursday 12th March @ 2.15pm at Peter Larkin Hall, St Matthias Church, Babbacombe Road, Torquay TQ1 1HW. Tim Mirfin presents “The Opera Singer’s Phenomenon”. Tickets are £8 for further details call 01803 311648 or click here 

Every Monday Noon until 2pm (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

Every Wednesday from 10.30am until 1.30pm throughout February we will be screening a selection of film’s suitable for parents with babies.  The ‘Big Scream’ Parent and Baby Club at The Blue Walnut Cafe Bar & Cinema. Come along and relax with your babe in arms every Wednesday throughout February in our centrally heated 23 seat vintage micro-cinema.

Come early and enjoy breakfast or pop in for an hour to pass some time before lunch, it’s totally up to you. Please note that this film club is only for parents and guardians accompanying babes in arms as the cinema is not toddler proof. Booking in advance is advised. If you would like to come along please call us on 01803 392522 to reserve your seats.

Every Tuesday & Wednesday (10:45 – 12 noon) – Lectures at Torquay Museum 529 Babbac ombe Road, Torquay, Devon, TQ1 1HG –
Lectures are free to TMSM, & cost £5 to Non-Members on the door!
For more details click here.

Every Thursday from 11:00am to 2:00pm (except 27 Feb)
Knit & natter at Brunel Manor, Teignmouth Road, TQ1 4SF, with tea room open for light refreshments. For more information 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 new Programme that has just come out for 2020.

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 so it can be included.

Thanks to Kevin Foster for allowing us to to display parts of this Residents Update, a fuller version can be found on his website.

Author: StLukesRA

St Luke's Residents' Association

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