|Some local nes courtesey of Kevin Foster.|
As the world marks 50 years since man first set foot upon the moon, it is time for my latest update.
My week started with my regular advice surgery, this time at Torquay Library. Several residents attended to discuss issues ranging from
housing problems to disability issues. I always aim to keep my surgeries
focused on hearing from residents who are being affected by specific
issues, with the feedback being helpful in terms of then raising with
colleagues in Government points relating to specific policies.
Later on Saturday I visited Peekaboo Childcare in Shiphay to talk with the owner, Mrs Morton, about the issues her industry is facing. These ranged from the amount providers are paid as part of the 30 hour free childcare scheme, to the level of business rates independent nurseries can be
forced to pay. It was also interesting to hear how she has sought to make her nursery a special place for the children who use it.
Saturday evening brought with it the colour and excitement of the Feast
of St Alphonsa at Holy Angels Church, Chelston. I was joined by Torbay
Councillors Hazel Foster and Nicole Amil as the colourful procession
headed along Queensway, then back to the Church Hall for a home
cooked curry afterwards.
On Sunday evening I was invited down to Torquay Marina to see a litter
pick with a difference. “Plastic Patrol” is a national initiative to not just
pick up, but record plastic litter\pollution on our coastline and in
waterways. Not content with just a seaside litter pick the team at We S
up organised a paddle boarding clear up session around the Harbour .
You can find out more about Plastic Patrol by clicking here.
Sunday night saw me head up to Westminster ahead of a busy week in
Parliament. Whilst the view at Dawlish is always breath-taking, it was
made even better by seeing the progress being made on the new sea wall.
Whilst in parliament I focus my time on issues affecting our bay and
discharging my duties as a Minister. This ensures I can get out and about campaigning at weekends, plus ensure there is time to get my regular update written each week. I cover below a couple of issues I have been
involved with, including the reason Carl (Bottom Right) was so happy
when I bumped into him whilst walking home from the station last night.
I returned to the bay just in time to catch yesterday evening’s
performance of Agatha Christie’s “Black Coffee” at the Palace Theatre.
The performance is superb and keeps you guessing right up to the last
moment. It has a week left to run and you can get your tickets by clicking here.
Today I was out and about in the bay visiting two schools, Coombe
Pafford and Upton St James. It was good to speak with pupils about my
work and to hear some inspiring tales of work being done by the staff at the schools to make a difference to so many young lives.
Finally this afternoon I paid a visit to what was once a vital facility in
Chelston, but now feels a bit lonely.
More on this below along with this week’s update which includes: Fire Cover Campaign, Corbyn Head Hotel Development, Preston Crossing Campaign, Council Backs Plan To Sell Land For Housing, Campaigning Spirit Lives On, Mental Health Support For Schools, Two Bay Green Spaces Scoop Awards, Census Bill Debate, Roman Legion Marches In, TUST Newsletter, Brixham Road Roadworks and finally……..Duchess The Elephant Passes On.
Fire Cover Campaign,
The campaign against proposals to cut Torbay’s Fire Cover is continuing.
Earlier today I headed to Paignton Fire Station for a meeting with Fire
Brigades Union (FBU) Representatives to discuss the proposals and the
campaign against them. The meeting provided a range of useful
information and it was good to hear the FBU’s detailed analysis of where the plans have failed to consider key information. Local Councillors were also present and we discussed how South Devon’s Councils could agree a motion formally opposing them.
A consultation by the Fire Authority on these proposals is already underway online and you can find full details of it, plus leave your own
comments, by clicking here. I would encourage all update readers to
respond to it.
A series of public exhibitions on the plans is also taking place. Two will
be held in our bay: Torquay Library, Monday 5th August 2019 from 11am-3pm and Paignton Library, Great Western Rd, Paignton TQ4 5AG on Tuesday 3rd September from 2-6pm.
Finally I understand members of the FBU will be in Victoria St, Paignton
tomorrow (Saturday 20th July) from 10am collecting signatures on their
petition against the closures. I would encourage residents to support the FBU’s campaign and you can also sign online by clicking here.
Corbyn Head Hotel Development,
A further Planning Application has been submitted for a new Corbyn
Head Hotel, with its proposed height reduced by just 1m after an earlier
scheme was rejected by Councillors for being too high.
The latest application suggests a height of 20m at its highest point, rather than 21m as in the scheme rejected in June. Overall the latest scheme is
very similar to the one rejected, which makes it unusual to see it
resubmitted so quickly. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking
You can read the full Planning Documents and leave a comment on them via Torbay Council’s website. Just click here to find the relevant page.
Preston Crossing Campaign,
As mentioned above last night I bumped into Carl who has been
campaigning for a new pedestrian crossing on Torquay Road in Preston.
Earlier this year I joined Preston Cllrs Dave Thomas, Lynn Sykes and
Chris Lewis, plus hundreds of residents, in signing a petition calling for
action. All too often pedestrians crossing near Pembroke Surgery can find themselves nearly caught out when crossing the road by a vehicle in the
outside lane overtaking stationary traffic on the inside lane.
The Full Council voted to request a senior council officer consider a
business case for a pedestrian crossing on Torquay Road, Preston, along with other proposed schemes, and to delegate any specific capital spend
to the same officer.
This is good news and my thanks also go to Cllr Mike Morey the
relevant Cabinet Member on the Council for helping take this forward.
Council Backs Plan To Sell Land For Housing,
Last night Torbay’s Full Council Meeting backed plans for the sale of land owned by Torbay Council on Preston Down Road and at Collaton St Mary for housing and for a development partner to be identified.
An amendment was suggested by Cllr David Thomas (Preston) and Cllr
John Thomas (Collaton St Mary) which would have deferred a decision
until after engagement work with the community. This was voted down by the two groups which form the administration of the council.
The vote formally delegated power to the Council’s Chief Executive to
agree the final terms of the sale.
You can read the papers considered by Councillors by clicking here.
Campaigning Spirit Lives On,
A much-missed figure in Torbay politics is Roger Stringer who for many
years represented Watcombe on Torbay Council and sadly died in 2017.
Yet Roger’s campaigning spirit was shared by his wife Shelagh, who this week took on a national company in relation to a guarantee on a bed
Roger had bought whilst still alive. Unsurprisingly for anyone who knows her, the national retail chain had to back down!!
You can read the full story on Devon Live by clicking here.
Mental Health Support For Schools,
There was welcome news this week in relation to children and young
people in Torquay and Paignton benefiting from additional mental health support.
It has been announced all schools and colleges in Torbay will be offered mental health training as part of the Government’s commitment to
providing more joined up care.
The mental health training announced is backed by £9.3 million of Govt
Funding nationally and will be provided through workshops which bring together school and college staff and NHS professionals. All schools will
have access to training over the next four years.
The announcement is part of the Government’s wider programme to
support young people’s mental health, which includes an additional £1.4 billion investment and the introduction of compulsory health education
lessons from 2020.
With half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders beginning by the age of 14, bridging the gap between education and NHS services is vital if we are to ensure all children get the best possible start in life.
Two Bay Green Spaces Scoop Awards,
Princess Gardens, including Royal Terrace Gardens, and Babbacombe
Downs have been recognised by the Green Flag Award Scheme as some of the very best green spaces in the world.
These two green spaces are among a record-breaking 1,970 UK parks and green spaces and 131 in thirteen other countries around the world that
have received a prestigious Green Flag Award – the mark of a quality
park or green space.
This Award now means the Torquay Harbour and seafront area is the
only place in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset to be awarded a Blue Flag
for its beach, a Purple Flag for the evening and night-time economy
around the Harbour and a Green Flag for its green space.
The Green Flag international award, which is now into its third decade, is a sign the space boasts the highest possible environmental standards, is
beautifully maintained and has excellent visitor facilities
Census Bill Debate,
The next Census will take place in March 2021, but given the scale of the
task preparations are already well underway.
On Wednesday I summed up for the Government on the Second Reading of a bill I have been guiding through parliament in relation to two
questions which will be added to the Census for the first time, Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity.
Information on these two areas have been requested by some local
authorities and health authorities to enable better planning of services. As a result the Office for National Statistics, which oversees the Census, has recommended they be included. Yet all agreed, including groups
representing the LGBT Community, these should be answered on a
It is compulsory to take part in the Census and currently the only optional question is the one on Religion first introduced in 2001. The Bill I am
presenting to Parliament would alter the law to allow questions on these two areas to also be undertaken on a voluntary basis, other new
questions, including a proposed one on Military Service aimed at identifying veterans, will be compulsory. The final Census Questions will be
decided by Parliament later this year.
The debate on the bill was fairly short and you can listen to my speech on it by clicking here.
Roman Legion Marches In,
The Romans are coming to Torquay Museum
March down tomorrow (Saturday 20th July) for a Family fun day from 10am-4pm where you can meet Roman Soldiers from the Legio Secunda
Avgvsta in full armour and handle replica weapons under the
supervision of the soldiers.
There will also be craft activities from 10.30am-12.30pm & 1.30pm-3.30pm where you can make a Roman shield and dagger to take home.
I am advised there is a flat £5 rate for this event and annual return tickets are not valid.
As the new season approaches Gulls Fans across the bay will be hoping
TUFC can make it a double promotion and get themselves back in the Football League!!
You can find all the dates for your diary on the official TUFC website by
clicking hereand every voice at Plainmoor can make a real difference.
The Torquay United Supporters Trust is also continuing its work and you can reads its July Newsletter by clicking here.
Brixham Road Roadworks,
The end is finally in sight for some of Paignton’s most persistent traffic
jams as the works on Brixham Road near completion.
The new permanent traffic signals at the junction of Brixham Road and
Yalberton Road have now been turned on and all lanes heading
towards Tweenaway are open! All lanes are also now open from
Tweenaway to Sainsbury’s, but while workers finish the pavement the
inside lane from Sainsburys to Wilkins Drive will be closed.
As the work concludes this closure will be reduced and all works will be
completed by the end of the month (Fingers crossed).
and finally……..Duchess The Elephant Passes On.
Ending on a sad note it was the end of an era for many as one of
Paignton’s most popular residents and regular subject of “and finally….”, Duchess the Elephant, died.
The great matriarch of Paignton Zoo had been a favourite of many since
she first arrived in 1977 from Longleat Safari Park. She arrived at
Paignton Zoo along with a female Asian elephant called Gay. Sadly Gay
had to be put to sleep by the Zoo vets in March 2010 because of a
Duchess collapsed in her house early on Sunday morning, having shown no signs of illness the night before. Despite a determined and extended
response from her keepers, the in-house vet team and other staff and
volunteers, she sadly did not recover.
Like many bay residents I have memories of seeing Duchess and the
other elephants at the Zoo, including a memorable trip in my Primary
School days. A book to share your memories of her has been opened at
the Zoo. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.
The Zoo has confirmed it will not be seeking to acquire any more
That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.
Now until 31 August – Green Heart Project. As the Green Heart Project reaches completion in June visit this exhibition showcasing the projects’ fantastic achievements from the very start in 2015. Meeting point: Cockington Visitor Centre, Cockington Village TQ2 6XA – Price: FREE – Suitable for: All Ages – Exhibition open 10.00am – 4.00pm daily.
Tuesday 23 July: The Torbay & District Branch of Parkinson’s UK are holding an Open Afternoon and Cream Tea at the Esplanade Hotel, Paignton 2pm-4pm. Anyone with Parkinson’s, their loved ones and friends are welcome to come and learn more about us and how we might help you cope with this condition”.
Saturday 27th July Classic Car show – St Martin’s, Barton from 11am in the Church Grounds. Free entry with a range of classic cars on show and a model railway exhibition in the Church Hall. The Church will be open for visits with floral displays inspired by the song “My Favourite Things”. Cream Teas, BBQ and Raffle on offer.
Saturday 3rd August from 10am – 4pm, Harry Potter birthday celebration at the Torquay Museum. They anticipate there being high demand for this event so visitors can pre-book their tickets for the Harry Potter Birthday Celebration Day on Eventbrite to avoid disappointment or buy your tickets on the day at Torquay Museum for £5 each. Click here for more details.
Every Wednesday night through to 25th September, BMAD, Paignton Esplanade, gates open 6pm. Raising funds for sick, disabled and under privileged children in the TQ area. (Not 31st July but Thursday 1st Aug due to Paignton Carnival.)
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 email@example.com.
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 hereto 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 firstname.lastname@example.org so it can be included.
Friday 2nd August, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ
Saturday 10th August, 11am – 1pm @ Torquay Library, Lymington Road, Torquay TQ1 3DT.
Saturday 17th August, 11am – 1pm @ Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, Preston TQ3 2RB.
Friday 30th August, 3pm – 5pm @ Age UK, 12c Dendy Road, Paignton TQ4 5DB.
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.