17th January 2019
by stlukesranews
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Torbay Council Consultation

Torbay Council has launched a community governance review to decide whether new town councils should be set up in those parts of Torbay where they don’t currently exist and whether any other changes should be made to the arrangements for parishes/town councils.

A consultation exercise is now underway until 15 March 2019 and all local people, businesses and organisations are invited to let Torbay Council know their views. The Council will consider all comments submitted before publishing its draft recommendations, which will then be the subject of a further round of public consultation.

The review must be completed within one year and any resulting decisions to set up new town council(s) or make other changes would take effect from April 2020.

There will be social media publicity and press releases issued throughout this consultation.

Web content at www.torbay.gov.uk/communitygr<http://www.torbay.gov.uk/communitygr> will provide all details of this review and a link to a consultation feedback form allowing people the opportunity to submit their comments.

14th January 2019
by stlukesranews
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Kevin Foster MP for Torbay Residents’ Update: Friday 11th January 2019

After a week when the schools and parliament went back it is time for my latest update.

My week started last Saturday heading out in Watcombe with local resident Martin Brook. Some will know him through his work with the Torbay Holiday Helpers Network and having stood in the Elected Mayor Election in 2015. He wanted to discuss with me his concerns about the local environment and how it can be improved. We also helped reunite a stray dog with its owner.

Following this meeting I headed over to St Marychurch to formally open the new Diverse Fitness Gym.within the community hub of St Marychurch situated opposite Sainsbury’s. I was joined by local celebrities Ian and Janette Tough (the Krankies) and Cllr Ray Hill, with us even giving some of the Gym equipment a go.

Saturday afternoon saw me out on the doorsteps in Cockington talking to residents and conducting a short survey. It is a welcome change to the conversations in Parliament to hear directly from residents who would not normally get in touch with me. The issues raised included everything from Brexit to suggestions of a new Stadium for Torquay United.

Sunday saw me head up to London ahead of a busy and hectic week with Wednesday also seeing the resumption of the most significant debate in parliament for many years, with parliament debating Government Business on a Friday for the first time since my election. I cover this and many other issues discussed in parliament this week below.

Wednesday also saw a visit to Westminster by the Parents of Alice Sloman, who met Health Minister Stephen Hammond to discuss their campaign for basic heart checks to be routine before those children with existing conditions receive a general anesthetic.

One constant over the last two years has been protestors making their point strongly, but peacefully, outside parliament. I have on many occasions walked past Pro and Anti-Brexit protestors happily making their points side by side. Yet in recent weeks this has taken a more sinister turn with a small number of people threatening, harassing and intimidating not just MPs, but staff members, visitors and even just pedestrians walking by.

I therefore joined dozens of MPs, on a cross-party basis, in writing to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner calling on her to review law enforcement outside Parliament. Free speech cannot exist in the face of football hooligan style behaviour being ignored, hence our call for action.

I caught the train back home to our bay on Friday, with home being a welcome sight after all the issues faced at Westminster this week!!!!

This week’s update is below: Bins, Corbyn Head Hotel Planning Application, Goodrington Roadworks, Long Term NHS Plan, Dawlish Rail Resilience, Universal Credit, Royal Marines Basing Arrangements, Hi-Tech Business Funding, Police Precept Survey, Wellswood & Torwood CP Meeting, Devon Record Breaker Bigger Than Nelson’s Column, Kev’s Column: High St Fund and finally……… Open Wide and Say “GRR…”

Bins, 

I was invited onto BBC Radio Devon this morning following a stream of complaints from constituents about missed bin collections.

Echoing the concerns of a local resident also interviewed on the show, I agreed the service currently provided is unacceptable and the Council should act urgently to implement a solution. The fault does not lie with the hardworking frontline staff making the collections, but with the management of the service and the type of vehicles used to make collections.

Torbay Council’s current contract with the Kier group runs until 2020. I strongly feel this should be reconsidered urgently to ensure residents in Torbay receive the service they expect. I spoke last night with Cllr Dave Thomas, the Leader of the Conservative Group on Torbay Council, who will be raising questions about this with the Mayoral Administration of the Council.

If you have experienced a missed refuse collection, I would be happy to raise this directly with Tor2. Just contact my office on 01803 214989 or at kevin@kevinjfoster.com.

To listen to my comments on the radio this morning, click here and fast forward the programme to 55.40.

Corbyn Head Hotel Planning Application, 

A consultation is underway on a Planning Application for a major new hotel on the site of the Corbyn Head Hotel in Livermead.

The application would see the existing building demolished and a 177 bedroom hotel built in its place. Whilst the site needs regeneration many residents have got in touch with the council expressing concern over the proposed height.

You can see all the details and submit your comments to Torbay Council on the Planning Application on their website by clicking here.

Goodrington Roadworks,

After being contacted by many residents concerned about delays to the road widening project on the A3022 Brixham Road, which has been front page news in this week’s local paper, I have sought reassurances and an update report from Torbay Councils Head of Highways that everything possible is being done to ‘get the job done’ as quickly as possible.

I understand due to the delay, caused by moving of key gas and other utility pipes, it has been decided to reschedule the starting on the next phase along Goodrington Road, to make sure traffic congestion is kept to a minimum. The work on Goodrington Road was due to commence at the end of January / beginning of February and residents had received letters notifying them of this.

I have asked the Head of Highways to keep me updated on further developments, so I can keep residents up to speed.

Whilst I welcome the total investment of around £11m for the ‘Western Corridor Improvement’ and the benefits it will eventually deliver in reducing traffic congestion, Torbay Council must not lose sight of minimizing the disruption and completing the job as quickly as possible.

Long Term NHS Plan, 

This week the Government launched its Long-Term Plan for the NHS.

The publication of the plan follows the announcement last year the NHS would receive £20.5 billion extra by 2023-24. In return, the NHS was asked to develop a plan for how to spend this additional funding to transform patient care and make sure every penny of taxpayers’ money is spent wisely.

The plan is based on a new focus on prevention, keeping people out of hospital by improving their health and investing £4.5 billion in primary and community care, supporting GPs, health visitors and community nurses.

MPs debated the launch of the plan on Monday and I questioned the Health Secretary about the need to ensure those needing Mental Health Services were no longer sent to placements outside our county for the care they need.

You can read my question and the Minister’s answer by clicking here.

Dawlish Rail Resilience, 

This week I questioned the Rail Minister, Andrew Jones MP, on what work the government is doing to ensure the resilience of CrossCountry services west of Exeter.

I noted the regular issues rail users experience on their services due to a well-known fault with CrossCountry’s rolling stock, as well as the ongoing problems on the stretch of line at Dawlish.

When raising this with the Minister, I asked what future requirements there will be for rolling stock which can cope with the conditions at Dawlish, along with how the work currently being carried out at Dawlish to improve the resilience of the line will seek to resolve this long-standing problem.

I was pleased to hear the Minister again describe work to improve the resilience of the line at Dawlish as a ‘national priority’ and reference how projects are currently underway to repair four existing breakwaters in the area. Yet there is still more work to be done in starting work on a major project being designed by Network Rail to guarantee its long-term future.

Securing rail services west of Exeter are key to ensuring Devon and Cornwall are not isolated from the rest of the UK. The Minister highlighted how improving the resilience of the rail line sends an important message the South West is ‘Open for Business’.

I will continue to work within Parliament with colleagues from across the political divide to secure the vital long-term investment our rail network needs.

Universal Credit, 

Universal Credit has been in the news this week following announcements relating to the migration of claimants from existing benefits to the new system.

The first announcement confirmed a pilot would be undertaken involving 10,000 claimants to ensure the system proposed was correct and able to ensure those in receipt of the new benefit received the help they needed. This was discussed by MPs on Tuesday and I asked about how this pilot would be monitored. You can read my question and the Minister’s response by clicking here.

The second announcement today covered the two child limit and pilot schemes to provide more frequent payments for new claimants, a new online system for private landlords and a more flexible approach to childcare provisions. You can read today’s statement by clicking here.

Universal Credit was rolled out to Torbay last year with new claimants now applying for it rather than a host of previous benefits. If you or someone you know is having a problem with it do get in touch as I have a specially trained caseworker in my office who will be happy to help.

Royal Marines Basing Arrangements, 

The Royal Marines have a proud history serving our country, with bases in our area providing vital support to their operations.

South Devon has always been a place the Royal Marines call home, with many proud veterans of the service, plus future Marines, call home. Yet whilst reflecting on their past is a lesson in excellence and professional soldiering, housing these elite troops in Barracks dating back over 300 years is not.

Whilst the Stonehouse Barracks in Plymouth are described as the Royal Marines spiritual home outdated facilities, coupled with the limitations of operating from a base where the sole jetty is accessed under the bows of Cross Channel Ferries, now need urgent replacement.  Similarly, the iconic Royal Citadel where Commando Artillery is based has a major issue, some modern artillery vehicles cannot fit through the main entrance.

The need to replace these historic barracks has been identified, but there needs to be firm details about plans for new facilities to replace them. Plymouth Labour MP Luke Pollard secured a debate about this issue on Wednesday and I attended to support the calls being made for certainty.

As it was a short debate I could only make a brief intervention, but you can read this and the rest of the comments made by clicking here.

Hi-Tech Business Funding, 

On Tuesday I questioned the Minister for Business and Industry, Richard Harrington MP, on what support his Department can offer to help boost Torbay’s hi-tech sector.

Paignton’s £8m EPIC Centre received funding from central government and will open later this year, boosting Torbay’s electronics and photonics industry. I was keen to enquire what further support Torbay may receive in the future for developing our hi-tech sector.

I was pleased to hear the Minister confirm his Department will continue to work closely with the Heart of South West Local Enterprise Partnership to identify strengths within our region and future opportunities for increased productivity, including from the photonics sector.

You can read my question and the Minister’s response by clicking here.

Police Precept Survey, 

Our local Police and Crime Commissioner is asking residents if they would be prepared to pay around 40p a week more to fund improvements to policing, including 85 more officers.

Currently most households in the region contribute less than £3.20 a week to pay for policing through the council tax precept. Alison Hernandez, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, has now launched a poll to establish whether people would ‘pay more to get more’ for the 2019-20 financial year.

A rise of 41p a week for a Band C property (most households in the force area are Band C or below) would allow the force to recruit 85 officers by the end of 2020, taking the force strength to 3,100 officers.

You can read more and take part in the poll on Alison’s website by clicking here.

Wellswood & Torwood CP Meeting, 

Issues ranging from local Policing to major developments in the area will be on the Agenda for the next General Meeting of the Wellswood and Torwood Community Partnership.

All residents living in the area are welcome to attend the meeting which will be held on Thursday (17th January 2019) at St. Matthias Church Hall from 7pm – 9pm.

Torquay Town Centre CP Meeting

Will also be meeting at the Torbay Community Develeopment Trust Offices on Temperance Street on Wednesday 16th January 7 – 9 pm

Agenda 

Welcome, notices, introductions

 A presentation, Ageingwell, By Jess Slade.

Minutes of the November Meeting and a report on deliberations at the Christmas Party. 

Item” A” A report on the BT phone box at the top of Abbey road, Possible purchase and conversion to an advertising Hub. Mrs Tracey Cabash will undertake enquiries.

Item “B” To raise monies for the purchase of Defibrillators for the Town Centre

Financial report

Planning Issues

Licensing Issues.

 A O B 

Devon Record Breaker Bigger Than Nelson’s Column, 

This week saw a record-breaking discovery made in Sidmouth, which if stood on one end would be higher than Nelson’s Column, but sadly it is not one the town will be boasting about.

The 64 metre “fatberg”, a disgusting mix of hardened fat, oils and wet-wipes, the size of six double decker buses, was discovered lurking in a sewer. All caused by some residents ignoring advice about what should, or in this case should not, be flushed down the toilet or poured in a drain. If stood on one end it would be higher than Nelson’s Column.

An epic clean-up is now underway which it is estimated will cost South West Water £130,000. In many cases the only effective way of clearing this type of obstruction is to dig it out by hand.

You can see video footage of this grim find on the Sidmouth Herald website by clicking here.

Kev’s Column: High St Fund 

Every fortnight I write a “Kev’s Column” for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition by following the link below:

https://www.kevinjfoster.com/news/kevs-column-high-street-fund

and finally…… Open Wide and Say “GRR…”.

Ending on a lighter note no-one likes the thought of a visit to the Dentist for root canal work, yet this week one very brave veterinary dentist faced a particularly anxious patient.

Paignton Zoo’s 11-year-old male Sumatran tiger Fabi, is over 2 metres long and weighs over 100 kilograms. As a Sumatran tiger he has 30 teeth, including four very long canines. These teeth are important for biting, tearing and his favourite pastime, eating meat.

You can see an amazing video of the work being done on Paignton Zoo’s website by clicking here.

That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.

Best wishes,

Kevin

Brexit Debate 

After much debate since the EU Referendum on 23rd June 2016 the date for the UK’s Exit from the European Union is nearing.

A large number of residents have been in touch with me ahead of the debate and the votes in Parliament next Tuesday. With views expressed ranging from No Deal to No Brexit it is impossible to please everyone, also much of the commentary in the media has focused on a small number of MPs with views from opposite ends of the spectrum.

The events on Wednesday afternoon, when the Speaker allowed an unprecedented amendment (Which I opposed) to be considered on a business motion described as unamendable, have also brought added tension and drama to the proceedings. This move raises the stakes dramatically with the prospect of parliamentary procedures being twisted in a way which makes events after Tuesday even more unpredictable if the proposed treaty is rejected as is looking very likely to happen.

I spoke in the debate on Friday, but given the amount of MPs wishing to speak was only given five minutes for my speech, hardly time to scratch the surface of this issue. I will be doing a more detailed comment piece, including on the myriad of alternative options being put forward, plus what could happen after Tuesday. Do let me know if you would like to receive it.

You can listen to my speech by clicking here.

 

Events

Sunday 20th January – 10am to 3.30pm – Bird Watch Day Workshop @ Cockington Visitor Centre, Cockington Village, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 6XA. For full details 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 paignton.bcs@rbl.community.

2nd Wednesday of each month at the Quaker Meeting House in Torquay – Torbay Interfaith Forum meet. For more details click here.

I am always looking to promote local events, big or small. If you have an event coming up, please email kevin.foster.mp@parliament.uk so it can be included.

 

Advice Surgeries

Friday 18th January, 3pm – 5pm @ The Windmill Centre, Pendennis Road, Torquay TQ2 7QB

Saturday 26th January, 11am – 1pm @ The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET

Friday 1st February, 3pm – 5pm @ AGE U.K.   12 Dendy Road, Paignton TQ4 5DB

Saturday 16th February, 11am – 1pm @ St Peters Church, Queensway, Torquay TQ2 6BP

Friday 22nd February, 3pm – 5pm @ Paignton Baptist Church, 43 Winner Street, Paignton TQ3 3BJ

Saturday 2nd March, 10pm – 12pm @ St Martins Church, Barton Hill Road, Torquay TQ2 8JA

Saturday 9th March, 11am – 1pm @ Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, TQ3 2RB

Saturday 16th March, 11am – 1pm @ The Acorn Centre, Lummaton Cross, Torquay TQ2 8ET

Saturday 23rd March, 11am – 1pm @ Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, TQ3 2RB

Friday 29th March, 3pm – 5pm @ The Windmill Centre, Pendennis Road, Torquay TQ2 7QB

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  kevin@kevinjfoster.com or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

14th January 2019
by stlukesranews
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Devon and Cornwall Alert Fatal Collision Torquay – 983 11 January 2019

Police are appealing for witnesses following a fatal collision in Torquay.

Police were called at 11.15pm on Friday 11 January following reports of a collision involved a van and a pedestrian on Torbay Road, near the Princess Theatre.

The pedestrian, a 30-year-old woman, sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to Torbay District Hospital where she was later pronounced deceased. Her next of kin have been informed but formal identification is yet to take place.

The van fled the scene and was located a short time later in Paignton by officers.

A 52-year-old man from Paignton was arrested in relation to the incident and taken into police custody. He has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Enquiries are ongoing at this time.

Investigating officers are appealing for witnesses and anyone with information to contact police on 101 quoting log number 983 of 11/1/19.

7th January 2019
by stlukesranews
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Kevin Foster MP for Torbay Residents’ Update: Friday 4th January 2019

Dear All,

As the Christmas Decorations come down it is time for my first update of 2019.

I hope all update readers had a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas. I took time to be with my family here in the bay and enjoyed attending several Christmas Services, especially the Crib and Christingle Service at St Martin’s Barton on Christmas Eve. It always ends with dozens of excited children gathered round the candlelit crib to sing the final carols.

After the excitement and indulgence of Christmas Lunch with the Community at the St Peter’s Centre in Chelston, there is nothing like a bracing swim to help work it off. I therefore joined dozens of people taking part in the Boxing Day Walk Into The Sea organised by Paignton Lions. Whilst not taking part in the fancy dress competition I did pop in for a brief swim, as proved by the photo of me looking rather damp with the Chairman of Torbay Council afterwards

On Wednesday I was back in the office for a meeting with Susan Musselwhite from the British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association (Top right). Whilst the last UK Nuclear Tests took place a generation ago many veterans are still living with the impacts of them. At the time large numbers of servicemen were drafted in to witness the tests and the immense power of these explosions can be seen in the News Reels from the time. (You can watch the one reporting Britain’s First H-Bomb by clicking here.)

During our meeting we discussed the need for ongoing research into the long-term health impact of being part of these tests, along with issues which have affected veteran’s children. The BNTVA is also campaigning for those who took part to be recognised with a medal.

Over the Festive Period one post got debate started on my Facebook Page in a way no other issue has recently. Thousands viewed it and dozens of comments and reactions were left on it by residents. Whilst Brexit is dominating the national headlines and challenges around regeneration our local media front pages, the hot subject on my Social Media Feed? The new Public Toilets being built in Union St (Bottom Left).

Earlier today I held one of my regular meetings with the Chief Executive and Chairman of the trust which runs Torbay Hospital.

During the meeting we discussed progress on plans to build the new Emergency Department and the new 16 Mental Health Ward, two multi-million pound investments in improving Torbay’s NHS Services. These projects should start construction later this year, but as with any such projects detailed planning is needed beforehand, especially as the existing Emergency Department will need to continue working up to the moment the new one is ready for patients.

After this I headed over to Paignton Library (Bottom Right) for a meeting with Ciara Eastell, the Chief Executive of Libraries Unlimited a mutual which took over the running of Torbay’s Public Libraries in April. It was good to hear of how the service is working together with the libraries they run in Devon to ensure more discover the joy of reading, plus some other fun activities aimed at making them a hub for the local community.

Finally this afternoon I held my weekly advice surgery, with residents coming to see me for help on a range of issues affecting them personally. I also stopped by Torre Post Office to see how the refurbishment work is coming along. More on this below along with this week’s update which includes: Toddler Found In Main Avenue, Could You Be A Special?, Preston Parking Meters, Torwood St Update, High St Fund Launched, Flu Jab Reminder, CPR Teaching To Be Mandatory, Mayor’s Forum, New Railcard Launched, ECHO Building, Kev’s Column: Happy New Year and finally…….Could They Have Come In a Taxi?

Toddler Found In Main Avenue, 

On Wednesday a very young child was found wandering the street on their own in Main Avenue, Torquay.

He was found by neighbours who alerted the Police due to him being very pale and cold. A major search was launched to identify his parents following which a woman in her 40s and a man in his 30s were arrested on suspicion of child neglect. They have both since been released on police bail. The child was taken into police protection and I am advised he is safe and well.

Police investigations are ongoing, but anyone who has information which may assist their inquiries should contact them on 101.

Could You Be A Special?, 

The incident above is a reminder of how our Police work to protect and serve the local community.

Our local Police are now looking for some special people to help support their work  by becoming a Special Constable. Specials are members of the community who are also trained Police Officers.

If this sounds like a role for you then you will find all the details on the Devon & Cornwall Police website by clicking here.

Preston Parking Meters,

Proposals to introduce parking meters on Preston Seafront have prompted hundreds of residents to object.

By Wednesday lunchtime more than 1,700 people had signed an online petition opposing the meters, plus a local campaigner has collected over 500 signed objection letters.

Parking is currently free on Marine Drive, although there is a restriction to prevent overnight parking. The consultation period for the parking meters proposal ended today (Friday, January 4).

The proposed meter charges are: up to 30 minutes 60p; up to 1 hour £1.40; up to 1.5 hours £2.40; up to 2 hours £3; up to 3 hours £4; up to 4 hours £5; up to 5 hours £6; up to 6 hours £7; all day £10; overnight (6pm to 8am) £3.50. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.

I have spoken with Preston Cllr Chris Lewis about this issue and he advises me most Councillors disagree with this proposal and will seek to block it.

Torwood St Update, 

The most positive moment of 2018 for Torquay Town Centre was the sight of the long awaited Torwood Street Development finally getting underway.

Demolition of the derelict buildings which had lined this key street for too many years was completed in early November, with works to underpin and prop adjoining buildings and walls having been undertaken since.

The next major phase is about to begin which will include piling foundations, drainage and substructure works. I am advised these are expected to take 4 months to complete. The piling rig will return this month to complete the remaining piles across the rest of the site.

The Tower Crane is scheduled for delivery and erection in Mid-February. This is expected to take two days, including testing once completed. Additional site cabins are also expected to arrive in March as the number of workers on site expands.

It is great to see this work is now progressing so quickly, helping spur other investment into our area.

High St Fund Launched, 

The challenges facing our High St have been all to visible in the news over the festive period.

Growth in online shopping and the ability to access many services via the internet has changed for good how many people do things they once headed to their local high street for. This leaves many Town Centres, including Torquay and Paignton facing a need for urgent change and investment to reshape themselves for the 21stcentury.

Over Christmas the Government announced the launch of a £675m Future High Streets Fund to provide co-funding towards improvements to town centre infrastructure, including increasing access to high streets, reducing congestion, supporting development around high streets and enabling housing and new workspaces to be created.

The Government has published a prospectus, or Call for Proposals, inviting local authorities (Including Torbay Council) to set out the challenges facing their high street and town centre and their strategic approach to bring transformative change to the high street at an Expression of Interest stage for the Fund. The Government will assess these before deciding which places to move forward to develop business cases bidding for capital funding.

Sorting out the issues in our Town Centres is vital to the economic future of our Town, hence it is vital our bay gets a strong bid into this fund.

Flu Jab Reminder, 

If you are eligible for your Free NHS Flu Jab there is still time to get it before it may be too late.

Flu is more than just a bad cold, it is potentially deadly for those who are more vulnerable. You are eligible for the free flu vaccine if you are pregnant, are aged 65 years or over, have a long-term health condition or are a carer. Children aged 2 or 3 years are also eligible.

You can find details about where you can get your Flu Jab and other advice on staying well this winter just click here to be taken to the NHS website.

CPR Teaching To Be Mandatory, 

Just over a year ago a close relative of mine collapsed in the early hours of the morning, thankfully her young Son could help his Dad deliver CPR thanks to what he had learned at Sea Cadets.

Basic First Aid and CPR skills can be vital at any age hence I welcome the Government announcement this week confirming children will be taught basic first aid in schools under proposals due to be rolled out from 2020. You can read more on the Government website by clicking here.

Groups like the Red Cross and St John Ambulance already do a great job ensuring more people know the basic skills which could save a life, yet this news will ensure it becomes a skill all ages are familiar with.

Mayor’s Forum, 

Torbay residents, organisations and businesses are invited to attend the next Mayor’s Forum, which is taking place at 6pm on Wednesday 16th January.

Hosted by Torbay’s Elected Mayor Gordon Oliver, the event at the Riviera International Conference Centre (RICC) will include the opportunity to hear about a range of issues affecting our bay.

The forum will take place in the Rosetor Room, Riviera International Conference Centre starting at 6 pm, Doors open at 5:30pm. No need to book, just turn up.

Parking for the event is free.

New Railcard Launched, 

The Government has announced it will introduce a brand-new railcard, which will halve all rail fares for 16 and 17-year-olds, plus a “Millennial Railcard”, for 26 to 30 year olds, has now gone on sale.

The new railcard will give 16 to 17 year olds 50 per cent off all fares by allowing them to use discounted “child” tickets. Access to these discounted tickets, which includes season tickets and peak services, will provide a real boost for young people and their parents in Torbay. It will be launched in September 2019.

The “Millennial Railcard” for those aged 26-30 years old is now on sale, giving this age group a fairer deal when commuting to work, visiting relatives or travelling to meet friends by cutting a third off many rail fares. You can purchase it online by clicking here.

The two new Railcards are in addition to the existing Young Person’s Railcard which is available to those aged 16 to 25.

ECHO Building, 

Just before Christmas there was good news as the ECHO Building in St James Road was listed as an Asset of Community Value.

This designation means the community would get the first bite of the cherry if it comes up for sale, allowing time to put plans together for it. This is a great achievement for residents and is thanks to the efforts of the Torre and Upton Community Partnership.

The Partnership is keen to hear residents’ views on the future of this building which can be emailed to torreandupton@hotmail.com

Double Delivery For Post Office Customers

After a successful campaign to save it from closure it was great to see refurbishment work well underway at Torre Post Office.

The branch is getting a complete makeover having been taken over by Carters who run the nearby convenience store. Customers will notice a significant difference as it is planned to have two low-screened, open-plan, modern serving points as part of the retail counter. The new look Torre Post Office is scheduled to reopen on Monday 14th January 2019.

Yet this is not the only good news for our Post Office. It has also been confirmed a new Post Office will be opening near the heart of Torquay’s busy Harbourside area.

The new Post Office will be based inside McColls on Torwood Street and will open for business at 1pm on Friday 1st February 2019. The new branch will provide a range of postal services, plus help replace some counter banking services lost following the closure of nearby Banks.

Kev’s Column: Happy New Year 

Every fortnight I write a “Kev’s Column” for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition by following the link below:

https://www.kevinjfoster.com/news/kevs-column-happy-new-year

and finally…….Could They Have Come In a Taxi?

Ending on a lighter note after a long journey to attend an away game the most determined football fans can then find themselves having to endure listening to a chant about “having come in a Taxi” from the Home Stands.

Yet the tables were turned in dramatic style on New Year’s Day as Torquay United attracted 2,760 supporters for their “away” match against Truro City, compared to only 52 in the Home Crowd. Yet there is a twist in this tale……..the game was played at Plainmoor due to a ground share agreement.

The best news is the Gulls notched up a 3 – 1 victory and are top of their league after a superb recent run of form. You can read the BBC match report by clicking here.

That is all for this week and enjoy your weekend.

Best Wishes,

Kevin

Events

Tuesday 8th January  at the Torquay Museum  – Training The Afghan Army
Alexander, author of Afghanistan: a Tour of Duty, recalls his time as an officer in the guards in Afghanistan. Expect stories of courage and endurance.
Lectures every Tuesday & Wednesday. 10:45 – 12 noon) Lectures are free to Torquay Museum Society Members & cost £5 on door to Non-Members – click here for full details.

From Thursday 10th January till Saturday 12th January – Jack and the Beanstalk.  Start time  7:30pm (and Saturday matinee at 2:30 pm).  Tickets are £7.50 (adults) £5.00 (children).  St John Hall, Shiphay, TQ1 7HP.  Please click here for full details.

Sunday 20th January – 10am to 3.30pm – Bird Watch Day Workshop @ Cockington Visitor Centre, Cockington Village, Torquay, Devon, TQ2 6XA. For full details 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 paignton.bcs@rbl.community.

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 kevin.foster.mp@parliament.uk so it can be included.

22nd December 2018
by stlukesranews
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Kevin Foster, MP For Torbay Residents’ Update: Friday 21st December 2018

As Christmas nears and Father Christmas starts packing his sleigh it is time for my latest update.

This week’s update is a bit like the Christmas Radio Times, a bumper edition for the fortnight ahead!!!! Like many update readers I will be taking time to be with my family over Christmas. This means there will be no update next week. The next update will be sent on Friday 4th January 2019.

My week started with a visit to Cary Park Tennis Club in Babbacombe to draw their Christmas Raffle. The Club is in the middle of extending its clubhouse to help even more local people get the chance to play sport and make friends whilst enjoying some low-cost fun. There was even a special prize at the end for myself  of a Club Sweatshirt for me to wear when visiting the many events they hold throughout the year.

After pulling the prizes I headed to Barton Baptist Church for my weekly advice surgery. My surgeries are a chance for residents to ask for my help when they have a problem such as an immigration case which has gone wrong or a need to be rehoused. In many cases my team and I can quickly find a solution, in others we will pursue them over some months, potentially including raising them in Parliament.

Once my surgery was over I headed to my East St Office for the presentation of the latest awards from Foster’s Fund, the scheme I run to honour my pledge to donate the 10% MPs Pay Rise to local charities. This month three charities benefited from a total of £1,500 of donations for projects including planting in Chelston, equipment for debt advisors and Christmas in a Bap.

Later in the evening Hazel and I joined other members of Toads Stage Musical Company for a superb evening of Festive Entertainment and Carols at Lincombe Manor.

On Sunday evening I joined the congregation of St John the Apostle, Torquay for their Carol Service. This magnificent church has a special feel at Christmas when the candles are lit and the organ is playing some of my favourite carols. I was asked to read the Third Lesson and the fellowship afterwards over some mulled wine was exactly what I needed before heading back to Westminster.

Parliament sat from Monday to Thursday this week, with lots of issues discussed ahead of  breaking for the Christmas Recess. I cover several of those I was involved with below, but some eagle-eyed residents noted I was not in my usual spot for Prime Minister’s Questions, but was instead sat almost directly behind the PM. This is because Cabinet Office Questions were held this Wednesday, during which I sit behind and take notes as David Lidington’s Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS), so rather than try and move out at the end I sit next to the PM’s PPS for PMQs.

Amongst some angry debates at Westminster this week there was one event where festive cheer, a smile and a waggy tail was guaranteed: Guide Dogs Annual Christmas Reception at the House of Commons. The charity is this year highlighting how too often those who rely on assistance dogs are turned away from services they have a right to receive.

I returned home yesterday just in time to catch the Wellswood Street Party, which despite the rain still had plenty of festive spirit. Then this morning it was an early start to visit the Paignton Delivery Office to thank our local Posties  for the work they are doing to get the Christmas Mail out (I am visiting Torquay Delivery Office on Monday).

Finally today is the 45th anniversary of the murder of PC Dennis Smith, who was shot whilst on duty in Torquay protecting our community. Later that evening the same gunman entered a local Casino killing three others, including Ann Andre who bravely approached him as he fired on others. As we recall PC Smith’s courage and sacrifice, we think of all our Emergency Services who will be working to keep us safe throughout the festive season.

This week’s update is below and includes: A Big Move For Torquay’s Big Screen, TUFC Stadium Update, Christmas Bin Collections, Christmas Opening Times, Not Feeling Well?, A Christmas Near You, NORAD Tracks Santa, Paignton Christmas Miracle, Higher Needs Funding Boost, Torquay Magistrate’s Court, Brexit, Future Trade Deals, Yemen, and finally…….Stuck For a Gift Idea?

A Big Move For Torquay’s Big Screen, 

There was big news this week for Torquay’s movie lovers as it was announced Merlin, the company which owns the historic Central Cinema in Abbey Road, is set to buy the former BHS Store in Union St, Torquay.

Merlin will, during 2019, be converting the former BHS building into a multi-screen cinema, initially offering six screens of varying capacities. They presently operate 15 cinemas in mainly coastal and rural locations, but predominantly in the South West.

The current cinema in Abbey Road, once an Opera House, will be redeveloped although the exact details of the plans for it are yet to be revealed. The new cinema in Union Street is expected to attract 300,000 visitors a year.

Many update readers will (like me) have fond memories of the current cinema in Abbey Road, especially of seeing a particularly good film, heading to a Saturday Morning Show or even a date sat in its back row!! Yet in recent years it has become tired and the conversion to multiple screens some years ago is far from ideal in terms of access or visitor experience. As it faces increasing competition from more modern facilities elsewhere and online movie streaming services there had been concerns a night out at the pictures might soon no longer be possible in Torquay. Yet this doubt disappeared with news of this major new investment. You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.

The Buyology store which is in the BHS building is, to my knowledge, on a temporary lease, but I am very concerned to hear staff working at it first heard news of the building’s sale via the media. I will be writing to the TDA to clarify what work is being done to find an alternative location for the store if they wish to stay in Torquay and what they know of any plans for the redevelopment of the current cinema building.

TUFC Stadium Update, 

There was another twist in the tale of plans for a new stadium this week, as a draft “Memorandum of Understanding” between the Club and Torbay Council,was discussed by Councillors and Torbay’s Elected Mayor.

I am advised a specific site is not mentioned in the document, neither are there details of publicly owned land which it indicates might be released to facilitate a development. Whilst statements were made of this only being an agreement to work together in a professional manner, rather than a financial commitment, such documents are normally intended to indicate a more formal commitment to a process.

Whilst the Elected Mayor indicated he was prepared to sign it I understand a challenge has been lodged by Councillors. The agreement will therefore only be signed by Torbay Council if the bay’s 36 Councillors agree with the Mayor, whose post is due to be abolished in May. Given the strong opposition already expressed on a cross party basis by several leading Councillors, including Members of the Mayor’s Executive, the document is almost certain to be rejected.

You can read more on Devon Live by clicking here.

Christmas Bin Collections, 

Some bins are being collected a day earlier than normal.

Normal collection day                                  Revised collection day
Monday 24th December 2018                        Sunday 23rd December 2018
Tuesday 25th December 2018                       Monday 24th December 2018
Wednesday 26th December 2018                  Thursday 27th December 2018
Thursday 27th December 2018                      Friday 28 December 2018
Friday 28th December 2018                           Saturday 29th December 2018
Monday 31st December 2018                        Sunday 30th December 2018
Tuesday 1st January 2019                             Monday 31st December 2018

Normal collection days resume on 2nd January 2019.

Christmas tree recycling

TOR2 will be collecting Christmas trees from 9am to 1pm at Lymington Road Car Park, Torquay and at Brixham College, Ranscombe Road, Brixham on:

Sunday 6th January 2019
Sunday 13th January 2019

You can also take your tree to the recycling centre in Paignton on any day of the week during normal opening hours.

Christmas Opening Times, 

Libraries

All Torbay libraries will close on Saturday 22 December and re-open on Saturday 29 December. They will close again on New Year’s Day before opening again on Wednesday 2 January 2019. This will include access to the Connections Self Service Zone provisions within the buildings of Torquay and Brixham library.

Paignton Connections Office

Paignton Connections will be closed from 5pm on Friday 21 December and will re-open on Thursday 27 and Friday 28 December between 9am and 5pm, before re-opening again from 9am on Wednesday 2 January 2019.

Housing Options

Housing Options and Homeless service will be closed from 5pm on Friday 21 December. The Emergency Duty Service will then be available on 0300 4564 876 until the Housing Options service re-opens 27 and 28 December between 9am and 5pm. They can be contacted on 01803 208723 to receive reports of homelessness and enquiries that require urgent assistance

You can find details of other Torbay Council opening times over the Festive period by clicking here.

Not Feeling Well?, 

If not feeling well over Christmas the staff of our local NHS will be on duty to help, but it is right we all think carefully about which service is the right one to access.

You can find details of Urgent and Emergency Care Services available, along with current waiting times, on our local NHS website by clicking here.

I would highly recommend downloading the “NHS Quicker” App which allows you to check live waiting times at our local A&E and Minor Injury Units to decide where is the best place to head if you need urgent care. You can find details of it by clicking here.

If you need to collect a Prescription on Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year’s Day you can find details of Pharmacy Opening Times by clicking here.

A Christmas Near You, 

Some of the best memories I have of Christmas past are not of presents, but of special events I attended with my family.

Local churches across the bay will be extending a special welcome to families and anyone who wants to share some fellowship at this special time of year. Some of the highlights on Christmas Eve include the Christingle and Crib Service at 3pm at St Martin’s Barton, the 5pm Christingle Service at St Mary Magdalene Torquay, the beautiful Candlelight Carol Service in Paignton Parish Church at 7:30pm and Midnight Holy Communion at St Matthias, Torquay which starts at 11pm.

You will find a warm welcome at any of our local churches this Christmas, with the Church of England having set up a website where you can easily find the details of services by popping in your postcode. Just click here to be taken to it.

NORAD Tracks Santa, 

Travelling at high speed and crossing many contentious borders where air defences are on high alert could result in a tragic end for Father Christmas and those waiting for their presents.

Thankfully the team at NORAD, the United States of America’s elite early warning system, has for over 60 years ensured Father Christmas a safe journey by alerting military forces around the world to his whereabouts on Christmas Eve.

Using Satellite Tracking and Advanced Radar Systems designed to detect ballistic missile attacks on the USA or its allies they can pin point his location from the moment he lives his North Pole Base. In order to ensure every Air Force across the world is aware they share their track online and you can find it by clicking here.

NORAD do point out they are sadly unable to jam the signal on his sleigh which detects if anyone waiting for him is awake. They therefore recommend any children expecting a delivery have been in bed for some hours before he starts approaching the UK.

Paignton Christmas Miracle, 

The best part of Christmas is being able to share it with those you love and care about.

One Paignton family spoke to Devon Live this week about the Christmas Miracle of being able to spend it with their Toddler Son after he survived major heart surgery.

You can read their story by clicking here.

Higher Needs Funding Boost, 

Following the recent proposal by Torbay’s Elected Mayor to top slice school budgets I voiced the concerns of parents, teachers and governors in parliament on Monday with the Minister of State for School Standards, Nick Gibb MP.

Having been part of the campaign to secure a fairer funding settlement for our schools, I am concerned to see much of the benefits of this may now be lost, with some schools in Torbay facing receiving less than the minimum per pupil promised under the new formula. I was therefore pleased to note an additional £250m of government funding for high needs was announced on Sunday and asked the Minister how much of this pot Torbay will receive.

These figures have since been published and will see Torbay receive over £536k of additional funding for higher needs pupils over the next two years. I believe this additional funding should be used to reduce the top slicing proposed. You can read the detailed breakdown here.

I will be arranging a meeting with the Schools Minister in the New Year to discuss the situation in Torbay further and will be inviting representatives from local schools to join me for it.

Torquay Magistrate’s Court, 

The former Torquay Magistrates Court has stood empty since its closure in 2017, but it could be given a new lease of life as a centre for the local community.

Few potential purchasers have come forward for the site due to the difficulties with converting it to another use. Yet it would be an ideal location for an expansion of the work undertaken by St Mary Magdalene Church, given it is next door. I therefore raised its future in Parliament this week with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice.

I highlighted the great work undertaken by groups like the Living Room and emphasised how the Church’s work could be enhanced if they were able to expand into the neighbouring building. I asked the Minister whether she would agree to meet with representatives from the Church to discuss how, if they acquired the site, they could use it to make a real difference for vulnerable people in Torquay.

She agreed and I will be arranging the meeting early in the New Year. You can read my question and her response by clicking here.

Whilst the church does work with some ex-offenders given its outreach services, the main intention in taking over the site would be to replace the now elderly church hall and expand its community work in a way not possible within its main Victorian Building.

Brexit, 

There were further discussions on Brexit this week as the Prime Minister gave a statement to MPs and Opposition Parties secured two debates in the House of Commons.

The Northern Ireland Backstop was the focus of much debate and I again questioned the Prime Minister on it. You can listen to my question and her response by clicking here.

I also spoke in the debate secured by the Scottish National Party. You can listen to my speech by clicking here.

Future Trade Deals, 

Yesterday I got the chance to ask Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, a question on future Trade Deals.

I decided to again push the case for the United Kingdom joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership, a trading block which includes Japan, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

You can listen to my question and his response by clicking here.

Yemen, 

Most of my time in parliament is focused on issues which directly affect our bay, yet the disastrous situation in Yemen is one I have regularly spoken on.

The ongoing Civil War has produced a humanitarian disaster, yet a ceasefire recently agreed around the key port of​ Hodeidah has brought new hope this week to many facing starvation and disease.

The Foreign Secretary updated MPs on Wednesday about the situation, so I took the chance to ask about what work the UK would be doing to help rebuild this shattered country. You can read my comments and the reply I received by clicking here.

and finally…….Stuck For a Gift Idea?

Ending on a lighter note with only three shopping days left many update readers may still be stuck trying to think about what gift to buy for a friend or loved one.

Many of us will opt for one of the traditional last-minute presents of a plant or some “smellies”. Yet these were given a whole new meaning by the team at Paignton Zoo this week as they packed off a special Christmas Gift to their friends at Marwell Wildlife who are setting up a new Tropical House.

The endangered Titan Arum is a very rare plant, yet it has a catch, when it blooms it has a fragrance which is strong and unmistakable……..of Rotting Meat!  You can see the present ready to be packed off and read more on the Zoo’s website by clicking here.

That is all for this week and for 2018. It therefore only remains for me to wish you, your family and those you care about a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Best Wishes,

Kevin

 

Housing First

In Parliament yesterday, I raised the prospect of Torbay adopting a Housing First approach to tackle homelessness with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire MP.

This follows a meeting I arranged in Westminster this week with the Minister for Homelessness, Heather Wheeler MP, (Left) at which the case for government support to deliver this approach in Torbay was made. The meeting was attended by representatives of Torbay Council, Crisis and Shekinah who briefed the Minister on the Torbay End Street Homelessness Campaign, work being done to support rough sleepers in getting off the streets and the difference moving to a full Housing First Model could make.

In my question yesterday I emphasised how local support services work hard reaching out to those who are rough sleepers, but the evidence is too many end up back on the streets at a later date, hence why Torbay is ready to implement a Housing First strategy to end rough sleeping.

I asked the Secretary of State about what evidence he has seen from the three Housing First schemes piloted by the government this year to confirm it would be an effective approach for Torbay. In reply the Minister indicated good practice learnt from the three existing pilots could be used for a future similar scheme to tackle homelessness in Torbay.

You can listen to my question and his response on my Facebook Page by clicking here.

 

Events

From now until December 24th The Artizan Winter Open will run at their pop-up venue in Unit 5 on the lower level of Fleet Walk and will include submissions from their Geopark Ambassador Artists. A donation from all sales will go to the important work done by the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark. For more information, visit art-hub.co.uk/winteropen2018. For more on the family run Artizan, visit artizangallery.co.uk

22nd, 23rd, 27th and 28th December –  If you’re looking for something a little different to entertain the kids this Christmas, then enjoy a storytelling performance with the Grinch, festive trails and Christmas decoration-making at Torquay Museum on , when museum entry will be free of charge. The Devon-based Pocketwatch Theatre Company will entertain all ages with The Grinch Story – an interactive performance featuring a storyteller, the Grinch and puppetry. The performances take place at 12.30pm and 2.30pm and are suitable for all ages. Tickets are £5 each for children and £7 for adults – for more details click here.

Monday 24th December at 3pm – All Saints, Torre’s Family Crib Service. Everyone is welcome to come dressed as someone from the Nativity. Click here for more details.

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 paignton.bcs@rbl.community.

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 kevin.foster.mp@parliament.uk so it can be included.

 

Advice Surgeries

Friday 4th January, 3pm – 5pm @ 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD

Saturday 12th January, 11am – 1pm @ Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road TQ3 2RB

Friday 18th January, 3pm – 5pm @ The Windmill Centre, Pendennis Road, Torquay TQ2 7QB

Saturday 26th January, 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  kevin@kevinjfoster.com or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.