On Saturday 1 April, Torbay Liberal Democrats joined the Save Our Hospital Services red line demonstration at Lowes Bridge entrance to Torbay hospital.
Torquay campaigner Swithin Long said: “It was good to see people from a number of political backgrounds coming together to protest against these Conservative cuts to health services in South Devon. People will draw their own conclusions as to why our Conservative MP for Torbay failed to attend the event.”
Letter to local press from Steve Darling, leader of Torbay Libdem councillors.
The decision to allow the building of a 12 storey block of flats on Torquay harbourside is a landmark decision for Torbay in a number of ways.
While there is little to be gained from going over the decision about the Pavilion, I think it is worth reflecting on a couple of key points.
The decision, about eight years ago, by our previous elected Mayor, to seek the provision of a four star hotel on the harbourside as part of the redevelopment of the Pavilion, set the project off on the wrong foot, as this resulted in a situation in which the developers were trying to force too much on to this site.
I remain surprised at the number of people who do not realise that a more modest residential development would have released enough money to restore the Pavilion and not cause significant harm to the setting of our historic harbourside.
I fear that, after 7 years of negotiations, Torbay had painted itself into a corner, so it had little choice but to grant planning permission or look foolish. This delay has also resulted in an increase to the cost of renovating the Pavilion by about half a million pounds, the total now reaching £2.7 million.
In the aftermath of this decision we need to ensure that lessons are learnt.
Liberal Democrat Group (Torbay Council) spokesperson for transport, Ian Doggett, has been informed that 15 Torbay Bus Services operated by the Local Link firm are now under threat , as a result of the Company giving notice to the Department for Transport to cancel all their Services from various dates in April and May 2017. The decision to end the services follows Torbay Council imposing lower rates of payment for concessionary bus fares across Torbay. Paignton Liberal Democrat Councillor Ian Doggett said, "These Services often reach places in the Bay that others do not! If these Services are not replaced, many residents will be left isolated! This is a disaster for local transport provision, and would see, for example, the end of Services 60/61, which last year was threatened with withdrawal, and got a reprieve. The Service 67 is another one that would finish. This runs between Brixham and Torbay Hospital and the Willows, via Paignton and Marldon, and offers a quick direct Service. I will be in contact with the Elected Mayor, Gordon Oliver and the Executive Lead for Transport, Mark King, over the situation to see if they can expedite a solution?"
Torbay Council voted unanimously to transfer the ownership of the King George V Playing Fields from Torbay Council to Fields in Trust at the Full Council meeting on the 2nd of February. The decision follows a campaign by Torquay Liberal Democrats to put right an 80 year old wrong, in that the fields were never registered as memorial playing fields for King George V. Fields in Trust is an organisation established to protect and improve public open spaces in the interests of the local community.
St Marychurch campaigner David Ward said: “I and local residents are delighted that there was a unanimous vote in favour of our campaign to transfer the King George V Playing Fields to the Fields in Trust organisation. It is also helpful that the Council set a time limit of one year for the transfer to this organisation.”
The Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council are set to champion the needs of care leavers at this evening's Full Council meeting by putting a motion forward to exempt them from Council tax for the first few years of their adult lives.
Paignton Liberal Democrat councillor Ian Doggett, who is proposing the motion, said: “There are approximately 200 care leavers in Torbay at present. By promoting this motion, I would like to give these vulnerable young people a better start into adulthood and protect these and future leavers from debt charges, especially council tax. The Children's Society's " Wolf At The Door" 2016 report into such debt showed that the pace of growth of debt to local authorities could be frightening to care leavers, and can escalate very quickly into a court summons and enforcement action being taken. Once they turn eighteen, young people leave care and become responsible for the challenges of independent living, running a home, managing personal finances and paying bills. Some former care leavers told the Children's Society that they had no idea what council tax was, or indeed that they had to pay it.
A number of councils have already adopted the scheme − Labour-controlled Islington in January 2017, and both Conservative-led Cheshire East and Conservative-led North Somerset in April 2016."
The motion to be put this evening is as follows:
Paignton Liberal Democrat councillor Chris Carter is set to challenge the Conservative elected Mayor, Gordon Oliver, over the lack of progress on the Crossways centre in Paignton town centre and Oldway Mansion, which both remain being left to rot. There is no clear game plan to tackle either of these quietly decaying buildings.The Crossways centre was recently the victim of an arson attack.
The Liberal Democrat councillor for Roundham and Hyde said: ”Local independent traders need clarity about the future of this shopping centre.This uncertainty has dragged on far too long and we need firm action, such as compulsory purchase, for this site.”
Turning to Oldway Mansion, she went on to say: “After the Conservative-controlled council's unsuccessful backing of a private developer, we in the Paignton Liberal Democrats feel that the council needs to trust the people of Torbay and put some momentum behind a community-led solution as the best way of ensuring the long term viability of this much loved Paignton jewel."
Torbay Liberal Democrats are demanding answers following the collapse of the risk share arrangement between Torbay Council and Torbay and South Devon Health and Care Foundation Trust. They have held a meeting with officers to explore why such decisions are being made "on the hoof" rather than in a considered manner.
Cllr Steve Darling, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council, said: “We warned about this months ago, but it was suggested by senior Conservatives on the council that we were scaremongering. This is the latest example of our Conservative Government failing to understand the challenges that our NHS and health service face.
This is a health and social care crisis created by our Conservative government and backed by our two Torbay MPs as a result of voting for the inadequate budget for our Council and the NHS.“
Cllr Steve Darling went on to say: “The risk share arrangement was vaunted nationally as a way of rewarding preventative spending so as to ensure that resources were moved to help people in the community. This failure has national implications and we have sought assurances that representations have been made to the government about the barriers that stopped the continuation of this innovative model of funding.”Read more
With concerns continuing to grow over the future of Torquay United Football Club, the Liberal Democrat group on Torbay Council has met this past week and discussed the situation. However, with no more information available other than that already available in the public domain, I now, as secretary of the group, propose to make a statement on its behalf.
It seems clear that the Elected Mayor, Gordon Oliver, has been meeting and discussing options for some time, but the moment has arrived for him to show us the deal, and councillors will have to judge what is in the best interests of the Bay and indeed Torquay United Football Club.Read more