The decision by the MP for Torbay, Kevin Foster, to vote against extending same-sex marriage rights to Northern Ireland has been described as ‘shameful’ by local Liberal Democrat Councillor Swithin Long.
Commenting on the MP’s vote, Councillor Long said, “As an openly gay man I grew up during a time when the Section 28 laws were in place and when there were no rights for civil partnerships or marriages for LGBT+ people. Growing up at that time the words and actions of politicians affected me and other gay people I knew. I am concerned about the message that our MP’s vote sends out to Torbay residents who might be struggling with their sexuality. His vote seems to suggest that LGBT+ people should not have the same equal rights across the UK as other residents do.
“Torbay’s MP seemed happy to have his picture taken at a diversity event in Torbay last weekend - but then votes against diversity in the House of Commons. Torbay deserves better.”
At the forthcoming Full Council Meeting on 18th July, a report will be discussed regarding the proposed disposal of land at Collaton St Mary and Preston Down Road in Paignton, which will unlock the opportunity of more affordable homes in Paignton.
This proposed decision follows the Council being awarded over £3 million by the Government in the form of a Land Release Fund grant. This award was accepted in March 2018 during the last Council administration, but was agreed cross-party. The decision being brought forward to the meeting could have been made before the local elections, but the last administration decided not to do this.
The disposal of the land is to be done by entering into a development agreement with a private sector partner. This will ensure that the Council will have full control of the housing schemes, including the quality, design and sustainability of the housing and ensure that the maximum amount of affordable housing is brought forward. This is particularly important to the new administration running Torbay Council, as it is committed to bringing forward more affordable housing to meet the needs of local residents.
Commenting on the proposal, Councillor Swithin Long (Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration) said, “The Liberal Democrats stood on a platform during the recent local elections committed to more affordable housing in Torbay to meet the needs of the 1,100 people on the waiting list, and our Independent Partners are also in agreement. Agreeing to find a private sector partner to develop this land will enable the Council to bring forward more quality affordable homes. Not agreeing to this proposal could mean having to hand the money back to the Government with all the negative consequences that could flow from that.”
Torbay Council’s Cabinet will be considering next steps in the process that may ultimately lead to the creation of Town Councils across Torbay at their forthcoming meeting on 9th July 2019. Work in this respect has been progressing since Full Council made the decision to start a review last year. Full Council will need to decide what should be consulted upon in the next stage of consultation.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Steve Darling, said:
“The Cabinet and the Partnership that now runs Torbay Council are concerned that the consultation recently undertaken was set up to fail by the previously Conservative-dominated Council. The overwhelming rejection of Town Councils was the inevitable result of this consultation. The wild allegations of £300 annual bills and legions of councillors to run the new Town Councils misled the public. We will ensure that our next consultation round will be more balanced in its approach to the opportunity of having Town Councils.
“The new administration is committed to improving community engagement and empowering our communities. Town Councils can help to deliver this, as well as ensuring that services that residents value at a local level can continue to be delivered. Whilst we recognise that some residents may be concerned about any proposed increase in the overall amount of Council tax, the amount of Council Tax currently paid in Torbay is the lowest in Devon. The stark reality is that if we are not able to find new ways of raising money, services that our residents value will inevitably have to stop. The maximum amount of precept that the Cabinet will be considering to recommend to Council is £90.00, which would still be lower than a lot of Councils in Devon.”
Following consideration by Cabinet, Full Council will make a decision as to what will be consulted upon in the second phase of consultation at its meeting on 18 July 2019. The consultation will then run from 2 September 2019 to 25 October 2019, with further details of how to engage in the consultation being released closer to the time. Only once the outcome of the second phase of consultation is known will final decisions be made.
Following enquiries from Liberal Democrat councillors, Torbay Council have provided an update on the recent late recycling collections.
TOR2 have advised the council that, due to unexpected circumstances that have led to a lower number of drivers, there are approximately 3 or 4 collection rounds that are running late this week. TOR2 are expecting to have caught up with collections by Monday 10th June.
Torbay Council are continuing to liaise with TOR2 regarding delays and are monitoring the situation this week.
New recycling collection vehicles have been ordered and the council are hoping to be able to start using the first of the new vehicles within the next month, which will help TOR2 to provide more reliable collections.
It was a fantastic night for the Liberal Democrats in Torbay, last night on Thursday 2nd May, along with our colleagues from across Devon and the rest of England.
In Torbay, we defended all of our existing seats and gained 6 more, taking us to 13 seats in total. The Conservatives remain the largest party overall with 15 seats, along with 8 independents, in a 36 seat council.
In Torquay, new Councillor John Dudley joins our Group Leader Steve Darling and Swithin Long in Barton-with-Watcombe, with Cordelia Law being elected for the first time alongside sitting Councillors Mandy Darling and Nick Pentney in Tormohun ward.
In Ellacombe, we made two fantastic gains, with Jermaine Atiya-Alla and Jack Dart taking both available seats.
In Paignton, Liberal Democrats comfortably held both seats in Clifton-with-Maidenway, with Ian Doggett retaining his seat and Maggi Douglas-Dunbar successfully taking over from the retiring Adrian Sanders, whilst Chris Carter successfully defended her seat in Roundham-with-Hyde.
The big Paignton success in terms of gains on the night came in Goodrington-with-Roselands, where Rick Heyse and our Parliamentary Spokesperson for Torbay, Lee Howgate, were both elected, unseating the Conservative Deputy Group Leader, Alan Tyerman, in the process.
Elsewhere our Election Agent, Nigel Penny, gave the Conservatives a tough fight for the second seat in Roundham-with-Hyde, and we narrowly missed gaining a seat from the Conservatives in St Marychurch, with Deborah Brewer missing out by just 52 votes. Commiserations to all of our candidates who were unsuccessful in these elections - we will get them next time!
For a full rundown of the action and results from the count, and an interview with our Group Leader, Steve Darling, you can see the Devon Live article here: https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/torbay-council-ends-up-no-2827436
Elsewhere in Devon
Elsewhere in Devon, our colleagues have also had tremendous success, not least in neighbouring Teignbridge Council where the Liberal Democrats have gained the Council from No Overall Control, gaining 10 seats on the night.
Liberal Democrats also took control - at least temporarily - of North Devon Councilwith 21 out of 41 seats, pending the outcome of a by-election for the Council's 42nd seat next month. The Conservatives have also lost control of both Torridge and Mid Devon Councils to No Overall Control.
In the South Hams, the Liberal Democrats also made 6 terrific gains, with the Conservatives only narrowly holding on to control of the Council with 16 of the 31 available seats. Congratulations to all of our colleagues across Devon.
Nationally, the Liberal Democrats have successfully held every Council we were defending across the country, have gained control of 10 local authorities and increased our number of Councillors by over 700 - our best set of local election results in the party's history.
We would like to thank you for all your efforts, kind messages of support and donations during the election campaign. We now turn our attention to the elections for the European Parliament on 23rd May, and preparation for a potential general election later in the year.
Torbay Liberal Democrats have selected 19 year old Lily James to contest the Cockington-with-Chelston ward in this May’s local elections, alongside fellow Torquay resident Alistair Brierley.
Lily is the youngest candidate standing for the Liberal Democrats in the local elections in Torbay, having joined the party following the 2017 general election. She has lived in Torquay all her life and attended Torquay Girls’ Grammar School and Sherwell Valley Primary School.
She says: “It is an honour to be standing for the Liberal Democrats in Cockington-with-Chelston alongside Alistair. I am part of a fantastic, driven and motivated team in Torbay who are ready to get real change for our area.
“I joined the Lib Dems because I believe in giving everyone a fair chance at getting on in life, creating a more just society and promoting an economy that works for all. I am absolutely convinced that a Liberal Democrat council can deliver this for Torbay.
“Our Bay faces serious social and economic challenges, with some of the highest deprivation levels in the country. The Liberal Democrats demand better for our area and we are positive that we can deliver a better deal for local people.
“In particular, I hope, as a young person, to bring a fresh perspective to Torbay’s politics, whilst providing Cockington, Chelston and Livermead with a strong voice on Torbay Council.”
Steve Darling, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council, added: “I am delighted that we have a truly diverse set of candidates, ranging in age from 19 to retirees, people with disabilities and people from different ethnic backgrounds. It is really important that those who represent our communities truly reflect our communities.”
Torbay Liberal Democrats were delighted to welcome the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Vince Cable, to speak at a members’ event in Paignton on Sunday 14th April.
Sir Vince addressed a packed hall at the Palace Theatre, where he spoke about the collapse of the Conservative Party both nationally and locally, the need for regeneration of our town centres and the positive difference that having a Liberal Democrat council would make for Torbay, before taking questions from the floor.
The event marked the launch of the Liberal Democrats’ local election campaign in Torbay.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Torbay, Lee Howgate, said: "Having Vince visit Paignton shows the importance the Lib Dems put on regenerating Torbay and other coastal areas. We can change from Conservative chaos to opportunity only by bringing investment and a wider range of quality jobs to the Bay."
Steve Darling, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Torbay Council, added: "This set of elections is a great opportunity to get Torbay the change it desperately needs. Torbay needs a new, Liberal Democrat, council that will put residents’ needs first, instead of one that wastes time on personal squabbles and taxpayers’ money on pet projects, like palm trees and luxury beach huts."
Nominations have been announced for this year’s Torbay unitary elections and it has been confirmed that only the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have a full slate of candidates set to contest the elections for Torbay Council on Thursday 2nd May.
Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council Chris Carter said “Over the last 20 years the Conservatives have run Torbay Council for all but two of those years. It is always a two horse race in Torbay and this set of elections will be no different. We have a strong, diverse team of community champions who range in age from 19 to retirees. Torbay deserves better and we plan to deliver this on 2nd May.”
Ellacombe Liberal Democrats have selected former Labour Parliamentary candidate Jermaine Atiya-Alla to stand alongside fellow Torquay resident Jack Dart for the two seats in the ward.
Jermaine was chosen by Labour to fight the 2010 General Election in Newton Abbot but he has switched to the Liberal Democrats, who he says have the local community’s best interests at heart.
He says: “Elections in Ellacombe and across the Bay are always close contests between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. Jack Dart and I want to see big changes in the town hall but this will only happen if people vote for the two Liberal Democrat candidates in Ellacombe, who are best placed to beat the Tories.
“Having grown up with the Labour Party it was not an easy decision to leave but with the poor national leadership and squabbling in the local party, it's an organisation that many others and I no longer recognise.
“I am delighted to be able to promote the Liberal Democrat agenda to tackle poverty and deprivation locally, involve the community in decisions that affect their lives, and be part of a strong and united team with a clear vision for Torbay’s future."