Liberal Democrat councillors Nick Pentney and Mandy Darling were outraged Monday evening following the unnecessary re-running of the Harbour Committee meeting to elect a Chair and Vice Chair.
On the 18 June the Harbour Committee met to undertake elections for the positions of Chair and Vice Chair. Following a tie in votes the names of the two nominees were put into a hat and Cllr Vic Ellery was duly selected to act as Chair of the Harbour Committee.
Some days later, Cllr Nick Bye (former Chair) complained to the monitoring officer at the council that procedure had had not been followed correctly, as the rules stipulate that the name left in the hat becomes Chair, not the other way round.
Cllr Pentney said: “The original ballot was democratic and undertaken in good faith. Cllr Ellery was the name pulled out of the hat and therefore took on the role. It is unbelievable that the Conservatives would wait some days after the meeting before challenging the decision” His fellow ward councilor, Mandy Darling, said: “Our council is short of money, so why are we holding additional meetings such as this one to go over ground that has already been covered?. The procedure this evening was the most undemocratic I have ever seen and was certainly not undertaken in the best interests of Torbay. Another £3,400 special allowance for Cllr Bye ,whereas Cllr Ellery, already has one for his executive work and would not be allowed to claim a second one, only adds to the council's financial burden."
The following email was received on the 18 September by Steve Darling the Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council.
Thank you for your recent phone call and email.
As I’m sure you will understand, I’m not in a very good place at the moment. I have a medical certificate to cover me for 2 months. I’m so grateful for the support i have receives from yourself and the rest of the Liberal Democratic Party.
I fully aware that we are now in the run up to the next set of elections and I’m even more aware that political opponents will try to milk this situation as much as they can to gain advantage. I do not wish to damage the LIb Dems very good chance of taking control of this badly run council and turning it around for the benefit of the residents of this bay, not just for the well off minority.
I think it is for the best if i resign from the party and go back to being an Independent for the rest of this term. I would be grateful if you could accept the resignation in the good spirit that it is intended.
I wish the party every success in the future.
Cllr. Mark King
A councillor whose ward covers Torquay town centre is set to challenge Conservative-run Torbay Council over the poor repair of the Pavilion in Torquay, as well as the lack of uniformed police officers in Torquay, at the Full Council on Thursday 20th September.
Liberal Democrat Mandy Darling, who represents the Tormohun ward on Torbay Council said : “Local people are sick of the Pavilion being left to rot by the council and the lack of police protecting them in our town centre, which is a shadow of its former self. We need to take back control of Torquay by ensuring that the developer comes forward with a more appropriate scheme for the Pavilion and by demanding that there are uniformed officers to protect the public.”
The two questions set to be put this Thursday are as follows -
(3) by Councillor Darling (M) to the Deputy Mayor and Executive Lead for Planning and Waste (Councillor Mills)
With the development of the Pavilion in limbo, are you confident that MDL Ltd are maintaining the building in accordance with the terms of the lease?
Question (8) by Councillor Darling (M) to the Executive Lead for Community Services (Councillor Excell)
Over recent months I have noted increasing anger from constituents over the failure of adequate resourcing of the Police in Torquay town centre. Earlier this summer, at a meeting with the Overview and Scrutiny board, the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall and the Chief Constable gave the clear impression that after an 80% decrease in PCSOs in Torquay local residents could expect an increase in numbers. When will this happen?
Paignton-based schoolteacher and former Foreign Office diplomat Lee Howgate has been selected as the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Liberal Democrat Party in Torbay.
The election means Lee will stand for the Liberal Democrats in Torbay at the next General Election.
All members of the Torbay Liberal Democrat party were eligible to vote in the race to choose a successor to Deborah Brewer and well-known former MP Adrian Sanders.
“I am delighted to have been chosen from a strong and talented field. It is fantastic that so many members backed my vision on how we need to change Torbay for the better,” said Lee following the victory. “We need to make clear to Torbay that we are the party of social justice, and the only party to offer a clear way forward on Brexit.”
Lee, who is currently an Assistant Headteacher at Saltash Community School, previously served as a diplomat working with expertise on Russia and the EU. He played rugby for Torquay Athletic and started his teaching career at Torquay Boys’ Grammar School.
An Ofsted Report into Children’s Services in Torbay has been published today and the Conservative run Council service has been judged to be inadequately run. Torbay was first found to be inadequate in this service area in October 2010.
Cllr Steve Darling Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council said “I am bitterly disappointed that Torbay has failed to turn the corner and that the Council continues to let down some of the most vulnerable children in Torbay with an inadequate service. This service was first judged inadequate in October 2010. In the last few months there has been a ten percent increase of the numbers of looked after children under the care of the local authority, to me this demonstrates Torbay Councils failure to tackle growing poverty in the bay, as most children are taken into care due to their parents suffering from alcohol or drug dependency.” The former chair of social services in Torbay, Cllr Darling, went on to say “I was shocked at the number of recommendations in the report where some of the same inadequacies of the service were repeated 2 years beyond the last full inspection. I am disturbed that throughout the judgements of the report there appears to be a lack of timeliness and aspiration for key elements of the service however as somebody who was adopted I am delighted that the adoption service in Torbay is now judged to be good. My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I will carry on to hold the local authority to account for this very important service to the local community.”
The key judgements are as follows-
Report published: 24 August 2018 Children’s services in Torbay are inadequate
1. Children who need help and protection
2. Children looked after and achieving permanence
2.1 Adoption performance
2.2 Experiences and progress of care leavers
3. Leadership, management and governance
Tormohun’s Liberal Democrat councillors Mandy Darling and Nick Pentney have welcomed the news that the loan agreement between Torbay Council and the proposed developers of a Torwood Street site has been signed.
This opens the way for the proposed development of the site that includes plans for a 113-bed hotel earmarked for Hilton Hampton, three new restaurants and possibly a gym which the developers will say will create up to 410 jobs.
Cllr Nick Pentney said: “We’ve been calling for action on eyesores such as Torwood Street for some time now. I’m pleased things are finally progressing after 9 years of delay.
“Now we are going to be vigilant to make sure work on the ground begins as soon as humanly possible. After all, we’ve seen a number of false dawns where developers have been given the go-ahead on a promising project only for the work on the ground to be perpetually stalled or for the project to fall through completely.”
Cllr Mandy Darling added: “The Liberal Democrats have been consistent in their calls for Torbay Council’s Investment Committee to play a greater role in town centre regeneration and for it to make more of its investments in Torbay rather than elsewhere. As such, so we are pleased with this news.”
According to a crime survey conducted by the Torbay Liberal Democrats, Torquay residents and businesses have serious concerns about the level of anti-social behaviour and want a more visible police presence on our high street.
Torquay Lib Dem Councillors Nick Pentney and Mandy Darling conducted the survey which involved both residents and local businesses in the town centre.
The results reveal:
- When asked to rank the problem of anti-social behaviour between 1-10 (1 being not serious at all, 10 being extremely serious) the average response was 8.
- 66% of local businesses had said they had been a victim of crime in the past 12 months.
- 93% of local resident respondents felt there were not enough police on patrol in Torquay.
- A greater visible police presence and tackling anti-social behaviour was identified as the top priority by respondents (see chart below).
Commenting, Cllr Nick Pentney said: “We had a great response to these surveys – both residents and local businesses were very keen to participate.
The results are clear: the lack of visible policing and anti-social behaviour are of huge concern for local people.”
Cllr Mandy Darling added: “The rise of anti-social behaviour and the decline of visible policing in Torquay is clearly no coincidence but in fact related. Not too long ago we had lots of PCSOs patrolling our town centre streets. But sadly, because of Conservative cuts, this is no more.”
She added: “We will be sharing these results with our Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner. It’s yet more evidence to show that not maintaining PCSO numbers in Torquay has been a mistake that needs to be put right.”
As part of their Plastic-Free Torbay campaign Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council are highlighting the fact the municipal taps on beaches in Torbay supply drinking water and can be used to refill bottles. Torbay Council is currently putting signage up stating that these water sources are drinking water.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council, Cllr Steve Darling, said: “People often pack bottled water for the beach. Now you can just pack your container to refill. It is less weight to carry and you are helping protect the environment by not having to dispose of a plastic bottle. “
The Torquay councillor went on to say: “I am finding that more and more people are using refillable containers as part of their plan to reduce the use of plastics .The Refill Devon campaign is a great initiative.”
Refill Devon is a practical tap water campaign that aims to make refilling your water bottle as easy, convenient and cheap as possible by introducing refill points on every street. Cafes, bars restaurants banks, galleries, museum and other businesses display a round blue sticker in their window inviting thirsty passers-by to come in and fill up their waterbottles for free. More than 30 businesses in Torbay have signed up to the campaign.
At May's Full Council meeting the Conservative-controlled council voted to enter into a developer partnership to redevelop the South Quay of Paignton Harbour including building on the Roundham car park, taking away at least 60 parking spaces. The proposal suggests at least 50 residential apartments, with units on the ground floor, which would bring in double the current rental.
But there is uncertainty as to whether the tenants will end up with an equivalent area of space to that they have now and whether their rent will double. This, along with the question of where the temporary accommodation, if any, will be during the building work and how these residential apartments will fit in with the working harbour, is the cause of many worries and fears for harbour users, tenants and local residents.
Chris Carter, a Roundham With Hyde Liberal Democrat councillor said: “I proposed an amendment that recommended the council engage further with the community regarding any development, so there could be true community ownership of the vision for the harbour. This was rejected by the Tory-dominated council “
She went on to say: “I fear the involvement of a private partner will take control away from the council. One only has to look as far as Oldway Mansions for an example of a local asset being left to rot by a private partnership that has gone wrong.“
The King George V playing fields, off the Teignmouth Road Torquay, are set to benefit from a £5000 grant to promote physical activity. The grant will provide facilities for football, golf and frisbee golf. Local Liberal Democrat campaigner, Deborah Brewer said: “The opportunity for this grant is only possible because the playing fields are due to be transferred to Fields in Trust. This follows a successful Liberal Democrat petition that persuaded Torbay Council to put right an 80 year old wrong and place these fields in trust in memory of King George the 5th .”
A fellow Liberal Democrat campaigner, David Ward, said: “This is great news as I understand that Torquay United in the Community will be reaching out to the public to encourage them to use these facilities. However, I am concerned that there is some uncertainty over the grant as the final formal transfer of the land has not yet occurred. I have challenged Torbay Council to speed up the transfer to protect the grant and these fields.”