Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council are set to object to the Conservative elected Mayor's budget this Thursday, the 7th February. Their motion demands a plan to turn round Children’s Services. The service, which is now managed by Plymouth City Council following two failed OFSTED inspections, is set to overspend by more than four million pounds by the end of the current financial year.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council, Cllr Steve Darling, said: “We usually put a number of objections forward at budget time but we felt the crucial issue for the local authority is to tackle the continuing challenges that Torbay faces in Children’s Services. We have the second highest number of children taken into care in the UK, here in Torbay. The Council needs to turn the tide on poverty in the Bay by improving this service and ensuring that, whatever activity Torbay is undertaking, it considers how it could be reducing poverty.”
The proposer of the motion, the Torquay Liberal Democrat councillor Nick Pentney, said: “Foster carers are the backbone of the service and we need to ensure that more of our children in care are supported by Torbay foster carers. We can do this by adequately supporting them every hour of every week.. We also need to ensure that that there is a clear retention and recruitment strategy for social workers. By getting this budget properly managed Torbay can help those most in need in our community and stop the need for financial freezes to the whole Council budget resulting in Torbay becoming even more tired and neglected.”
The motion is as follows -
That the Council formally objects to the elected Mayor’s revenue budget proposals on the basis that:
There are serious issues facing our communities in Torbay; the levels of poverty in Torbay continue to increase significantly, Torbay has the second highest number of children who are looked after in the country (per head of population), our Children’s Services is set to incur a 4 million poundoverspend in the current year which has resulted in a spending freeze on other services across Torbay, so that our built environment and public open space has become even more tired and neglected. Furthermore, the Elected Mayor has failed to identify a clear strategy to stabilise the overspend of the service.
The service particularly needs additional wrap around support for foster carers and an improved strategy for the retention and recruitment of social workers. Therefore, Council object to the Elected Mayor’s budget on the basis that it should identify funding of a minimum £150,000 to support working on these specific areas.
In accordance with the Constitution at F2.9, the Council therefore requires the elected Mayor to consider this objection by 14 February 2019 and either:
a) submit a revision of the estimates or amounts, as amended by the elected Mayor with the reasons for any amendments made to the estimates or amounts, to the Council for its consideration; or
b) inform the Council of any disagreement that the elected Mayor has with any of the Council’s objections and the elected Mayor’s reasons for any such disagreement.
Proposed by Councillor Pentney
Seconded by Councillor Darling (S)
The Liberal Democrats have written to Torbay council’s Conservative elected Mayor urging him to take urgent action to save the 60 and 65 bus services which are due to be suspended on the 8th December. The bus services provide vital links to Torbay Hospital, Torquay town centre and to residential areas across Paignton and Torquay.
Local Resident Maureen Pearce said “It is a real life line I use it three times a week. I can walk down the hill but it is getting back up with shopping is the problem.”
The leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Torbay Council, Cllr Steve Darling, said: “These bus routes provide a vital link to many hilly residential areas, where many people will struggle to go about their daily lives without this transport link.”
Cllr Swithin Long said: “These bus services are crucial for people to access the hospital, and Torquay’s town centre. We are calling on the Mayor to look into what has gone wrong and to seek to find a solution to protect these bus services.”
Councillor Swithin Long has written to the Mayor. His letter reads:
Councillor Steve Darling and I have tabled a motion for the council meeting on 5th December regarding the proposed suspension of the 60 and 65 bus services, which provide vital links to Torbay Hospital and Torquay town centre. The 60 bus service also serves residential areas between Paignton and Torquay.
Given that the bus services are due to be suspended 3 days after the council meeting, and the impact on the residents who rely on this service to go to the hospital or to go about their everyday lives will be severe, I would be grateful if you consider the points raised in the motion and take action to protect these vital services.
As well as the points suggested in the motion I would urge the council to reach out to other bus operators to see if they would be interested in running the 60 and 65 services.
The motion that has been tabled reads: “This council notes with grave concern the announcement concerning the suspension of the 60 and 65 bus services.
Torbay Council recognises the vital service that these bus services provide to frail and elderly residents providing a vital link to the hospital, and also to Torquay town centre.
Following the announcement of the suspension, residents have highlighted a number of issues. These include:
- Buses breaking down regularly resulting in an unreliable service which may have put people off using the service, resulting in a lack of income;
- Vehicles having to be fixed regularly, presumably at some cost;
- The lack of any meetings between the Torbay Community Development Trust and service users, resulting in a lack of communication about the serious financial situation that was developing. This lack of communication has negated any opportunity for users of the service to promote the service or fundraise for it;
- No communication with ward councillors about the financial situation until the suspension announcement denying any opportunity to explore other funding opportunities;
- Limited promotion of the bus services following the launch.
The council calls on the Mayor to establish an urgent Task and Finish Group to discover what has gone wrong and to explore potential funding solutions to sustain these vital services in the future, both short term (so that the services can cover the vital Christmas period) and longer term."
END Of MOTION
I look forward to your consideration of this letter and your reply.”
Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council have welcomed the decision by the chief executive of Torbay Council not to push ahead with the taking in house of the joint venture company TOR2. This company delivers such services as waste and recycling, roads maintenance and parks maintenance.
Cllr Steve Darling, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council, said: “We fear that this joint venture company was never properly held to account by Conservative-run Torbay Council and plan to ensure that over the remainder of the contract the quality of this management is significantly improved. We fear another summer of missed bins collections unless there is serious improvement.
Our thoughts are with the staff who have had months of uncertainty. We fear the Council could be left with a large bill for picking up the pieces at the end of this contract in 18 months’ time.”
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.”