Torquay Liberal Democrats hail “long overdue” progress on Torwood Street plans

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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.”

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Crime survey findings show it's time that Torquay had its PCSOs back

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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).

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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.”

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Water Bottle Refills on our beaches

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.     

www.recycledevon.org/RefillDevon

 

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Fears over the future of Paignton Harbour

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.“

 

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King George V Playing Fields Get £5000 Grant

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.” 

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Bus Boost Thanks to Liberal Democrat Campaigning

Three bus services across Torbay have been given a boost following campaigning by Liberal Democrats and the community.  The 60 bus service, which serves residential areas between Torquay Harbour and Paignton bus station, has had a more reliable bus provided to ensure greater reliability.  The 65 bus service has made a welcome return. It serves the town centre  and Torbay Hospital, connecting communities such as the Lyme View estate, the Willows and Hele to these locations. 

 

The 67 bus service, which mostly serves Brixham, has been replaced with a dial-a-bus service from Brixham to Torbay Hospital. The Torbay Community Developent Trust will be running the service using volunteer drivers. If you have a PSV licence and would like to volunteer to help you can contact the Torbay Community  Development Trust on 212638 and ask for Richard Bray. 

 

Ellacombe Councillor Cindy Stocks said “Last year the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council amended the council’s transport capital programme to allow money from the programme to help fund these services.  We also proposed a further amendment that transferred £60,000 to a section of this plan that particularly supports buses.” 

 

She went on to say “Our bus services continue to be under threat. Torbay Council is the only authority in the South West that chooses not to fund any bus subsidies from local tax payers. As part of this year’s budget the Liberal Democrat group proposed that there should be a £150,000 bus subsidy fund. Sadly, this was rejected by Torbay’s Conservative-run council.”

 

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Torbay To Go Plastic Free Thanks To Lib Dem Initiative

Many people in Torbay and across the UK were moved by the recent ‘Blue Planet’ programme which highlighted how single use plastics are blighting the UK’s seas, beaches and marine life. This in turn affects people as the plastic can end up in the food we eat.

In 2016 the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that by weight there could be more plastic than fish in our seas.

Given the importance of fishing to Torbay’s economy, and the attraction of the sea to tourists who visit year after year, Liberal Democrat councillors Swithin Long and Christine Carter tabled a motion to a recent Full Council meeting calling on the council to go plastic free, and to join a campaign run by Surfers Against Sewage (SAS)  and a local newspaper so that Torbay becomes part of 125 other communities in Devon going plastic free. The motion called for the council to:

  • Phase out the use of single use plastics (such as cups) in all council buildings and events;
  • Increase the amount of plastic that can be recycled through doorstep recycling;
  • Work with businesses and the tourism sector to participate in the scheme;
  • Sign up to the SAS Plastic Free campaign;
  • Install a free drinking water fountain in Paignton Library;
  • Create a Plastic Free Taskforce.

In response, the  Mayor agreed with the motion, and in particular agreed to:

  • Join the South West Marine Plastics Initiative with the Groundwork Trust to focus on tackling marine plastics;
  • Replace single use plastics in all council and partner’s buildings;
  • Join the Refill Devon scheme which is a tap water campaign seeking to introduce water refill points and  install a refill point in Paignton Library;

The council will also look for new markets that can accept more difficult to recycle plastics and the Mayor also agreed to join the SAS campaign.

Commenting on the successful motion, Councillor Swithin Long said:  “The Blue Planet Programme was a wake-up call to people across the country about the damage that plastic is doing to our sea, the animals who live in it and ultimately to ourselves because the plastic ends up in the food chain. I am pleased that the council has agreed to play its part.” 

Councillor Christine Carter said:  “Under a previous Liberal Democrat administration Torbay Council played a pivotal part in Torbay achieving Fair Trade status. We are pleased that the council has agreed to play its part in Torbay becoming plastic free.”

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Totnes and Brixham Prospective Parliamentary Candidate - Caroline Voaden

Caroline Voaden is the newly selected Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Totnes constituency.

Caroline is a former correspondent and editor with Reuters news agency and more recently owned and ran the Social Fabric craft business in Totnes which closed last year. She currently works in marketing for a local business and lives in Totnes with her husband Stuart and younger daughter Laura.

“I joined the Lib Dems because of its united stance on Brexit and I will continue to campaign for a meaningful vote on the deal once we know what it is. I don't belive it is undemocratic for people to be given the chance to change their minds once the full facts are clear.

“However the Lib Dems aren’t a one policy party and I fully support our initiative to raise taxes by 1p in the pound to support the NHS and social care. I also want to see an increase in funding to the police to make sure that effective community policing isn’t lost forever, fair funding for all of Devon’s schools and I want to push for truly affordable housing in our communities and the provision of social housing for rent.

“I hope to meet lots of you as we campaign for local elections next May in Torbay and for the next general election – whenever that happens! If you would like to contact me about any issues or would like to help my campaign to unseat Sarah Wollaston, then please get in touch with me at carolinelibdems@gmail.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/carolinevoaden. There’s lots to do and every hour or two helps!”

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Tories Cut Policing Numbers as Crime is on the Up

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Tories have been short changing the public by cutting police numbers in Devon & Cornwall.  Home Office figures demonstrate that there are now 162 fewer uniformed crime fighters in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary.  The official statistics show that in 2015 there were 1,727 uniformed crime fighters compared to the 1,559 today.   (Source: the Mirror newspaper)

Nick Pentney, a Torquay town centre Councillor, said: “We have massive problems with crime and anti-social behaviour in our town centre.  More and more people are telling me that they don’t do their shopping in the town centre any more.  There was a time when Torquay had sufficient levels of PCSOs who could deter criminals and give shoppers and residents peace of mind. We desperately need those PCSOs back on our streets.”  

Steve Darling, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council, said :“Torbay is a hot spot for crime compared to many other areas of Devon and Cornwall.  It is a busy posting for serving officers and this has resulted in a massive drop by 80% in the numbers of PCSOs  in Torquay.  Torbay Liberal Democrats have now launched a petition demanding that the Police and Crime Commissioner funds more officers than her plans currently recommend”.  You can sign this petition at http://www.torbaylibdems.org.uk/policing_survey

Open letter to Alison Hernandez

Dear Alison,

Earlier this week the Liberal Democrat group on Torbay Council received a very useful update from Simon Jenkins of Devon and Cornwall Police.  We were impressed with the work he and his colleagues are undertaking to serve communities in Torquay.  However, we were not impressed with the new form of delivery of community policing in Torquay.  Whilst we were aware that in the last few years the number of PCSOs has gone down from 25 to effectively 5 (one is off on long term sickness leave) we were not aware that Torquay is an outlier in the rapid reduction of these posts .We accept that officers have to work with the financial hand you and the Chief Constable have dealt them, but we are very concerned that the police service has chosen not to recruit more PCSOs in Torquay in the light of this massive drop in numbers. The new model of delivery will effectively see an end to community policing in Torquay as we know it. 

 

You will no doubt recall the former Chief Constable, John Alderson, who in the late 70s trailblazed the use of community policing which resulted in Devon & Cornwall benefiting from some of the lowest crime rates in the country.  As Liberal Democrats, we strongly support community policing and object to its continuing destruction on your watch.  At a community meeting last night in Hele, people were concerned about the lack of policing in one of our most deprived communities in Torbay.  The shortage of officers to tackle crime in Torquay will result in the concentration of resources in our town centre and some of our more deprived communities facing a collapse in community policing involvement. 

 

I am particularly shocked that you, as Police and Crime Commissioner, have chosen not to demand that the Chief Constable recruit more PCSOs for Torquay to fill this gap.  Are you happy that your legacy as PCC will be that of the postholder who gave the last rites to community policing as we know it? I look forward to receiving your comments. 

 

Best wishes   

Steve Darling

Liberal Democrat Group Leader

Torbay Council

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65 bus makes a welcome return

Local residents have been delighted to learn that that the 65 bus service has returned. The Torbay Community Development Trust (TCDT) have registered the service with the Traffic Commission and recently commenced running it using volunteer drivers.

Last year the Liberal Democrats on Torbay Council amended the council’s transport capital program to allow money from the program to purchase a bus for this route. We also proposed a further amendment that transferred £60,000 to a section of this plan that particularly funds busses.

Torbay Council is the only authority in the South West that chooses not to fund any bus subsidies from local tax payers. As part of this year’s budget the Liberal Democrat group proposed that there should be a £150,000 bus subsidy fund, sadly this was rejected by Torbay’s Conservative run council.

The 65 bus runs according to the timetable below:

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