'Government must step in to support Midas' Liberal Democrats across Westcountry demand

Liberal Democrat council leaders from across the Westcountry have written to the Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities to urge him to support Midas, one of the Southwest's major construction firms,  and their subcontractors.

Cllr Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, Cllr Alan Connett, Leader of Teignbridge Council, Cllr David Worden, Leader of North Devon Council and Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Leader of Somerset West and Taunton Council have send out a united call to Michael Gove for the government to step in to support the Midas Group.

On 28 January 2022 Midas Group, including its construction arm Midas Construction, and its housing division Mi-Space filed notice of its intention to appoint Administrators. Midas are the ninth largest private sector firm in the southwest with a turnover of £291m and 498 direct employees, however the employment through their subcontractors is vast.

The Group has significant construction works ongoing throughout the southwest and has offices in Cornwall, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Bristol, Newport and Southampton. These construction works include works at The Terrace, in Torquay, and two prime sites on Paignton seafront commissioned by The Fragrance Group, as well as at school across Torbay.

Councillor Steve Darling, Liberal Democrat leader of Torbay Council said: 'Midas filing it's notice of intention to appoint administrators is a grave concern for us.'

'We are becoming aware of the millions that are owed to subcontractors and are aware that this could significantly impact on thousands of jobs and businesses in the southwest.'

'If the government is serious about their levelling up agenda, then the Secretary of State must step in to stop this engine of regeneration from collapsing and sending the South West's economy in to reverse.'

 

The full text of the letter can be found below:

URGENT

Via email:

Michael Gove MP

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

 

 

My ref:

SD/LH

Your ref:

 

Telephone:

01803 201201

E-mail:

[email protected]

Website:

www.torbay.gov.uk

 

 

Date:

1 February 2022

Dear Secretary of State

Impact of Midas Group filing for administration and the Levelling Up agenda in the South West

We hope you have been made aware that on 28 January 2022 Midas Group, including its construction arm Midas Construction, and its housing division Mi-Space filed notice of its intention to appoint Administrators.  This is a significant concern for us - they are the ninth largest private sector firm in the southwest with a turnover of £291m and 498 direct employees, however the employment through their subcontractors is vast.

The Group has significant construction works ongoing throughout the southwest and has offices in Cornwall, Exeter, Newton Abbot, Bristol, Newport and Southampton.

We are becoming aware of the millions that are owed to subcontractors and are aware that this could significantly impact on thousands of jobs and businesses in the southwest.

We understand that the Government is about to announce further opportunities around the Levelling Up agenda. As Leaders of Councils in the southwest, we are gravely concerned that our existing need for levelling up will be significantly negatively impacted by the position with Midas and their subcontractors.  To ensure that the southwest can take full advantage of the levelling up agenda, we request that the Government give serious consideration as to how they can intervene to smooth the economic impact of this business challenge for MIDAS group and their subcontractors for the wider benefit of the entire region.  

We look forward to hearing from you urgently on this pressing matter.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council

Cllr Alan Connett, Leader of Teignbridge District Council

Cllr David Worden, Leader of North Devon Council

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Leader of Somerset West and Taunton Council

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North Shropshire not much different than Torbay

From Steve Darling, Liberal Democrat leader of Torbay Council

Going out and knocking on doors to speak to residents is an important way of keeping your feet on the ground and getting a true perspective of what is occupying the mind of residents in Torbay. New canvassers are often pleasantly surprised as to how welcoming people are. In mid-November, I attended an emergency zoom call with all Liberal Democrat Group leaders across the country, hosted by Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, stating that the North Shropshire by-election was within our grasp, as long as we could get enough activists there to speak to residents on the ground.

The following weekend, a carload of us from Torbay set off to North Shropshire with hope in our hearts. It was perhaps the strangest days canvassing that I’ve spent in Oswestry, where we had to break off canvasing to join in the Christmas carnival.

As we left Oswestry late afternoon, we felt that the seat was on a knife edge and could go either way. Little did we know that over the following three weeks, the Christmas party revelations demonstrating the arrogance of Prime Minister Johnson and his Conservative colleagues would supercharge the feelings of anger and contempt for this morally bankrupt Conservative government.

A few weeks later, I was delighted to wake up to our latest Lib Dem MP, Helen Morgan, telling Prime Minister Johnson that the party is over. This sensational by-election result in North Shropshire has sent shock waves through the Westminster village. No doubt the revelations about the Prime Minister and people around him failing to follow the rules set for the rest of us played a part in delivering a seat to the Liberal Democrats never before won by someone who wasn’t a Conservative.

One of many messages on the doorsteps was that the former MP was popular locally, that he was in the wrong, but that his position was made far worse by his Party trying to change the rules so he wouldn’t have been forced to resign and cause a by-election!
  
From the time I spent in North Shropshire what I heard was little different from what I hear from people across the bay. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised given the number of similarities in an area based on several distinct communities and around the same distance from London and Whitehall with a shared sense of being a long way from the centres of power.

I found that like our fishing industry, voters with agricultural interests were questioning the Government’s failure to replace EU funding as promised, and how new trade deals are worse than those they replaced.

I heard concerns about the effect of Covid on our NHS and its funding issues concerning staff numbers and services such as GPs and ambulances. There was genuine anger expressed by some older voters at care reforms that had promised an end to people having to sell their homes for care.

Just as in the Chesham and Amersham by-election the Liberal Democrats won in June, the rising cost of living, transport costs and a plan for children to catch up on their education disrupted by the virus featured strongly.

The most powerful message that I received was from lifelong conservatives who are willing to switch to the Liberal Democrats due to a local crisis in the NHS system, whether that be delays in the ambulance service helping with medical emergencies or problems accessing the GP service.

Torbay’s former MP Adrian Sanders worked out how the North Shropshire by-election change in the vote would play out here. He calculated that the same swing in Torbay would see a Liberal Democrat elected with 61.2% of the vote. The full result would be LD 61.2, Con 28.1, Green 5.7, Ref 5.1, Lab 0.6. Others 1.6.

He believes that if the Party can move from third place to first in a seat like North Shropshire, one that shares so many similarities to those in the Westcountry, there's not a single safe Conservative held seat anywhere in the South West region. 

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Bayview Autumn 2021

Below is the latest edition of Bayview - a free newspaper for Torbay residents from Torbay Liberal Democrats.

(A Plain text version can be found below the images)

 

 

Plain text of stories:

Crossways set for Demolition

(Picture of councillors holding hammers and pick axes outside the near empty Crossways Shopping Centre.)

The Liberal Democrat/Independent Partnership which runs Torbay Council has recently cleared another hurdle in it’s quest to redevelop the Crossways
Shopping Centre site.
Former Tory-led administrations chose not to use local authority compulsory purchase powers to sort out Crossways which sits at the core of Paignton.
However the new Lib Dem-led partnership got to work straight away to use these powers to sort out this eyesore.
The council’s decision to use a compulsory purchase order has gone to a public enquiry and finally the remaining objection has been withdrawn prior to a Public Inquiry hearing. Whilst a formal decision has not yet been made at the time of going to print, the withdrawal of the final objection moves the regeneration vision for Crossways one step closer to completion.
The Lib Dems are getting things done in our Bay. Cllr Christine Carter, Paignton town centre councillor, said, “The withdrawal of this final objection is great news for this scheme and for the residents of Paignton who have been waiting a long time for the regeneration of the Crossways site.”

WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES?

Over the summer we have had hundreds of responses to our summer survey. We have been taking your ideas with us into the council chamber and ensuring that what local residents want aligns with council policy.
Your Lib Dem councillors want to know that you think Torbay Council should prioritise.
Scan the QR code below to fill in our residents’ survey or follow this link:
www.torbaylibdems.org.uk/summersurvey2021

Torbay Council covers cost of Free School Meals over half term

5,500 children in Torbay are set to benefit from food vouchers funded by Torbay Council over the half term holiday.
This support is aimed at households currently on the Free School Meals scheme.
Cllr Cordelia Law, Torquay councillor and Liberal Democrat cabinet member for Children's Services, said, “We are offering help for families who are already
struggling.”
“I am proud of our administration for stepping in whilst the Tory government turns it’s back and ignores struggling families and children’s holiday hunger.”

CONSERVATIVES BREAK MANIFESTO PROMISES

Lib Dem Triple Lock suspended by Tories as pensioners face rising cost of living amid pandemic.

Heartless Tories cut £20 Universal Credit lifeline for families across Torbay.

National Insurance rise and health and social care levy leaves hard working residents out of pocket.

After the Conservatives broke their promise on pensions, 24,432 state pensioners in Torbay are set to loose out.
The ‘triple lock’ on pensions - where the state pension must rise each year in line with inflation, average earnings, or 2.5% (whichever is highest) has been
suspended.
Conservative MPs - including Torbay’s MP Kevin Foster voted to suspend the ‘triple lock’ despite a promise at the last election to keep it until 2024.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson Lee Howgate said: “The Conservatives are turning their back on older people here in Torbay - many of whom are living in poverty.
“First the Conservatives broke a promise to working people by hiking tax on National Insurance. Now they are hitting pensioners in the pocket as well.”
The Lib Dems pushed for additional support to address the impact of the pandemic on people currently living in poverty.
But Tory MPs blocked these plans and Labour abstained.
This is while the Conservatives have recently voted to remove £20 a week from the pockets of the most vulnerable in our society.
The reforms have also been criticised by the UN with their poverty envoy calling it an “unconscionable” move that breaches international human rights law and is likely to trigger an explosion in poverty.

People’s Pontoon set for Major Refurbishment

The Torquay Town Dock, also known as the people’s pontoon, is set for a £1.2 million makeover over a 3 year period starting this winter.
Installed in 2007 and able to accommodate 175 berths, there now needs to be urgent works done as some pontoons are showing signs of deterioration with some in danger of losing their structural integrity.
The Liberal Democrat/Independent administration's proposals to do the works was agreed at a council meeting on the 30th of September.
Work will start this winter and will be done over 3 winters. The cost of the work will be borne by the Harbour budget.
Torquay Town centre and harbour side Liberal Democrat councillor Mandy Darling said, “This is really positive news, not only for the many local users of the Dock but for the many groups that have vessels there including the Disabled Sailing Association and the Seas Scouts.
Disabled people are able to use this Dock as well as it has disabled access.”
Fellow Councillor Nick Pentney said, “This renovation is great news and follows on from other regeneration work in the Tormohun Ward such as the new seafront lights and the improvements at Upton Park”

£4.8 Million for Two New Solar Farms

Lib Dems act on Climate Emergency

Torbay Council has committed £4.8 million to develop two solar farms, one at Nightingale Park in Torquay and the second at Brokenbury, between Paignton and Brixham.
The proposed size of the Nightingale solar park, a former waste tip, could generate up to 3 megawatt-hours of electricity – enough to supply around 900 homes.
It is expected these installations would generate income from the sale of the electricity which would then be used to fund schemes that benefit local people and further Torbay’s climate commitments.
This is one of several schemes the authority plans to roll out in order to take ambitious action to address the climate emergency and reach it’s target of net-zero as an authority by 2030.
Cllr Jermaine Atiya-Alla, Torbay Council’s Climate Change Champion and Liberal Democrat councillor for Ellacombe said, “I am delighted that we are investing in these two solar farms in Torbay.”
“Since declaring a climate emergency at the start of our council administration in 2019 we have been putting in the hard work to look at what steps we can take as a council to ensure we are heading towards a carbon neutral Torbay and this will be a massive step in the right direction”
“It is welcome news that the Torquay solar farm may be set to power Torbay Hospital.”

NEW BRIXHAM FISH QUAY IN £20 MILLION BID

A new Fish Quay for Brixham has been included in the £20 million bid that Liberal Democrat led Torbay Council have submitted to the Government.
If successful, it will enable the council to reclaim land and extend Brixham harbour and fish market with 7,000 new square meters of land. This
reclaimed land would also enable 5 extra vessels to offload at the port at a time.
Cllr Swithin Long, Torbay Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, Tourism and Housing said, “This investment could lead to 150 extra jobs with employment across the whole year and generate more than £11 million a year for Brixham’s economy.”

JOIN OUR CAMPAIGN FOR MORE POLICE IN TORBAY

Liberal Democrat Council Leader calls on Chief Constable for more police resources in Bay.
Local Liberal Democrats launch campaign for more visible police presence in town centres.
Number of police officers in Devon and Cornwall has fallen by nearly 300 since 2010.

Liberal Democrats in Torbay have demanded that more uniformed police officers are deployed to the Bay’s town centres.
Leader of Torbay Council Steve Darling said, “I have written to the chief constable demanding that we have more officers in the bay by the end of this calendar year.”
“When the level of crime in Torbay is considered our allocation of uniformed officers is the poor relation to the rest of Devon and Cornwall constabulary.”
Torbay Liberal Democrats have launched a campaign calling on Devon and Cornwall police to deploy more officers to Torbay.
Your part in this campaign is vital.
Please scan the QR code on the left to get involved and add your name to our campaign.

It is vital that residents from across Torbay back our campaign.
Scan the QR code on the right to sign our petition or follow this link: www.torbaylibdems.org.uk/MorePolice

National HGV driver shortage leaves rubbish piling high

Government failure leaves residents with bin woes as council invests in future of Torbay’s waste service.

Torbay residents have been let down by the Conservative government’s failure to invest in the UK’s number of trained HGV drivers.
With freedom of movement removed, a long waiting list for HGV driver tests and drivers retiring over the pandemic, the government failed to put provisions in place to deal with the driver shortage the nation faced.
With national companies looking for new drivers, some of our local bin waggon drivers left to join these national chains. This resulted in bins across the bay being left full for days on end.
SWISCo is now investing in our HGV drivers locally with training and new joining incentives being offered as Lib Dem led Torbay Council tackles the HGV driver shortage in Bay head on.

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Join the Torbay Climate Conversation – Tuesday 2 November

Torbay Council’s third community conference will be taking place in November and this year it will have a focus on climate change - how we can work together to help make Torbay Carbon Neutral by 2030. 

The Torbay Climate Conversation will be the first of many conversations in the Bay that the council wants to have with its residents, local community and businesses about climate change and how we can all together reduce our carbon footprint.

The conversation, which is supported by the South West Energy Hub and is also part of the national COP26 programme of regional events, will be taking place on Tuesday 2nd November from 1 pm to 5 pm at South Devon College.

Climate Change experts from the University of Exeter will be there sharing the science around climate change, along with local community groups and businesses who will be showing how they are making changes in the areas of travel, open spaces and around food and waste minimisation. Those that attend will also have an opportunity to share their hopes and fears for the future and what support they feel they need to make the changes needed.

Leader of Torbay Council, Councillor Steve Darling, said: “Our previous community conferences have been invaluable to us, which is why we want to carry on having conversations with our residents and community to understand how working together we can help the Bay become carbon neutral.  We want to share our plans and hear from you and understand what support you need to help with the changes we all need to make. We know that tackling climate change is good for our environment, but it can also help us create new jobs, improve our health, save us money and help Torbay Thrive. 

“As well as being part of a number of round table discussions where you can share your thoughts you will also be able to pick up a number of simple and easy tips that you will be able to implement and start your journey to becoming carbon neutral.”  

If you would like to attend the conference, please visit Eventbrite to register your interest. There will be limited places. 

The conference follows the report published by Devon Climate Emergency and their recently held independent Devon Climate Assembly, which revealed the three controversial climate change resolutions the attendees at the assembly feel the need to focus on. These were retrofitting homes; the role of onshore wind; and decarbonising transport. 

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Have your say on plans for a solar park in Torquay

Liberal Democrat led Torbay Council have agreed to spend £3.1m to fund the construction and delivery of a solar farm which will provide renewable energy to Torbay Hospital.

Members of the public are invited to view the proposals for Nightingale Solar and Recreation Park at a public consultation event on Monday 27 September. This is being held at St. Martin’s Church Hall in Barton Hill Road, Torquay, between 2.30pm and 8pm.

Torbay Hospital will be using the power, a move which will go some way towards helping us achieve our carbon neutral priorities.

As well as installing the solar panels, the proposal includes maintaining and upgrading the existing paths and providing new pedestrian footpaths. The landscape enhancements will ensure wildlife is given careful consideration.

Councillor Swithin Long, Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration, Tourism and Housing, said: “We are committed to becoming carbon neutral and this proposal helps in a big way towards achieving this.

“This development will also ensure Torbay Hospital is one of the greenest in the country.

“There will be wider community benefits as we’re also going to upgrade existing paths, create new ones and improve the landscape – not just for people but for the area’s wildlife population too.”

There is the potential for up to 10 per cent of the surplus generated from the solar project to be made available for community use within one mile. These locations are currently unknown but we would be keen to hear people’s suggestions.

Nightingale Park is a former landfill site which was in use from the 1950’s until the 1980’s. This solar park will provide 3.2MWp (megawatt peak) of power and has the ability to provide energy for approximately 25 years.

It will also generate quality, well-paid jobs in design, construction and maintenance.

The solar panels will cover approximately 3.9 hectares within a secure fenced area extending the area to 5.82 hectares, equivalent to seven football pitches.

This area will be monitored by CCTV. The buildings needed to accompany the panels include a transformer kiosk and switch gear kiosk.

A planning application is due to be submitted in October with a decision expected early next year. If approved, work could start next summer and be completed by January 2023.

You can read more details of the scheme on the solar park consultation page here: https://www.torbay.gov.uk/council/consultations/solar-and-recreation-park-at-nightingale-park-torquay/

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A massive thank you to our volunteers

It’s been a tough time for those on the frontline of the emergency services in the last eighteen months with the pandemic generating extraordinary pressures. As restrictions ease, there is a pent-up demand on the NHS and a very busy summer for our police, ambulance, firefighters and coastguards in Torbay.

This is why the partnership between Independents and Liberal Democrats that runs Torbay Council is proposing that on September 9th we hoist the official flag of  ‘Emergency Services Day’ above the Town Hall.

Two million people work and volunteer in the NHS. We know the heroic stories of those who worked in intensive care for endless, high-pressure shifts, but the NHS is like a machine and every part relies on another, from the human resources department to the pharmacy, from the bio-chemists to the hospital discharge team.

One reason our country has been able to respond to the high drama of  Covid-19 is because we have a NATIONAL health service, the legacy of enlightened politicians and social campaigners in the 1940s who recognised that for the country to be healthy all had to be healthy.

The Beveridge report was drafted by the Liberal economist William Beveridge, who proposed widespread reforms to the system of social welfare to address Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness. The report formed the basis for the post-war reforms known as the Welfare State, which included the expansion of National Insurance and the creation of the National Health Service. The pandemic has reminded us that social status and private healthcare cannot insulate you from a rampaging disease that knows no boundaries. It is only by everyone locking down, everyone following the rules and everyone accepting vaccination, that the disease will be beaten.

The NHS and emergency services have led by example. Who can forget the frontline staff who went into isolation in hotels to keep their families safe?. In care homes in South Devon, staff moved in to ensure that their elderly vulnerable residents were protected. We hoist the flag for you too.

Volunteers also played their part in  fighting the pandemic. The Torbay Community Development trust set up the Torbay Helpline, manned by volunteers with help from Torbay Council and the health service. We also saw councillors from all parties on Torbay Council delivering food parcels and supporting their communities in their hour of need. When mentioning councillors a special tribute should be paid to our youngest councillor in Torbay, Ellacombe councillor Jack Dart who played a pivotal role in establishing the Torbay Help Hub, a community Facebook group that continues to be a go to place for mutual support in Torbay.

National politicians have bragged about the vaccination programme in the UK. We are right to be proud of it but we need to acknowledge that whilst health professionals have been the backbone of this service the volunteers have acted as the oil in the machine and have ensured the smooth running of this process. When I visited the Riviera Centre in Torquay for my vaccine I was in and out within 5 minutes.

These volunteers embody the good citizenship which means that we have been able to draw strength from our neighbours and friends during the last eighteen  months, for example running errands to the shops for those who were  shielding or just too frightened to go out.

My hope is that such community spirit continues because we are not out of this yet. Throughout the pandemic Torbay has shown it is a resilient and resourceful community and we have worked together like never before. At a recent meeting with the National Lottery a number of participants from the charity and voluntary sector reflected on how Torbay was well placed to push on towrds  developing a shared vision for our communities. There are still significant areas for improvement, but like battle-hardened soldiers our communities across Torbay have a strong foundation to build upon.

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Making change happen from the ground up

Cllr Steve Darling - Leader of Torbay Council

Nothing says more about a town than its centre. It’s the place that brings people together from across all its communities. The centre is the town’s heart and will be the place that most residents and visitors will know. Rightly or wrongly, it will be the place that determines  many people’s view of the town in its entirety. Put as simply as possible,  Torbay’s town centres matter.

I know that when I speak to people on their doorsteps, their key focus is very often on improving our town centres. We have been successful in securing just under £40M in Future High Streets funding and Town Deal funding for Paignton and Torquay respectively. We have also and have lodged ambitious levelling up plans for Brixham in excess of £10M. Whilst this is a critical part of Torbay’s long-term future, we can’t ignore the social issues that are affecting our town centres.

Towards the end of last month, Shaun Sawyer, Chief Constable for Devon and Cornwall Police, and Alison Hernandez, Police and Crime Commissioner visited Torquay. The visit was focused on what could be done to reduce antisocial behaviour in the heart of Torquay.

Personally, I’ve been appalled to hear and see the extent of some of the antisocial behaviour that occurs in Torbay, particularly the open use of drugs and unacceptable behaviour on and around our high street. This summer I’ve also been visiting hoteliers in Croft Road and Belgrave Road who have shared their experiences about unacceptable behaviour on our streets. When I meet with anyone, I always encourage them to report incidents of anti-social behaviour as they are happening. The walkabout gave the opportunity for local businesses to share their concerns, especially around response times to shoplifters and anti-social behaviour.

I know that the ward councillors for Tormohun, Mandy Darling, Cordelia Law and Nick Pentney recently wrote to all residents in and immediately off Belgrave Road encouraging them to report such behaviour. The fact of the matter is that if this kind of behaviour  is unreported, then it will not show up as an issue for the police to deal with.

It was great to see the ‘can do’ approach that is being taken by local business owners. To tackle anti-social behaviour at Torquay Marina, Sean White from Wesup took the innovative approach of taking over some of the space managed by MDL Marinas. Sean and his team have turned a disused space into a thriving terrace which offers stunning views of the inner harbour. This is a great example of how, despite the ongoing financial challenges of the pandemic, businesses are helping to drive change for Torbay. 

The visit also focused on those who support some of our residents who are most vulnerable. We had a very useful conversation with the manager of the Leonard Stocks hostel and a good conversation with some of the professionals who support well over 1,000 clients who are on drug or alcohol addiction programmes. As we approached the Town Hall for a final wash up meeting, it was sobering to see a 41-year-old woman unconscious at Castle Circus. The police sergeant with us stayed with her and arranged for an ambulance to get her to A&E.

Together, we need to drive forward change. We know that there have been misguided cuts by the previous administration to the supporting people budget and we need to see how we may be able to reverse this. We are developing a clear action plan with key partners with regard to how we can work together to tackle these issues. It cannot be down to one agency, body, or business to make change happen. The changes we all want to see, won’t happen overnight, but as a result of  having a shared vision, understanding and commitment. Together, we can ensure the people of Torbay thrive.  

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Torbay on the Move supports the Bouncing Back to Sport weekend

Please note this event has now been cancelled due to high COVID cases in the Bay

 

Torbay Council has contributed £2,500 to support an exciting weekend of sporting events.

 

The ‘Bouncing Back to Sport’ weekend will enable local residents to try out a variety of sports sessions for free at Torquay Tennis Club.

 

As part of the councils ‘Torbay on the Move’ strategy which is supported by an investment of £150k after years of under investment into local sport, Torbay on the Move aims to get more people more active and into sport.

 

On Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July, Torbay Sports clubs are showcasing the different types of sports available that are open to everyone again now that lockdown restrictions have eased.

 

With a theme of ‘sports, health and fun’ it is hoped the festival will be one of the biggest sporting celebrations seen in the Bay.

 

The event will be formally opened by Councillor Terry Manning, The Worshipful the Mayor of Torbay, with live music provided by Torbay Brass Band.

 

Over the weekend, festival goers will get to experience activities such as taekwondo, baton twirling, basketball, yoga, hockey, table tennis, archery, Zumba, football, cricket and gymnastics as well as a range of water sports.

 

The last 12 months have been really difficult for both sports clubs and participants. Not being able to take part in sports is not only detrimental to people’s physical health, but their mental wellbeing. We are delighted to be able to support this initiative as part of our progress towards developing our Torbay on the Move strategy. We will be announcing even more sports and exercise-related events and activities over the coming weeks.

 

Kirsten Neilson-Hunter, Secretary of Torquay Tennis Club, said; “As a result of COVID-19 we wanted to provide an opportunity as soon as restrictions were lifted to give something back to the people of Torbay. We wouldn’t have been able to put on this event without the support and help from Torbay Council and Sport Torbay, who have been so wonderful. The enthusiasm and positivity from the various clubs has been staggering.”

 

Andy Pelling, Chairman of Torquay Tennis Club, said; “I know just how hard these past 12 months have been for local sports clubs, the organisers, the children, the parents, the volunteers and everyone. People have had to endure so much, so now is the time for Torbay to enjoy all that its sports clubs have to offer.”

 

The Bouncing Back to Sport weekend is open from 10am on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July from 10am.

 

For more information on Torbay on the Move, including the Bouncing Back to Sport and Believe to Achieve funding opportunities, visit https://www.torbay.gov.uk/leisure-sports-and-community/sports

 

Further information on Bouncing Back to Sport can be found via www.torquaytennisclub.co.uk or by calling Torquay Tennis Club on 01803 209500.

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Torbay Lib Dems accuse Kevin Foster of breaking promises and betraying world’s poorest

Nick Pentney, Liberal Democrat councillor for Tormohun ward, Torquay, has accused Kevin Foster, Torbay’s Conservative MP, of abandoning their election commitment on international development spending by voting to maintain the UK’s cut on foreign aid spending, which will endanger the lives of people around the globe.

In the 2019 General Election, Conservative MPs including Kevin Foster stood on a manifesto promise to “proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GNI on development”.

This week, the Government won a vote in Parliament to continue their recently announced annual £4bn cut of Britain's international development spending from 0.7% to 0.5% GNI for at least 5 years.

Nick Pentney, Liberal Democrat councillor for Tormohun, said:

“Torbay needs an MP who will keep their word. When Mr Foster stood for Parliament in 2019, they pledged to support the 0.7% target on aid spending. They have callously broken their promise and abandoned millions of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our world.

“Kevin Foster’s vote will have an enormous impact on the most vulnerable, costing lives, stopping girls from going to school and putting a wrecking ball through vital projects like tackling the climate crisis.

“The Liberal Democrats have supported international development spending for over sixty years and put the 0.7% target into law in 2015. It is the right thing to do, both for the UK, and those who need our help. Kevin Foster has voted to end that commitment. It is wrong.”

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

“Every Conservative MP stood on a manifesto commitment to the 0.7% target. They have now voted to cut the development budget for at least the next five years, if not more. It will do irreparable damage to Britain’s reputation across the globe. Now is the time for leadership - but instead, the Conservatives want Britain to hide from its responsibilities during a global pandemic.

"Conservative MPs have broken their promise to the world’s poorest and to the British people and, as we saw in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, voters in the blue wall won’t forget that. These events make a mockery of Global Britain.

“Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to reinstate the 0.7% target, which we enshrined in law. Foreign aid spending protects the most vulnerable people around the world and gives them a better chance at life. This is not over.”

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Steve Darling - We are committed to being a carbon neutral council

There’s no question that we live in a beautiful part of the world and we want to keep it that way. Climate change has become a huge issue over the years, and rightly so – it should be taken seriously. As a local authority we are committed to becoming a carbon neutral council. We have a responsibility to do our bit to help Torbay and  encourage our communities to do the same.

Lots of active travel projects are taking place across the Bay to benefit our health and wellbeing, quality of life, the economy and even our pockets! Five new projects are being launched this summer as part of our ‘Liveable Towns’ scheme which aims to make Torbay more accessible and encourage more cycling. They include a new cycle path on Torbay Road, working with residents to find out how we can encourage active travel and reduce traffic in Winner Street, Paignton, talking to residents about how we can improve cycling routes in and out of Brixham and a scheme for improvements alongside and near to Furzeham Primary School in Brixham. As a tandem rider myself, I know how intimidating it can be when lorries or buses appear to give little regard to push bike users on the highway.

But that’s not the only way we are trying to support our transport network. During the lockdowns many people stopped using public transport. Our partnership administration decided to not fund bus operators at historic levels at a time when they had furloughed bus drivers and reduced services. So, we changed the way we paid this concessionary funding. As a result, we have saved around £950k and we are now reinvesting that in our transport system.

We are using half a million of this money for highways maintenance and to repair signage. £50,000 is set to help develop an electric bus scheme in Torbay. Working with Stagecoach, we have expressed our interest in funding to help us buy several electric vehicles.. This will help achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and strengthen Torbay’s resilience in a changing climate. Buses are one of the greenest forms of transport. a fully loaded double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road, reducing congestion and transport’s impact on the the environment.

With the funding saved through the concessionary bus fare scheme we are also offering free bus passes for families entitled to free school meals. Each pass enables up to two adults and three children to travel for free over the summer. After an incredibly difficult 16 months, this will help struggling families to explore Torbay and spend some quality time together. It’s something many of us take for granted, but for those dealing with tight finances it’s an opportunity to get out together and visit areas of Torbay that they otherwise might not be able to afford to do.

Another tranche of this money is being used to support some of our care experiences children to get them out and about using our buses. It always strikes me as extremely perverse that it is more expensive to use public transport in areas outside London, our capital. This is something the government should address.

Rather than ploughing money into keeping bus routes open that had no demand we have taken steps to use this money more wisely. We have invested in our transport structure and are giving back to our communities in a different way.

Travelling by bus is just one of the ways we can help the environment. During lockdown many of us ditched out cars and took up walking and cycling to exercise. Now we’re being encouraged to continue these good habits and stay active when we travel to work or school, and to meet friends and family.

We could all save an average £400-£600 a year by walking or cycling to school or work instead of driving. That’s got to be worth it!

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