Steve Darling - £750,000 invested into Bay-wide events strategy

After a very wet May, it was great to end the month with an outstanding bank holiday weekend. I was pleased to be out on the water kayaking enjoying the pleasant swells of an easterly wind. My highlight of the weekend was  supporting The Palace Theatre, Paignton, by seeing The Zoots, who were quite simply amazing. It really is so important that we support live venues like this across Torbay over this summer after the challenging year they have suffered.

Councillor Swithin Long and myself joined our newly recruited Recycling Support Co-ordinators at 6:30am last Tuesday. Their role is to encourage, educate and communicate with residents to help drive up our recycling rates. It’s essential to increase the amount we all recycle. Not only does it save money, but it also helps to tackle climate change.

During our visit, the team recorded who were participating in our doorstep recycling scheme. If a household hadn’t put out their food waste then a sticker was placed on the wheeled bin reminding them how to recycle their food waste. I was shocked to see how many residents weren’t using their food caddies.

We know that on average about 20% of the waste in residual bins is food waste and we need to decrease this further. I was amazed to hear that quite a few residents say the reason they don’t use their food caddies is because they feed their leftovers to their dogs, but there are so many things our pet pooches shouldn’t eat, such as chicken carcases, coffee granules and tea bags. Recycling even the smallest amount of food helps, for example recycling 6 tea bags creates enough energy to boil the kettle for another cup of tea!

As part of their role the co-ordinators speak to residents on their doorsteps to see if they can answer any questions. Encouraging us all to put the right materials into the right boxes is one of their key messages as this enables collections to be more efficient and reduces delays.

One big challenge is encouraging residents to present their waste correctly, particularly in areas with lots of flats. In some places inconsiderate residents are not leaving their waste and recycling out in the right way which can lead to rubbish being strewn across streets by seagulls. I heard about one gentleman who spent 40 minutes a week sorting out his neighbours’ recycling because it wasn’t presented correctly.

The recycling support co-ordinators also act as the cavalry when vehicles block roads stopping the collection of bins, knocking on doors to identify car owners who have parked inconsiderately.

It was so heartening to see the enthusiasm of the recycling support co-ordinators and how many local people are keen to engage with them. If you have questions on how to recycle more, or you want to order more containers or nets, then please visit the council website at

At the meeting of Torbay Council’s Cabinet last week we formally approved a £750,000 investment into a new events strategy and to support wider cultural and heritage activities. More funding is also expected from the English Riviera Business Improvement District.

Many of us have missed meeting family and friends at organised events during lockdown. A strong and vibrant events sector is essential and will enrich the lives of so many, including residents, businesses and visitors.

Up until now there hasn’t been a strategy or a cohesive approach to how we deliver events in Torbay. An all-year round events offer will encourage the creation of more local jobs and will help the economy - with events such as the English Riviera Air Show contributing approximately £7million to the Bay alone.

There has never been a more important time to develop and implement an events strategy, especially as we begin to emerge from the pandemic and look to support the tourism sector through its recovery.

Steve Darling is the Liberal Democrat leader of Torbay Council

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