Friday 27th January 2017
After a busy week it is time for my latest update.
Whilst Brexit and Donald Trump have dominated the headlines nationally my focus has been on issues affecting our bay. This has included meetings with the Schools Minister to discuss the proposed National Funding Formula and the Rail Minister to reinforce the message of the Save Our Trains Campaign. I was also pleased to be invited to read the Epistle at the Service organised by Christians Together in Torquay on Sunday at St John the Apostle to mark the week of prayer for Christian Unity.
The most significant moment of the week though was the Board Meeting of our local Clinical Commissioning Group, held yesterday at Newton Abbot Race Course. Dr Sarah Wollaston and I attended, along with many residents, to make a final plea for the services provided by Paignton Hospital to be retained.
(As pictured above) Sarah and I were able to address the board for two minutes each and raised several issues including End of Life Care, X-Ray Provision, Availability of Beds in Local Care Homes and a concern that the changes may result in more delayed discharges from Torbay Hospital. Sadly these appeals were ignored and the board decided to push ahead with the proposals, save some minor changes such as looking at retaining some specialist outpatient clinics in Paignton and Brixham. You can read a detailed blog of the meeting on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
Following yesterday’s decision I visited the Emergency Department and Assessment Teams at Torbay Hospital today to get a real feel for the pressures they face, plus see the changes made to react to them and deliver quality patient care. I also sat in on one of the meetings where teams from Social Care, Community Hospitals and different departments of Torbay Hospital discuss which bed spaces will be\are available and likely discharges. I also discussed plans for future developments to improve the services and what I could do in terms of lobbying to help bring them about.
This week’s update is below and includes: MPs Set for Brexit Vote, Rail Minister Hears Why He Must Save Our Trains, More Police Officers On Their Way, Former Hospital Chief Exec Pleads Guilty, Dambuster March to Downing Street, Question Time in Torquay, Charity Funding Opportunity, Mayor’s Fund Open For Bids, Paignton Ring Road Closure Reminder, Urgent Police Appeal, Community Group Funding Boost For Youth Services, Hospital Not The Only Hot Potato In Paignton and finally…...An Outfit For Radio?
MPs Set for Brexit Vote,
The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that Parliament must vote on whether the Government can start the formal process of negotiations for leaving the EU, better known as triggering Article 50.
This means that the Prime Minister cannot begin formal talks with the EU over exiting until Parliament gives its backing. The Government has responded by publishing a Bill which will be debated by the House of Commons over the next two weeks. The bill is expected to pass parliament in time for the Government's 31st March deadline for triggering Article 50. You can read the bill and follow its progress by clicking here.
I was in the House of Commons to hear Brexit Secretary David Davis MP's statement to parliament following the Supreme Court Judgement. I spoke in the exchanges that followed it and made the point that if tricks of parliamentary procedure are used by some in an attempt to frustrate it would only fuel public scepticism in the political process. You can read what I said by clicking here.
Rail Minister Hears Why He Must Save Our Trains,
On Monday I met the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard, to again stress the need to retain direct train services from Manchester and Birmingham to the bay.
I pointed out that changing at Exeter St Davids, as suggested by the proposals put forward by Crosscountry, would leave passengers with luggage facing difficult onward journeys to Torquay and Paignton. This would be particularly acute during peak periods when the GWR services on the Riviera Line are already full.
Whilst no indication of his likely decision was given by the Minister he made clear he understood the strong feelings on this issue and a decision would be made in the near future. He again mentioned to me that as a seaside MP himself he recognised the issue being raised in relation to tourists and their preference for direct services when choosing a holiday destination.
More Police Officers On Their Way,
Our local Police and Crime Commissioner, Alison Hernandez, unveiled her new Police and Crime Plan for 2017 to 2020 and the highlight was a pledge to provide more Police Officers.
The plan sets out the priorities for our local Police Force and how resources will be raised to pay for them. A key part of the plan is £24m of additional resources to put more officers on the streets which has been achieved by releasing reserves, changes in other areas and a planned 2% rise in the Policing precept each year until 2020. A 2% rise is equivalent to £3.40 a year extra for a Band D property.
The Chief Constable decides the exact deployment of these resources and has indicated he will use them to recruit at least an additional 100 Police Officers.
I welcome the news that more officers will be recruited and you can read the rest of Alison’s plan on the PCC website by clicking here.
Former Hospital Chief Exec Pleads Guilty,
There was a dramatic turn of events yesterday when former Torbay Hospital Chief Executive Paula Vascoe-Knight and her Husband pleaded guilty to a charge of Fraud at Exeter Crown Court
She was responsible for a shameful breach of the trust and responsibility placed in her. Four years ago she received a CBE for services to the very NHS she went on to defraud. This honour should now be removed. You can read more about the case on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
Finally I believe anyone accused of something should have a chance to put their case forward, not be presumed guilty purely on the basis of media coverage, hence my not commenting on the case until now.
Dambuster March to Downing Street,
One person who does deserve to be recognised with an honour is the last surviving British Dambuster, Johnny Johnson.
Yesterday a petition signed by over 240,000 people calling for him to be Knighted was delivered to Downing St by Carol Vorderman and John Nicol.
Sadly I could not join them due to the clash with the meeting on Paignton Hospital, but I hope their March from the Bomber Command Memorial will bring the recognition this true Knight deserves.
You can still sign the petition by clicking here.
Question Time in Torquay,
If you enjoy watching BBC Question Time you will be pleased to hear that it is coming to Torquay on Thursday 9th February.
You can apply to be part of the audience putting questions to the panel on the BBC website by clicking here.
Charity Funding Opportunity,
Charities in the Bay may be interested to know that 3 funds linked with the People’s Postcode Lottery have recently opened for applications.
The Postcode Trust, Postcode Local Trust and Postcode Community Trust have made £6 million available to local charities.
The application process is simple. The first round - which opens from 23 January until 10 February 2017 - starts with organisations being encouraged to submit an 'expression of interest' form. Charities will then be shortlisted to complete a full application for funding.
In August, interested groups and organisations can apply or re-apply when a second pot of £3million will become available. The maximum a project can receive is £20,000.
For more information on how to apply for funding, please visit the Trusts’ websites:
www.postcodetrust.org.uk www.postcodelocaltrust.org.uk www.postcodecommunitytrust.org.uk
Mayor’s Fund Open For Bids,
The fund established thanks to the pledge by Torbay’s Elected Mayor, Gordon Oliver, to donate half his salary to good causes is open for bids.
Grants of up to £1,000 will be allocated to winning projects that will be progressed in the following 12 months, with priority going to organisations and individuals based and operating in Torbay.
Local charities, community and voluntary sector organisations or individuals who wish to apply need to complete an application form which can be downloaded from the Torbay Council website, along with the Grant Scheme Policy to check for eligibility, by clicking here. Alternatively, you can request a form by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Ring Road Closure Reminder,
As mentioned in last week’s update there is set to be major disruption in Paignton as work to improve the Ring Road continues.
The section of the Ring Road between Spruce Way at Kings Ash to Churscombe Cross, (the roundabout near Ye Olde Smokey pub at Marldon,) will close at the beginning of February until the end of March and even after the road reopens there will be roadworks through the summer until Christmas with traffic lights in place.
The closure will allow major earth works to take place, but if you depend on travelling via this road on a regular basis do plan to allow plenty of extra time for your daily commute when these works are taking place.
Urgent Police Appeal – Missing Teenager,
An urgent appeal has been made by Devon & Cornwall Police for help to find a missing teenage girl who was last seen getting into a car in Teignbridge.
The 14-year-old was reported missing on Thursday, January 16 from the Kennford district of Teignbridge. The girl, named Jackie was last seen at 11am on Thursday. Jackie is described as white, 5ft 5ins tall, stocky build with long blonde hair.
Police believe Jackie may be a passenger in one of the following vehicles: A white Peugeot 406, registration number R966 FMJ; a white Iveco-Ford motor caravan, registration number F76 BAT or a black Seat Toledo, registration number OE05 GHF.
The Police have asked that if you spot these vehicles not to alert those with them of their interest but to contact them immediately on 999 quoting Log No. 268 of January 27th 2017.
Community Group Funding Boost For Youth Services,
A community group in Torbay has had a good start to the year after recently securing funding to help expand its services to be able to reach more young people in the area.
The organisation So-Fly, which runs out of Torquay's Windmill Centre has received the community grant from Sanctuary Housing, which will help them to extend their one-to-one support and advice sessions for young people in the Bay.
So-Fly provides face-to-face support for young people on everything from making themselves more employable, to concerns about bullying, depression and self-harming. These services will now be available between 9am and 9pm, Monday to Fridays, at venues across the bay including Windmill Community Centre, Foxhole Community Hub, and Great Park Community Centre.
You can read more on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
Hospital Not The Only Hot Potato In Paignton,
The future of Paignton Hospital was not the only hot potato in Paignton this week as the Zoo decided to give some of its residents who do not appreciate cold weather a treat.
The Zoo's bachelor group of Western lowland gorillas, a Critically Endangered species, play a vital role in the conservation of their species. Yet coming from more tropical parts they are not fans of the frosty weather outside, preferring to stay in a warm den on their island home. That is until tempted out by a warm Jacket Potato from the Zoo’s restaurant.
You can see the photos of 34 year old Pertinax, who weighs in at just under 200lbs, grabbing his warming treat on the Herald Express website by clicking here.
and finally…...An Outfit For Radio?
Ending on a lighter note there was a flurry of debate on Twitter this week after BBC Radio Devon and Spotlight host Victoria Graham published a photo that appeared to show her wearing nothing but a smile whilst presenting her regular radio show.
The reason for posting the snap was a debate on her show about a claim that being naked might be the key to happiness. Whilst it only showed her head and shoulders many (Male) fans quickly suggested she wear the same outfit when presenting Spotlight.
Victoria is being quite bashful about answering the question several people are asking, was it just a clever camera angle?, but it appears the result of the tweet might be an invite to appear on Page 3 after The Sun covered, or should that be uncovered, her story this week. You can read their article by clicking here.
That is all for this week and I hope you have a great weekend.