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Local Link to withdraw bus services - more information below
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Residents' Update: Friday 17th February

 
Dear All,

As another Friday comes around it is time for Kevin's weekly update. Unfortunately, due to a number of technical difficulties, much of this week's update comes from Kevin's Parliamentary staff in Westminster. Normal service will be resumed next week.

After Kevin's extremely busy week both in Westminster and the Bay last week, the last few days have been slightly quieter with Parliament being on its 'half-term' recess. This means that most of the work across both offices has centred around goings on in the Bay, with the main issue being the announcement that Local Link will be withdrawing their bus services from April 1st - more on that below. 

It does mean however that Kevin has found some time to be able to put together a 'Parliamentary Half-Term Report', which you can find in this week's update along with: Local Link Bus Announcement and Update, Torquay Pavillion Redevelopment Plan, Torre Redevelopment, Latest Employment Figures Released, Cliff Strengthening Works at Hollicombe Beach, New Trains for the South-West, Paignton Ring Road Reminder, and finally...Very Superstitious...

Local Link Bus Announcement and Update 

As many of you will already know, earlier this week, Local Link announced that they would be cutting back on a number of their services across the Bay, with the withdrawal of 16 bus routes from 1st April. The routes affected are the 25, 108, 109, 60, 61, 62, 64, 65, 67, 67A, 67B, Sainsbury's Torquay SB5-SB6 & Sainsbury's Paignton SB1-SB4. Given how vital these services are to many, especially as they often reach parts of the Bay that other public transport links do not, Kevin has already contacted Cllr Mark King, and will be meeting with him next Thursday to discuss what can be done.

However, the situation could have changed by then as Torbay Council has announced that talks are already underway with another operator which is interested in taking on the routes. The Council's Business and Executive Services Team will be meeting with the as yet unnamed company on Tuesday night, and are also in talks with the Torbay Community Development Trust, and further information will of course be provided in next week's update, as well as online via social media channels.

Maps of the affected routes can be found on the Herald Express website.

Torquay Pavillion Redevelopment

The most recent proposals for the redevelopment of Torquay Pavillion, involving a £32m plan to build a 5 floor, 60 bedroom hotel as well as an 11 floor block of 43 residential apartments, has been given the backing of Torbay Council planning officers.

After taking everything into consideration, including economic and environmental effects, the planning officers have decided that the plans should be given the green light subject, to clarification of design details and the impact of shadowing on public spaces.

The proposals will now go before the Development Management Committee on Monday 27th February.

Torre Redevelopment Plan

Sticking with redevelopment plans in Torbay, one set of proposals that did receive final approval this week was the plan to redevelop the former B&Q and Korean Martial Arts Centre on Tor Hill Road, and the former chapel on Zion Road.

The £7m plan will see the sites in Torre, just up from Kevin's office, be converted into 29 residential units and homes, 17 car parking spaces, 3 garage spaces, and 663 square metres of retail or commercial floor space.

Given the condition of both sites, Kevin was pleased to see that the plans were approved and that building works will  begin shortly.

Employment Figures

This week, the latest set of national employment figures were released, with the Bay once again seeing a reduction in unemployment.

The number of people in Torquay and Paignton claiming the main unemployment benefits is down 7% on this time last year, and is down 55% since January 2010. Although figures across the country are improving, a number of constituencies saw increases in the amount of people claiming the main unemployment benefits, making this fall all the more impressive.

Cliff Strengthening Works

For anyone walking down by Hollicombe Beach over the next few weeks, you may see a rather unusual site - an off shore barge and a number of construction vehicles will be depositing approximately 14,000 tonnes of rock into the sea.

The project aims to create a 'rock barrier' which will protect a 120m length of cliff which is at risk from further damage. When complete, the barrier will absorb some of the energy from waves during extreme conditions, ensuring that the already exposed cliffs do not succumb to further damage.

New Trains for the South-West

Passengers travelling towards Devon and Cornwall are one step closer to experiencing new trains on the route as Hitachi Rail's Italian Factory has taken delivery of body shells for the development of new trains for GWR.

The trains, 36 of which are destined to connect Devon and Cornwall with London, are due to be put into use in 2018, and will see improved quality, numbers of seats, on-board facilities and, crucially, better reliability. As the trains will use bi-mode technology, allowing the use of both electric and diesel power, the trains will be able to withstand the region's weather conditions, including the challenges posed by the Dawlish coast. 

Given that two trains were damaged by waves crashing over the sea wall at Dawlish on Monday night, the delivery of the new trains will be a welcome addition and will vastly improve the resilience of our rail network.

Paignton Ring Road Reminder

A reminder that works on the Paignton Ring Road have now begun, causing major disruption.

The section of the Ring Road between Spruce Way at Kings Ash to Churscombe Cross, (the roundabout near Ye Olde Smokey pub at Marldon) has closed 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 do plan to allow plenty of extra time for your daily commute when these works are taking place.

and finally...Very Superstitious...

The Herald Express reported this week that, touch wood, Devon is the most superstitious county in the UK!

According to the survey, a whopping 57% of people in Devon would classify themselves as superstitious which, fingers crossed, makes us the only county where the majority of people are superstitious.

Other facts from the survey include 49% of Brits having a lucky number, 28% having an unlucky number, and 9% believing the number 13 brings good luck! (38% said it brings bad luck)

That is all for this week and have a great weekend.
 
Best Wishes,
 
James, Nick and the Team


Half-Term Parliamentary Report
 

Meetings with Ministers

The most important part of my work as an MP at Westminster is representing my Torbay constituents. 

Since Christmas, I have held face-to-face meetings with senior Government Ministers on a number of subjects relating to Torbay. These include local Government devolution; proposed cuts to the CrossCountry Trains service (about which I presented a sizeable local petition to the Rail Minister); as well as meeting the Schools Minister, accompanied by 3 local headteachers to discuss the impact of the National Fair Funding Formula on our schools. 

I have also taken the opportunity on a number of occasions to informally lobby Ministers on behalf of a number of individual constituents and their issues. The recently awarded and much delayed Legion d'Honneur Awards to 3 of our Torbay Normandy D-Day Veterans is a good example of the work I am able to do behind the scenes to help the people I represent. 

Committee Work

An important part of my role as an MP is sitting on Committees. On Mondays and Wednesdays I sit on the prestigious and influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which is chaired by Labour MP Meg Hillier. I work on a cross-party basis with Meg and MPs from other parties to hold the Government and spending departments to account. 

Taxpayers in Torbay have a right to know that their taxes are being spent wisely and the PAC exists in effect to act as the Government's auditor. Ministers can expect a public wrap on the knuckles if the Committee finds that their departments are not giving value for money.

On Tuesdays I sit on the Backbench Business Committee, which allocates time for MPs to raise important issues, often about their constituencies, in the House of Commons. 

In recent weeks, I have also been asked to sit on a Bill Committee, which has closely scrutinised new legislation relating to local Government. Being an MP quickly makes you realise that there is a massive amount of knowledge and expertise in the House, both amongst MP colleagues and the Clerks and advisors who support us.

Private Members' Bills

At the end of last year, I began the somewhat daunting task of trying to get 4 of my Private Members' Bills on to the statute book, and into law. Time for these to be read and debated in Parliament is always the biggest challenge, so I was pleased that my Broadcasting (Radio Multiplex Services) Bill recently passed its 3rd Reading, went through the Bill Committee stage successfully and has now been sent to the House of Lords. 

I have had an awful lot of support, both from fellow MPs and officials at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, to enable my Bill to get to this stage, and I will regard it as a real achievement as a relatively new MP if I manage to make a law.

The Bill is a fairly simple one that will allow community radio stations to access carriage on digital radio multiplexes, by allowing the creation and licensing of small-scale multiplexes.

A particular personal passion of mine as an MP is animal welfare. I am hoping in the coming weeks to pass legislation through my PMBs on animal fighting sentencing and wild animals in circuses.

I will keep you updated after the reading of my Bills next Friday.

Government Bills

Since Christmas, the House of Commons has been preoccupied with the issue that has gripped the country as a whole since 23rd June last year - Brexit.

I know from my own constituency postbag that there is still a lot of interest in this issue in Torbay, and understandably so. Although I campaigned to Remain in the EU, I have always held the view that the result should be accepted and that it is time support the Prime Minister when she says 'Brexit means Brexit'.

I was pleased that Parliament was given extensive opportunity to debate this issue in recent weeks, with almost 200 MPs speaking during the debate, and very late finishes as we voted on numerous amendments to the Bill. It cannot now be said that parliament has not had its say on Brexit. 

I voted along with the overwhelming majority of my fellow MPs to support the triggering of Article 50 - it is now time to crack on and negotiate with the 27 other EU countries the best deal for Britain outside of the EU. 

All in all, a very interesting and stimulating Parliamentary session. Parliament returns again next week - please do not hesitate to contact me if you feel I can represent you in any way.

Events

Cockington Horse Exhibition

Until 19th February - Linhay Visitor Centre, Cockington, Torquay, TQ2 6XA
Time - 11:00-15:00
Cost - Free
Click here for more information

Stoneage School

Until 19th February - Kents Cavern, 91 Ilsham Road, Torquay, TQ1 2JF
Time - 10:00-15:30 - final entry at 15:30
Cost - Usual charges apply
Click here for more information

Maidencombe Winter Wildlife Ramble

22nd February - Maidencombe Car Park, Maidencombe, Torquay, TQ1 4TS
Time - 10:00-12:00
Cost - £7 to be booked in advance
Click here for more information

Cafe and Social Club by Chelston Action Group

22nd February - St Peter's Centre, Queensway, Torquay, TQ2 6BP
Time - 10:00-14:00
Cost - Free to attend
Click here for more information

Are you running an event in the Bay? I am always looking to promote local events, big or small. If you have an event coming up, please email kevin.foster.mp@parliament.uk so it can be included.
Advice Surgeries


25th February 2017 - 11:00-13:00 - Torquay Library, Lymington Road, Torquay, TQ1 3DT

4th March 2017 - 10:00-12:00 - St Martins Church, Barton Hill Road, Torquay, TQ2 8JA

10th March 2017 - 15:00-17:00 - ANODE, The Monastery, Berry Drive, Paignton, TQ3 3RD

It's always best to book a slot to guarantee being able to see me. Full details of how to do this are on my website or call my office on 01803 214989, Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm.

Website

Over the next few weeks, Kevin will be trialling some new sections on the website, including a specific section with his views on various national policy campaigns under the campaigns page.


Kevin always appreciates feedback when trialling new sections, so if you have any thoughts on the changes, or if there is anything you would like to see on the website, please email kevin.foster.mp@parliament.uk

Copyright © Kevin Foster, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
5-7 East Street, Torquay, TQ2 5SD

Call my office on:
01803 214989 (Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm)

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Promoted by Kevin Foster, Torbay Conservatives, Preston Conservative Club, 299 Torquay Road, Paignton, TQ3 2EY