Gearing up for busy second half to the Easter break

Joseph Bulmer

April 12 is usually a red letter day for me, as it is my birthday. This year, with restrictions being lifted, this date also had more significance for others than normal.

This Monday morning it was great to visit Claire, director at Beverley Holiday Park in Goodrington, to hear how they have been gearing up for a very busy second half to the Easter break.

With 70 staff employed, and many of these being all year round posts, such holiday parks are crucial employers for our communities.

Swithin Long, our Cabinet member for tourism, housing and economic development, and I went on to meet Dennis Flynn, the new CEO of the Wild Planet Trust, and some of his core team members at Paignton Zoo.

It was great to see families enjoying themselves at this outstanding attraction.

The zoo keepers were keeping a careful eye on the animals in case they were overwhelmed by the sight of visitors after months of only seeing their keepers.

The Wild Planet Trust, the organisation that runs Paignton Zoo, is keen to work with Torbay Council to reach out more to communities in South Devon and enhance our biodiversity.

Their ‘Bee Hotels’ initiative is a project that would be worth exploring to see if we can support similar projects across Torbay within council parks and gardens.

With our visitor numbers starting to increase, as the’ road map’ kicks in allowing domestic holidays, an additional pressure that the Government fails to acknowledge in our funding formulas is the need for more money for waste and recycling services for these visitors.

The Liberal Democrat/Independent Partnership has put consultation with the public at the heart of decision making and next week the council’s Cabinet will vote on a new resource and waste management action plan covering refuse collection and disposal, recycling, public bins and all manner of actions associated with this crucial area of a council’s work.

The new proposed action plan is the result of extensive consultation with the public, business interests and community groups and I hope it will fulfil both our statutory and moral responsibility to help reduce pollution and tackle climate change.

At its root is the idea of involving residents so that they take positive action to reduce the amount of waste we generate.

Prevention is better - and cheaper - than cure. To that end, it seeks to increase the reuse of products and increase Torbay’s poor recycling rates.

Given the constraints of central Government funding – £500,000,000 lost over the past decade – we have to use what resources we have to best effect.

We want to reduce the amount of waste that we generate in Torbay by reusing goods and materials. Each tonne of residual waste costs local tax payers £93 to dispose of at the ‘Waste to Energy Plant’ in Devonport.

This action plan identifies where we can reduce demand through prevention and innovation and charges SWISco to put in place initiatives and mechanisms - including improved education, engagement and communication - which aim to achieve this.

We will not be introducing three weekly bin collections.

The really big challenge will be to help people understand the need to put the right material in the right box,  not only to avoid contamination but to help the efficiency of our hard-working collection crews.

We aim to do this through the usual forms of communication – literature, social media and advertising – as well as by asking front line council/partner workers such as health visitors, carers, GPs, schools and college to assist in spreading the message.

To enhance this process the council has hired three recycling officers to promote good recycling practice in Torbay.

In short, the aim of the action plan is to encourage positive behaviour change, to increase the recycling rate and to contribute towards the national targets of 55 per cent recycling by 2025 and 60 per cent by 2030.