Highs and lows of life in Paignton - and that 'Berlin Wall'

Torbay Weekly

Literally some ups and downs in Paignton at the moment

On the up side is news that it looks as if the Torbay Air Show will  be going ahead next year - it must be emphasised Covid permitting.

The down is a row over a sea wall plan for the town which has had the natives jumping up and down and fuelling  claims that Paignton is the poor relation of the Bay and Torquay gets all the investment and money (dread to think what they are saying over in  Brixham).

Confirmation that there are plans for an air show in 2022 came after a question from Paignton councillor Chris Lewis at this weeks cabinet meeting.  The event is now being pencilled for the weekend of the Queen's Platinum (70 years) Jubilee celebrations for the four-day long weekend starting on Thursday June 2.

Cllr Lewis said: "We were just discussing the events strategy. They are hoping it will happen next year conditions allowing. It is vital that it comes back to Paignton after the success of the previous years.

"It is great for the locals and visitors to Paignton and Torbay and it puts Paignton on the map."

Council leader Steve Darling confirmed: "This has always been the case. We did not want to cancel this year but it was out of our hands. The Queen's Jubilee is potentially the date because it is going to be a longer weekend."

Now on that seawall plan. There have  been waves of protest over the proposals almost as big as those the flood protection scheme is trying to stop from engulfing the town!

Following a recent consultation on the Paignton and Preston  sea defence scheme,  the council has decided to pause a planning application and will be 'seeking to re-engage with the community over the design and position of any  future structure'.

Defence is needed for the two areas amid predictions that due to climate change  over  the next 100 years the frequency and impact of water coming over the top of the current sea walls will increase, resulting in more properties being hit by flooding.

But community leaders have dubbed the original sea wall plan the 'Berlin Wall' and have come up with their own designs

The council has now been forced to start a 'revised and fresh approach to community engagement'.

Cllr Mike Morey, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, Environment and Culture, said: “We have listened to our local community and taken on board all of the feedback. Any future sea defence structure  will be there forever, or at least a very long time, so we must all endeavour to work together to get to the right solution."

The Paignton and Preston Community Partnership and the Paignton Neigbourhood Forum have taken the argument a little further and claim Paignton is always being treated as Torquay's poor relation.

"The difference between the quality of the promenades at Torquay and Paignton is massive. Millions have been spent on Torquay seafront projects in recent years," they say.

Local councillor Lewis doesn't disagree: "We are delighted that town is going to get £13milllion in High Street funding. I want to be positive and I know you have look at the bigger picture and exciting times are ahead for the town but you have to get the basics right."

On that score he talks about empty flower beds, problems with seafront lights and chunks of concrete missing or damaged on the prom at Goodrington.

He and the campaigners don't see similar issues over at Torquay. "That is why they think Torquay gets all the stuff,"  says Cllr Lewis.

Cllr Darling emphasised: "We are addressing that  balance." He points to the rejuvenation of Paignton harbour and the town centre Crossways redevelopment. And he says that it is hoped the £900,000 received by the council for housing land at Collaton St Mary will be spent on some of the town's issues.

You really cannot underestimate the importance of the high street funding. Then you have the two Fragrance hotels rising from the ground on the seafront and, yes, the harbour is taking on a new lease of life. It's not all  bad news - they just have to sort out the Berlin Wall!