I am delighted to hear plans to rejuvenate the eyesore which is the Crossways Shopping Centre with new affordable and extra care homes, plus commercial space are moving forward.

Local Cllr Barbara Lewis has campaigned for action and Torbay Council agreed in September 2019 to purchase the site, via compulsory purchase if necessary.

A planning application will be submitted soon for 90 extra care and sheltered affordable housing units for local people, with commercial space retained on the ground floor for businesses.

I am grateful to the leadership of the Council for regular updates on this work.

Extra care housing is also known as assisted living and residents will have their own self-contained flats but with staff available to provide personal care and support services.

This is similar to the facilities provided at Whitley Court near Paignton Zoo.

Crossways is an eyesore which has blighted Paignton town centre for too long and I would, like most Paignton residents, be only too happy to lend a hand with demolition works if this plan gets the go ahead.

NITROUS OXIDE

As a Home Office Minister, I can be asked to cover business in parliament relating to any area of its work, not just my own brief.

So last week I was asked to reply to a debate about the misuse of nitrous oxide, a problem which has become more visible during lockdown due to the empty silver canisters commonly left littering the street after it has been used.

Nitrous oxide is legal to buy for its legitimate purposes, including filling balloons and as a propellant for whipped cream, but illegal to sell for its psychoactive properties.

While known as ‘laughing gas’ the effects of long-term use can be anything but funny, hence I outlined work being done to tackle online venders who are reckless as to who and what they are selling this product for.

FLU VACCINE

A major extension to the flu vaccination programme was announced by the Government last week as part of plans to help prepare the NHS for winter.

A significant new group will be eligible for the free flu vaccine as people aged 50 to 64 will be invited later in the season for a vaccination.

Other groups will also be included including people who are on the shielded patient list and members of their household, all school year groups up to Year 7 (first year of secondary school), people aged over 65, pregnant women and those with pre-existing conditions including at-risk under-twos.

This move is very welcome and the expansion of vaccine availability in recent years has helped keep this killer in check.

SURGERY TIMES

Following recent changes in public health guidance, I have restarted my regular advice surgeries, although they must be by appointment only.

Social distancing measures will be in place and please bring a face covering with you unless you have a medical condition which means you cannot wear one.

To book an appointment you can email me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com or telephone 01803 214989. Daily drop-in sessions from 10am to 1pm weekdays are also available at my office at 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD for residents with urgent queries.

Please be prepared to wait outside if more than one person attends at the same time.