The announcement Torquay would receive £21.9m of investment via a Town Deal was a great boost.

It seems a long journey since 2018 when, after Grimsby had secured a pilot Town Deal, the Torbay Together Partnership and I arranged for a delegation to meet then Minister Jake Berry to discuss the thoughts we had for a Town Deal in our Bay.

This lead to the development of ideas and when last year the Government announced a plan for more Town Deals Torquay was firmly on the list.

This deal is not just about delivering a set of projects, but where we want to be as a Bay in 2030.

WHAT ABOUT PAIGNTON?

Some reading about the Town Deal will inevitably be thinking this sounds great for Torquay, but what about Paignton?

While Torquay was listed as part of the Town Deal Fund, Paignton is part of the Government’s Future High Streets Fund. A bid I have been actively supporting is currently with Government for up to £19m from this fund to help transform Paignton town centre.

The result of this bid is expected shortly and it would be fantastic for the first time in a generation to have major improvement works underway in both Paignton and Torquay town centres at the same time!

FUTURE SKILLS

At some point the current pandemic will be over and life will get back to ‘normal’.

Our economy and many public services could look very different due to long-term trends - such as moving business and work onto digital platforms - which have been accelerated by recent times.

It is also vital our next generation can work on major projects like the rebuild of Torbay Hospital and delivering the projects which are part of the Town Deal which will boost our economic recovery.

This means jobseekers must have the skills they need to take up the jobs of the future and we cannot let a generation be lost to the jobs market due to the current situation.

Hence it was good to engage with the principal of South Devon College about the work him and his team are doing to ensure the college is ready to meet this training challenge, alongside the work done to help fill more traditional gaps in sectors like health and social care.

It was also a reminder of why we must keep our schools and colleges open to ensure our next generation have the skills they need to succeed.

SURGERY TIMES

Subject to emerging public health guidance, I am still holding my weekly advice surgeries, although they must be by appointment only.

My next surgeries are on tomorrow (Friday, November 6) from 3pm to 5pm and Saturday, November 14, from 11am to 1pm. Both will be held at 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD.

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.