For Americans, July 4 is the day their celebrate their independence, but this year it will be a massive day for our Bay as well.

Over the last three months major progress has been made in the battle against Covid-19, not least thanks to the hard work and efforts of our local NHS and social care teams.

The threat has not completely gone away and social distancing rules must apply but we are now in a position where our tourism and hospitality industry can re-open.

This summer will be different from others, propping up the bar will be replaced by using an app to order.

There will be no packed nightclub to dance the night away in, popular festivals have been cancelled as large crowds are discouraged and this season’s ‘must have’ accessory will be a face covering.

Yet what visitors love about our Bay will still be there for them, the natural beauty, the unique attractions and the many family businesses which have served generations of tourists.

The easing of restrictions will be kept under review but with more than 12,000 local residents having been furloughed and many who are self-employed having lost their income it is vital we make a success of the summer season now the advice is we are clear to reopen.

Not doing so would not only risk an economic disaster, but a social and health one as well.

SECURING OUR RAILWAY

Six years ago our region’s vital rail link was left hanging in the air as storms crashed into the sea wall at Dawlish.

Over the last year work has been progressing on building a new sea wall at Dawlish, with the first phase nearly complete.

Now Network Rail has submitted a planning application for the second phase of work at Dawlish.

Ensuring our rail links are resilient is as vital now as we seek to bounce back from coronavirus as it was back in 2014.

These plans need to be quickly approved and implemented.

REGENERATING OUR TOWNS

The recent lockdown has accelerated the changes affecting our high streets and town centres.

Paignton’s Future High Streets project is vital, bringing with it the potential of millions of pounds of Government funding for regeneration work and to create much-needed new housing to breath new life into the centre of the town.

The plans being developed will help restore the best such as the historic Paignton Picture House and remove eyesores like Crossways shopping centre, while improving the street scene around Paignton station and in Torbay Road.

Given the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown, these plans for Paignton cannot come a moment too soon.

SURGERY TIMES

Based on the current advice relating to coronavirus, I have cancelled my regular advice surgeries and drop-in sessions at my East Street office, although I am planning to restart them in July.

In the meantime, a telephone call surgery appointment can be arranged.

You can call and leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

I also run a weekly update service via email about my work in parliament and here in Torbay.

You can join the list to receive it by emailing me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com with the word ‘subscribe’ in the subject line.