As we enter the second lockdown, many of us will take some time out to reflect on our lives and what we want in the future. But as we look to the future it’s also important to remember the past, learn from our mistakes and celebrate our successes.
Remembrance Sunday was very different this year. Due to Covid-19, services were not held in their usual format, but there were lots of opportunities for us all to mark the occasion in different ways.
As the much-reduced civic ceremony approached 11am, the haunting sirens of our visiting cruise liners marked the beginning and end of our two-minute silence. This gave an eerie atmosphere to the familiar service on Torquay seafront.
This weekend was particularly poignant for me as my great aunt Muriel was a serving Wren in the Second World War and sadly lost her battle against coronavirus earlier this year.
Remembrance Sunday was an opportunity to remember her and so many others who have lost their lives serving our country.
There are many people who deserve our respect for making personal sacrifices, both now and in the past, to safeguard our lives and our futures.
We only have to look around our own neighbourhoods to see this.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic there have been so many positive stories about how organisations and individuals continue to come together to help the most vulnerable people in our communities.
As we start the second lockdown, it’s important to remember that a simple gesture like picking up some shopping or medication for someone who can’t get out of the house can make such a huge difference to their lives.
It’s wonderful to see that young people are also doing their bit, such as Alfie Dean who was one of the first winners of the Mayor’s Special Recognition Awards.
Alfie set up the Babbacombe Pantry outside his home in March so that elderly and vulnerable neighbours didn’t have to visit the shops during the first lockdown.
He also delivered over 100 food parcels to vulnerable children and continues to fundraise for the NHS.
It’s this kind of community spirit that I hope will continue through the pandemic and out the other side. There is strength in numbers and by all of us working together we can make a difference.
On Monday, November 2, I and a number of councillors had the opportunity to visit, in a Covid-secure way, the two Fragrance Group hotels under construction on Paignton seafront.
Some of the challenges that they are facing include the tidal nature of these sites and the fact that they have to coordinate their laying of concrete with the state of the tide.
Some of the piles on the site have had to be driven as deep as 15 or 16 metres to ensure a solid foundation, as the land the hotels are built on is reclaimed from the sea.
At a time of economic challenges, it was great to see two busy sites.
The two site managers live in Torbay, and one of them was telling us how he had worked with South Devon College to develop their T-Level qualification.
MIDAS also confirmed that they had a number of apprenticeships on site offering an opportunity for our young people to enter the jobs market in a productive way.
With Torbay set to benefit from the Torquay Town Deal and the Paignton Future High Streets funding, I and the partnership of the Liberal Democrats and Independents who run Torbay Council are keen to formalise the offer of work experience and training on our new development sites across Torbay.
We are, therefore, exploring with officers of the council how we could include employment and skills plans in larger developments, which would help promote such opportunities in Torbay as a part of the planning system.