Steve Darling, leader of Torbay Council, writes for the Torbay Weekly

Cllr Steve DarlingCllr Steve Darling

This August bank holiday weekend did seem to be very busy around our seafronts. I hope you have managed to get out and about and have visited and supported our local businesses and attractions.

During the break I went to visit Paignton Zoo, which was busy with so many able to enjoy the attraction.

Unfortunately, we are in a situation where some of our attractions are still struggling with the implementation of the much-needed social distancing measures.

One particular sector that has been hit hard is the leisure industry. I had heard some weeks ago that there was an anticipated additional support for this sector. However, the Government will only recognise and financially support those leisure facilities directly run by councils.

Sadly, this leaves facilities in Torbay, such as the Riviera Centre and Torbay Leisure Centre, out in the cold.

This has resulted in the Riviera International Conference Centre announcing last week that it has had to take the difficult decision to start a consultation process with some of their staff who have been placed at risk of redundancy.

Like other towns and cities across the country, we have been hit with job losses.

This will become even more noticeable as the season comes to an end and this is why we will be continuing to lobby Government for a bespoke furlough scheme for the tourism industry, or targeted grants.

Either means of support is really needed to ensure we don’t suffer a deluge of redundancies this autumn.

Earlier this month the Government announced it was consulting on proposals in its White Paper for reforming the planning system in England.

The Planning for the Future consultation is proposing reform to streamline and modernise the planning process as well as bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed.

This is what the Government says is at the forefront of its plans.

However, I am concerned that it will distort housing growth away from our cities resulting in building on our green and pleasant land.

In Birmingham, there has been a reduction in their housing numbers by 15 per cent, whereas in Teignbridge there is a doubling of the anticipated housing target.

I also fear that these proposals will remove decision making from local communities and centralise them even further.

If you don’t fancy reading the whole document I do highly recommend googling Have We Got Planning News For You and taking a look at their recent YouTube video discussion.

They are joined by Chris Katkowski, a member of the Government’s task force that produced the White Paper. You do have some time to view these documents and the video as the consultation doesn’t close until October 29.

Finally, I would like to touch on the rollercoaster our young people have been on over the last couple of weeks.

Those who have been patiently waiting to receive their GCSE, A-level and BTEC results have had a nerve-racking time not knowing what grades they would be getting, especially after the uncertainty and Government indecision surrounding the algorithm that was used.

There has been so much uncertainty for them all, as well as anxiety about their next steps, whether that’s applying for university places or courses at our local further education providers. I feel this uncertainty will have a ripple effect in coming years and will impact those due to sit their exams next summer.

Talking of schools, I would just like to remind those of you who are starting the school run this week or next week that there is lots of guidance and support for those returning to school on the council’s website at www.torbay.gov.uk/returning-to-school-safely