The Royal Lyceum Theatre, formerly the Central Cinema, Torquay

MP Kevin Foster: Unleashed deliver vision of community arts centre

Kevin Foster

It was great to join the team at Unleashed Theatre Company for the grand opening of the Royal Lyceum Theatre.

In some ways it was a re-opening as the former Central Cinema in Abbey Road had first opened as a theatre back in the 1870s.

Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens are both known to have performed there, with many famous Bay residents having been regular patrons prior to the conversion into a full-time cinema in the 1930s.

The enthusiasm from the team at Unleashed to deliver their vision of a community arts centre at the heart of Torquay was on display throughout the event, with the freehold of the building secured to ensure it is one they can confidently invest in.

They have already managed, with a major cleaning effort, to get rid of the smell many moviegoers will have been familiar with, although the scale of the challenges to come cannot be underestimated as they seek to convert and upgrade the building.

Much of the potential for this building is there waiting to be uncovered, with the grandeur from its earliest days surviving behind modern ceilings and modifications.

It’s a perfect metaphor for the work Unleashed Theatre Company does to support people to unleash their potential, which may be hidden behind issues in their life. I look forward to supporting them to deliver this visionary project.

Sue Gray

The report from Sue Gray did not hold any punches in making clear the issues at Downing Street and the Cabinet Office, with many changes already made to change the culture which had existed there previously.

One part of Sue Gray’s report which was particularly disappointing to read was the reference to some working at the Cabinet Office and in Downing Street being rude to cleaners, security guards and custodians simply trying to do their jobs.

This behaviour is unacceptable, with apologies rightly being given.

It reminded me of an incident about four years ago.

I had bought some new shoes and on a rainy day discovered their soles were not very good on a wet walkway through parliament.

I was therefore walking very slowly to avoid slipping and hurting myself.

Plenty of people hurried past me as I did, including fellow MPs and journalists.

The one man who, having seen me doing this, immediately stopped to check I was OK and if I had hurt myself. Munir, one of Parliament’s catering team.

A reminder of how there are many truly great people who work in Parliament and the Government Buildings, often in the front-line roles keeping it running.

Surgery times

My next surgeries are on Saturday, June 11, from 11am to 1pm at Preston Baptist Church, 62 Old Torquay Road, Paignton, and Friday, June 17, from 10am to midday at The Windmill Centre, Pendennis Road, Torquay.

For an appointment you can either email me at or leave a message on 01803 214989.

Surgeries are for personal queries from residents they would like me to help them with, such as housing or welfare, rather than a wider policy debate.

There are also drop-in sessions at my office 5-7 East Street, Torquay, between 10am and 1pm, Monday to Friday, where a member of my team will be available to help with any queries.