Our community spirit shines through especially at Christmas

Train decked out in Christmas lights

Train of Lights - Credit: Stephen Coombes

For many of us at this special time of year, children take centre stage. That was certainly the case when 700 foster families, special guardianship families and other youngsters and carers supported by Children’s Services, embarked on the Dartmouth Steam Railway Christmas Train of Lights. Owing to popular demand, the steam train made two journeys, setting off from Paignton Steam Railway and travelling to Kingswear and back again.
This is the second year that the Dartmouth Steam Railway has been extraordinarily generous in offering up for free this special experience at Christmas time. Generous offers like this from our local businesses really help to create happy memories for some of the most vulnerable children in Torbay and is a shining example of community spirit at the start of the festive season.
 The Managing Director of the DSR was brought up in a family who fostered and so he knows how important it is to provide children with loving homes. Speaking to some of the staff, it was lovely to hear them say how this event for fostering families was their favourite day of the year as it felt good to give back to the community.
 Ahead of the Christmas recycling rush, I visited Paignton’s Household Recycling Waste Centre with other councillors to meet SWISCo employees and find out more about how the centre is run.
 As someone who is registered blind, I am always interested in how we can be supportive to people with disabilities. When I quizzed the manager on the subject of helping people, such as those with learning disabilities, into employment, he told me that there were three people with a learning disability working on the site who are all valued members of staff.
 Part of the process of dealing with our recycling waste is bailing our discarded plastic into large cubes so it can easily be transported. We are in the process of purchasing a new bailer for the site to replace the existing one. The current bailer is around 45 years old and has done very well, but it is costing us thousands of pounds in yearly repairs.
 The new equipment will also help us to reduce our carbon footprint. The machine has two rams instead of just one and they will compact the bales more densely. This means more can be packed onto the articulated lorry that take the material to be reprocessed, reducing vehicle movements by around 28 lorry loads a year. This will save money and  the environment.
 SWISCo is committed to making the right investments to ensure waste and recycling collections continue with the least disruption as possible. Since  the summer, because of  the national driver shortage, the company, owned by Torbay Council, has been looking into alternative solutions to HGV vehicles.
 As we head towards Christmas, plans are being put in place for waste and recycling collections across the festive period, including additional capacity to collect the extra cardboard left out at this time of the year.
 Owing  to Christmas falling on a weekend this year things are made slightly easier as it means there are no changes to our waste and recycling collection days. To try and avoid delays and help crews carry out more efficient collections, please remember to sort your recycling into your boxes, put no more than two excess cardboard boxes out per week, place your nets on top, and put your boxes out by 6am on your usual day of collection. Wrapping paper is often made of mixed materials, so unfortunately SWISCo are unable to accept it in recycling boxes this year.
 I am happy to hear the Christmas tree recycling points are returning for another year, and all the Christmas trees collected will be sent for composting. For more information on when and where you can bring your tree, along with other festive recycling updates, have a look at the Torbay Council website. http://www.torbay.gov.uk/christmas-recycling