Council leader: We're doing all we can to help waste and recycling services

HGV lorries in a lay-by in Colnbrook, Berkshire, for their rest period. The Government has announced

Torbay Council is working hard to resolve the issue of the shortage of lorry drivers - Credit: PA

While out speaking to residents, particularly when campaigning for Cllr Cat Johns elected earlier this year, Crossways was described as a concrete eyesore in Paignton town centre, but now it is one step closer to being transformed.

For many years residents have been asking the council to do something about the derelict undercover shopping centre, but as it was in private hands, that wasn’t an easy task.

This partnership administration knows how important the neglected site is and that is why we have made it our priority to take the necessary steps to give it a new lease of life.

The partnership between Independents and Liberal Democrats got a Compulsory Purchase Order underway shortly after taking control of the council, borrowed money to help fund the scheme, successfully secured pots of additional funding to support wider economic regeneration projects, and have submitted planning proposals.

Now we have reached a significant milestone and have agreed terms with the organisation which purchased the site in 2009.

This agreement with Gaelic Investments is fantastic news for Paignton and means we are over a big hurdle.

There are still a few more to clear, so you won’t see the building work starting just yet, but once signed it means we can work at pace on the next steps of the scheme.

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When demolished and rebuilt, the redevelopment will have 90 extra care and sheltered housing units offering personal care and support to its residents.

Commercial space for businesses will remain on the ground floor.

This development will not only provide much-needed housing but also aims to help the local economy by attracting businesses back into the area.

It’s one of many exciting projects in the pipeline for Paignton from the partnership of Liberal Democrats and Independents that lead Torbay Council.

The £13.36 million we have secured for Paignton town centre will not only help transform Crossways but also other areas including the redevelopment of Station Square and the Victoria Centre.

That, combined with a number of multi-million-pound projects happening across Torquay and Brixham, will provide people in Torbay with spaces to thrive and future proof the Bay for generations to come.

It’s one of our priorities to ensure that we support improvements across Torbay with the help of our partners and our local communities.

Sometimes, despite the best will in the world, that isn’t always possible, and some things are out of our control.

The shortage of HGV drivers across the UK is having a devastating impact on many businesses, and our waste and recycling collections being delivered by SWISCo are no exception.

Thank you to Torbay residents for your ongoing patience. We are doing all we can to alleviate the situation.

SWISCo has recruited more drivers, with a new driver starting this week and others in the near future.

In addition, we are working to provide training for staff who are not currently HGV drivers to take their test and qualify.

We are also in the process of developing a driver academy for training new drivers.

That might help alleviate the situation but it doesn’t solve what is a national issue.

I have also written to the Home Secretary Priti Patel asking her to allow waivers for European drivers.

Many private organisations who rely on HGV drivers to travel the length and breadth of the country, supporting deliveries of things like goods and supermarket supplies have lost many of their drivers and so are poaching them from other employers like councils.

We are feeling the impact here. Torbay recently lost three drivers to a company that supplies the South Devon hospitality industry.

By resolving the shortage, it will in turn assist local authorities like ours, to retain our lorry drivers and deliver the waste and recycling services people expect.

It’s a national issue which needs a national solution but we are doing everything we can locally to help ease the pressure.