Torbay has it all - and we all have a part to play in tourism future
- Credit: English Riviera BID Company
It’s going to be a busy summer.
With many people unable to book summer holidays abroad the resorts of the West Country are going to be busier than ever.
Our holiday accommodation is reporting record bookings and so we are likely to see visitor numbers back to levels not experienced since the hot summers of the 1970s when you couldn’t find hotel rooms in Torbay for love nor money.
It is a great opportunity for us to showcase Torbay to the thousands of first-time visitors so they come back in the future, driving our service economy for years ahead.
And we can all play our part. Being a warm and welcoming community will make people feel at ease.
We will need to be tolerant of the extra traffic, crowded beaches and the inconvenience of the sheer weight of numbers using our local services.
The council will be playing its part to ensure Torbay remains safe, clean and tidy when tourist numbers are at their peak.
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Leading our response will be 'Safe, Clean and Green Ambassadors' working on a seven days a week rotation, equipped to cover any eventuality including extra cleansing, deep cleansing, and overflowing bins.
We will be staffing our CCTV cameras for longer so we can monitor problems as they occur rather than waiting for the morning after.
I am particularly keen to make sure areas like Babbacombe Downs, Torre Abbey, Paignton Green and Brixham harbourside do not become litter disaster areas.
But this is not just about complaining to the council if you see a problem. Many neighbourhoods are already taking responsibility for their own street or park and organising litter picks.
Last weekend, I helped to organise two litter picks, one on The Willows where we had a strong team of 20 residents coming out to help, and the second on Sunday at Babbacombe Downs where a dozen residents helped to pick litter from Walls Hill to Cary Park.
We all have a part to play in keeping Torbay clean and safe.
We are planning additional park rangers – to increase coverage to seven days a week, to work alongside Ambassadors, providing eyes and ears on the ground to respond to issues, including illegal camping, gatherings and unauthorised events.
Finally, we need additional resources for enforcement.
Of course their main role is education but they need to be able to take the next step if necessary and dish out £80 on-the-spot fines.
The message will soon get across that while Torbay is welcoming, friendly and tolerant, abuse our hospitality and environment and expect a firm response.
I hope that standards of cleanliness, particularly the long-term build-up of grime and detritus following years of reduced resources, will begin to be reversed.
The total cost of this additional resource is just over £150k, and we will seek to allocate as much as possible from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF).
Any elements that do not meet the criteria for that will need to be funded from the £1.6m Covid reserve that was created as part of the budget setting.
As the pandemic is still very much with us and the future uncertain, ensuring the Government regulations are not breached will also be a focus. We need to ensure that night-spots don’t become overcrowded, and that huge crowds don’t gather spreading any new threat this unpredictable virus may bring.
I would like to see taxi marshals at weekends and bank holidays, funding to help organise the volunteer Street Pastors and additional CCTV hours.
At the same time our Covid compliance officers will be undertaking investigative work and responding to complaints from the public.
Torbay’s biggest assets are its natural beauty, an exceptional service industry and friendly, welcoming locals.
That is the shop window that will greet every visitor this summer and will ensure they return.
The one thing outside our control is the English weather. Here’s hoping the sun shines!