Steve Darling: Driving through the changes Torbay needs by working together

Torbay is naturally inspiring

Torbay is naturally inspiring - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We are learning more about coronavirus and how to reduce the spread of it every day. We know all the guidelines can sometimes be confusing which is why we need reliable sources of information.

This week sees the first meeting of our new Covid-19 community champions, who will be regularly briefed on what is happening and what we need to do to keep our families and friends safe.

These volunteers are being drawn from across Torbay, and are part of our commitment to become one Torbay that works together to support our people and our economy.

If you think you’d like to join this growing group, you can find out more at

Despite Covid-19, we still have a responsibility to provide services.

As part of the budget consultation we held a Facebook Live event last week and invited local residents to ask us questions about our latest budget proposals for 2021/22.

Thank you to everyone who took part. There really was a wide selection of questions and your feedback does help us make decisions on the final budget.

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It’s not too late to look at the proposals and have your say – the consultation ends on December 4.

During our Facebook Live event we received several questions about our town centres and how we plan to invest in them.

There is no question that Torbay is naturally inspiring. We live in one of the UK’s most beautiful destinations and we have established areas of economic success, such as in the hi-tech, tourism, fishing and health sectors.

But I don’t think anyone would argue that we need to grow and create more high quality jobs and opportunities for local people.

That is why I am pleased that Torquay has secured a Town Deal, following valiant efforts from a cross-party alliance including local businesses and the community.

Securing this deal will enable us to unlock almost £22 million from the Towns Fund to bring about significant change in the town centre.

Torquay Pavilion, the Torquay harbour area, a new railway station at Edginswell, Upton Park, Rock Walk and regeneration in key locations in the town centre are some of the places which will benefit.

This comes on top of accelerated funding of £750,000 to bring some of these projects forward immediately.

Knowing that the Government has confidence in our plans means we can resolve the bigger challenges in the town.

We’ll be submitting our first business case early next year so projects can start three to six months later.

This comes on top of the huge amount of public and private investment being ploughed into Paignton, along with additional bids for funding.

There’s private funding in two new hotels and council investment at the Harbour Light restaurant, the EPIC centre, Claylands and Crossways. There’ll also be investment in sea defences, Torbay Road, Station Road and Victoria Square.

None of this would have been possible without the support of Torbay Together.

This is a partnership of private, public, voluntary and community sector representatives with shared visions and ambitions for Torbay.

Over the winter I hope that this strategic partnership can help develop a strong vision for Torbay, rooted in our communities.

Thank you to everyone for your unrelenting support. The only way we can drive through the changes Torbay needs is by working together.

Elsewhere in this paper you’ll find a tribute to Councillor Ian Doggett who died last week.

I am still coming to terms with his loss as he was one of the most kind, honest and reliable colleagues I have ever worked with.

At this week’s cabinet meeting we will have read the poem ‘Abou Ben Adhem’ by Leigh Hunt as the overriding theme of the poem, loving your fellow man, sums Ian up perfectly.