Steve Darling: Furlough scheme crucial to secure Torbay hospitality businesses
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Whether you are working in partnership with organisations at a community level or at a regional level, you will often find that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Up the M5 we have seen this happen with the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine where the Government have given additional finances for these regions to help boost their economic prospects.
Earlier this year the Greater South West submitted a prospectus to the Government on how we could drive non-polluting development where we use our natural resources to become the first carbon neutral region in the country.
Last week many of our MPs representing South West constituencies met to determine how we can best work together strategically to develop our own version of the Northern Powerhouse or Midlands Engine.
Unfortunately, the feedback from Government was one of delay rather than action.
This is especially disappointing when we are set to be the hardest hit region from the COVID crisis due to our reliance on tourism.
A further lobbying exercise is now being undertaken to twist the Government's arm but it does feel like the West Country is being taken for granted despite the region returning 48 of its 55 Members of Parliament to sit on the Conservative benches.
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Torbay works within what is known as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Our LEP covers Devon and most of Somerset.
There are five other LEPS within the South West region that possibly dilute the voices of each one as representative of West County interests.
On the other hand, being part of a smaller LEP enables us as Torbay to highlight the particular challenges we face.
Torbay has the highest number of people furloughed as a proportion of its workforce, at over one third - 34 per cent.
This compares to the national picture at just under a quarter - 24 per cent.
A specific Torbay furlough scheme to secure the future of our many local hospitality businesses is crucial to help them retain their workforces and in turn protect our local economy.
As a trustee, I attended a meeting of the Acorn Centre board on Wednesday. I've been a trustee of this centre for more than a decade.
All of our community centres are valuable spaces where people can come together to support one another across a range of activities.
They all need people to act as trustees and the Acorn is looking for volunteers. If you are interested in supporting the centre, please contact me directly.
At the time of putting pen to paper, Torbay had no positive Covid cases in any of our care homes in June, it is wonderful news but we cannot be complacent.
While Torbay Hospital was tackling a wave of infection at the height of the pandemic, across the Bay a crucial part of our frontline were working in our care homes or visiting people at home.
There has been genuine heroism from those who work in our care sector putting their own health at risk supporting people with the virus.
They certainly did not do so for the money. Care work pays just above minimum wage.
They did it - and continue to - because they have a compassion that runs deeper and stronger than their fear.
They risk their lives because they recognise, in even the most cognitively impaired men and women, a beloved soul of inestimable value whose life is precious.
I remember during the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone in 2015, carers and nurses dressed head to foot in PPE.
Before they went into infected areas they formed a circle and prayed.
With a vaccine the epidemic there is beaten for now.
I continue to live in hope for a Covid-19 vaccine and that the sacrifices made will not have to be repeated.