Steve Darling: Open and ongoing dialogue is helping us all achieve best results for our communities

Ensuring our harboursides are welcoming and family friendly is crucial

Ensuring our harboursides are welcoming and family friendly is crucial - Credit: Getty Images

Ensuring that our harboursides are welcoming and family friendly environments is a crucial part of improving our offer for residents and tourists alike.

Cllr Steve Darling

Cllr Steve Darling - Credit: Archant

In Torquay the town deal, if given the green light by Government, will include investment in the Pavilion, improving the harbourside so that it is more pedestrian friendly, and a refocusing of our retail and leisure offer towards the harbour.

All of this can be undermined if we don't get the basics right through developing positive relationships with key players around the harbourside.

Last weekend, I went out with our licensing team to visit the pubs and clubs on the harbourside in Torquay.

I wanted to gain an understanding of how things are for them at the moment.

Obviously trading during a pandemic is totally different from what they are used to and it was good to hear how as a council, we have been able to support them with free pavement licences and advice on implementing Covid-19 compliance.

It has been great to see how our residents and visitors have been able to make the most of extra tables and chairs outside and provide much needed support to our cafés and pubs.

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We were also joined by the local police licensing officer and it was great to hear how by developing our relationships with licence holders we can work better together.

This and our open and ongoing dialogue with our licensees is really helping us all achieve the best results for our communities.

Last September, we ran our first community conference, which was held at Parkfield in Paignton, and at that event we said we would like to hold these annually.

I am happy to say we are currently planning our next community conference and are looking to hold this on Wednesday, September 30. Clearly at the moment attendance in person won't be possible so we are looking at how we can make it work virtually. This conference is once again your opportunity to be involved.

We want to hear from you and your community about how we can work better together. We truly want to listen to you, the community that lives and works in the Bay, and find ways of working as one to improve our lives.

This is a cultural change for everyone and will take time, as it does with all types of change. As soon as we have more information we will share with you how you can get involved.

My first political campaign as a young Liberal took place in Union Square where we built a cardboard city to highlight the plight of street homelessness.

That was just over 30 years ago and, sadly, it feels that street homelessness is now more prevalent than ever due to Government austerity.

People who find themselves homeless can be from all walks of life.

At the moment a lot of people and families may find themselves in a situation where finding their rent or mortgage payments is challenging because of being furloughed or made redundant from their jobs.

Our housing options team have been working hard throughout the pandemic to ensure those that have needed help with accommodation have a roof over their heads.

This once again came into play last week when a number of families needed urgent support following the flash flooding.

We should all bear in mind that if you do find yourself in a position where you feel you may end up losing your home, or are struggling to pay your mortgage, there is help out there.

On the council website we have a number of places and organisations listed that can help and support you, so please make sure you do speak to someone.

However, do call the housing options team early... the earlier you speak to them after you find out you will be made homeless the more easily they can help you.