Steve Darling: We are committed to building a sustainable local economy that thrives

Torquay town centre

Torquay town centre - Credit: Archant

It is so uplifting to know there is light at the end of the tunnel with three vaccines shortly to be deployed to tackle the virus head on.

I have been campaigning for months in favour of a bespoke support package for the hospitality industry, and so it is bitterly disappointing that the Government is targeting it in a negative way with the latest restrictions, when the vast majority of infections come from people visiting other people’s houses.

Our local economy continues to be the most significant victim of this pandemic.

As a council, we are committed to building a sustainable local economy that thrives, as this will help us turn the tide on poverty. So, as well as everything we are doing to tackle the virus, we’re also working hard to help our local economy weather the storm.

We really hope Torbay will come out of restrictions at the beginning of December so that people can shop locally and support local businesses.

With this in mind, we plan to expand our Christmas parking offer to make it cheaper to shop at quieter times of the week. It also allows people to visit without watching the clock. If they need to queue to get in shops, they don’t have to worry that their parking is running out.

We’ve got a dedicated information officer in post helping High Street retailers prepare for when all the shops can reopen. He also provides advice on ways to continue to trade if they have been required to close their doors.

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Research this summer revealed that around four in ten of our local shops did not have a website, limiting their ability to adapt to closures.

We are also administering almost £7 million in new cash grants from national Government to all businesses affected by this current lockdown.

Up to the end of September, we’d issued nearly £38 million in business support grants.

We want to ensure everyone who is eligible applies as quickly as possible, so if you run a business, or know someone who does, visit the council website for how to apply for a grant.

It’s not just Bay businesses that are suffering during this lockdown. It is also taking its toll on many other people. With the pandemic ongoing, a number of families are finding themselves in the very difficult situation of losing their homes.

This is why our housing options team are asking landlords who have any flats or houses currently standing empty to give them a call.

You really will be helping out a family or someone who desperately needs a roof over their heads so they can get their lives back on track.

Please contact our team to let them know about what property or properties you have available. Email Lisa.Furse@torbay.gov.uk or call 01803 208747.

Finally, today (Thursday, November 26), it is Carers Rights Day and along with Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust we are raising awareness of what support there is for unpaid carers.

At a recent PMQs, Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, supported the campaign of Carers UK and called on the Prime Minister to raise carer’s allowance by £20 a week, in line with the rise in universal credit.

Throughout the pandemic unpaid carers have worked tirelessly to support their loved ones during this challenging time.

There are more than 32,000 people across Torbay and South Devon who support a friend or relative as an unpaid carer.

You may be helping with shopping or meals, attending appointments with them, or just making sure that they are all right. You could be an older couple who do things for each other, a parent or young carer.

There is a lot of support for those in this position. To find out more and how to get support, even if it’s just someone to talk to, visit www.torbayandsouthdevon.nhs.uk/services/carers-service