Supporting communities at grassroots level

Beach huts on the Paignton seafront

£50,000 is being spent on replacement festoon lighting in Paignton - Credit: Getty Images

There are many communities across Torbay.

These may be based on faith, neighbourhood, sporting interest, employment and many other dynamics.

We want to support, enable and empower everyone living in our communities and over the past 12 months, many of us have embraced more of a community spirit and stepped up to the mark to support our neighbours, whether by taking on a volunteering role, or simply checking in on, or shopping for, our vulnerable residents.

We mustn’t forget about the impact the pandemic has had on our children and young people and how they might be finding it difficult to cope when there has been so much change.

They might be worried about their family and friends, school work or their future.

That’s why we want all young people to know there is a community of people all around you.

If you need support or maybe a listening ear, just remember that we are all still here, for each other, for you and families across Torbay.

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Savings made across council services in 2020/21– particularly in children’s services, where a firmer grip on the management has resulted in a significant underspend of £4m – have meant that we are able invest in our local communities.

We’re about to launch our Community Ward Fund, making £54,000 immediately available to support assets, projects and activities in our ward communities.

Before April, wards will receive between £1,500 and £4,500, depending on the number of residents.

Councillors will work with their Community Partnerships to develop plans on how the funds should be spent at grassroots level.

If you have an idea that would make a difference to your local community, please do make contact with your one of your ward councillors.

Owing to the council’s improved financial management, we’ve also been able to invest £50,000 in replacing the Paignton seafront festoon lighting, £150,000 over three years to develop and deliver a tree planting scheme, which includes a tree warden scheme and getting communities involved, £500,000 to get people into work and modernise our economy, and £750,000 over the next three years to improve our events offer in Torbay.

These are just a few of the differences we’re committed to making as we move into the new financial year, all of which have longer-term benefits for the whole community.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB), from dog fouling to drinking alcohol in the streets of town centres, can have a detrimental effect on communities, and that’s why we want you to share your views on proposals to extend the Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) relating to these matters.

We’re proposing a PSPO for dog fouling that will cover the whole of Torbay.

It will mean an offender could receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of up to £100 if they fail to pick after their dog after it has fouled public land.

We’re also proposing to amend the PSPO relating to alcohol being consumed in the streets, green spaces and beaches of certain designated areas in all three towns so that alcohol can be drunk, but responsibly.

Consultation on these two PSPOs is now open and will close on Wednesday, March 25. Have your say via www.torbay.gov.uk/consultations/public-space-protection-orders

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement concerning the road map out of lockdown, it’s vital that as a council we keep the community at the heart of everything we do.

The pandemic will have many legacies, but locally the sense of community we have built by having better conversations and working together has to be ours.