Welcome to the first ever edition of the the Torbay Weekly newspaper. A special edition in extraordinary and challenging times.

Cllr Dave Thomas, Torbay Council Conservative group leaderCllr Dave Thomas, Torbay Council Conservative group leader

A time for Torbay to be united in the battle against Coronavirus. A time for the Bay’s community spirit and pride to shine through and help us beat this invisible and terrible enemy.

Torbay Council is at the heart of our community and is there leading that fight. That is why this first, launch edition is their publication and is a vital element of that battle.

The Torbay Weekly will also sit at the heart of the community. This is a unique partnership in unique circumstances, delivering a unique newspaper to every one of the 65,000 homes in the Bay.

The councillors leading the Bay - council and Liberal Democrat leader Steve Darling, deputy leader and Independent Darren Cowell and Conservative group leader Dave Thomas - are united when the say: “This edition has been produced for us and is being delivered to every household in Torbay in order to support you, our residents at this time.

Cllr Steve Darling, leader of Torbay CouncilCllr Steve Darling, leader of Torbay Council

“It is for you to hold on to and use as a directory of useful information during this ongoing public health emergency.

“This special edition of Torbay Weekly means that we can share with every household in Torbay the critical information you need in order to keep yourself and your family safe.

“While a lot of information is available online, we are aware that many of you do not have access to the internet.

“This is an unprecedented situation and we know that many of you are worried about how you and your families are going to cope over the coming weeks.”

Torbay Weekly editor Jim Parker said: “The Torbay Weekly prides itself on being a community newspaper and partnership working. This is a unique example where we are working with the council and partners to champion our local community. United in a common fight.”

The publication is packed with all the information residents, the business fraternity, groups and organisations need in the current crisis with advice and helplines, latest council and government guidance, council services, food banks and delivery firms - as well as a few heartwarming community stories.

The three councillors say: “Information is changing on a daily basis and what is in this paper is as up to date as possible but make sure you go to our website for up to date information (www.torbay.gov.uk) and listen to local news and radio stations.

“If you need help, support or advice from the Council then through our website you will be able to electronically submit requests for assistance. If you cannot contact us via the website we are also extending our call centre opening hours, including at weekends, the number to use is 01803 207201. We will deal with your enquiry as quickly as we can.

“We are working hard alongside our partners in the NHS and local voluntary and community organisations to make sure we put everything we can in place to help people through this.

“Working with the Community Development Trust and Brixham Does Care, we are ensuring that we can match people who need help to those who can provide it.

“We will continue to make sure individuals and local businesses are getting the advice and financial support that they need.

“Across the whole country, everyday services are being stopped or reduced – from bus services to leisure facilities. As you will appreciate, this is a rapidly changing situation which is impacting on how the council works and the level of service we can provide.

“Over the coming weeks, more of our services will either reduce or stop – this is because we need to redirect our staff so that we can protect our most vulnerable residents. We ask that you are understanding of this.

“We’ve known for a long time that there are strong communities across Torbay and it has been uplifting to see so many individuals and groups come forward to offer help. We are hugely grateful for the work being done to co-ordinate those offers. We want to make sure that everyone, in each community across the Bay, has access to the support they need.

“Let’s hope this can be the legacy from these difficult times – us all working together for the good of Torbay.”

As for the Torbay Weekly, editor Parker says: “It will be back to normal for our next edition on April 9.”