Vaccination campaign gives hope of victory against this virus

A Torquay Town Deal Project gets underway this week at Princess Gardens

A Torquay Town Deal Project gets underway this week at Princess Gardens - Credit: Submitted

The Covid-19 vaccination campaign has been picking up speed over the last fortnight, with millions across the UK having now received their first dose.

I would particularly like to thank those in the Bay who have been helping deliver it, including the GPs and practice staff who gave up last weekend to visit care homes to vaccinate staff and residents, plus the volunteers working alongside medical teams at the Riviera Centre.

This vaccination campaign is the biggest rapid mobilisation in our nation since World War Two.

It gives hope of victory against this virus and a return to normality.

Yet we must still remember we have fight on our hands to keep the current case rates in check, one which we all must play our part in winning by following the guidance and Staying At Home, unless leaving for an essential reason. 

Town Deal starts 

As another Torquay Town Deal Project gets underway this week at Princess Gardens, it is good to look forward to what this £21,900,000 of Government funding could help deliver, as we build back after the pandemic.

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The revitalisation of the Pavilion, a long-needed improvement project for The Strand, regeneration of Union Street, the first new railway station in our Bay since World War Two, work to help turn back the tide on poverty and even a replacement of the tired and broken lights on the seafront.

When combined with planned private sector investment in Torquay, such as the new cinema, the new five-star Palace Hotel and the potential for new homes to be created in the town centre, there are reasons to look forward with optimism once we can get beyond the current pandemic.

It all seems a long way from when a delegation from our Bay headed up to Westminster for a meeting I had helped organise with the then Minister Jake Berry to talk about how the concept of a Town Deal could make a difference for our Bay, by delivering the positive changes residents want to see.

Unauthorised encampments 

Some groups set up unauthorised encampments in our Bay every year, effectively treating places like Paignton Green, Churston Common and Clennon Valley as a free holiday park.

Such trespassing is a civil matter, forcing landowners (including Torbay Council) to take legal action to remove unauthorised encampments, with those involved exploiting welfare provisions to delay being evicted until the end of their planned stay.

The Republic of Ireland has a simpler legal position of defining such behaviour as a criminal offence, allowing rapid and effective action to be taken.

This approach is now set to be made law here, with clear definitions to avoid criminalising walkers who enter private land or restricting the right to roam.

Surgery times 

Due to the current restrictions I have had to cancel my regular face-to-face advice surgeries.

I hope to restart them as soon as possible, but in the meantime a telephone call appointment can be arranged.

Please note these telephone surgeries are for urgent personal matters, such as welfare, immigration, housing, problems accessing support and benefits, rather than to discuss policy or the wider situation.

You can either email me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.