Nightmare on Torwood Street continues...

Torbay Weekly

Sorry about this, but, yet again I have to write about Torwood Street.

I promise it will be the last time I bang on about it – largely because it doesn’t make any difference and, also because nobody listens, or at least not those who can do anything about it.

Since my last column things have not improved, they have in fact got worse.

A friend of mine told me that she went out with a colleague a couple of weeks ago and was looking forward to going to the new Piano Bar, Elton’s in Torwood Street for cocktails.

Sadly, they had to turn away due to the number of homeless people hovering around and generally making them feel somewhat threatened.

Since the building work in the area has reached a point whereby there are areas that are clear of building materials and rubble, the homeless have moved in.

There are two commercial units which are still to be let in this development and the design of their frontage make it ideal for pitching tents where they are protected from the weather.

This has created a community area for drinking and smoking and a party atmosphere for the homeless.

It is, of course, not their fault. They have to find somewhere to pitch their tents and sleeping bags.

I sympathise with the homeless, who wouldn’t, and the council has to do everything in their power to house these poor souls humanely and quickly.

However, I also understand from some people working in care, that a number of these itinerants actually wish to remain on the streets and do not want to be housed or looked after.

This is another problem that has to be solved without delay.

If you have seen the crowd at the bottom of Torwood Street, you will notice that they are normally all young men who seem to have enough disposable income to buy copious amounts of alcohol and everyone is smoking – and not a roll-up in sight!

I was shocked to learn that a pack of 20 cigarettes is £13.50, but they are being smoked with great gusto outside the tents along with everyone swigging beer.

Sadly, most people who have had too much alcohol appear threatening, no matter how well-meaning they might be.

The problem extends all along the Strand but because this area on Torwood Street is so protected from bad weather, it is the perfect place for gatherings that are less immediately obvious to the naked eye if you are driving past.

But if you are walking, it is a very different matter.

This creates a very dangerous environment, not to mention emanating a disgusting stench.

It is not a good look for tourists to our town and it is intolerable for residents on a 24/7 basis.

The other problem, my hobby-horse, as you all know, is the parking and to date I have wasted hours of time on Zoom trying to improve the lot of motorists in the area – but have only managed to get one more crummy parking place added.

But here is the zinger – at the end of my last Zoom meeting with the powers that be, the conversation switched and started with – “you’re not going to want to hear this Sally, but... drum roll here, please, and a deep intake of breath... the council is going to close Torwood Street to traffic for three months."

Yes, totally. They are not even going to keep one lane open.

Why? Apparently, they have got to ‘reconstruct’ the road.

They asked me when did I think would be best time to do this!

After a few expletives, I said January was the quietest month to start, but as we all know nothing that happens with roadworks every finishes on time, so the road could still be inaccessible next Easter.

You couldn’t make this up.

I asked where they thought all the traffic would go, and the response was 'round the back of the harbour'!

Well, I am not sure how many have driven around the hairpin bend onto Parkhill Road just past the yacht club, but I doubt many make it in one go.

Then, of course, there are the buses, who presumably will have to get to know the back roads around Meadfoot to enable them to have any bus route at all.

This is all madness to me.

They managed to keep one lane open on the Babbacombe Road for all those months of reconstruction but I was told it was not possible for Torwood Street.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be moving out at the end of this month.

Nothing kills business quicker than a council that doesn’t consider all the implications before making plans.