Steve Darling: We want young people to have a voice and need them to make a difference

Torbay Weekly

The Cabinet member for children’s services, Cordelia Law, regularly says: “Children make up 23 per cent of our population in Torbay but 100 per cent of our future.’”

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring about significant change, especially as the Bay continues its economic growth and regeneration journey.

There is so much going on, as we are lay the foundations for a more vibrant and economically successful Torbay.

We are planning to transform Paignton town centre by regenerating Paignton Picture House, Station Square and the Victoria Centre.

We have now obtained a compulsory purchase order on the derelict Crossways shopping precinct, and plan to take possession o as soon as we legally can in spring next year.

That’s when we can demolish and rebuild to provide much-needed housing for local people and refresh the business offer.

In Torquay, plans are well underway to regenerate the town centre, including the Strand, and work continues at Edginswell.

We have also got further plans to develop employment units at Lymington Road coach station that will include local environment improvements.

We were recently successful with our bid for funding for brownfield sites to benefit Brixham town centre with regeneration opportunities.

The future is bright with exciting multi-million-pound projects underway to breathe new life into the three towns.

But we must attract the necessary funding and ensure the right developments take place.

Planning for the future takes much time and thought to make sure we get it right.

We want to future-proof Torbay for generations to come, and to do that we need young people to help us shape and progress our Bay-wide ambitious plans.

The Torquay Town Deal board which oversees the Town Investment Plan is now looking for young people aged 16-24 to sit on the board.

The successful candidates will get the opportunity to make a real difference to the future of the place they grew up in - making sure the town is ‘fit for the future’, for them and their future families.

You can email for more details.

Economic regeneration is more than just buildings. It’s about the ‘bigger picture’.

It’s about looking around and thinking how we can make the place more attractive so we can make the right investment in our towns, local economy, transport, and infrastructure.

It’s about creating jobs, homes, a thriving economy and having a vibrant arts and culture offer.

Earlier this month we welcomed the Arts Council to Torre Abbey to help build a stronger relationship.

It’s vitally important that we take arts and culture seriously and embed it into our world to enrich the lives of all our residents.

Everyone, including young people in Torbay, has the right to a thriving future.

As a parent, and a corporate parent to more than 460 young people, I have a responsibility to ensure each and every one transitions into a healthy, well-rounded individual.

It’s a huge responsibility, but one that’s also extremely rewarding, especially when I see people succeed.

Earlier this month, National Care Leavers Week shone a light on how the lives of care- experiencing young people can be improved both now and in the future.

In Torbay, we took the opportunity to show how we work closely with cared-for young people to make sure they are listened to and supported so they can reach their full potential and have all the opportunities that good parents afford their children.

Our cared-for young people are helping to shape the service provided to them.

They are the experts in their own experiences and know what they need for us to make a real difference to their lives.

I’ll say it again. Young people are the future of Torbay.

We want them to have a voice, we want them to be involved, we want them to tell us what works best for them.

We need them to make a difference and we need them to challenge our thinking.