Time to bring back many things we love about life in Torbay

Torbay Weekly

I was delighted to visit Paignton Zoo on Monday as many of their indoor exhibitions re-opened for the first time in months.

Across our Bay many other businesses were able to open their doors for the first time this year as the latest stage of unlocking was reached.

Declining Covid-19 case rates and a rapid vaccination programme means now is the right time to bring back many of the things we love about life in our Bay, including the return of fans at Plainmoor and the chance for a hug with friends or family.

The battle against Covid is not over, yet we have reached a stage where we can all take time to enjoy a pint in a favourite pub, a trip to a much missed attraction a theatre night or simply get together with some of our family at home.

Many small businesses have faced a tough time over the last year. Every bit of trade from Torbay residents, from a meal out for six to a cup of tea or coffee with a friend, could make the difference to whether they are still here next year.

The new Indian variant is a cloud on the horizon, one which reminds us why it is so important to get your jab when invited.

While no vaccination provides 100 per cent protection, it is clear getting both your jabs gives strong protection against serious illness.

Yet with a summer season ahead of us which could be the busiest in our Bay for a generation thanks to a staycation boom, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

Voter ID

The current system of identifying a voter at a polling station, simply stating your name and address, dates to an era when only some men could vote and may well be known personally to those organising the election.

Several trials were held of voter ID during the local elections in May 2018 and May 2019, using a system like the one used in Northern Ireland since 2002.

The trials showed very few voters had any problem, with several forms of photo ID including driving licences, passports, PASS Proof of Age cards and (pensioners) concessionary bus passes being accepted.

The extension of this system across the UK will not see voter ID limited only to passports and driving licences, it will include other forms of photo ID and an ability to get a form of ID for free.

No-one would suggest it would be sensible to allow a parcel to be collected from the Post Office simply by stating the name and address on it, so with something as valuable as our votes it is right we take moves to protect them.

Surgery times

I have restarted face to face advice surgeries, but telephone appointments can still be arranged if preferred. Sadly, my surgeries must remain by appointment only at this stage.

Surgeries are for urgent personal matters, such as welfare, immigration, housing, problems accessing support and benefits.

For an appointment you can either email me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com or leave a message on 01803 214989.

You can also drop into my office at 5-7 East Street, Torquay TQ2 5SD between 10am and 1pm Monday to Friday. Please note you may have to wait outside if others attend at the same time.