Kev's Column

Kev’s Column:

Hospital Changes

Last week the McCallum Ward at Torbay Hospital closed and Paignton Hospital stopped accepting new inpatients.

Both Dr Sarah Wollaston and I have expressed our concerns and opposition to these changes and the pace at which they are being implemented. I have also had a resident get in touch with a description of the transfer of services from McCallum to another ward that raised some real questions about the process that I will be challenging the Hospital’s Management on.

Whilst I will continue to raise concerns and campaign for our services locally, I will also be supporting work being done on a cross party basis in parliament to look at long term solutions for our NHS & Social Care Services. The greatest success of our NHS is that many more of us can look forward to living well into our old age, yet this is also presenting it with its greatest challenges.

Syria

Amongst the many horrors to come out of the Syrian Civil War over the last six years, the use of chemical weapons has been one of the worst.

Red Lines in terms of using these weapons is meaningless unless there is a direct consequence for the regimes that use them, particularly against civilians.

Since 2013 the weak international response to their use in Syria created a sense that no meaningful response is likely, leaving the ruthless to conclude this would remain the case. President Trump was therefore right to decide that the Assad Regime must pay a price for this behaviour by targeting the airfield in Shayrut which was used to launch the recent chemical weapons attack.

In the aftermath of the recent chemical attacks President Putin stated Russia’s support for Assad was “not unconditional”. Whilst he has criticised the US response to them, it is almost certain there was behind the scenes work to determine Russia would not react militarily to this targeted strike on their ally.

The British Government (and to be fair the Liberal Democrats) have supported the US action, whilst others have tried to avoid the stark realities of the situation. This is done by claiming that if we just made one more call for a ceasefire or held just one more debate at the UN the problem would be solved, despite both having been tried numerous times before. If such moves would be effective the Syrian Civil War would have ended years ago.

A century ago soldiers on World War 1 battlefields first saw the effects of gas used as a weapon. Modern versions of these weapons are even more deadly. Those tempted to use them must be under no illusions that doing so will result in a response that is more than just words of condemnation.

Regenerating Our Town Centres

The need to regenerate our Town Centres is one of the issues most commonly raised with me and local councillors.

I therefore welcome the decision taken last week by Torbay’s Councillors to back a plan aimed at kickstarting regeneration and development of 15 priority sites across the bay. I am particularly pleased the list includes eyesores such as Crossways Shopping Centre, plus hidden gems like Paignton Harbour where development could open it up to many more visitors.

The plan includes direct delivery by the Council on six of its own sites with targeted public realm improvements and improvements to key buildings that affect the look of our high streets.

There will be aspects of these plans that will need to be debated, not least ensuring the relevant business plans stack up, yet just letting our Town Centres decline further is not an option. As Cllr Haddock rightly put it: “We weren't elected to make the place stagnate.”

Save Our Trains Update

Last year thousands of residents got behind the “Save our Trains” Campaign.

CrossCountry Trains formally presented their plans to the Department for Transport and they have been asked by the DFT to review certain aspects.

My understanding, although not officially confirmed, is that they have been asked to reconsider their proposals for Torbay. This is good news as it means their proposal to cut to from the current seven to just one direct daily service from Birmingham\Manchester to our bay is not going to be accepted. The Rail Minister has already indicated to me that, as a seaside MP himself, he is sympathetic to the points raised about the impact of removing direct services to our bay.

I still await final confirmation of the outcome of this review, but the implementation of any new timetable has now been put back to May 2018.

Surgery Times,

My next surgeries will be on Friday 21st April from 3pm till 5pm at The Windmill Centre, Pendennis Drive, Torquay and Saturday 29th April from 11am till 1pm at Paignton Library and Information Centre.

Just call 01803 214 989 or e-mail me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com to book a slot. You can drop in, but appointments are recommended to avoid a long wait or disappointment.

My team also run drop in surgery sessions Mon to Friday 10am -1pm at 5-7 East St, Torquay.