Every fortnight Kevin writes a "Kev's Column" for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition (Published Wednesday 20th February 2019) below:
Dawlish Rail Boost
The Transport Secretary headed to Dawlish for a major Government funding announcement of £80m for a significant rebuild of the Sea Wall.
The wall will be two-and-a-half metres higher than the existing five-metre tall structure to increase protection to the railway from waves during adverse weather. Construction is expected to begin in the spring and be completed by 2021.
This is great news and marks the most significant investment in the iconic Coastal Railway since Brunel constructed it.
Higher Needs Funding
A delegation from our bay put funding for children needing the most support with their education on the agenda for the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb,
Due to a historically unfair funding formula Torbay’s schools have received much less per pupil than other areas with similar costs. This has started to be rectified with a new formula seeing over £2m extra coming to Torbay, yet pressures on costs for “Higher Needs” pupils mean many local schools face a top slice from their budget, removing much of the benefit of this increased funding.
During the meeting Headteachers and School Governors outlined the issues this top slice presents for their schools, plus what this means for the support services they provide. The Minister understood their points, but we will have to see what action follows.
Paignton Town Centre
Like many Town Centres across the country Paignton has struggled in recent decades faced with competition from out of town retail parks, changing shopping habits and the growth of online retailers.
The Government has unveiled a £675m Future High Streets Funds aimed at providing support to towns looking to reinvent themselves for the 21st Century. This can include support for redeveloping long derelict buildings, providing new homes and encouraging new leisure opportunities all designed to make a redesigned Town Centre fit for the future.
Paignton Town Centre will be submitting a bid for funding. I will do all I can as Torbay's MP to work with Councillors, local businesses and community groups to ensure we grab this once in a generation opportunity to reshape it for the better.
Most parliamentary sessions are predictable, yet there are moments when the Speaker may decide to see if an MP come up with something to say at a moment’s notice.
I was waiting to ask Ministers about creating more hi-tech jobs in our bay, yet my question was low down the list so it would not be reached before time ran out. This was until the Speaker suddenly called me to ask it, as a supplementary to a question about Rural Post Offices.
I quickly decided I could by implying hi-tech skills training might be handy if you wanted to get a job in a Post Office!
My next surgeries will be on Friday 22nd February from 3pm till 5pm at Paignton Baptists Church, 43 Winner St, Paignton, TQ3 3BJ and Saturday 2nd March from 10 am till 12noon at St Martin’s Church, Barton Hill Road, Torquay, TQ2 8JA.
Just call 01803 214 989 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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, TQ2 5SD.