Kev's Column: Great South West

Every fortnight Kevin writes a "Kev's Column" for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition (Published on Wednesday 22nd January 2020) below:

Great South West

Local newspapers, politicians and business leaders have been supporting the “Back the South West” Campaign to secure vital investment into our region.

The campaign has focused on four key areas including work to build business cases for significant investment in major projects and a tourism zone to support the industry which drives much of our region.

Last week MPs from across our county and region met to discuss how to take this and other campaigns forward in the new Parliament. Issues like our transport links, enhancing digital connectivity and fairer funding for schools unite us all.

Working as a team to deliver what I have dubbed a “Peninsula Powerhouse” will be vital if we are to secure the investment we need.

Coastal Railway

The most significant issue where progress is being made is on work to secure the resilience of the rail line at Dawlish.

Construction work on the new sea wall at Dawlish is progressing and is visible when passing on the train. Once completed it will help prevent a repeat of the iconic scenes from 2014 when a storm left our rail link (literally) hanging in the air.

The next phase will be major work between Parson’s Tunnel and Teignmouth to help protect the line from the steep cliffs next to it which are prone to landslides and rockfalls. Not tackling this issue could see our vital rail links remain very vulnerable.

Whilst I appreciate some in Teignmouth are concerned about the loss of a stretch of beach (the main tourist area in front of the town is not affected) there is a reality to be confronted. If we do not want to risk our rail links being regularly cut off on a regular basis or a major rockfall closing them for months, this project is needed.

The alternative option of a replacement route via a new tunnel would take many years to build and see Teignmouth lose out even more by being cut off from the rail network.

Pete’s Dragons

Last week I visited the new South Devon base of Pete’s Dragons, a charity which works with families who have lost a loved one to suicide.

I initially came across this charity a few years ago when they first expanded their work into Torbay. In many cases they are the first people in contact with a family after the emergency services, providing comfort and support when it is needed most.

Their new base in Totnes will help families from across South Devon at one of the most difficult times of their lives. It was encouraging to reflect on their journey as a charity since we first met some years ago and on how they could develop these services to assist more in our area.

Surgery Times

My next surgeries will be on Friday 24th January 3pm till 5pm at The Windmill Centre, Pendennis Road, Torquay, TQ2 7QR and Saturday 1st February 11am till 1pm at Preston Baptist Church, Old Torquay Road, TQ3 2RB.

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, TQ2 5SD.