Kev's Column: Torbay Together

Every fortnight Kevin writes a "Kev's Column" for the Herald Express and you can read the latest edition (Published on Wednesday 15th May 2019) below:

Torbay Together

The Torbay Council Elections on 2nd May saw no party win an overall majority, so as I write this column it is still not clear who or which groups will form the new administration.

I look forward to working constructively with whoever is finally selected as the Leader of the Council to take our bay forward.

Whilst frustration over Brexit played a big part in the results locally, there were also clear messages from voters about what they want to see happen here in the bay. Revitalising our Town Centres, delivering new jobs, creating more affordable homes, improving our environment and ensuring Council Tax rises are minimised were among the issues raised on the doorstep, plus an end to the personality politics and fruitless argument which dominated the last years of the mayoral system.

In facing the challenges of the future our bay as a whole needs to work together in order to succeed. Now is the time for the unity of purpose those who elected us expect to see.

Funding Formula

The forthcoming review of the local government funding formula will need to consider the unique pressures coastal communities face.

A combination of rising social care and children’s services pressures on coastal councils need to be reflected in any new formula. I will be meeting the Minister for Local Government next week to discuss how this can be done and the suggestions put forward by Torbay Council to ensure a future funding formula reflects the challenges faced.

Protecting Our Democracy  

Protecting the integrity of UK elections was the focus of new measures I announced on behalf of the Government in my first major policy statement since taking on a ministerial role.

People who intimidate candidates or campaigners in the run up to an election will be banned from running for public office for five years.

Candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners will also be required to brand or ‘imprint’ their digital election materials, as they have to do with paper literature. This is a crucial step to ensure the origin of online political adverts or messages is clear. The Government will bring forward the technical proposal to implement these new rules later this year.

The Government has also committed to strengthening the current provisions which protect UK politics from foreign influence and will be launching a consultation on this.

The growth of social media platforms has changed how our election campaigns are fought. They give opportunities for positive engagement between political representatives and voters which would not have been possible a generation ago. Sadly they also create opportunities for a small minority to engage in abuse and disinformation, hence it is time laws written in an analogue era are updated for the digital age.

Surgery Times

My next surgeries will be on Friday 17th May from 3pm till 5pm at The Windmill Centre/Pendennis Rd, Torquay TQ2 7QB and Saturday 25th May from 11am till 1pm at Preston Baptist Church, 62 Old Torquay Rd, Paignton 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.