The driver, who was treated at the scene for minor injuries, was later arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
He has been released on police bail until 15 March.
He has been released on police bail until 15 March.
I've just watched one of those end of year programs called, I think, The Most Annoying People of 2010. Only the first 50 were on tonight so I will have to watch tomorrow to find out who the most annoying person of 2010 is. Will it be Nick Bye our beloved mayor (elected but not for much longer if comments in the Herald Express are anything to go by) or his one time best buddy Chris Lewis ( the most photographed man in Torbay) or could outsiderElizabeth Raikes (Torbay Council's chief executive) who put in a late run with her threat of police action over an unemptied bin. I am not sure I will ever find out because most of the annoying people were basically unknown to me being C or D list celebs I don't give a damn about.
But there are people out there who would I am sure have know every single one of the and known why they were so annoying. Take a radio phone in quiz show on earlier in the day. The contestant had to answer 7 questions correctly to win. The first answers to the first 5 questions consisted of people who had a good chance of being on the TV program mentioned above. It was clear the DJ asking the questions liked the girl on the phone because question 6 was a maths question. Not something simple like the value of pie to the tenth decimal place or 2 to the power 10 or explain Pythagoras's Theorem in 17 words or less. No this was really hard; What is 27 minus 3. America had moved several inches further away from Europe by the time she answered but she got it right. Final question, get this right and a World Cruise for two with 50 thousand quid spending money plus her very own detached villa next door to Wayne Rooney plus free TV licence for a year was at stake.
"Who is the Deputy Prime Minister?"
You would have needed an atomic clock to measure the time between the end of the question and the answer. Lightening could not have struck faster. The fastest gun fighter in the West would have had a bullet between the eyes before he had even reach for his gun. Cheetahs all over Africa would have stared in wonder. Light would have to admit it is a slow coach compared with our contestant. Absolutely not even a nano second's hesitation.
Aviation minister Theresa Villiers said an airport should be fined when it "does let passengers down and doesn't prepare properly for severe weather". (From BBC web site Sunday evening).
Yeh right. Make em pay. Just a couple of problems with this blatant jumping on a bandwagon. Who exactly will end up paying? I mean, where do the airports get their money from. That's right, from Joe Public that's who. The poor sods who have spent 2 or 3 days sleeping on the floor of some airport lounge when they should have been on day 2 of a midwinter holiday. The very people that, at first glance, the idea of fining the airport is supposed to protect. Now it will just cost them more to sleep on the floor of the airport next year.
Problem Two. Let's be fair, airports floors weren't the only place travellers spent an unexpected night or two. What about all the motorists stuck in their cars or in community centres because someone hadn't cleared the roads, that is, hadn't prepared properly for severe weather. And who was that? Well the government that's who. So if you are going to fine the airports for allowing severe weather to disrupt travel plans then how about fining the Department of Transport for the same offence?
An item in the local paper prompted by the Coast Guards suggested that if you needed emergency services, Police' Fire, Ambulance, Coast Guard, Mountain Rescue or Pothole Rescue and are using a mobile and are unsure of your exact location you should use 112 instead of 999. True, not only is it true but it will help the emergency service you require find exactly where you are from you phone’s signal. While checking this fact out I also came across on item on the web that stated that your mobile would work even if there was no local signal available. How would it work? It would pick up a satellite signal, even if you were on the London underground. What a good idea. Then a bit more digging. Sorry this last piece about the satellite isn’t true. Your mobile just isn’t built to send a signal to a satellite. So where did this idea come from. What prick set this rumour going. Somebody must have. Own up now and don't do it again you naughty boy.
PS 112 works in most European Countries but hopefully you will never need that information.
PPS Merry Christmas from Santa's Grotto to all.
Our local MP Adrian Sanders has had a go at the LibDem leadership in his blog. It's a bit of a rambling attack but basically he criticises them for getting into bed with the Tories and then instead of snoring loudly and kicking out all night long they appear to cuddle up close and whisper sweet nothings such as, "Look beloved leader, we might call ourselves LibDems but really we are Tories at heart and we will do what ever you want provided you will give us some power." What Adrian and most LibDems wanted was the getting into bed bit but with some very strong reminders that the present coalition could only stay in power if there was to be some bending by the Tories towards LibDem policies which so far hasn't happened. Adrian also cruised the failure of some (many?) LibDem MPs not to keep one of the most important pre election promises on tuition fees. Even the use the opt out clause would have been better than what happened. He goes on to ask if the leadership have any understanding of the long term damage they have done to the party not only at national level but to all those LibDem councillor through out the country who have run local authorities successfully for many years. (Prehaps they don't care. A bird in the hand as they say: my note). After the leadership broke their firm promise will these local councillor continue to have the respect of the local electorate?
There is more about the failure of his leaders to spend more time standing up and saying what LibDems have done so far to influence government policies so LibDem supporters will have something to cling to in the dark days ahead.The whole blog can be read here.
And I thought that only our beloved Torbay Council could do stupid things. Turns out I was wrong. Actually I am not questioning Vince Cable's stupidity. Well, I mean he's a politician, egotistical, single minded, power mad and expected to make mistakes now and then. Though not usually on the scale of this little disaster. The long term ramifications aren't all plain to see yet but the more obvious problems are the damage to the LibDem party, that is if any more damage could be inflicted on the poor sods. Next there is the benefit to the Tory Party. Cameron didn't sack Vince because he now still has a senior LibDem, on paper, to prop up his so called pretend coalition government but one who has no credibility or power left what so ever. Also Tories can now say openly what they have always believed, that the LibDems are not a party with any idea how to govern. That will benefit the Labour party as well but there has to be a sliver lining somewhere. The chances now that Murdock will get what he wants, full control of a large section of the media. Long term this will be to the detriment of the BBC. Wait a few years and the Tory Party, which isn't exactly keen on old Auntie, will bow to pressure to reduce or get rid of the licence fee on the grounds that people now have the choice, Murdock or the BBC, so why should everyone who has TV be forced to Pay £145 a year even if they never watch BBC.*
So why didn't the editor of the Telegraph, upon listening to the tape immediately delete it's contents, then feed the tape through the shredder just to make sure it's contents didn't end up on Robert Preston's desk at the BBC. And why did Robert Preston not bin the tape as soon as it arrived from the whistle blower? Remember, The Telegraph have been campaigning for months to stop Murdock from gaining control of BSkyB and yet they hand, on a plate, the where with all that almost makes it certain he will get that control. Why? Is the desire for a story stronger than the instinct of self preservation. The same question could be asked of Robert Preston.
*Just a note for when some future government does think of getting rid of the BBC as it exist at present. I would have no objections what so ever if the minister in charge of such an idea plus a staff of civil servants were to fly first class to Australia and stay in the best hotel for a couple of weeks provided the spend at least 4 hours each evening watching TV. Then an other first class flight and a couple of weeks in a top class hotel watching TV in the Good Old US of A. If the still want to get rid of Auntie then it will confirm what I have always believed. Politicians will always vote at their parties beck and call even when it is totally against the best interests of us poor Joe Public. After all we must be stupid, we voted for them in the first place.
The envelope didn't actually contain anything personal to me, just general information the Pension Trustees have to send out every year. It's printed on shinny, very high quality paper and mostly consist of stuff I have no interest in reading other than the bit that said Stagecoach Pensions weren't going bust and my pension will continue to be paid. It will end up in the recycle bin just, as I suspect 99% of all the other copies sent out to my fellow receivers of a Stagecoach Pension (and many other pensions run by other companies). I don't know how much this cost to send and what it's carbon footprint is but I have a feeling it could be sent by email much cheaper with almost no carbon footprint at all. Give the matter some though pension companies and help save the planet.
A couple of photos today. The first is the Palm Court Hotel now the smoke has cleared, well some of it, and the firemen have left the building. Hopefully the council will do something quickly. I mean we only have 4 months till the summer season starts and we don't really want a burnt out building as the main attraction do we? The balloon is bad enough. Even if they just flatten it and plant a few trees would be better than the various factions on the council using it as yet an other excuse to slag each other off whilst doing exactly nothing. The cafe and fish and chip shop at the other end of the building should be OK, they were quite far from the fire.
The second of the two photos is of a big 4 wheel drive parked on the main road outside the Princess Theatre (showing Aladdin for the next few weeks). Now this big, off road, gas guzzling 4 wheel drive thing was showing a blue badge. The blue badge shows that the driver or a passenger is disabled and therefore can park anywhere, even on the double yellow lines that are painted on this main road. Even if it is a major obstruction and a possible danger to other road users. See the bus having to go right out onto the other side of the narrow road to get past. Actually there are one or two exceptions to the park anywhere rule and one of them is even if you have a blue badge you can not park on a loading ban. This road has a permanent loading ban and now this big, off road, gas guzzling, 4 wheel drive, blue badge showing thing has a parking ticket. Now I don't have a car so I am not up to date on what a parking ticket costs these days but I hope it will teach who ever dumped this big, off road, gas guzzling 4 wheel drive thing that it is a good idea to read the rules carefully. Merry Midwinters Day.
At 06:30 this morning, Sat 18 Dec 2010, someone or something set fire to the once much love Palm Court Hotel. At one point there were 8 fire engines in attendance but about one third of the building has been gutted.*
The hotel part of the building has been closed for years so there were no guests in residence. The left hand end of the building (looking from the sea) had been used as a bar over the last few summers but had closed at the end of the season just before the police were going to close it down anyway due to inappropriate behaviour on and around the premises.
A couple of years ago a developer signed a deal with the Council to pull the place down and rebuild as a mix of bar, hotel and apartments. Months and months went by and nothing happened. Then, eventually the council asked the developer why nothing was happening. He replied that he was still looking for backing for his project, please be patient. So the council was patient for months and months and even more months. Then the developer announced he had gone bust. There has been a for sale sign on the hotel ever since.
Judging by the damage the fire has caused the whole building will probable end up being knocked down and turned into a car park.
This isn't the first time fire has gutted an empty hotel in the Torbay area. There is the problem of squatters in empty hotels and it was very cold last night so a small fire to warm cold hands could have got out of control. Or maybe some local decided that the building was a continued blot on the beautiful landscape of Torquay and decided to speed up the process of turning the site from delerict building to block of flats or car park.
Also I am a bit concerned for the future of the hotel I used to work at which is presently standing empty and boarded up. Sorry Sherwood, it could happen to you if a buyer isn't found soon.
This is what the Herald Express reporter who covered the council meeting the other night said about it.
The debate, predictably, soon slid into an outraged playground pantomime slanging match of who did what, when and why.
Thankfully chairman Matthew Phillips stopped the slapstick with a verbal slap on the wrist before my will to live finally expired.
It was just yet another wasted professional hour of my working life in covering full Torbay Council meetings.
Grow up boys and girls. The needs of the Bay have been too pressing for far too long for this to continue.
Just a reminder to the people of Torbay and something to think about in May next year. We are the people who voted these clowns into office. Lets not make the same mistake again.
Big row in the council chamber last night, not unusual here in Torbay. This row was about the position of elected mayor. About 7 years ago central government decided that the people of a local authority could have an elected mayor if they wanted. We, the people of Torbay decided that anything would be better than letting elected councillors run the place. A brief note here to show you what I mean. I have lived in Torquay through 4 local elections. Each time there has been an election, power in the council has changed hands from LibDem to Tory and back again. There are no Labour councillors, nor to my knowledge have there been any over the last twelve years. When I arrived the Tories were top dogs but defeated by the LibDems. One of the things the LibDems did was perdestrianise the bottom end of Union Street. As soon as the Tory party got in at the next election they promised to change this "monstrous mistake" and re-open the road to traffic even though just about everybody else said it was the best thing since sliced bread. The held at least 5 council meeting to discuss this idea at a cost of thousands of pounds per meeting before bowing to public pressure and leaving things as the were. Next election in 2005 the LibDems got back in. Now for this constant see sawing to be taking place suggests that neither party managed, in three years, to convince the voters that they knew what they were doing. Or more to the point had the best interests of Torbay at heart. Also in 2005 we had a slightly dodgy referendum about the election of a mayor and we ended up with Nick Bye. The general feeling is he hasn't done overwhelming well. The LibDems made a complete cock by voting to close public toilets around the Bay as they were costing too much to run. Now this idea wasn't very popular. We tend to have a lot of people living here who were born before or during WW2 and as you get older knowledge of where the nearest toilets are gets more important. Many of our summer visitors are of the same ilk so Torbay could have ended up with the biggest number of people arrested for peeing in public in the country. Not a good reputation for a holiday town. Anyway a few weeks after the toilets were closed we found out why the councillors wanted to save money when the LibDems voted themselves a pay rise, a big pay rise. Nearly a million quid. It came as no big surprise when at the next election the LibDems found themselves on the losing side.
Now we have had two and a half years with Tories in power and they seem to have done next to nothing to improve the place. OK there is the balloon on Abbey Gardens. It flies about 2 days a week if we are lucky. And there is the Fish Restaurant in Babbacombe. Actually there isn't, it got scrapped because there was too much public opposition to it. And there is Rock Walk. Three million quid and 3 years disruption for stair way up a cliff face. And not even a hot dog stall at the top. Oh yes. The development of the old Palm Court Hotel. Except the developer went bust 2 years ago and still no sign of a new developer.
I could go on but I'm not going to. I you don't live in Torbay you wouldn't believe me if I listed all the things that have made some people loose confidence in our council and elected mayor. Like I could have mentioned the Churston Golf Club grand sell out.
No. Back to last night.
The LibDems, because they know their man won't win. want to see if the people of Torbay can vote to get rid of the position of Elected mayor before next May . No we can't. Central government rules say we have to wait for ten years to change our minds about having a dictator run the place. And the LibDems should know this. If the don't, then what else don't they know? The Tories put in a blocking amendment and everybody had a good old slanging match so the council leader said they were behaving like a bunch of'overgrown schoolboys." and brought the debate to a close.
Someone once said that we get the politicians we deserve. If they didn't then they should have.
Foot note. There are only 11 elected mayors in England out of 346 local authorities and one of those, to get elected, ran round dressed in a money suit and promised free bananas for schools. Says it all really.
A new tree, a Hungarian Oak has been planted in Princess Gardens near the place where an 80 year old tree recently was cut down. It will take a few years to get anywhere near the size of the Holm Oak it's replacing. The Holm Oak had developed a large crack in it's trunk and had to go. Personally, while it is sad to see a tree cut down, I think the area does look better. The old tree was big and a bit overpowering for the position it was in. I shall watch the progress of the new tree with interest.
Something else that happened today was the announcement by TOR2, the bin and recycling company, that from now on there would only be two persons on each wagon instead of three. Now it doesn't take a genius to work out that it will take longer to collect both the rubbish and the recyclable stuff. While I haven't had any problems with collections, except last week when I forgot to put the rubbish out, I have noticed that there is a bit of a build up of traffic when the TOR2 wagons come along our road (lots of parked cars in a not exactly wide road). And what a nice time to tell one third of your work force that their services are no longer needed. Just before Christmas.
The deciduous Hungarian Oak will replace the giant Holm Oak which had to be felled for safety reasons.
The replacement Hungarian Oak (Quercus frainetto) will be planted on Wednesday next to the site of the removed tree.
Cllr Dave Butt, cabinet member for community services, said: "Unfortunately, the Holm Oak had to be removed but we have endeavoured to find a suitable replacement in a location as close as possible to the site of the removed tree.
"The new Hungarian Oak, which is currently around five metres tall, is a lovely tree and will add to the beauty of the promenade for years to come."
Council tree officer Neil Coish said: "A huge amount of hard work goes into the Bay's tree planting programme for residents and visitors to enjoy.
"We take our responsibility for our trees around the Bay very seriously and will only cut one down as a last resort if it is found to be dying, diseased or a hazard.
"In this instance, where it has not been possible to save the tree, we are really pleased to be able plant a new tree close by."
That was quick. Has the Town Hall finally got fed up with constant critisim regarding their tree felling policy. So far the score seems to be 700 cut down and 60 new trees planted in the last few years.
Well done Adrian. Yesterday, just in case you missed it, there was a vote in the Mother of all Parliaments (which is looking increasingly tatty these days) to make poor people ineligible to attend University. Turns out to get into university these days it's how many pound coins you've got, not how many "A" levels you have. Nine thousand pound coins and you can go to Uni for a year, the average course is 3 years so twenty seven thousand coins is what you need to get a degree. Plus what you have to spend just to stay alive. Mine cost less than a hundred quid but that was 30 years ago. No I didn't buy it from some fake American University, it came thanks to a great idea by Harold Wilson. Which proves that politicians can have good ideas from time to time.
Anyway, back to Adrian. He is our local MP and a LibDem. Before the last election the LibDems tried to get our vote by promising to vote against any rise in fees for students. The head LibDem made this promise but the moment he got a sniff of power he began to look for ways to rationalise the fact that he would have to break his promise in order not to fall out with his new lover that nice Mr Cameron.
The story I did read was that Adrian Sanders wasn't going to vote yesterday as he had an important meeting here in Torquay with a government minister about Health Care in the Bay. As Adrian wasn't going to vote with the coalition on this occasion and the government minister was obviously going to side with Mr Cameron their absence would have cancelled each other out. The fact that Adrian Sanders voted against must, I think, mean the government minister didn't come down to Torquay to make sure Health Care in the Bay was being catered for but decided putting up university fees was more important. All this mean is there was one more vote for and one more vote against which didn't make any difference to the outcome but showed that the government don't care about Health Care in the Bay. Sad state of affairs but not surprising.
Now voting against your side when you are in government isn't some thing you do lightly. Then up at the top don't think, "Oh well he cast his vote according to his principals therefore he must be a good chap." No, what them at the top think is, "He voted against us, the bastard."
So well done Adrian.
When a tree comes to the end of it's life out there in a forest where there is nobody about to hear it fall, it does so without a sound according to some philosophers. Others maintain that even if there is no one standing in the forest waiting patiently for the tree to fall it will still make lots of noise when it does. Who cares? The tree doesn't, it's just a tree. Usually out in the forest trees dies slowly, they get old and a branch falls of and then an other and then a few more. The tree ends up with gashes in the truck and water gets in and the poor tree slowly rots from the inside out. All this can take years and the only ones who have any interest in this process are younger trees hanging around waiting for enough space to grow up in. Plus the local insects that make a living on rotting wood. Or maybe a tree will get struck by lightening and depart from life in a loud bank accompanied by lots of heat. Or an other tree will suffer the millions of volt of electricity sent down from the heavens and set the forest on fire and our poor tree will be consumed by the flames. Or our brave hero who has been growing tall and straight for a couple of hundred years will live in the Amazon Rain Forest and meet it's end, more and more often these days, like so many of it's colleagues, under the deadly assault of a chain saw.
Now a tree living in an urban environment is almost certain to face the chain saw style end. Councils everywhere can not afford to have trees dropping rotting branches on passers by. You could lose too many council tax payers like that given the number of trees planted in urban areas.
One of the problems round here is that Torquay is basically a town that change from a few hovels round the harbour to a fashionable watering hole in the mid to late 19 century. And one thing Victorians loved to do was plant trees all over the place. This trend continued through the Edwardian period and still continues today. So its not surprising some of these trees are getting on in years and are reaching the stage of dropping branches on to the heads of passers by. The council sensibly have a quick look at all it's trees to see if action is needed to prevent this happening. Given the "I'm going to sue for every penny I can get" culture we have imported from America you can't blame them.
A couple of days ago a large Holm Oak in the Princess Gardens near the theatre developed a large crack, nice friendly tree this, giving the council a warning it was in dropping branch mode. So down it came but not without some controversy. The council here have a history of doing things in a way that would baffle most people. I mean we live here and we have to put up with it but it doesn't mean we like the way our town is run. Headless chickens, sometimes vindictive headless chickens, or even single-minded headless chickens spring, to mind. So when the Herald Express ran the story about the tree coming down there were about 30 comments downloaded suggesting an ulterior motive for cutting the tree down. Sorry the tree was in a sadly dangerous state. A two foot long crack had opened up and a branch weighing about 5 tonnes was likely to end up crashing on to a nearby shelter. A shelter used mostly by visitors to our fair town. If the council hadn't cut the tree down I can imagine the headlines in the Walsall Gazette or the Rotherham Recorder, " 20 Tourists Killed When Tree Falls" "Torbay Council didn't do anything for fear of upsetting locals."
So one this occasion the council have got it right, I wish they would get into the habit of getting things right.
PS Oh yes. Nearly forgot. The person, a professional protestor by the sound of him, who went down to Princess Gardens yesterday and called one of the guys cutting the tree down a Nazi didn't do his cause any good either.
It was my birthday yesterday and I got 3 emails and a text message from various family members reminding me of the fact. When I was a child I liked reminding, usually with a birthday present, that I was a year older. But now I am not so sure. Then today I checked my bank account and there was a little present from The Department of Works and Pensions which was nice. Only £10 but it all helps. Now I couldn't remember getting this gift last year so I had a look through my old bank statements and there it was, the same amount, £10, paid in early December 2009.
Haven't the DWP heard of inflation?
Still no snow in Torquay.
No snow in Torquay but still fairly cold, down to -4 Thursday night and day time never got above zero.
What else? Oh yes after dumping Nick Bye, Torbay's best ever and least loved elected mayor the con party have also ditched the leader of their councillors here in the Bay. For the second time in less than a year. After getting rid of Councillor Kevin Carroll last April he got re-elected on the promise he would be a "cuddlier" councillor from then on. It turned out he wasn't "cuddlier" enough for a majority of his fellow con party councillors who backed a vote of no confidence in the poor guy. Then the deputy mayor Councillor Chris Lewis quit his post so he could run for mayor. saying, "I think Nick (Bye) has done a good job but I couldn't criticise some aspects of what was going on if I remained in the cabinet and as Deputy Mayor. I thought it would better to have a clean break and a new approach. To be the leader you have to put forward your own manifesto. I am now free within the group to say what I believe in." He wants to be mayor and leader of con party.
Quick question here Chris; Why couldn't you criticise what was going on if you thought it was wrong when you were deputy mayor. You just had to stand up at the time and do the honourable thing and say, "This is wrong. I quit" or have you just become aware that it's wrong now you are no longer deputy mayor.
So what we have got at the moment is a mayor who because he doesn't have the backing of his party, doesn't have much power. There is no deputy mayor and no leader of the party. So the Con Party could be considered to be in a state of disarray, not a nice state to be in with an election in 5 months. I know a week in politics is a long time but not when you go round shooting yourselves in the foot, or even both feet.
Mind you the opposition round here might not be in a position even to catch up with, never mind overtake the heavily limping con party. People round here still call a local barn the Spanish Barn because some tourists from the Iberian Peninsular slept there for a week 400 years ago. With memories like that we can still remember that 4 years ago the Lib Dems closed most of the public toilets in the Bay to save money. What did they want to save the money for you might ask? Well a few weeks later they voted for a massive increase in their out of pocket expenses; by a million quid more or less. The Con Party and the public protested this nonsense and we managed to get the toilets open again. And as soon as the Con Party got elected they did absolutely nothing about the expenses increase. Well what did you expect? Miracles?
Maybe it's time for the local Labour Party to re-invent themselves. No. No, lets get that right. It is TIME for the local Labour Party to come in from the wilderness like a joyful prophet riding into town on a donkey.
Either that or we could join Devon County Council and have done with trying to run the Bay ourselves because we have made a right mess of the job over the last 10 years.