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National Guidance: Autumn and Winter Plan

For us to have a safe and unrestricted winter, we need everyone to remain vigilant and comply with guidance. Everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, should follow behaviours and actions that reduce transmission and help to keep people safe.

To find out the latest information and advice about Coronavirus in Torbay see our Coronavirus section.

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Service changes

Information on the changes we have made to services due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

We’re working hard to maintain as many services as we can for as long as we can. Some services may need to change in the light of government advice or staff shortages. Please check this section from time to time for the latest updates.

  • Births, deaths and marriages

    • Births

      Last updated on 7 October 2021

      Where possible (if married), only one parent is to attend the birth registration appointment and no other children are permitted to attend. You will be required to wash your hands or use the hand sanitiser provided on entering the building and at all times will need to follow the guidance of the registrar.

      Only attend the office at the time you are given, in some cases you may be asked to wait outside of the building until the time of your appointment.

      It is still possible to make a claim for child benefit or universal credit before the birth has been registered. You will need to contact HMRC directly to make a claim, details can be found on GOV.UK. This arrangement will cease on 1 November, you will then need to register the baby before you make a claim for any benefit.

    • Citizenship ceremonies

      Last updated on 7 October 2021

      If you have received a letter from the Home Office about your Citizenship ceremony please call 01803 207130. Group ceremonies are taking place at Torre Abbey every ten weeks. Private ceremonies are available at The Register Office weekly and are chargeable.

    • Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies

      Last updated on 7 October 2021

      Following the Prime Ministers' announcement the guidance for wedding and civil partnership ceremonies, receptions and celebrations have been updated on the GOV.UK website. 

      The number of guests will be determined by the venue's licenced capacity and the number of people they can safely accommodate taking the governments guidance into consideration, which will be determined by their Covid risk assessment. Please discuss direct with your venue the number of guests you can have at your ceremony.

      Ceremonies booked for The Ceremony Room at Cockington Court 

      These are the restrictions and procedures currently in force. These may change in line with updated Government guidelines before your wedding date. When we contact you with regard to payment (approx. 2 weeks before the ceremony) we will be able to give you details of the situation at that time. 

      We have been informed by Torbay Council’s Senior Environmental Health Officer that in order to keep the Ceremony Room Covid secure, we must restrict the numbers to a maximum of 11 seated (and none standing) guests plus the couple marrying. This includes all children except tiny babies in arms.  

      Face coverings are no longer compulsory for wedding guests attending the ceremony – but they are recommended. The two witnesses will be asked to wear face coverings when signing the marriage schedule. (If the bride & groom wish to wear face coverings these will need to be removed for the legal vows.) 

      Other factors to consider are: 

      • No one who has symptoms of Covid -19 should attend. Anyone self-isolating must stay at home. 
      • On arrival (ideally 10 minutes before your ceremony time) you will need to wait in the Rose Garden until we come to admit you (as the building is currently closed to the public). It’s fine for the bride and groom to arrive separately, but please wait in the Rose Garden. Also please note that only the external toilets are currently open. 
      • You and your guests will be questioned before entry to the building as to whether you have any Covid symptoms
      • You and your guests will be asked to sanitise their hands on arrival 
      • One person from each household will be asked to either scan the QR code or leave contact details on the sheet provided to assist NHS Track and Trace. (This applies to the guests not the couple.)
      • If you have a professional photographer who is not one of the 11 seated guests, they will be able to stand in the doorway during the ceremony and once the registrars have left they will be able to take photos in the room
      • Windows and doors will be open to aid ventilation
      • Social distancing to be maintained between registrar staff and the couple and guests. 
      • All those attending are asked to exercise caution and consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions to take to help keep friends and family safe. Space should be made for other people to keep their distance if they want to.
      • Rings to be handled by the couple only 
      • You (and the witnesses) may bring your own pens to sign the schedule if you wish (although a pen is provided and will be cleaned after each individual use)
      • The room will be cleaned after each ceremony  

      If you would like to make a booking please use the online booking form.

      If you would like to cancel or postpone your booking please email registrar@torbay.gov.uk with your full names, address, date of birth as well as the time and venue you have booked.

    • Deaths

      Last updated on 15 September 2021

      Death registrations will now be conducted by telephone and appointments can be booked online. Please do not call to book an appointment if possible.

    • Give notice of marriage or civil partnership

      Last updated on 15 September 2021

      Our Registration Service are taking Notices of Marriage and Civil Partnership appointments.

      A number of safety precautions have been put in place to protect customers and staff.

      Please only attend the office at the time you are given. In some cases, you may be asked to wait outside of the building until the time of your appointment. Please only book your notice appointment at the earliest twelve weeks before your ceremony.

  • Bus travel

    • Stagecoach

      Last updated on 28 May 2021

      As restrictions ease across England, Stagecoach is safely and steadily making more seats available on local buses, when busy.

      This means that all forward-facing seats can now be used. Standing or using other seats is not allowed.

      Please continue to keep your distance, where possible and wear a face-covering throughout your journey, unless you’re exempt.

      For further details go to the Stagecoach travelling safely in England page.

      All service updates and emergency timetables are listed on the Stagecoach website.

  • Business rates

    • Business Grants

      Last updated on 8 March 2021

      For information on the business grants available please visit our Business and tourism page

    • Business rates grant and relief changes

      Last updated on 6 January 2021

      For information on the business rates grant or relief changes due to coronavirus please visit the financial support for businesses page.

    • Debts with enforcement agents

      Last updated on 6 November 2020

      Enforcement agents have been advised by CIVEA (Civil Enforcement Association), that they can continue to make doorstep visits subject to strict adherence to the CIVEA and Ministry of Justice protocols during this second national lockdown period. To date, throughout the pandemic we have chosen not to resume doorstep visits, however, these visits will resume in the future.

      Customers that are contacted by Rossendales with outstanding debts are encouraged to respond promptly. There will be a customer care team and welfare support team available should there be any issues identified to have been caused by COVID-19. This will enable an affordable payment plan, which could, in turn, offer breathing space and payment plans over longer terms.

      Customers will still be able to make payments through 24/7 self-serve options, including online payments via Rossendales web site, automated payment telephony lines and online bank transfers. Please do not make any payments directly to Torbay Council if your debt is with the enforcement agents.

      We would like to advise customers to explore all financial support options that are available to them, ensuring that their financial circumstances do not worsen more than necessary if affected by issues related to COVID-19.

    • Outstanding debts

      Last updated on 6 November 2020

      If your business has outstanding debts with us that have already been referred to enforcement agents for recovery, these debts are still recoverable and will remain with the enforcement agents. Enforcement agents have been advised by CIVEA (Civil Enforcement Association), that they can continue to make doorstep visits subject to strict adherence to the CIVEA and Ministry of Justice protocols during this second national lockdown period.  To date throughout the pandemic we have chosen not to resume doorstep visits, however, these visits will resume in the future.

  • Council tax

    • Financial support

      Last updated on 6 November 2020

      If you are concerned about your financial situation and your ability to maintain your Council Tax payments due to coronavirus there is help available. Visit the financial support for individuals page for more information.

    • Debts with enforcement agents

      Last updated on 6 November 2020

      Enforcement agents have been advised by CIVEA (Civil Enforcement Association), that they can continue to make doorstep visits subject to strict adherence to the CIVEA and Ministry of Justice protocols during this second national lockdown period. To date, throughout the pandemic we have chosen not to resume doorstep visits, however, these visits will resume in the future.

      Customers that are contacted by Rossendales with outstanding debts are encouraged to respond promptly. There will be a customer care team and welfare support team available should there be any issues identified to have been caused by COVID-19. This will enable an affordable payment plan, which could, in turn, offer breathing space and payment plans over longer terms.

      Customers will still be able to make payments through 24/7 self-serve options, including online payments via Rossendales web site, automated payment telephony lines and online bank transfers. Please do not make any payments directly to Torbay Council if your debt is with the enforcement agents.

      We would like to advise customers to explore all financial support options that are available to them, ensuring that their financial circumstances do not worsen more than necessary if affected by issues related to COVID-19.

  • Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)

    • DHP Applications

      Last updated on 14 April 2021

      Due to coronavirus, we have seen a large increase in applications. As soon as your application has been looked at we will contact you if we need further information or to notify you of the decision. We will deal with all applications as soon as possible.

  • Fostering

    • We’re still recruiting foster carers

      Last updated on 6 January 2021

      Foster carers are still needed in Torbay despite the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, and our Fostering team is still available both online and on the phone, although they had to make some temporary changes to the way the service is run. 

      So whether you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer, or you’re a foster carer that needs to speak to the team, please get in touch with us – call 01803 207845 or email fostering@torbay.gov.uk​.

  • Harbours

    • Harbour offices

      Last updated on 26 April 2021

      Paignton Harbour

      Paignton Harbour office is open for all harbour and beach general enquiries, for the sale of electric cards and Paignton visitor fees Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday 8 am to 4 pm.

      Brixham Harbour

      Brixham Harbour office remains closed to ‘walk-ins’ but can accept pre-arranged appointments.

      Brixham Harbour Gate is manned 24/7 by Security, visitor payments can be made here.

      Torquay Harbour

      Torquay Harbour office is open to the public Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm.

    • Harbour users

      Last updated on 26 April 2021

      Visit the guide for Harbour customers page for details.

  • How the council works

    • Cabinet and committee meetings - democratic continuity

      Last updated on 14 May 2021

      All decision-making meetings held from 12 July 2021 onwards will be held in person, normally at the town hall, Torquay. Please check the agenda front sheet for the meeting venue.

      The Council has agreed that social distancing and other protective measures e.g. wearing a face covering (unless exempt), signing in and using hand sanitiser will remain in place until further notice to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Torbay. Also, to help prevent the spread of the virus, anyone attending meetings is asked to take Covid lateral flow test the evening before - if you have a positive test result please follow the Government’s guidelines and do not attend the meeting.

      Please note that capacity in our public gallery is very restricted please contact us at governance.support@torbay.gov.uk or 01803 207087 for further advice.

  • Information and data

    • Subject access requests

      Last updated on 7 October 2021

      Due to pandemic response requirements as well as significantly high demand for these requests, customers are advised that there are currently significant delays in the processing of subject access requests. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

  • Libraries

    • Library closures

      Last updated on 16 June 2021

      Libraries Unlimited have set a roadmap for reintroducing in-person library services, based on the 4-step plan set out by the government.

      For information on the reopening of libraries and service changes visit the Libraries Unlimited website.

  • Licensing and permits

    • Planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways

      Last updated on 14 April 2021

      As part of the measures the government is introducing to help the hospitality industry during the coronavirus outbreak, the Communities Secretary has confirmed that planning regulations will temporarily be relaxed to allow all pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways of hot food and drinks to serve people staying at home.

      Currently, a planning application for change of use class is required to convert pubs and restaurants to hot food takeaways. Under the emergency measures, the government will allow a temporary change of use without an application. This time limited permitted development right will last for a further 12 months to 23 March 2022.

      Operators are reminded however that the sale of hot food and hot drink between 11pm and 5am will still require authorisation for late night refreshment under licensing law. 

      Furthermore, the measures only relate to takeaways of hot food and non-alcoholic drinks. Premises licence holders should check their licence conditions and ensure that they are permitted to sell off sales of alcohol before offering takeaways or deliveries of alcohol. 

      Further details can be obtained from the GOV.UK website.

    • Pavement café permits

      Last updated on 14 April 2021

      Businesses have two choices with regard to applying for Pavement café areas on the highway. Either using the Highway Act, which will provide a permanent provision, all be the process is a little longer and certainly more costly, or to apply under the simpler Business and Planning Act 2020, for temporary permission. If granted this allows use of the land until 30 September 2021 and the government is proposing to extend this until 30 September 2022. The fee is just £100.

  • Planning and Building Control

    • Building control

      Last updated on 4 May 2021

      Applications submitted electronically continue to be processed, as with new planning applications, hard copy applications and documents are not being accepted until further notice. The plan vetting of applications continues with decisions being made electronically.

      Site inspections will continue to be carried out where this can be done safely. If not, alternative methods for inspection may be adopted for checking compliance. Please ensure you continue to contact building control at commencement and when all other appropriate inspection stages have been reached. This should help to ensure that the construction of building works can continue to be assessed.

      Building control can be contacted on building.control@torbay.gov.uk or by phoning 01803 208095.

    • Land charges

      Last updated on 4 May 2021

      Despite having secured temporary, increased resources in our Land Charges service we continue to be affected by an unprecedented demand for the service as a result of the stamp duty holiday arrangements put in place during the pandemic to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19.   Whilst we continue to complete property searches as swiftly and efficiently as possible, there will be an inevitable delay to normal turnaround times.

    • Consulting on planning applications

      Last updated on 6 November 2020

      Our adopted Statement of Community Involvement, (updated in March 2018) sets out the requirements for consulting on planning applications. This specifies that for householder applications, and applications for minor alterations in flats which are not in a Conservation Area, these applications will be publicised by neighbour notification letter only, with no site notice being placed at the site.

      We have been implementing this practice since March 2020 and continue to do so.

      For other application types requiring site notices and/or newspaper adverts these will be displayed in the usual way.

    • Current planning applications

      Last updated on 6 November 2020

      We will continue to process and determine current applications. Site visits will only take place where necessary and where officers do not have to enter occupied buildings. If officers require access into a site, such as a back garden, an appointment will be made via the agent or applicant.

      Officers may request photographs to be submitted to help in the assessment of some applications.

      Face to face site meetings will only take place where they are essential and only if they can take place whilst observing social distancing and the use of face coverings. Instead, Officers will make use of media such as email, Zoom or telephone where direct contact is helpful.

    • New planning applications

      Last updated on 6 November 2020

      Hard copy application may be submitted by post but not in person. As there are limited staff on-site to deal with post hard copy applications may experience a delay in being registered. 

      We are continuing to register and validate applications which are submitted electronically in the appropriate format.

      At present the planning team have no staff shortages due to COVID-19, however, this may change and could impact on performance.

    • Planning Committees

      Last updated on 6 November 2020

      The majority of planning decisions are made by officers under delegated powers. Some applications however are decided by the Planning Committee on a monthly basis.

      Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Planning Committees takes place on-line via Zoom. The public can take part in these meetings using the Zoom link, there is also a dial-in phone option.

      Information on how to join these meetings are available on the agendas

  • Public toilets

    • Public toilets

      Last updated on 11 January 2021

      Additional cleaning regimes and frequencies are in place in open facilities and users will be asked to adhere to the guidance on display with regards to social distancing and hygiene, both before and after using the facilities.

      Please also note that we are now operating our winter opening hours for public toilets and some of these are being developed too. Take a look at the list to check which toilets are open and what their opening hours are.

      In line with National trends and recommendations, we have moved many (but not all) of our public toilets to pay on entry systems (30p). To reduce the contact time many of the facilities are now use contactless payment systems only with no other alternative to use coins.

  • School admissions

    • School admissions appeals

      Last updated on 7 October 2021

      During the pandemic the Government has said that school admissions appeals must go ahead. We are holding them online using Zoom.

      There may be a delay in the consideration of appeals. We will tell you if this is going to happen and let you know when you will find out the result.

    • School place applications

      Last updated on 7 April 2021

      Due to Coronavirus restrictions, we are currently unable to process paper forms posted to our offices. Please download any application you need to make, complete electronically and send to us by email to pupil.services@torbay.gov.uk. If you find it difficult to contact us by phone, please send an email with your queries and we will do our best to reply promptly.

      Please note, the process for applying for a Secondary School place has now closed. If you have not yet applied see the admissions pages.

      The process for applying for a Primary School place for September 2021 has now closed. If you have not yet applied see the admissions pages.

  • School transport

    • School transport applications

      Last updated on 11 January 2021

      If you need to make an application for school transport because your child is a new starter or is transitioning between schools, you are required to submit a transport application form. Please download any application you need to make, complete it electronically and send it to us by email to cstransport@torbay.gov.uk.

      Please notify the Transport Service immediately if your circumstances have changed, e.g. a change of address. The transport team will need to reassess eligibility for any changes. If your child receives transport on mobility/medical grounds, we will still require updated medical information. You can notify us of any changes by emailing cstransport@torbay.gov.uk or telephone the Transport Service helpline on 01803 207688.

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