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.

Apply for a free bus pass

Bus passes

Bus Pass holders in the Torbay area will be able to use their bus pass for free travel on local services at any time of day from today (Friday 20 March 2020). Bus passes are normally not valid until 9:30am on weekdays but, in association with the bus operators, we are temporarily lifting all time restrictions.

This means older and disabled bus pass holders can access essential services and also take advantage of early opening arrangements shops may be offering during the coronavirus situation.

There is greater capacity on the network at these times, allowing pass holders to exercise social distancing measures on buses with fewer passengers.

Any passengers experiencing issues or problems using their bus pass should call 01803 207766 or email buspass@torbay.gov.uk.

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Apply for a school place

School admissions appeals

During the coronavirus pandemic, Government guidance is clear that school admissions appeals must go ahead. Please be aware that the consideration of appeals may be delayed but they will go ahead in some form.

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School place applications

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 email us with your queries and we will do our best to give you a prompt reply.

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Become a foster carer

We’re still recruiting foster carers

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​.

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Bins and recycling

Recycling centre

The recycling centre is reopening on 20 May. Please check the recycling centre page to see the changes we have made to maintain the safety for both residents and staff and find out how you can access the site - please do not visit the recycling centre without reading this information first.

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Public weighbridge

To protect both residents and staff, a decision has been made to temporarily close the weighbridge at the Household Waste Recycling Centre in Tor Park Road, Paignton.

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Garden waste

The garden waste collections from Brixham College and Lymington Road Coach Station have currently been suspended.

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Waste collections

Waste and recycling collections are expected to continue as normal during the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. At present, our plan is that we will prioritise household waste collections over other services but we will need to review this as the situation develops.

The exception is garden waste collections, which are temporarily suspended during this period to prioritise household residual waste and food waste, and recycling such as cardboard, paper, plastic and tin.

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Births, deaths and marriages

Births

All birth registrations have been suspended. However, following a recent UK Government announcement, the Registration Service is in the process of preparing offices to recommence face-to-face birth registrations. Before we reopen the offices, we need to ensure that we comply with social distancing measures that protect our customers as well as our staff. Once we are in a position to safely accept customers we will recommence our face-to-face service and we will update our webpage and online booking system accordingly.

We have been issued the following guidelines:

Customers should be advised that they can now make a claim for child benefit or universal credit before the birth has been registered, where they have not been able to do so because of these measures.

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Citizenship ceremonies

Customers would normally be expected to book their citizenship ceremony within three months of being sent an invitation from the Home Office. Due to the current pandemic circumstances UKVI has extended this period to six months and will keep this under constant review.

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Deaths

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

  Register a death

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Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies

Following the announcement by the Prime Minister all ceremonies remain suspended until all people movement and social gathering restrictions are lifted. The government have set out intentions to enable small wedding ceremonies from 1 June. As with all the necessary coronavirus restrictions on register offices, places of worship and other venues, they will be eased when it is safe to do so.

We understand the frustration couples planning a wedding must be feeling at this time. To request any changes to existing ceremony bookings, please email registrar@torbay.gov.uk being sure to include your full name, address, date of birth, telephone number and details of the date, time and venue you have booked, one of the Registrar team will then call you back.

We would love to be able to give more definite information to our couples, but this is a delicate phase and we have to wait for further instruction. We can, however, accept new ceremony bookings for ceremonies taking place from 1 November 2020.

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Business rates

Business rates grant and relief changes

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

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Payment of grants

Businesses that have registered for the grant will have received a confirmation email of their application. After review, you will receive an email confirming the outcome:

  • Approved – Sit tight, your grant is on its way via BACS payment
  • Further information required – Please follow the instructions in the email
  • Refused – Business does not meet the Governments eligibility requirements.

If you have applied and not received a second email within 10 days of submitting your form please email financial.services@torbay.gov.uk stating your business rates account number and business name.

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Debts with enforcement agents

We have been advised by our contracted Enforcement Agents that as of today 25 March 2020 they will closing their contact centres. Customers will still be able to make payments through 24/7 self-serve options, including online payments via the web, automated payment telephony lines and online bank transfers. They will continue to maintain a reduced telephony service customer care team and welfare support team to ensure that customers have some level of contact over the phone or via email and letters.

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Outstanding debts

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. However, as the communities that we serve are our primary consideration, we have requested that all enforcement agent visits stop for the next 3 months.

During this time there will still be communications from the enforcement agents, but they will be delivered by other methods. All enforcement agency staff will be able to revise your circumstances to effectively assess your ability to pay, particularly with the restrictions on working and social distancing. This will enable an affordable payment plan, which could, in turn, offer breathing space and payment plans over longer terms.

With Government advice varying daily we will provide updates when situations change. But would like to advise customers to explore all financial support options that are available to them, ensuring that their financial circumstances does not worsen more than necessary if affected by issues related to COVID-19.

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Complaints and compliments

Dealing with complaints

Due to our pandemic response requirements, customers are advised that there may be delays in the handling of complaints. This includes any complaints that are currently outstanding and any new complaints raised. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Council tax

Financial support

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.

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Debts with enforcement agents

We have been advised by our contracted Enforcement Agents that as of today 25 March 2020 they will closing their contact centres. Customers will still be able to make payments through 24/7 self-serve options, including online payments via the web, automated payment telephony lines and online bank transfers. They will continue to maintain a reduced telephony service customer care team and welfare support team to ensure that customers have some level of contact over the phone or via email and letters.

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Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)

DHP Applications

Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak we have seen a large increase in applications. It may take a bit longer than normal to process your application. 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.

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Harbours

Harbour users

The government announced a partial lifting of some COVID-19 (Coronavirus) lockdown restrictions from 13 May 2020.

The government has announced that all forms of water sports practiced on open waterways, including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, rowing, kayaking, surfing, paddle-boarding and the use of privately-owned motorised craft are allowed.

Members of the same household can now spend time on their boats. The bridge and cill will be operated (tide permitting) between 7am to 9pm.

Harbour offices remain closed to the public, however customers who need to top up electrical cards or collect fobs can arrange by telephone to do so by appointment during times stated above. Toilets and other facilities remain closed for the time being but we will be reviewing this in the near future (see which toilets are currently open in Torbay).

Please maintain a two metre distance at all times when walking on pontoons and do not go onto other vessels when spending time on your boat.

Regardless of these other allowances, please remember that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is reminded they should remain isolated at home according to Government advice.

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Beach and beach hut users

The new guidelines will allow members of the same household to spend time together on the beaches and/or in their beach huts so long as social distancing (at least two metres apart) can be maintained.

Seasonal restrictions will still apply to walking dogs on beaches as these are bye-laws, and the usual enforcement measures such as dog wardens will be in place, however there are a number of other beaches in Torbay where you can walk your dogs. Further information is available on Dogs on beaches news release.

You can go swimming in the sea as part of daily exercise provided that social distancing guidelines are observed – advice against using public indoor and outdoor pools remains in place. Additionally, Swim England have said that only competent and experienced open water swimmers should use this form of exercise. You can find out more on Swim England COVID-19 page.

To stay safe, you must take hygiene precautions when you are outside, and wash your hands as soon as you are back indoors, and keep at least two metres apart from anyone outside your household at all times.

Regardless of these other allowances, please remember that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is reminded they should remain isolated at home according to Government advice.

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Harbour offices

As per the government guidelines, Tor Bay Harbour offices are currently closed to the public until further notice, we are still contactable by phone or email. We thank you for your patience in these difficult times.

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Harbour and beach facility invoices

We recognise the financial impact that Coronavirus is having across the UK, and the Harbour's admin team will be able to help you with any concerns you have about your harbour or beach facility invoice.

The annual facility charge will still remain payable from the 1 April 2020 with no reduction in charges, however, we want to support you as best as we can with measures in place for those who may be struggling to pay.

  • Direct Debit payments can be increased for up to 10 monthly payments to reduce the monthly amount payable.
  • Offering a three month deferred payment of annual facility and harbour charges for commercial vessels.

If you require any further information please don’t hesitate to email us at harbour.authority@torbay.gov.uk

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Home to school transport

School transport applications

COVID-19 change to assessment - If your child is currently receiving school transport assistance and your circumstances have not changed, you will not be required to submit a transport application form for September 2020. The Transport Team will use the information we currently hold on you to assess eligibility for the next academic year.  Please notify us 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. 

If your child is a new starter, or transitioning between schools, you will be required to submit a transport application form for September 2020.  Please download any application you need to make, complete it electronically and send it to us by email to cstransport@torbay.gov.uk.

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Houses in multiple occupation

Licensing of HMO's

Your health and safety is important to us and that is why we are making some changes to our processes for the licensing of HMO's to help reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

If you are applying for an HMO licence we will only be receiving applications online. If you are unable to provide the supporting documents due to contractors being unable to undertake certification checks such as fire safety and gas safety then you will still be able to submit your application without these documents.

During the time your application is being processed but incomplete (due to the absence of supporting documents) and not yet licensed no legal action will be taken by us providing an application has been made.

Visits to licensed HMO’s will be restricted during this time, particularly where tenants are self-isolating.

Your application will be put on hold until the required documents are received.

Annual certificates will still be requested at this time however if you are unable to provide them due to the unavailability of contractors then please let us know.

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Applications by tenants for a Rent Repayment Order

Tenants are still able to apply to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for Rent Repayment Orders however you will need to seek guidance directly from the Tribunal on their working guidelines at this time.

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How the council works

Cabinet and committee meetings - democratic continuity

In light of the Government’s guidance on social distancing, between 23 March and 30 April 2020, all of the our public decision making meetings have been cancelled. This will be kept under review on a month-by-month basis.

Alternative decision making arrangements have been put in place for any decisions which need to be made during the COVID-19 outbreak. In many cases, this will involve the Leader of the Council making decisions normally made by the Cabinet. Any urgent decisions which would have been made at Council meetings will be taken by the Chief Executive.  For other committee meetings, decisions will be taken by officers.

All such decisions will be made after consulting the appropriate councillors and decisions and any associated reports will be published on the decisions page.

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Information and data

FOI and EIR requests

Due to pandemic response requirements, customers are advised that there may be delays in handling requests for information made under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act or Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Subject access requests

Due to pandemic response requirements and high demand, customers are advised that there are currently significant delays in the processing of subject access requests. Further delays can be expected. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Libraries

Library closures

All our Libraries are now closed but library staff are still on hand to help. They will be available on the phone, answering emails and providing updates on their social media pages. It doesn’t matter where you usually borrow your books from, any of the libraries will be happy to help you.

There are a range of downloads that you can access, including eBook, eMagazines and audiobooks onto your tablet, smartphone or computer from home. Your library card gives you access to 1000s of titles through the Overdrive, RBdigital and Borrowbox, which you can access for free. Find out more via Torbay Libraries.

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Libraries

Licensing and permits

Planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways

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 12 months.

The government will introduce the measures as soon as possible through secondary legislation. 

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.

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Pavement café permits

In order to support the local business community through the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis, we will not be pursuing any outstanding debt until at least May. Once a decision has been made to seek outstanding payments, permit holders will be notified and offered payment plans spread over three months.

Read the full press release.

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Taxi and private hire vehicle compliance tests

The Department for Transport has now released guidance in relation to vehicle MOT’s.

From 30 March 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by 6 months. This is being done to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

However if the registered testing station is still able to conduct taxi and private hire vehicle compliance tests, then the advice from government is that these should continue to take place if the testing station is able to continue following the health advice regarding Covid-19.

Vehicles must be in a roadworthy condition for the exemption to be valid. Therefore it is just as important now as it has always been, that drivers ensure that the vehicle they are using is fully compliant with the law and that any identifiable defects such as blown bulbs, defective tyres etc. are repaired. If you are not able to have the vehicle repaired so that it is in a roadworthy condition, it must be withdrawn from service.

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New licensed driver applications

Please be aware that due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, there will be a delay if you make, or, have made an application.

We are unable to carry out the Taxi Knowledge Test at present and this situation will be reviewed in June.

Where possible please avoid/delay making an application as you will be charged for a refund if you do not wish to proceed with your application.

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Parking

Blue badge applications

As a result of the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and following Government guidelines, all non-essential services, of which Blue Badge is one, are suspended until further notice.

You are still able to apply as normal but please be advised that Blue Badge applications will take longer than normal to process. For more information or for general enquiries please visit the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust website. As agreed by Governments and local authority associations across the UK, Blue Badges with an expiry date of the 1 January 2020 should have a relaxation of enforcement until 30 September 2020.

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Car parks and on street pay and display bays

Anyone using our car parks, or on street pay and display bay, is asked to adhere to social distancing guidelines and to ensure they use hand sanitiser before and after using the parking machine to minimise their risk of catching and spreading the virus. Customers are reminded that parking charges both on and off street are in operation at all times. If anyone wishes to avoid the use of coins or contact with a pay and display machine, the Park Mobile app may be used which allows ‘hands free’ payments to be made. Further details on this payment method can be found on the information boards next to the ticket machines in the car parks, or on the sides of the machines at on street pay and display bays.

At the current time the following car parks remain closed:

  • Lymington Road Coach Station car park has been closed to accommodate a COVID-19 testing centre.
  • Lower Union Lane Multi-Storey car park is closed until further notice.
  • Quay West car park is closed to provide a location for vehicles queueing to access the Recycling Centre (pre-booked only). This car park is likely to be accessible to the general public at the end of May.

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Free parking for NHS workers and volunteers

Key workers who work or volunteer for the NHS and social care to support our most vulnerable residents will continue to get free parking in council operated parking areas, providing the relevant paperwork is displayed on vehicle dashboards.

Free parking only applies if these workers are on duty where the use of the vehicle is necessary to undertake the role, and only to those working or volunteering in health and social area, it does not extend to all key workers.

For further information visit GOV.UK Government to provide free car parking for NHS and social care staff website.

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Parking enforcement

As of Thursday 14 May, parking enforcement commenced for the majority of restrictions in place across Torbay, this was due to a number of beach car parks being reopened along with increased vehicular activity on Torbay's highway network. The parking restrictions currently being enforced in Torbay are as follows:

  • Double yellow lines (including seasonal)
  • Single yellow lines (including seasonal)
  • Loading bans (single or double yellow kerb marks)
  • Dropped kerbs
  • Zig-zags (school and pedestrian crossing)
  • Loading bays
  • Disabled badge holder only bays
  • Bays for a specific class of vehicle (e.g. taxi, bus, motor cycle, motor car)
  • On street pay and display bays
  • Off street pay and display areas (car parks, some closures still in place)

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Parks, play and open spaces

Flower beds

Flower bed maintenance and planting has also been suspended until further notice.

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Grass cutting

Grass cutting will be carried out only as required, where it is related to highways safety to ensure adequate visibility particularly when approaching or using junctions and roundabouts.

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Park waste and dog bins

Park waste bins and dog bin emptying is likely to be a significantly reduced service. Please be mindful that in light of this dog walkers are being asked to take their litter home with them. Routine park inspections will not be carried out for the time being.

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Playgrounds

All playgrounds and play areas within in Torbay have been temporarily closed and should not be visited, this is in accordance with government direction.

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Planning and building control

Consulting on planning applications

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.

In light of the current restrictions on travel we will, therefore, be following this procedure.

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Current planning applications

Planning applications which were made valid before 23 March 2020 and where necessary site visits had previously been undertaken are still being determined. As all public decision making meetings, such as planning committees have been cancelled, additional delegated powers have been given to the Assistant Director, Planning and Transport (in consultation with the relevant elected members) for the determination of some planning applications.

Work involving the discharge of planning conditions, and some pre-application work that doesn’t require a site visit, is continuing as normal.

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New planning applications

We are currently unable to accept hard copy applications or hard copy comments but are continuing to register and validate applications which are submitted electronically in the appropriate format. Once an application has been validated, the case officer will undertake an initial desktop assessment to identify and potential issues with the application. At present only a limited number of decision on new planning applications can be issued. However, we are continuing to review the national advice and where possible we will seek to introduce new procedures which might reasonably allow for more decisions to continue to be issued.  

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Building control

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.

To comply with government advice regarding unnecessary travel, building control site inspections are not being carried out unless there is a potential health and safety issue.

Where you continue to work with builders and developers, please ensure they are reminded to 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.

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Land charges

We are pleased to confirm that we have been able to resume our Land Charge service. This will enable property searches in the pipeline and received since lockdown to be fully completed, to help assist with the completion of property transactions.

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Public toilets

Closure of public toilets

Following extensive conversations with our contractor Healthmatic, a limited number of public toilets across Torbay are now open. View the full list of toilets currently open.

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Roadworks

Temporary suspension of roadworks

As a result of government advice surrounding Covid-19 (Coronavirus), we have taken the decision to suspend its major planned highway works. To this end the Surface Dressing and Micro Asphalt programmes have been delayed for an undetermined period but will be carried out as soon as possible.

Works on the already commenced site on the A379 Babbacombe Road will continue, as the site team is very small and they are able to operate adhering to the distancing guidance and for as long as supplies to the site are maintained, however, this will continue to be reviewed.

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Torre Abbey

Closure

In line with government guidance, Torre Abbey will be closed until further notice.

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Travel Torbay

Local bus services

Local bus service providers are making a number of changes to their services and timetables to respond to the latest government advice and help reduce the spread of the virus. People are advised only to travel if absolutely necessary – for basic food shopping, medicines or to essential work. For more details read the press release.

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National Express coach network

Due to the current emergency situation all National Express coach services will be temporarily suspended from 11:59pm on Sunday 5 April. For more information and ticket enquiries visit the National Express website.

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Trees

Tree works

All planned and non-essential tree work has been suspended until further notice. Planned woodland works are continuing at this time with the timber being used at local biomass and power stations. Tree safety surveys and inspection works are continuing with our consultants.

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