Torbay lose but Exmouth win cash pot??

How long have we been waiting for “promised” funding for essential infrastructure needed as a result of “Build, build, build” development running ahead of local capacity to absorb it? 

Is this really a cash pot from a bountiful government? How much cash has been taken away from local government by Conservatives since Austerity 1.0?

How much time and effort was required to make what should be a blindingly obvious case in the “begging bowl” centralised Whitehall culture?

This is essential spending not investment in growing the economy.

What about real “levelling up” cases such as the Axminster master plan?

Does this reflect that Simon Jupp’s seat is now considered to be on the “vulnerable” list? – Owl

Guy Henderson

Plans for new developments which would have brought hundreds of jobs to Torbay were in ruins today as the Government turned down the bay’s application for cash. Elsewhere there were celebrations around the country as places such as Exmouth picked up much-needed investment from the Government’s “Levelling Up” funds.

But Torbay’s innovative so-called “Fish and Chips” bid for fish market expansion in Brixham and a microchip technology park in Paignton was rejected for the second time. Now the bay’s MPs are to meet to discuss the way forward.

In Exmouth the money will go towards a major road extension and developments around the town’s railway station. East Devon MP Simon Jupp said: “This is excellent news and I am looking forward to seeing spades in the ground.”

In Torbay the money would have been spent on badly-needed improvements to Brixham’s busy fish market and on a photonics site at Long Road in Paignton.

It was the bay’s second go at securing funds from the Levelling Up pot, having missed the boat in the first round as well. The revised bid which has been turned down today was for an expansion of Brixham Harbour and a base for electronics and photonics businesses at Paignton.

Torbay Council had said that if the bad had succeeded, the proposed expansion of the commercial port at Brixham could see an annual £5m growth in the value of fish and shellfish landed and support 150 new jobs. The port has recently reported record figures, and is already the busiest in England.

However, fishing industry leaders have warned that the future prosperity of the market and the port as a whole depends on expanding the quayside area. If successful, the bid would have brought an extended fish market and more quay space for distribution vehicles. The council would have benefitted from increased fish toll income.

An electronics and photonics production park at Long Road in Paignton was also part of the bid, with more well-paid jobs generated in a sector in which Torbay is already a leader. But today a letter from Levelling Up Minister Dehenna Davison explained that the application had not met the criteria outlined for the Levelling Up Fund.

The Minister went on: “I appreciate how disappointing this news will be. The UK Government remains firmly committed to levelling up all parts of the UK and officials will provide written feedback on your application to support future proposals.”

Torbay MP Kevin Foster said: “I am disappointed to hear the bid submitted by Torbay Council for levelling up funding has not succeeded, especially given the potential boost for our fishing and photonics sector it would have brought. Anthony Mangnall MP and I will be meeting to identify what we can do as local MPs to ensure the necessary work is done locally to ensure a future bid succeeds.

“We will shortly meet with Government Ministers to identify if there were specific areas of concern which need to be addressed and what, if any, impact delays in Torbay Council getting work under way on other schemes where significant government funding has been made available had on this decision.”

After years of campaigning by East Devon MP Simon Jupp, Exmouth will receive £15.7m from the Levelling Up Fund. The multi-million-pound funding will deliver the Dinan Way road extension to improve journeys and cut congestion. Dinan Way currently forms a partial ring road around Exmouth but lacks a final connection to the A376, with traffic using unsuitable residential roads to get through to the main road to Exeter and the M5.

The funding will also deliver regeneration around the railway station, including improvements to pedestrian access to the town centre and the infilling of an underpass.

Mr Jupp said: “This investment will improve journeys in Exmouth, improve air quality, and help spruce up the area around the train station. I would like to thank the councils who worked together to develop the plans and the Conservative Government who backed our bid.”

And Cllr Andrea Davis, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, added: “This is brilliant news for the people of Exmouth and a boost to the town’s regeneration. It will not only enable Devon County Council to complete the Dinan Way link road which will reduce traffic going through the centre, but also fund improved walking and cycling routes, and bus services to Exeter.

“A big thank you goes to Simon Jupp, who has worked tirelessly to support this project. I want also to thank the team at Devon County Council who put such a compelling bid together.”