New funds aim to unlock North Devon’s potential, claim politicians
North Devon MP Nick Harvey has welcomed a government announcement on improvements to the North Devon Link Road, following a visit to North Devon from Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.
Mr Alexander joined Nick Harvey at Barnstaple Work Hub on Monday to highlight infrastructure projects worth almost £23billion across the South West, including road schemes worth about £2 billion. He supported the need for improvements to the A361, and asked local authorities and the LEP to bring forward plans for the next round of Local Growth Fund bids.
The Chief Secretary also launched a £5million business investment fund, delivered in partnership with North Devon+ and Plymouth University. The fund will enable local businesses to apply for grants of between £25,000-499,000 through the Regional Growth Fund, established by the Lib Dems in Government.
Nick said: “I was very pleased to welcome the Danny Alexander – the Cabinet Minister responsible for infrastructure – here to North Devon to see for himself the transformative impact A361 improvements could have on our area.
“After lobbying Danny and transport ministers on vital improvements to the North Devon Link Road, I am pleased to see things moving forward. The Chief Secretary clearly understands the case for improvements and the County Council have given initial studies priority. If we can get a scheme worked up there is potential for this to go in for RGF funding as early as 2016.
“It was brilliant that Danny also had the opportunity to meet some of North Devon’s innovative small businesses at Barnstaple’s Work Hub. Launched yesterday, the new £5m Business Investment Fund is brilliant news for firms who want submit smaller bids than the £1million minimum bid for Regional Growth Funding. The new fund, which North Devon+ and the Heart of the South West LEP have worked hard to deliver, bridges this gap and gives our small businesses fantastic opportunity for growth.
“Danny Alexander’s support for unlocking North Devon’s potential is extremely welcome, and I look forward to seeing further progress on the business case for North Devon Link Road improvements.”
Danny Alexander said: “I was delighted to visit North Devon with Nick Harvey MP, and to see for myself some of the issues around the A361. Nick has lobbied tirelessly for improvements to this important road. I fully support him in working with the Local Enterprise Partnership to produce a detailed submission for the next round of Local Growth Fund monies.
“The Liberal Democrats are committed to making sure that the South West gets the infrastructure investment needed to unlock its economic potential. That’s why I was delighted to put the focus on the multibillion pound infrastructure package currently being delivered across the region.
“As well as improved infrastructure, businesses need improved access to the investment that they need to grow. I congratulate all concerned with the locally-led, innovative scheme run by North Devon+ in which they are coming together to bid for money from one of our other sources of capital aimed at promoting growth in the regions, the Regional Growth Fund. This innovative and inspirational approach is typical of the people and businesses of this great region. I wish them every success.”
(from a press release)
(image: left to right, Nick Harvey MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander MP, North Devon District Council leader Cllr Brian Greenslade next to the A361 North Devon Link Road.)