• A Budget for the Westcountry

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    08 December 2017

    In the recent Budget, we set out plans to build an economy fit for the future. One where prosperity and opportunity are shared across the country, including here in the West Country. Our region has many strengths but to reach its full potential, we need the right infrastructure to better connect people with jobs and services. Which is why we have set aside millions of pounds for local transport to improve connections.

    We have provided the West of England Mayor with £80 million to revolutionise transport across Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Local projects will drive productivity and growth by improving connectivity, reducing congestion and introducing new transport technology, such as smart traffic management systems. Other communities across the West Country will be able to bid for a share of £840 million to create new roads and connect isolated areas.

    And we will invest £79 million in a brand-new link road connecting the A30 to St Austell. This will reduce congestion in Roche, Bugle and Stenalees, improving journey times and reliability and support housing development in the area.
    Taken together, these investments will ensure that both locals and visitors can get around our beautiful region more easily, with less congestion and with shorter journey times.

    But it is not just transport that we have invested in at this Budget. We have launched a new £12 million Mayoral Capacity Fund to support local devolution. Over the next two years, this will give the six Mayors elected in May, including in the West of England, these vital resources.

    The West Country is home to some of the most innovative and exciting new digital businesses in the UK and we want to help them grow and succeed. That is why we are creating a new Tech Hub in Bristol and Bath to support local digital businesses and entrepreneurs – boosting businesses and skills across the region.

    And to ensure we protect businesses and people across the West Country, we also announced a further £3 million to go towards flood defensives in areas including Devon, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

    Armed Forces and Emergency Services charities across the West Country also benefitted from £156,000, funded from banking fines. £80,000 went to Pete’s Dragons, which gives support to those who are bereaved by suicide in Devon and Cornwall. We are also freezing fuel duty for the eighth year in a row - saving the average motorist in the West Country nearly £9 every time they fill up. And from April 2018, the National Living Wage will be increased from £7.50 to £7.83 delivering a £600 annual pay-rise to full-time workers. I am proud to be part of a Budget which has the region’s best interests at its heart.

    From Penzance to Plymouth, Dorset to Devon and Cornwall to Cheltenham, this Budget has delivered for the people of the West Country. More from Mel at and on twitter @MelJStride