Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Tim Jones, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership said: “We are extremely concerned about the lack of certainty around finance. The piecemeal fashion in which funding is being distributed will almost certainly favour areas with a greater concentration of urban environments.
“We already recognise that critical investment into the road and rail network across the Heart of the South West area is low. The publication of the new National Infrastructure Plan identifies a number of projects that directly relate to the HotSW area. This is crucial as we have dispersed communities, with small urban centres and large rural hinterlands.
“In the wake of the halting of the North Atlantic Array, we are pleased to see that Hinkley C continues to be a major priority, but we are keen to see it begin. It will be central in driving economic growth and providing opportunities for businesses through the supply chain.
“It is encouraging to see that the South Devon Link Road has been recognised for its role in developing not only the economy of Torbay, but of the area as a whole. However, we need to see greater investment made into ensuring our network is resilient, so major arterial routes such as the A303 continue to be a key priority.
“We want to see more investment into rail, which is critical for our area. Faster journey times and improvements to stock are essential if we are to be able to compete on a realistic basis with other areas.
We are pleased that the Exeter Flood Defence Scheme, which will help protect around 3200 businesses and residents across the city is taking shape. It’s vital that we take proactive flood alleviation measures to reduce the potentially disastrous consequences that flooding can have for the economy throughout the HotSW area.
“The announcement that the business rate rise is to be frozen is encouraging for the 61,460 businesses across our area. For small businesses in particular, these rates have a real impact upon the bottom line and this measure will help nurture the real signs of growth that we are beginning to see. The doubling of the export finance capacity available will support businesses, helping them to compete in a global market.
“In conclusion, we need to be assured that plans are in place for local roads and critical infrastructure and we would like to have greater clarity on how this will be achieved.”