Jim Parker: Could we be in for another chunk of cash to help get the English Riviera back on its feet?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside Number 11

Chancellor Rishi Sunak outside 11 Downing Street. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Does the man who lives at Number 11 with his little red case hold the key to unlock millions of pounds more investment for Torbay? 

Budgets have taken on a new meaning in the pandemic. They aren’t just for the experts from the world of business and economy to scrutinise. 

They have also become for the ordinary folk like you and me – I never have been good with figures – as Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils various financial support packages to see us through these dreadfully challenging times. 

As we go to press, I understand details of a ‘Levelling Up’ fund was to be included in this week’s budget breakdown, 

The Fund, which was announced at the Spending Review, will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities.  

The investment programme, which will run for the next four years, aims to drive regeneration in places in need, those facing particular challenges, and areas that have received less government investment in recent years.  

It was first feared that Boris, from next door at Number 10, would reserve the funding for communities more up north and where traditional true-red voters had turned blue to help him get elected. 

Most Read

But the government has made it clear that this support is being extended across the whole of the United Kingdom. 

It’s not rocket science to see that coastal communities like the English Riviera have been hit hard just like some inner-city economies. 

Torbay, especially its tourism and hospitality industry, has been all but closed for the past year and will need a helping hand to recover whether it is north or south of the border. 

The initial Fund was £4 billion but it has now been made £4.8 billion as the scheme stretches UK-wide to ‘build back better from Covid.’ 

It was being rumoured that Rishi would announce £150,000 funding for the Bay to draw up a bid for a slice of the Levelling Up cake. 

Torbay MP Kevin Foster was hopeful and said: “I hope this is really good news. It is very positive to see the Chancellor recognising the challenges we face after the pandemic.  

“I look forward to the details of what a bid should look like and how it can bring a lasting legacy to the Bay. It would be fantastic to have this latest piece of good news.”  

Torbay has already done rather well out of the government in recent months.  

First it was awarded almost £22 million from the Town Deal funding to breathe new life into the struggling heart of Torquay. Then another £13.3 million came in to do the same for Paignton in the Future High Streets initiative. 

Also, let’s not forget an estimated £300 million or so package to build a new Torbay Hospital complex and millions more to support the building of a new rail station at Edginswell. 

The danger is that now we rest on our laurels but I know there are good people already working on a new set of projects and schemes so we are ready for the next round of any spending from Whitehall. 

The Levelling Up Fund could be that next pot of cash to help further transform our fortunes and help get the English Riviera get back on  its feet. 

Evidently, ministers like Torbay. They like the positive messages and working together vibes coming from our shores. 

They aren’t going to just throw £150,000 at Torbay for nothing. We may be talking of another hefty chunk of investment not dissimilar to the Paignton cash. 

And this could be for Bay-wide schemes. Yes, absolutely including Brixham! 

Let’s go for it. Now is the Time2.