Difficult decisions as we prepare to recover and rebuild

Melville Street, Torquay

Melville Street, Torquay. Photo: Derek Harper - geograph.org.uk/p/788912 - Credit: Derek Harper - geograph.org.uk/p/788912

As the vaccination programme moves forward and Covid-19 cases fall, we can start looking forward to the re-opening of our Bay as a resort, yet before then many businesses require support to survive and will still need it when they re-open.

It is, therefore, very welcome to see moves to extend furlough until the end of September, two further grants made available to self-employed people - plus the addition of many newly self-employed who submitted their tax returns earlier this year - and an extension of the VAT reduction for hospitality.

Inevitably there will be a need to balance the nation’s books in the future, hence it is right the Chancellor has started to indicate how this will be done by signalling a future rise in corporation tax.

There will be difficult decisions to be taken over the coming year, taxpayers cannot pay for every request, yet the extensive support provided to local businesses means we will be better prepared to recover and rebuild when the sunnier skies of summer arrive.

Levelling Up Fund

One welcome aspect of the Budget was confirmation Torbay Council will receive £150,000 of funding to help draw up a detailed bid for support from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund. 

While exact amounts we may be able to bid for have not been confirmed, the amount is similar to the support to prepare a bid which proceeded the award of £13.36m of capital funding for Paignton’s Future High Streets Fund project. 

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A Levelling Up Fund bid can cover schemes across our Bay, presenting an opportunity to deliver projects in Paignton, Torquay and Brixham.

When combined with the £21.9m Torquay Town Deal, the Future High Streets Fund and projects like the new Edginswell Station, alongside the major private sector investment planned and underway in our bay, we have a once in a lifetime chance to turn the tide.

Making Melville Marvellous

Melville is one of the most historic parts of our Bay.

You can still see signs of where nets were dried by those fishing from Torquay before the modern harbour was built and the River Fleet culverted.

I lived in Abbey Road on the edge of Melville prior to being elected as Torbay’s MP and it was a community with a lot of potential, but many issues which needed to be addressed.

The Making Melville Marvellous report was produced back in 2013, but now looks set to get underway after Torbay Council confirmed £100k of funding would be allocated to help deliver some of its ideas contain in it. 

It is great to see this project move forward, especially if it means the former Laundry site is finally regenerated.

Melville has a rich history; it now deserves a positive future. 

Surgery times 

Due to the current restrictions, I have had to cancel my regular face to face advice surgeries. 

I hope to restart them as soon as possible but, in the meantime, a telephone call appointment can be arranged.

Please note these telephone surgeries are for urgent personal matters, such as welfare, immigration, housing, problems accessing support and benefits, rather than to discuss policy or the wider situation.  

You can either email me at kevin@kevinjfoster.com or leave a message on 01803 214989 and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.