Torquay set to benefit from cash boost
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Torquay is to benefit from a share of Government funding giving the town centre a much-needed boost.
The town will receive between £500,000 and £1 million to accelerate investment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cash boost, awarded to towns across England which have already been successfully selected to receive money from the Government's Towns Fund, has been widely welcomed.
Torbay Council leader Cllr Steve Darling described is a 'down payment'.
The money is to be spent on projects such as improvements to parks, high streets and local transport.
Torbay has been listed as one of the areas most at risk from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic due its older population, relative deprivation and reliance on tourism.
Studies predict between 12,000 and 18,000 jobs could be lost as a result of a post-Covid recession.
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The Government said in June it had pushed back the deadline for Town Deal bids so the impact of the pandemic could be reflected in the proposals and it asked for 'shovel-ready' schemes to come forward early.
Torbay has been working on a bid for £25 million.
Of the latest cash deal, Cllr a Darling said: 'It is an early down-payment, but it is a relatively small down-payment, because we could have been starting the investment this summer.
'But the civil servants in Whitehall have been busy with the pandemic, and so it has been pushed back to the winter.'
He said the council had already focused on projects to support the local economy including buying the Debenhams store on The Strand to protect it from falling empty if the retailer pulled out.
The prime shopping site is in the harbourside area where town centre regeneration proposals are focused.
The Towns Fund is targeted at areas with proud industrial and economic heritage that have not always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.
This money is the first tranche from the fund to help each area meet some of the immediate challenges they face as a result of Covid-19 and invest in shovel ready projects from new cycle lanes and better pedestrian access to repurposing empty shops to create new community spaces.