Fishing businesses and the Brixham community will be an essential part of the bid development process. Credit: Pixabay

Steve Darling: Funding bid for heritage that underpins essence of community

Steve Darling

Growing and expanding the local economy and attracting more inward investment is vital for Torbay’s longer-term future.

At last week’s Cabinet, plans were approved to submit a funding bid for a share of £4.8 billion to support two of Torbay’s internationally important sectors.

If successful, the funding that we secure through the Levelling Up Fund Round Two will be used to enhance the commercial fishing port in Brixham and build additional facilities to support our high-value electronics and photonics production park in Paignton.

Brixham’s Fish Quay and Market could benefit from additional space.

An enhanced fishing port not only allows us to support our local businesses but it will allow for further marine industry growth that supports sustainability in the sector and future proofs support for years to come.

Brixham’s fishing heritage underpins the essence of the town and its community.

Working with the local fishing businesses and the local community in Brixham will be an essential part of the bid development process to ensure we deliver a scheme that is right for Brixham.

The Electronics and Photonics Innovation Centre on Long Road, Paignton, has been a great success and is fast reaching full capacity.

The bid will develop move on space and manufacturing opportunities for this cutting-edge technology fostering diversification of our local economy.

In respect of the Shared Prosperity Fund, which is funding that can help stimulate our economy over the next three years, it feels like Torbay is being taken for granted by the Government and has been short-changed and allocated £2.3m, compared to Cornwall’s £132m.

Per head of population, it means that Cornwall gets around £220 per head compared to our pitiful £17 per head.

An out-of-date EU funding formula that the Government used.

Low-income families are being hit doubly hard by the cost-of-living crisis.

That is why the partnership between the Independents and Liberal Democrats that run Torbay Council, passed a motion at Cabinet last week declaring a cost-of-living emergency.

The average energy bill is rising by £693 per year over this summer, with pre-pay meter energy bills going up by £708 a year.

Now we hear that the energy price cap could rise to an eye-watering £2,800 in October which is shocking and extremely worrying for many of us.

That’s on top of a National Insurance increase of 1.25 percentage points, costing the average Torbay family an extra £108 a year.

Pensioners have also been hit by the current suspension of the pensions ‘triple lock’, costing those on the full new state pension an average of £487, and £373 for those on the full basic state pension.

We are moving from people suffering from poverty into destitution.

We still have a low wage economy in Torbay and not everyone on low incomes can access free school meals.

So, one of the things we have asked the Government to extend free school meals to all those families on universal credit.

Giving children a great start in life is really important and that includes offering the best targeted youth and young carers services we can.

We are proposing to give a six-month extension to our contract with Torbay Youth Trust, which was drawn up several years ago, so we can commission a review into what youth provision we need in the future.

The needs of young people in Torbay have changed and we, as a local authority, understand their needs better through our journey to becoming a ‘good’ children’s services.

The pandemic has had a big impact on mental health issues for young people.

We need to reset our offer and co-design in collaboration with our partners in Torbay and make sure that any future contract is fit for purpose for our young people.

We want to make sure we are doing with – not doing to – as we develop a new effective ecosystem of support for our young people.