The Christmas period offers us all a chance to recharge our batteries and look forward to a new year with a sense of opportunity and determination. 2024 looks set to be an exciting and varied year in which South Devon will see many benefits from the successes of 2023. The creation of banking hubs, improved transport budgets and fare caps coupled with multi-million-pound investment into the area means that residents can rightly expect to see positive and meaningful change that will be to the benefit of all.
Our now well-established banking hub in Brixham has set the national benchmark as one of the most successful in the country. With hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of transactions passing through it each week and hundreds of customers taking advantage of its services, it is only right to consider how we might build upon its successes. This year offers the opportunity to review our banking hubs and their provisions.
Providing greater services will strengthen the value of banking hubs and provide great use for businesses, residents and charities alike. We need to see larger deposit, withdrawal and transfer limits, and more emphasis on face-to-face services rather than lessons in how to work online platforms. Increasing the presence of financial advisers and streamlining the operating systems between the different banks will also be key.
Enhancing the services of banking hubs based on the needs of residents will be key to making sure this innovative and successful Government programme works long into the future.
Brixham and Paignton Levelling Up Fund
The first quarter of 2024 requires Brixham and Paignton to pull together with Torbay Authority and finalise their plans for the Levelling Up Fund. Over £24m is set to be spent across South Devon to support our Brixham Harbour and Paignton’s Photonics sector.
This allocation of money is not a promise for tomorrow but a hard commitment that has been delivered after three years of hard work by me, Torbay Authority and many Councillors. If done right, we can help develop old and new industries, thereby creating new jobs and new businesses as well as attracting investment into the South Devon economy.
The Levelling Up Fund is by no means the only fund that we have our sights set on. The Levelling Up Partnership offers a real chance to upgrade our high streets and invest in creating functioning, vibrant town centres. News is expected on the Levelling Up Partnership imminently.
Record levels of investment have been secured for South Devon, with every penny playing its part in ensuring we have jobs, businesses and investment to see our community thrive.
The aforementioned positive developments are welcome and I will be working to see them both enhanced and delivered. However, we must not lose sight of the importance of transport and retaining our local services. Already the £2 bus fare cap has driven people back onto public transport, and from here we must develop our services and push our local providers to expand their routes on the back of community needs.
Work is well underway to do so and on the back of improved routes such as Tally Ho’s Primrose Link, we can be innovative, green and affordable in helping people move across South Devon.
So here is to a positive and optimistic start to 2024.