Bringing Banks Back
My last article for the Herald Express highlighted the need for new banking services in Brixham. Having spent much of the last few weeks lobbying the Cash for Access Group, I am delighted that Brixham is now one of five locations across the country set to have a new Banking Hub on its high street.
This early Christmas present is welcome recognition not just of local service needs, but also a vote of confidence in Brixham’s future. After all, 2021 saw Brixham fish market enjoy record-beating sales at £44m and 2022 looks even brighter. The second tranche of the Levelling Up Fund is set to be reopened in the Spring and a new Brixham-focussed bid is being polished and upgraded to ensure that this important local town gets the investment it needs.
Local services such as banks in rural areas across the South West have long been diminishing to the detriment of residents. The expansion of the Banking Hub pilot scheme offers hope not just for Brixham, but also for Dartmouth, Totnes, Kingsbridge and Salcombe, providing a truly unique 21st Century solution to the changing habits of consumers and the influx of new technology.
Fishing for the Future
This week, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) launched pillars two and three of the Fisheries and Seafood Scheme (FASS). These two new tranches focus on infrastructure, and skills and training.
2021 has proven to be a huge boon for the UK's fishing sector. Despite some early difficulties, the South West can boast of record sales, huge volume catches, an increase in domestic consumption and highly attractive export prices. The success of the Brixham fish market is one such example, but so too are the shellfish sales in Salcombe and Dartmouth.
Our coastal communities are not just dependent on tourism but also on the success and development of sectors such as fishing and farming. This new scheme offers us the opportunity to expand the fishing industry in South Devon.
For the last two years, I have been working with South Devon College to create a fishing college at their Noss on Dart site. Together we have discussed and developed a plan to try and encourage more students to explore a career in the highly skilled fishing sector. Pillar three of this initiative now offers the opportunity to financially back our plans and to encourage future generations to take up this noble occupation. Added to which it will offer teaching opportunities to those who have spent their lives at sea and wish to pass on their knowledge.
The second pillar offers the chance for us to expand our port infrastructure. In Salcombe and Dartmouth, we can bid to develop harbour infrastructure, build new slipways and support our aging ports. Modern, up-to-date harbours will ensure that our fishing communities are safeguarded and able to thrive over the next hundred years.
The Year Ahead….
In politics, you get used to rejection. That said, the above two areas are a welcome reminder that things are happening and that like buses, good things come in pairs. Throughout 2022 I will be working on environmental policy, connectivity (both digital and transport) as well as supporting local businesses and attracting inward investment.
Here is to a better year ahead and I wish all readers a very Happy New Year.