Minister pledges support for North Devon
SOUTH West Minister Jim Knight has pledged his support for projects in North Devon at a private meeting with local councillors held in South Molton. Mr Knight, who postponed a visit to Mole Valley Farmers and Appledore Shipbuilders, later met representat
SOUTH West Minister Jim Knight has pledged his support for projects in North Devon at a private meeting with local councillors held in South Molton.
Mr Knight, who postponed a visit to Mole Valley Farmers and Appledore Shipbuilders, later met representatives of North Devon Council, Torridge District Council and North Devon Plus at the Woodlands Enterprise Centre.
Afterwards, the North Devon representatives issued a statement heralding the meeting as a great success.
Mr Knight pledged to work with the organisations there on:
* investment needed in Ilfracombe
* reducing flood risks in Barnstaple and Bideford town centres
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* the need for high speed broadband so northern Devon can compete with other parts of the UK
* opportunities arising from the Atlantic Array off-shore wind development and the need to provide the local workforce with skills to meet this challenge
Councillor Des Brailey, Leader of North Devon Council whop chaired the round table discussions, said: "Jim took great interest in the issues facing our local economy. We had detailed discussions on a number of topics, and we are confident that Jim understands our area and can work with us to try and resolve these.
"Too often our area is forgotten about in the corridors of Westminster but with Jim being from the South West himself and knowing the challenges we face, we hope we now have a route through and our needs will be addressed."
Councillor Barry Parsons, Torridge District Councillor and director of North Devon Plus, saids: "It was a pleasure to take part in these discussions. Many issues were raised and Jim Knight listened intently to all members around the table. From an economic and regeneration perspective the whole of 'northern Devon' requires a major kick-start.
"Currently, there is the massive opportunity for northern Devon in the shape of the multi-million pound off-shore wind farm proposals to complement the arrival of the new ferry at Ilfracombe and the interest being shown in northern Devon by 'enviro-friendly' developers.
" Matters educational, vocational, and certainly, environmental could receive the greatest shot in the arm this area has ever received should Mr Knight follow up the interest he displayed during his visit."
North Devon Council proposed that the districts of North Devon and Torridge were given special status and designated as 'assisted areas' for funding.
The Minister has agreed to take all comments on board and continue discussions on everything being proposed.