Danny Alexander Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announces major investment - including the North Devon Link Road - during Barnstaple visit.

Major improvements to the North Devon Link road could be ready to go by 2016, it was announced during a Government Minister's visit today (Monday).

Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was in Barnstaple as part of a region-wide visit in which he revealed a £23billion investment plan for the South West.

That features investment in road, rail and air links including £2billion for seven road schemes, including the A39/A361 North Devon Link Road.

Mr Alexander said he had 'no doubt at all' there was a case for improving the main road into North Devon.

He said he had tasked local authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership to urgently create a business case for investment in the road, to ensure improvements can form part of the bid for the next Local Growth Funding round.

North Devon MP Nick Harvey said it could even go into the round as early as next year.

They were speaking during a visit to Barnstaple Work Hub at The Design Space on Pottington, where Mr Alexander also launched a new £5million programme for the growth of small and medium businesses in the region.

The aim is to create jobs through grants and the scheme is a partnership between North Devon + and Plymouth University, supported by Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

Mr Alexander said Devon was 'a hotbed of innovation' and organisers had done 'an amazing job' with the hub: "Nick Harvey asked me to come because North Devon + is such an innovative organisation which really thinks about how to help small and medium businesses," he said.

"I think it's going to be a great success."

North Devon Council Leader, Brian Greenslade, said he and Nick Harvey had been lobbying for funding to improve the A361 for some time.

"This includes meetings and conversations that we've previously had with Danny Alexander. Therefore, I am delighted that Mr Alexander has taken all of this on board and has been able to bring us this good news today," he said.