Towns need Assisted Area status to stimulate local economy and drive business growth, argues Brian Greenslade.
NORTH Devon Council is urging the Government to include Barnstaple and Ilfracombe on its map of ‘disadvantaged areas’.
Leader Brian Greenslade has written to Business Minister Vince Cable to put forward the towns’ cases for improved financial support.
Areas included on the Assisted Areas Map will receive an enhanced level of government assistance for small and large businesses up to 2020.
As already reported by the Gazette, the draft map came out in December last year and the responses to the public consultation are now being assessed before the final Assisted Areas Map is published next month.
Councillor Greenslade said: “We’re pleased that Fremington and Instow look set to be included on the map, but I have written to the Business Minister, urging him to go that little bit further.
“Barnstaple and Ilfracombe would really benefit from a helping hand and so, by giving these towns Assisted Areas status, it would provide an incentive for investment, creating new jobs and stimulating the local economy.”
North Devon MP Nick Harvey has also called on further support for the towns: “I fully back the council’s calls to get crucial Barnstaple and Ilfracombe wards into the next stage of the Assisted Areas map.
“I have been lobbying Ministers for their inclusion in Westminster and Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable has been very supportive so far.
“We must now keep the pressure up during the final stages of the process so that North Devon’s businesses receive this important boost.”
Mr Harvey said Assisted Areas status would allow local businesses to tap into schemes like the Regional Growth Fund.
“Without which, big projects will struggle to go ahead and North Devon could miss out on vital overseas investment,” he added.
North Devon Council’s Executive Member for Economic Regeneration, Cllr Malcolm Prowse, said North Devon was one of the most poorly connected areas in the UK and the local economy was feeling the effects of the isolation.
“What we need is the government to recognise this and to offer help such as Assisted Area status, so that businesses in these towns can benefit from regional aid,” he said.