5:00 p.m. May 21, 2022
John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council, writes for the Journal
Many of you will have seen last week’s front page story in the Exmouth Diary detailing our plans to attempt to complete the long-awaited final section of Dinan Way.
The departmental council cabinet met last Wednesday (May 11) while Log is out, so I am delighted to report that our proposals have been endorsed by my colleagues and that we will submit the Exmouth program to the government in July as part of a £92m package of five measures which, hopefully will benefit from £75m funding from the Leveling Fund.
We are asking for £18m for the Dinan Way project and County Council and our colleagues from East Devon District Council will each contribute an additional £1m towards the £20m cost.
As you know, traffic from Dinan Way currently has to use unsuitable residential roads to access the A376.
Our offer includes improved pedestrian and cycle links to the Exe Estuary multi-use path and also has the potential to improve bus journey times to Exeter.
The wider offering includes other walk and bike improvements focused on downtown regeneration.
We are responsible for the transport side of this plan as the Competent Authority and District Council are planning further improvements to improve the town as a destination for residents and visitors.
I think this is a very important offer for the county, demonstrating that Devon is as much in need of leveling funding as towns and cities in the North and Midlands.
Those of us who know and love Devon are well aware that chocolate cottages and the county’s cream tea image are only part of life here.
A few weeks ago I was a guest at the launch of the University of Exeter report on deprivation which calls on the government to prioritize the South West in its leveling efforts.
The report highlighted statistics that I know all too well – four of our eight District Council areas are among the UK’s 25 worst low pay ‘hotspots’ and too many of our young people are not pursuing jobs. education or vocational training to enable them to get the best paying jobs.
I’ve written here before about our partnership as a county council with the eight district councils of Team Devon.
This has been most successful in our combined efforts to support the most vulnerable people in our communities throughout the pandemic.
But we’ve also been working with districts and our deputies on this latest leveling offer that would be a real start in helping us boost our economic growth and fight climate change by providing real alternatives to our car addiction.
Also in the east of the county, in Cullompton, we are supporting the £25m Town Center Relief Road, for which Mid Devon District Council has already secured £10m from the Housing Infrastructure Fund of the government.
The road will remove traffic from the main street and reduce traffic congestion, improving air quality and enabling further regeneration of the historic city centre.
In West Devon we want to create a £17m transport hub including a second station at Okehampton following the success of the new line to Exeter and our offer also includes an improved cycle path between Newton Abbot and Torbay and a new off-ramp from the A38 at Lee Mill.
These offers are for the money of the second round of upgrade support.
We didn’t do very well in the first round of bidding, but we have refined our plans and are now pushing hard to get a better deal this time around.