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Poorest parts of Devon miss out as Cornwall grabs EU funding

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 17, 2012

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Devon's economy risks being left in the wake of Cornwall's if it misses out on vital EU regeneration subsidies, the Government has been warned.

Cornwall remains so poor that the area will get another round of grants from Brussels from 2014, despite already receiving around £1 billion since the mid-1990s.

But critics have long warned the most impoverished corners of Devon are even more desperate – but do not get the same support.

The European Union is still to decide how it distributes so-called structural funds to areas that fall in the bracket requiring the second highest level of aid, which includes Devon.

In the House of Commons, North Devon MP Nick Harvey urged Treasury ministers to ring-fence the cash for the least well-off "transition" regions, rather than ask them to bid for cash.

In a question to Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he said: "Will he impress upon ministerial colleagues that if European funding is going to help areas like North Devon and Torbay, which recent research shows are more likely to slip into poverty even than Cornwall, then the schemes which draw the funding will have to be designed to work from the bottom up and not – as some of them would seem to prefer – from the top down?" Mr Alexander responded: "He is right to say that transition status has benefited regions such as his.

"Our principal objective in relation to the budget negotiations is to bring down the total EU budget in recognition of what is going on around Europe, but we will happily discuss further with him his concerns about the issues that he has raised to ensure that we secure a fair deal for impoverished regions of this country as well."

Devon, alongside Plymouth and Torbay, will qualify for a new "transition" region category of EU funding.

It is thought four Government departments are adopting different approaches to how money should be handed out, leading to fears among officials in Devon the county will have to compete for cash with other regions.

In March, official figures revealed Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly's Gross Domestic Deposit Product (GDP) is still below 75% of the European average, meaning it is in line for seven more years of help, worth around £410 million.

The GDP of Cornwall and the Scillies was 71.9% of the European average in 2009, the latest available figures. It means it remains poorer than parts of Romania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

A category of regions "in transition", which have a GDP between 75% and 90% of the EU average, stand to get funding but not on the same scale. Across the Tamar, Devon qualifies as it recorded output at 86.5%.

But recent Experian research showed that in Devon areas including Torbay, North Devon, and Teignbridge significant higher risk of sliding into poverty compared to Cornwall and the rest of the UK.

Two seven-year investment programmes – Objective One followed by Convergence – will have pumped close to £1 billion of taxpayers' money into Cornwall between 1999 and the end of next year.

The money has paid for getting Cornwall one of the fastest broadband connections in Europe, the development of Newquay Airport and the Combined Universities in Cornwall project.

Offices, factories and roads have also been underwritten by the cash, and a precursor programme was crucial to getting the Eden Project built.

Last week, a delegation from Wales, including representatives from the Welsh Government and key local authorities, visited a number of flagship EU projects in Cornwall this week to see how effective investment can help regenerate local areas.

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  • startbay  |  September 19 2012, 3:41PM

    I speak as a born and bred Devonian.Devon needs help but sadly we are let down by the very people we put into power ,to fight for a better future.The money go'es to other areas because we do not shout loud enough and as a result have a very low profile in Westminster.The recent fanfare of rail improvements announced by the government proved this ,nothing west of Bristol and just a murmer of protest.the head of exeter airport talks sense in trying to get the airport better connected,we have in Devon and Plymouth lost a good deal of light industry in the last 20 yrs because firms re-locate to other areas with better access .We have tourism but many tourist jobs are low paid and seasonal,our young in many cases have to move away ,not because they want to but because they can see a better future elsewhere,this is not a healthy sign for the future.Devon needs investment and this needs a change of attitudes and a louder voice at Westminster after all we pay the same V A T and taxes as the rest of the UK but are forgotton about .

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  • Big_Ger  |  September 18 2012, 9:14AM

    Good news for us in Cornwall, though its hard on our cousins across the county border.

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  • Truro_England  |  September 17 2012, 10:30PM

    No doubt The Eden Project and The Hall for Cornwall will be both 'rubbing there hands'..

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  • accom  |  September 17 2012, 5:35PM

    Both Devon and Cornwall are poor by UK standard (though marginally better off than some parts of Africa) - however, Cornwall is significantly poorer than Devon.

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  • AnGof1955  |  September 17 2012, 5:04PM

    Jonny2010 is quite right, most of the administration is done East of the Tamar, thus making a mokery of the whole system. Nobody in Cornwall is saying that parts of Devon are any better off than we are. What this all shows is that centralised Government is not working for us, Government is about making sure ALL citizens have equal opertunity not just the South East. Oh and yet again, Cornwall is not and never has been a part of England, it has been denied it's real identity for too long. When they talk about the Duchy of Cornwall, people should understand what extra terratorial means.

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  • hughanchor  |  September 17 2012, 1:09PM

    @Jonny2010. Stolen? What a load of old cobblers! Where's your evidence? I thought Cornwall was in England anyway, but what do I know here in Devon? And by the way mate, we are just as hard up "East of the Tamar" as you claim to be, there are many parts of Devon where there is significant poverty (Plymouth, Torbay, North Devon and a lot of rural poverty too). We don't get handouts from the EU though.

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  • BrixhamDes  |  September 17 2012, 12:40PM

    Its all very well getting the money, but it would only go to prop up established businesses' and the smaller ones will not get a look in. ie. The Eden Project, already successful in it's own right.

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