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What does the Budget mean for the South West?

As the analysis gets underway for this years budget, here's a summary of how it will affect the South West including further devolution, a reduction of Stamp Duty and extra investment for our broadband:

  • West of England Devolution agreement, including £900m gainshare pot, devolved transport budget and powers over adult skills
  • £19m from Stamp Duty receipts to community led housing schemes in areas where the impact of holiday homes is most acute
  • £5m additional development funding toimprove resilience on the Dawlish rail line
  • Increasing grant funding to £14.5m for ultrafast broadband
  • New Enterprise Zone for Cornwall
  • £3m to improve rail station facilities
  • £2m to refurbish the Hall for Cornwall in Truro

Devon MP wins battle for sugar tax

Chancellor George Osborne has announced a new sugar levy on the soft drinks industry, which has been welcomed by the MP for Totnes, Brixham, Paignton & South Hams.

Sarah Wollaston MP Credit: PA

Sarah Wollaston MP chairs the Health Select Committee in Parliament, and has been campaigning for the Government to introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks as part of a package of measures to reduce sugar intake. She joined forces with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver in November after a petition was signed by more than 150,000 people.

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The tax will be introduced in two years time to ensure companies reduce the sugar content of drinks and promote low sugar brands. He said it was a "perfectly reasonable step" to protect children's health.

"Money from this new [sugar] levy will be used to double the funding we dedicate to sport in every primary school," Mr Osborne said.

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West MPs urge Chancellor not to give control over air passenger duty to Welsh Assembly

Credit: ITV West Country

30 Conservative MPs from across the South West are urging the Chancellor not to give control over air passenger duty to the Welsh Assembly in next week's budget.

They say that if the Assembly decided to cut or abolish the duty, it would leave regional airports in the West Country at a commercial disadvantage.

Credit: ITV West Country

In a letter to George Osborne, they warn of an 'extremely severe' impact on the region's economy.

I want the Chancellor to not devolve APD to Wales and I want him in his budget next week to announce that he's not going to do that to give us economic certainty for Bristol Airport and, by extension, the South West as well.

That's why 30 South West MPs have signed it and one of the reasons that we work so closely together, the Conservative members of the South West, is so that we can use our numerical strength at times like this.

– Liam Fox MP, North Somerset

'Devonwall' proposal may be revived

Campaigners are against a constituency joining Devon and Cornwall Credit: ITV West Country

Plans to create a new parliamentary constituency straddling Devon and Cornwall could be back on the cards. The so-called Devonwall proposal caused fierce debate when it was first suggested after the 2010 general election.

A new review of England's boundaries aims to reduce the total number of MPs from 600 to 650. Lord Tyler, constitutional spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, opposes the changes.

"I think the idea that somehow or other an MP is going to have to straddle the Tamar representing a bit of North Devon and a bit of my old constituency in North Cornwall is going to be impossible, trying to work with two quite different councils, different sides, different communities."

– Lord Paul Tyler, former Cornish Lib Dem MP

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Westminster debates West Country railways

Credit: ITV West Country

South West MPs are to debate the future of the West Country's rail services in parliament today (8 February). They say its an opportunity for them to challenge the lack of investment in the regions rail network compared to other parts of the UK .

Discussions come after Network Rail revealed that the biggest ever upgrade to the region's rail network will be up to four ye​a​r​s​ late.

It means a promise to end overcrowding, and speed up journey times has again been delayed.

Residents say promises made two years ago after storms caused damage to the line have yet to be met.

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