Levelling up: The West Country's winners and losers after funding announced
Transforming Weston-super-Mare and a new train service to improve transport links in Cornwall are some of the plans announced as part of the Government's levelling up plans.
More than 100 projects have been awarded a share of £2.1 billion in a bid to create jobs and boost the economy.
However, places like West Somerset, Bath, Stroud and North Devon have missed out on their bids for investment.
£672 million will be used to develop better transport links, £821 million to kick start community regeneration and £594 million to restore local heritage sites.
Where is the money going?
A £50 million grant will help create a new direct train service, linking four of Cornwall’s largest urban areas: Newquay, St Austell, Truro, and Falmouth/Penryn.
The aim is to level up access to jobs, skills, education, and amenities in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in the UK.
Matt Barnes from Great Western Railway says although the trains are already available, the investment is set to improve the infrastructure.
"Yes they're using them at the moment but this will create far more journey opportunities. Through trains are always much easier to use.
"A journey from Newquay to Falmouth that today requires two changes of trains will in future only need one and it's not just about mid-Cornwall itself, it's about the ability to access the wider world through our rail services."
Kim Conchie, CEO of Cornwall Chamber of Commerce says the news will be a real boost to business morale in the Duchy.
He said: "Cornwall Chamber of Commerce works closely with Wildanet who have been awarded £36 million to connect thousands of rural premises.
"This is exactly the kind of investment we need to help connect Cornwall to the rest of the world and boost our productivity. It's brilliant that a local company will manage the project.
"The Newquay to Falmouth rail link will be a great asset to Cornwall, opening up opportunities for Cornwall's residents to find jobs in areas previously off limits.
"In high season it will improve visitor experience and hopefully lessen the traffic on our roads."
The reaction from people ITV West Country has spoken to about the funding has been mainly positive, although some believe the money could be spent "in better ways".
£20 million pounds is being awarded to North Somerset to help transform Weston-super-Mare.
£20 million pounds will be used to develop a former hospital in Bridgwater into a training facility for health workers.
Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset said “What a great day for Bridgwater.
"Hot on the heels of eleven business cases in £23m Bridgwater Town Deal being approved by Government, we are over the moon to hear that an additional £20million is coming into the town.”
£14.5 million invested in a project to provide new high quality housing, community and business space at Filwood Broadway and investment in the community centre and outdoor recreation areas.
Almost £16 million for projects that will extend Dinan Way and improve the Exmouth Gateway transport hub, along with delivering better cycling routes and footpaths, to help reduce congestion and improve journey times.
£15.6 million for the Appledore Clean Maritime Innovation Centre in North Devon which will research green technology and work with local universities and private companies to bring investment and directly create nearly 100 high skilled jobs.
£13.5 million for a new railway station on the eastern edge of Okehampton - the West Devon Transport Hub - complete with high quality cycle facilities and EV charging points on site to better connect communities and promote active travel.
Somerset West and Taunton Council says it will continue working to bring about the restoration of Wellington’s heritage and cultural assets, despite being unsuccessful in its bid for Government funding.
The council asked for nearly £20million from the Ministry to help realise “A Vision for Tonedale”, aiming to regenerate the heritage site at Toneworks and enhance the land for community use.
Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Assets, said: “SWT is disappointed to hear that our 'Vision for Tonedale' Levelling Up bid was unsuccessful.
"The team and a significant group of community, heritage and regional stakeholders invested a great deal of time and effort in putting together a really strong bid.
“We will continue to work with all parties to find a way forward for this nationally significant site in order to save and restore it for the future of the town and the residents of Somerset”
Analysis from ITV West Country Political Correspondent David Wood
Whenever the Government gives cash to different constituencies or council areas there is always cause for celebration in those areas, but loud discontent from areas that have nor received any extra cash. That's what we're seeing today. MPs who'd helped shape their 'Levelling-Up bid' are now demanding answers why that bid failed and how they can ensure they succeed at the next round of funding.
Conservative MPs who've missed out, and there are many in the South West, are privately furious, but publicly have to put on a brave face. Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie spoke in the Commons this morning asking for feedback on why Stroud's bid failed and how she can work with ministers and the local council to improve the bid so it gets backing next time round.
Selaine Saxby, the North Devon MP has issued a similar sounding statement. However, opposition MPs are far louder in their criticism with the Liberal Democrats (no funding is heading to their constituencies of Bath and Tiverton & Honiton) arguing that "rural and coastal are taken for granted" as any miss out on finding and Plymouth's Labour MP Luke Pollard says “Rishi Sunak turning down our levelling up bid is a punch to the gut for Plymouth, Millbay and Stonehouse’s bold plans for job creation."
There will be other rounds of levelling up funding and the West Country will almost certainly always get a share, but many are questioning why its share is still around half the amount allocated to the North West of England. Today a group of cabinet ministers including two from the West Country (Chippenham MP and Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan and Forest of Dean MP and Transport Secretary) are elsewhere in the country promoting the funding, but no high level minister is in the South West today.
As we get closer to a General Election many Tory MPs are getting worried about keeping their seats and I expect if their constituencies and the whole region continues to miss out their voices of discontent will become deafeningly loud for the Prime Minister.