Torridge and West Devon’s MP Sir Geoffrey Cox has welcomed the confirmation that West Devon Borough Council has been awarded a grant of £838,551 from the Rural Prosperity Fund as part of the Government’s Levelling Up programme.

The fund is intended to help level up rural areas by supporting local businesses and community organisations, creating rural job opportunities, and boosting productivity.

West Devon Borough Council has been working with Defra to develop an investment plan for the grant, which can be used for initiatives such as farm diversification, projects to boost rural tourism, and community and digital infrastructure, including village halls, broadband and electric vehicle charging stations. The funding will also help people start up local businesses to supercharge growth and create employment opportunities for rural areas.

Sir Geoffrey said: ‘I want to congratulate West Devon Borough Council on its excellent work to secure this welcome investment. This comes on top of unprecedented direct government investment in West Devon, with a new school for Tavistock College, and £13.5 million for a new railway station and transport hub at Okehampton to serve the successfully reopened rail line to Exeter. I am looking forward to seeing this grant well used by West Devon Borough Council to drive forward the priorities of our local communities.’

Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: ‘Driving investment in rural areas is a vital part of our vision for levelling up the country. The new Rural Prosperity Fund replaces the bureaucratic EU funding system - allowing us to work closely with local leaders to direct funding where it is most needed to close the rural productivity gap, create job opportunities and protect the English countryside.

‘This confirmed spending will allow local authorities to deliver on their plans to level up businesses and communities in rural areas from today, in line with their residents’ priorities.’