Torbay Mayor- We’re open for business

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That’s the message from Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver as Prime Minister David Cameron visits Dawlish today to inspect the damage to the main South west rail line.

The Mayor and senior officers from Torbay Council have met with the Secretary of State for Transport, the senior management from Network Rail, Council Leaders from Cornwall, Devon and Plymouth and a number of Peninsula MPs. 

Following a letter that was sent to the Prime Minister on Friday on behalf of the partners he promised a study of all the options to create an additional, fast 21st century resilient rail route, including an inland route behind Dawlish that was on a par with the rest of the UK. He also pledged to:

  • See if the repairs to the Dawlish seawall and track could be speeded up
  • Clarify urgently where the promised £31.3 million SW investment programme promised last year for network resilience was being spent
  • Press the Secretary of State for Transport for an immediate review of the South West’s inclusion on the strategic transport network corridor
  • Commit to ensuring passengers would have the best possible temporary services - particularly for those from Cornwall to avoid, where possible, train-bus-train journeys

Mayor Oliver said; “We need to get the message out there that although the rail link is broken - the South West remains open for business.

“We now have a commitment that the line will be repaired at Dawlish in six weeks, before Easter.  This could change if there are further major storms that increase the damage.  Significant progress is also underway to create alternative transport in and out of the West Country and fare reductions have been put in place to compensate passengers for their inconvenience”

“Looking to the future, working with our partners we will continue to petition the government in the strongest possible terms for a viable solution to the resilience of the south-west’s rail links. It is absolutely vital to our economy here that we make that happen.”

The tourism sector in the, Bay and South West has also adopted a similar proactive and robust response to ensure that the ‘Open for business’ message is well received. Social Media is increasingly being used with the #openforbusiness taking off on Twitter over the weekend, and of course regular postings on Facebook.

Carolyn Custerson, Chief Executive of the English Riviera Tourism Company went on to say:”We are all naturally concerned for all whose livelihoods have been affected by the recent bad weather.  It is however important to recognise that whilst some areas of the country have been badly hit the English Riviera has been largely unaffected and tourism businesses continue to operate as usual.  We are very much open for business and looking forward to welcoming visitors with February Half Term just around the corner.’’

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