Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver's pledge to create 250 new jobs with £1m 'Growth Fund' boost
TORBAY mayor Gordon Oliver (pictured) has pledged to create 250 new jobs in the Bay by spending £1million on a new Growth Fund.
The Torbay Growth Fund will offer grants and loans to attract new firms to the Bay and encourage established ones to stay.
Councillors decided at a meeting to back the idea as a way of combating Torbay's 'market failure' in creating speculative employment space, encouraging investment and targeting growth.
The idea is that small and large businesses at White Rock, Claylands and Edginswell business parks will be in a position to benefit when the new link road is finished.
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At a meeting of the full council it was agreed to authorise the £1million fund and create a selection panel made up of Mayor Gordon Oliver and his deputy. The scheme will be managed by the Torbay Development Agency. The money is coming from the government's New Growth Point capital fund and the New Homes Bonus.
Mayor Oliver said the fund was a 'flagship' scheme. "Jobs are a major priority," he added. "Now we have the bypass well under way we need to make sure we are making the most of that and this is one of the ways.
"I can see at least 200 to 250 jobs being created as a result of it."
Businesses will have to prove they will provide jobs to be eligible for cash.
The council will award grants and loans with the amount based on the number of jobs created. The mayor said the fund builds on other initiatives to promote Torbay and encourage investors.
These include working with neighbouring councils, the high-tech forum and opening an office in the United States.
Cllr Steve Darling said he welcomed the plans, but said the emphasis should be on creating quality jobs and not just any jobs. He criticised the mayor for the lack of open discussion on the proposal before it was presented to council. And he asked that members of all political parties be allowed to sit on the growth fund panel.
Cllr Mike Morey said: "I welcome the report. We need to work together for the benefit of our residents. Let's share the responsibility and share the vision and work together."
Cllr Darling proposed an amendment to allow others on to the panel.
Cllr Darren Cowell said: "It's all about jobs. It's not a political issue and should be all about the future of Torbay. It would be a message to send out to potential investors that we are working together for the benefit of Torbay."
But the mayor argued that opening up the process to everyone would be bureaucratic and risk putting off investors.
The amendment was rejected and the original proposal to authorise the mayor's panel and the funding agreed.