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ADRIAN SANDERS: Torbay's a pocket of optimism

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

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THERE are many expert economic commentators but, like most of the people I talk to in and out of politics, I simply do not know which has the right answer to the challenges we face globally.

What I do know is that the most prosperous places tend to have money circulating in their local or national economies and because people on low wages or welfare spend all of the money they receive, it is their incomes you should attempt to increase.

That's why raising tax allowances was so important and raising them further to at least the first £10,000 a person earns should be enacted as soon as possible.

It is also why any cuts to housing or council tax benefits should be abandoned.

We should limit the rents paid by the taxpayer to landlords to keep the housing benefit bill down, not expect the poor to make up the difference from their subsistence level welfare.

But the golden bullet none of the economists seem able to agree on is how to restore confidence to the economy and get everyone spending more.

It seems to me that if the environment created by Government is one where austerity and paying off debt is to the fore, then people are more likely to pay-off their own debts than spend on goods and services that could stimulate growth in the economy.

Yet there are pockets of optimism and Torbay is one of them.

It is mostly down to the Government's decision to back off-the-peg infrastructure projects like the Kingskerswell bypass.

During the recess I have been meeting local businesses more confident than a year ago. Some are moving into larger premises in order to expand within Torbay rather than move away citing poor transport links.

Consequently, they are taking on more permanent staff and even recruiting apprentices with a view to the longer term.

In the past few weeks I've opened an expansion to Hallet's Bakery in Paignton and toured the expanded premises of Hymid who have moved from Brixham to Torquay and taken on four extra staff and three apprentices. Neither are directly a consequence of the new road but are part of the indirect increase in confidence among those locally who make these developments happen from planners to bankers, colleges to business advisors.

Torbay is bucking a trend and if I hadn't drawn the South Devon Link Road to the Treasury's attention, it would not now be being constructed.

If it had been left to the council, it would have failed to have gained approval in the regional growth competition because it failed the Dept of Transport's carbon reduction criteria. Localised infrastructure investment is working for Torbay and I wonder if this might not be an answer elsewhere to stimulate confidence and reach a tipping point where the whole economy starts to grow again.

I'VE never known a more wet and windy conference week than the one I spent with the Liberal Democrats in Brighton.

Usually I enjoy a walk along the prom, visit to a local attraction, or a walk round the city centre, but the other week the place to be was under a dry roof in the conference centre.

One of the more popular stands in the exhibition area this year was the Guide Dogs for the Blind Top Gear racing track, complete with a Stig.

It was a table racing set and MPs (and others) were asked to have a go.

My fastest lap was 3.4 seconds that put me in the top 10 of MPs, but I claim, like the star in the reasonably priced car, that my performance was hindered by the wet conditions when I took to the track.

The serious business was the campaign for silent and quiet electric and hybrid vehicles to be made noisier for the visually impaired and their guide dogs to hear.

FOLLOWING their decision to put up candidates for the Police and Crime Commissioner post that we will all have a chance to vote for on November 15, the Liberal Democrats have selected a candidate alongside Labour and the Conservatives.

At the last count there were six candidates for the £85,000 post and responsibility for the policies, priorities and budget the chief constable will have to follow.

So far, only one candidate has actually served on the front-line as a police officer, a somewhat essential quality, in my opinion, for understanding how a police force operates and can best protect and serve the public.

The fact he served in Devon and Cornwall is even better as our constabulary area contains a bit of everything from inner city crime to cattle rustling, as well as being one of the safest areas of the country in which to live.

All of the declared candidates can be found at this website with their reasons for why you should vote for them under the views section: www.policeelections.com/candidates/devon-and-cornwall/

By contacting your local council's elections office before October 31, you can still to register to vote or apply for your ballot paper to be sent to you in the post.

NEXT surgeries: Today, 4pm-5.30pm, Swim Torquay, Marnham Road, Torquay. Friday, October 19, 4pm-5.30pm, Preston Baptist Church Hall, Old Torquay Road, Paignton. Email for monthly updates or quarterly mailings on international development, animal welfare or environmental issues. Advice line on 200036. Email: sandersa@parliament.uk Web: www.adriansanders.org Also on Facebook and Twitter.

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