RURAL communities in Teignbridge could be in line for fresh cash to help local businesses and improve transport links.

At a full council meeting on Tuesday, November 29, the district council agreed to submit a bid to the government’s levelling up fund for £650,000 .

The money will tackle rural challenges, mainly targeting communities and businesses outside of Newton Abbot, Kingsteignton, Dawlish and Teignmouth.

Councillors had just a one-day window to agree the proposal so investment plans could be submitted for approval by the 30 November deadline.

£300,000 would be allocated to a new Rural Business and Communities Fund which will provide capital grants to support the growth of local rural businesses and community organisations, especially in areas such as tourism, culture and heritage, farming, forestry and addressing loneliness.

The remaining £350,000 would go towards a transport and connectivity pilot programme, focusing on efforts to improve community transport services such as a rural transport hub, a public car club, e-bike and bus facilities; and improvements in broadband.

Executive member for economy and jobs, the Liberal Democrat member for Teignmouth West, Cllr Nina Jeffries, earlier said: ‘Having talked with so many people who understand the needs of our rural communities, we can be confident that these plans, if approved by both councillors and the government, will make a real difference to our communities.

‘By piloting new approaches, we will also learn lessons for the future which will help us to implement change projects that deliver value for money and have positive impacts on rural communities.’

During the full council meeting, Conservative councillor for Teign Valley, Stephen Purser, asked about timescales.

‘If the bid is successful, when are we likely to be able to submit plans and programmes to draw down on the money?’ he asked.

Executive member for homes, communities and cost of living crisis – and councillor for Dawlish North East – Liberal Democrat Martin Wrigley said: ‘There is a three year spend timeframe on this, if I recall correctly.

‘The last shared prosperity bid, we were promised to know the results in October. It’s now the end of November and we still don’t know. That was supposed to be available in April next year.

Councillors agreed to submit the bid which will now be presented to the government.