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David Cameron: "Cornwall Is Open For Business"
9:14am 11th February 2014
(Updated 9:14am 11th February 2014)
The Prime Minister says Cornwall is open for business.
David Cameron is on a visit to the Duchy - to see the damage from 80mph and surging seas.
He has stayed overnight and chaired a meeting of the national emergency taskforce.
He is also promising the government will foot the bill for the Duchy's multimillion pound repairs, currently estimated at more than £21m.
During a visit to Newquay airport he also revealed a plan to subsidise ticket prices in the coming weeks: "We're announcing we'll be taking £5 off the cost of every flight from Wednesday for the next few weeks while the Dawlish rail line is out.
Challenged by Pirate FM on whether it would be acceptable in London for a main transport artery to be out of action for up to six weeks the Prime Minister replied: "Of course it's not acceptable for transport anywhere to grind to a halt. That's why I've come down and spoken to First Great Western in Plymouth, talking to them about making sure the replacement bus service is as good as it possibly can be.
"I've been talking to Network Rail about the long term future of looking at more resilient and faster rail links into the peninsula and, because it's not acceptable to have poor transport links, that's why I'm here now in Newquay taking £5 off the cost of a flight from Newquay to Gatwick. There is always more to be done and I know Cornwall's infrastructure needs are very great, but this government takes them very, very seriously.
Asked why he was only visiting Cornwall now, given that places like Looe flood regularly, he responded: "Well, I come to Cornwall and visit regularly. I remember a few years ago being in Lostwithiel, today I've been in Kingsand just outside Plymouth. Here I am in Newquay, talking about the importance of restoring transport links between Cornwall and the rest of the country. I think I've made about six flood visits in the last month. I can't be everywhere, but I try to come and see for myself and hear for myself what needs to be done.
"Cornwall is open for business. It is open for tourism. I take an annual holiday in Cornwall every year and I would encourage all my fellow countrymen to do the same. It's a fantastic place to come and have a holiday."
One of those places he has been seeing for himself is Kingsand.
The south east Cornwall village took the brunt of the battering, leaving one dad needing stitches after a wave battered down his front door.
The PM is asking English Heritage to help save the Institute and iconic clock tower from toppling into the sea.
He has also ordered the Environment Agency to investigate improving flood defences.
That will come as good news to Alan. He had to climb out of his kitchen window to escape moster waves: "They were coming over the roof and breaking. We weren't frightened, but we were concerned. We've seen it all before here - but not as bad as that."
Cornwall Council leader John Pollard said: "Cornwall is one of the areas which has been worst affected by the recent storms and the bill for repairs is rising all the time.
"The latest estimate of the costs of repairing our infrastructure is £21.35m and we emphasised to the Prime Minister the importance of ensuring that Cornwall does not have to fight against other areas of the country for the additional funding it needs".
"We are also very grateful for the Government's decision to reduce the threshold for the Bellwin scheme to help large authorities like Cornwall and we have asked Mr Cameron to further extend the time for submitting claims under the scheme to give us enough time to put our bid together. "
Chief Executive Andrew Kerr said the visit of the Prime Minister had also provided the opportunity to emphasise the importance of maintaining the threatened air link to Gatwick to the economy of Cornwall: "The impact of the damage to the rail line highlights the importance of maintaining the Newquay to Gatwick flights" he said.
"The Prime Minister certainly recognised the impact of the closure of the main rail line on Cornwall and announced that the Department of Transport would be providing a grant enabling us to give a reduction of £5 per person per flight for the next two weeks. The grant, which will begin this Wednesday, will be available to people travelling on all UK flights out of Newquay during this two week period."
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