In short, the answer is probably, not much.
Cornwall Council has successfully bid for a £50m grant from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund to help transform transport links in Cornwall. Except it isn’t really. It is aiding transport links in mid-Cornwall. Helston’s bid for cash improvements to improve the town was turned down.
According to Cornwall Live, Falmouth Mayor Steve Eva was scathing in his assessment of the decision, calling it “ridiculous” and “a total waste of £50m”. He referred to what he cited as more important problems in the town like the lack of swimming pool, leisure centre or skate park and a crumbling pier.
The money will be used for a new coast to coast Mid Cornwall Metro to create a sustainable transport corridor through Cornwall. The new direct train service will vastly improve the current links between four of Cornwall’s largest urban areas: Newquay, St Austell, Truro, and Falmouth/Penryn so residents will be able to better connect to employment, education (including higher education and university), and key services. It will also reduce journey times and ease road congestion for people living along the route.
However, as Cornwall Councillor Peter La Broy has noted on his Facebook page, it is wonderful news for Newquay, Truro and St Austell. But we remain to be the poor cousin. I’ve been told that to get any interest in upgrading public transport in this area that we’ll need a transport audit. This may take years, but we’ll carry on and do this through our Community Area Network providing enough local parish support is given at our next meeting.
Responses to Cllr La Broy’s post talk of students trying to get to Exeter College, catching a 6.05am bus and still failing to arrive by 9am, due to traffic delays. The return journey is no better.
Frankly, such poor transport is likely to put students off travelling for educational purposes.
Another commentator added: I argued that Okehampton Station reopening was, at best, largely irrelevant for Bude. The knock on effect for our bus services have meant that I was wrong… it’s actually made connectivity significantly worse for some of our regular travellers.
Bude is feeling peripheral and far from ‘levelled up’, it seems, which is surely not what the government agenda intended.
So, it’s not working out for east Cornwall which struggles badly with transport infrastructure. Answers to the issue are needed, and fast. Sadly, Cllr La Broy mentions a transport audit which will take, at best, years.