THE leader of Torridge District Council says bringing new employment into the district is the top priority for the council.
Councillor Philip Collins believes development of prime locations and improved internet connections was the way the council could encourage inward investment in the area.
He said: "Westward Ho! is a prime example of this happening. Some people don't like change, but in some places it needs to happen.
"The development of Brunswick Wharf is designed for this kind of new employment and encouraging people into the area.
"But unless things like travel links improve we can only encourage so much. The dualling of the A361 is a big topic we need to address with the county council.
"We are trying to encourage apprenticeship schemes and have our own here at the council.
"We also have our own regeneration team, but the problem is it takes a long time to come around.
"We have plans to develop the Bridge Street Car Park in Bideford as it is above the flood line.
"It is a site earmarked but it isn't top of the list yet.
"The development would consist of a multi-storey car park, shops and accommodation."
The head of paid service at the district council, Jenny Wallace, added: "We are looking at skills in the area to see if we can get funding for an innovation training centre so that companies down here can easily source trained and skilled workers."
Mr Collins said: "Things like the agri-business centre in Holsworthy will help with training.
"Other areas like Torrington have big employment sites like the old Dairy Crest factory, which need to be developed.
"There is growth of business on the internet and that is the big difference to me – you don't have to be in a town centre. We just need to get that right here in Torridge."
But Maurice Pearce, a member of Bideford Chamber of Commerce was unconvinced Mr Collins' plans would succeed.
He said: "Research centres and call centres would be perfect in this area. Down here we have cheaper labour so that should encourage some of the bigger companies.
"But all these ideas from Torridge are little soundbites we hear and never see any more of.
"We don't want to discourage but we just need to see some ideas followed through."