24 January: There's a whiff of desperation in the air, as Devon CC slashes £54 million from its annual budget but promises another £21 million for the Kingskerswell Bypass.
In a week or so we'll find out if the Kingskerswell Bypass has won a spot in the coveted 'Development' group of major transport schemes. The contest is a bit like X Factor, but considerably less interesting.
Devon and Torbay councils have launched a last-ditch offensive, press ganging local businesses into doing their bit. (Although I'm not sure how having a local conference promoter admit that "delays experienced at Kingskerswell may be no worse than those experienced getting to other conference venues" helps their cause.)
They've also promised to find £33 million for the Kingskerswell Bypass, although internal reports admit that they're not sure where it would come from. Vague references to the Community Infrastructure Levy or the New Homes Bonus are built on sand. Devon knows this, which may explain why they sent their funding bid to DfT before councillors had a proper chance to scrutinise the impact on capital budgets.
It's not like there's any money to spare: Devon has just announced massive cuts to public services. Central Government has cut its support by £26 million - which would be bad enough - but Devon wants to cut a further £28 million, bringing the total cuts to public spending up to £54 million.
What will the good people of Devon will say when they realise that services they rely on are being obliterated to keep this over-budget and unnecessary bypass alive?