Going for growth says West of England Mayor.

Going for growth says West of England Mayor.

Economic growth that benefits every resident is at the core of a new vision for the West of England, launched today (Wednesday 26 July).

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles and Interim Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership, Professor Steve West, presented the draft strategy to delegates at the University of the West of England.

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West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles (right), with LEP Interim Chair, Professor Steve West.

“Over the next four years, in partnership with the councils and business, I will lead a region that delivers economic growth for all, ensuring residents benefit from more job opportunities, a stronger economy and higher quality of life,” said Tim.

“Since I was elected in May, I’ve been working with our council partners, businesses, universities and colleges, housing and transport providers, and learned more about their challenges and priorities. This draft strategy has been developed as a result of those conversations and will become the framework around which important future decisions, including funding decisions, will be made.”

He said three priorities are beginning to emerge: “The first priority is to build on our strengths as a leader in innovation, high tech and creativity, and continue to nurture successful businesses. Secondly we need to ensure that our residents have the right skills for our regional businesses. Thirdly we must put the foundations in place to create more homes that are affordable, improve public transport, roads, cycle and pedestrian routes, as well as digital connectivity.

“We have a great opportunity, working together, to get this right. I would like businesses, organisations and others to get involved and give us their views on the draft strategy and how we can drive economic growth for all.”

Professor Steve West said: “This is our chance to get serious about how we work together to promote the unique benefits of our fantastic region. The West of England has a lot to offer with good links to London, the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. We have world-class universities, industry and healthcare sectors and we need to build on our significant heritage and strengths.

“The LEP is fully behind this regional strategy and we will do everything in our power to create an ambitious, prosperous and sustainable future for all. To do that we must think and operate strategically and for the long-term. We will need significant investment over many years and we must all work effectively with one voice to deliver that investment, and make the most of this huge opportunity to create a world-leading city region. This is about our collective futures – we need to be ambitious and focused to deliver a more equal and sustainable future for all.”

The draft strategy is available on the West of England Combined Authority website – www.westofengland-ca.org.uk – where there is also an online questionnaire to provide feedback.

This feedback will be incorporated into a final strategy to be published in the autumn, which will used to inform the West of England Combined Authority’s more detailed plans, priorities and funding decisions.

The West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership are joint authors of the draft strategy discussion paper. The Combined Authority covers Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire and supports the LEP and Joint Committee, which includes North Somerset.

 

Broad Quays Approval

Broad Quays Approval

Plans to relocate a coach park at Bath Quays North to Odd Down Park and Ride – costing £1.8 million pounds – is one of many projects across the region given the go-ahead today (Wednesday 28 June) by the West of England Joint Committee of the new Combined Authority.

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Projects worth more than £17m were approved and awarded funding of just over £10m to improve walking and cycling links, public spaces, public transport and road safety in the region. They underpin the aims of The Local Growth Fund and Economic Development Fund of supporting economic growth and improving connectivity.

The projects are:

  • £2.8m towards speeding up a strengthening, maintenance and improvement scheme for the Bromley Heath Viaduct reducing the time taken from 52 to 33 weeks;
  • £2.2m towards a new single platform rail station next to the Park and Ride at Portway on the Severn Beach Line;
  • £1.8m to  relocate a coach park in Bath from Bath Quays North to Odd Down Park and Ride; and
  • £3.3m towards 14 separate transport projects across the region including new cycle paths and bus lane enforcement.

The Local Growth Fund is awarded to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) who consider competitive bids that demonstrate they will create new infrastructure to encourage growth, support business investment and create jobs. Any additional funding required has been found from other local and Government sources.

West of England Mayor Tim Bowles said: “Through the Local Growth Fund the Joint Committee can approve projects that will deliver much-needed infrastructure for the region. Today we’ve approved a range of large and small transport projects that add up to deliver a better-connected region.”

Local Enterprise Partnership interim chair Professor Steve West said: “Approval for these projects show that we can work together to make the West of England an attractive option for business and industry. As part of the area’s wider funding programme, these are important steps in ensuring that our transport infrastructure meets the growth needs of the region.”

The Joint West of England Committee met for the first time on June 28 and is the decision making body for issues relating to the four unitary authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Details of the meeting can be found at www.westofengland-ca.org.uk

FOR YOUR INFORMATION:

  1. In February 2017 it was announced by the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid that the West of England had secured £52.8m through the third round of the Local Growth Fund to cover individual projects until 2020/21.
  2. The schemes approved in the sustainable transport packages 2017/18 are:

 

Bath and North East Somerset

A39/B3116 junction improvements (£400,000 from Local Growth Fund GF for £550,000 scheme).  Improvements to aid traffic flow at the ‘two headed man’ pinch point.

Cycle Investment Package – three schemes (£40,000 from LGF for £60,000 scheme).  Combination of improvements in Midsomer Norton and Bath City Riverside Enterprise Area and grants for employers to encourage cycling and walking to work.

Safer Routes to Schools (£75,000 from LGF for £125,000 scheme). Progression of design and delivery of schemes to benefit schools in the area .

Bristol

Rupert Street Bus Priority (£200,000 fully funded). Re-allocating road space so buses take priority where bus passengers already outnumber car occupants by three to one.

Access to the Arena (£800,000 fully funded). Improving access facilities  and drop off points along Albert Road for coaches and taxis.

Airport Road Cycle Path (£75,000 fully funded).  Detailed designs for a continuous cycle route along Airport Road

North Somerset

Weston Town Centre Regeneration (£500,000 from Local Growth Fund for £700,000 scheme).  Visual and physical improvements around the Town Square, South Parade and Regents Street area for walking and cycling.

Coastal Towns Cycle Route (£10,000 from LGF for £33,0000 scheme) Preliminary works to improve a walking and cycling path, including a missing link on Uphill Road North.

South Gloucestershire

Access to Emerson’s Green Enterprise Area (£430,000 from LGF for £460,000 scheme). Further construction of the Yate Spur cycle route and design of the Pucklechurch Link for cyclists.

Access to Bristol North Fringe (£80,000 fully funded).  Start of project to improve walking and cycling along the A38 in Filton and Patchway.

Access to Avonmouth and Severnside Enterprise Area (£450,000 fully funded).  Walking and cycling improvements along the A403 between Ableton Lane to Central Avenue for commuter and leisure use.

Bus Network Enforcement (£240,000 fully funded).  Strengthened enforcement of bus lanes with eight poles for cameras and five movable cameras.

 

Down to business for new Metro Mayor.

Down to business for new Metro Mayor.

The region’s newly elected Metro Mayor doesn’t intend spending much time behind a desk following his ‘swearing in’ at Bristol’s Engine Shed today (Monday, May 8th).

Metro Mayor 1 - CB Bristol Design 2017.

Tim Bowles said he was very proud to be elected as the very first West of England Mayor: “This is an exciting time for our region as the West of England Combined Authority takes on new powers, funding and responsibilities from central Government.

“This means that as a region we can be much more ambitious – we can make decisions here in the West of England about things that affect our residents every day – decisions about homes, transport, skills for jobs and how we support business to ensure our economy continues to grow.

“Over the coming weeks and months I’ll be going out and about to meet as many people as I can. I’ll be talking to businesses of all sizes, transport operators, our local colleges and universities and community groups, to talk about the challenges we face and how we can work together to benefit everyone across our region.

Metro Mayor 8 - CB Bristol Design 2017.

L to R. Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council; Metro Mayor, Tim Bowles; Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES; and Mervyn Rees who is the Mayor of Bristol.

Mayor Bowles said he would work collaboratively and constructively with his colleagues in the Combined Authority: Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of  B&NES and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

“I know the three councils have worked together very successfully over many years – I want to build on that track record. Together we will make decisions about what is best for our region, cutting across the divides of council boundaries.

Whilst we appreciate that North Somerset Council is not part of the Combined Authority at this stage, we will continue to work closely with them to ensure we can deliver economic growth for the wider region.

I will (also) work closely with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership LEP’s new interim chair, Steve West, and look forward to him attending the Combined Authority meetings to represent the views of the Local Enterprise Partnership and its members”.

One week to go to Metro Mayor election

One week to go to Metro Mayor election

With a week before polls open in the first ever West of England Combined Authority Mayoral Election, registered voters in Bath and North East Somerset are being reminded to have their say on Thursday 4th May.

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Over 680,000 registered voters across the region will have the chance to choose their candidate to become the first Mayor of the West of England via postal votes or at polling stations when they open at 7am on 4th May.

The West of England devolution deal, worth £1 billion, brings powers and money from national Government with the ability to make local decisions about spatial planning for the region (including where new homes are planned and where investment in new services is needed to support their development), adult education and skills, employment and regional transport.

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Maria Lucas, Local Returning Officer for Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The 4th May election will give residents in Bath and North East Somerset the chance to make their choice on who will become the first West of England Combined Authority Mayor. I urge all eligible registered voters in the region to exercise their democratic right to vote and cast their ballot on 4th May.”

A booklet has been produced with useful information about the West of England Combined Authority, the mayoral election and the supplementary voting system, and statements from the candidates standing in this election. All registered voters have been sent a paper copy of this booklet as required by law*. An online version can be found at www.wevote.org.uk.

Polling stations will open at 7am on Thursday 4th May and close at 10pm. Voters are urged to check their poll cards for the address of their polling station and allow time to cast their vote.

British citizens, Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Cyprus and Malta who are registered to vote in the West of England Combined Authority Mayoral Election are also registered to vote in the UK Parliamentary General Election on 8th June. Residents who are not already registered to vote should visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote to register online. The deadline to register to vote in the UK Parliamentary General Election on 8th June is midnight on 22nd May. It is now too late to register to vote in the West of England Mayoral election. 

* One booklet must be distributed to each person entitled to vote at the election. This booklet has been produced in accordance with The Combined Authorities (Mayoral Elections) Order 2017.

For information:

Supplementary Voting System

This election will use the supplementary voting system. Voters will have two votes – one for their first choice candidate and another for their second choice candidate. The ballot paper will list all of the candidates in alphabetical order with two columns next to the names. To select their first choice candidate, voters will mark an “x” in the first column and, should they wish to, an “x” in the second column next to the name of their second choice candidate.

The first choices are then counted and if one candidate has 50 percent of the vote or more, they are declared the winner. If no one candidate has 50 percent of the vote or more, the two candidates with the most first choice votes will remain in the election and the others will be eliminated. The ballot papers for the eliminated candidates are then checked and any second choice votes for the remaining two candidates are added to their first round totals. The candidate with the most overall votes wins.

 

Let battle commence!

Let battle commence!

The names of the six candidates standing in the first West of England Combined Authority Mayoral election have been published.

Those standing in the West of England Mayoral election are:

Tim Bowles – The Conservative Party Candidate

Aaron Warren Foot – UK Independence Party (UKIP)

Darren Edward Hall – Green Party

Lesley Ann Mansell – Labour and Co-operative Party

John Christopher Savage – Independent

Stephen Williams – Liberal Democrats

Registered voters in Bath and North East Somerset will have their say on Thursday 4 May on who becomes the first Mayor for the West of England Combined Authority.

Only those registered to vote will be able to have their say in this election and the deadline to register passes at midnight on Thursday 13 April. Registering to vote can be done in minutes online. Visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote with your national insurance number and follow the on-screen instructions.

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From mid-April, everyone in Bath and North East Somerset who is registered to vote can expect to receive a Mayoral Election booklet which includes information about the election and a campaign statement from those candidates who wished to be included 

The Combined Authority Returning Officer is legally required to produce this booklet for all registered voters. 

The West of England devolution deal worth £1 billion brings powers and money from national Government with the ability to make local decisions about spatial planning for the region (including where new homes are planned and where investment in new services is needed to support their development), adult education and skills, employment and regional transport.

As part of the devolution deal there needs to be a regional authority and an elected regional Mayor.

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For your information.

Full details of candidates standing in the West of England Combined Authority Mayoral election can be found online at www.wevote.org.uk

Polling stations

Poll cards have been sent to every registered elector in the region. These cards contain information a citizen needs to be able to vote on Thursday 4 May. It will have the date and time of the election and the polling station they will need to visit.

Voters are reminded to check their polling cards carefully as their polling station this year may differ from the one they are used to visiting. Anyone who loses their card and doesn’t know which polling station to visit should go online to www.wevote.org.uk for guidance.

 

New Metro Mayor could get £62,000 annual allowance.

New Metro Mayor could get £62,000 annual allowance.

The West of England Combined Authority, which will manage new powers for transport, housing, adult education and skills, holds its second meeting on March 15, at Armada House, Bristol.

The Combined Authority is made up of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils. At the meeting, members will agree a budget for 2017/18.

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L to R. Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol; Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES Council, and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

It will also will consider the recommendations of the independent remuneration panel, which recommends that the new West of England Mayor should receive an allowance of £62,000 per annum.

Through the Combined Authority, more decisions will be made locally, with £1bn of investment and transport funding coming from Westminster to the West of England.

In its first year, this will include:

£30 million to deliver infrastructure to boost economic growth.

£20.475 million for highways maintenance and transport improvement schemes.

In addition the Combined Authority is taking part, with the constituent councils, in the Government’s 100% business rate retention pilot, starting 2017/18, allowing the region to benefit from future growth in business rates.

The Combined Authority will deliver an ambitious strategy for the region that will, in its first year, prioritise transport, business and skills. It will build on the success of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which has supported the creation of over 11,000 new jobs; supported 477 businesses and levered in to the region £126m in public sector and £104 million in private sector funding.

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Council leaders gathered for their first meeting at the Bristol Watershed.

Elections for a new West of England Mayor to chair the Combined Authority will take place on Thursday 4 May 2017, when the electorate of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire Councils will have their say on the candidates. 

Members of the Combined Authority are Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council; Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council. The Chair of the LEP, Stephen Robertson, will also attend the meetings.

Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said:  “The West of England is one of the UK’s most prosperous regions. The new Combined Authority offers us the opportunity to build on this and make it even better for everyone.

“It means that we can be more ambitious, taking collective decisions about what is best for the region, cutting across the divides of council boundaries.

“The new Combined Authority will be lean and efficient, and will make the most of existing resources, avoiding duplication where possible. None of the delivery and running costs of the new Combined Authority will fall on the constituent councils.”

More information about the West of England Combined Authority, including meeting papers, can be found at www.westofengland-ca.org.uk The budget meeting will also be webcast live on the website.

The meeting will take place at Armada House, Telephone Avenue, BS1 4BQ.

Lin steals the show at Combined Authority’s first meeting.

Lin steals the show at Combined Authority’s first meeting.

Congratulations to B&NES Councillor Lin Patterson for stealing the limelight at the first meeting of the West of England Combined Authority – held today (Wednesday, March lst) at the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol.

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The new authority swings into action after May 4th when people from B&NES, Bristol and South Gloucestershire go to the polls to elect a Metro Mayor.

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Council leaders gathered for their first meeting at the Bristol Watershed.

The three council leaders were gathered to elect a Chair and Vice Chair and take submissions from the public.

Lin, who is the Green Party member for the Lambridge Ward in Bath, was straight on her feet to tell the leaders and council officials about the petition-backed campaign to save a modest little circular bus route which linked Larkhall and Fairfield Park with the town centre.

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Cllr Lin Patterson tells the council leaders about her local buses!

The 6 and 7 routes have been reduced following the withdrawal of a council bus subsidy.

Lin said campaigners would not let the new combined authority forget their campaign and hoped WECA would come up with a franchise package to get the bus route back.

The meeting was broadcast live as a webcast.

Here’s a flavour of proceedings including an opening statement from Cllr Matthew Riddle – Leader of South Gloucestershire – and from Cllr Tim Warren the Leader of B&NES.

The meeting agreed the constitution for the new authority and appointed interim statutory officers. The constitution sets out the governance arrangements and establishes three advisory boards, for skills, infrastructure and business. 

These will be chaired by the West of England Mayor and attended by the relevant members from the councils and business members of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board. 

The constitution also sets out the plans for scrutiny by councillors, to be selected on a politically-proportionate basis, from the constituent members of the Combined Authority.

Patricia Greer was appointed as interim Chief Executive/head of paid service; Tim Richens has been appointed as interim Chief Finance Office and John McCormack as interim Monitoring Officer.

Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES Council, Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council, said:  “Today is a key milestone in the evolution of the effective joint working across the West of England, and builds on the work we’ve been doing in partnership for many years.

“The creation of the West of England Combined Authority brings decision-making powers on issues that were previously held in Westminster closer to local communities. This devolution deal unlocks a billion pounds of funding for our area and the opportunity to attract further funding and powers for the region to improve transport infrastructure, deliver affordable homes and invest in skills and training.”

The West of England Combined Authority will work closely with North Somerset Council, building on a legacy of successful joint working between the four authorities. This will include the establishment of a Joint Committee between the constituent councils of the Combined Authority and North Somerset Council, and scrutiny arrangements for that Joint Committee by councillors of the four authorities.

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L to R. Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol; Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES Council, and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council.

WECA will be chaired by a new West of England Mayor. Elections will take place on Thursday 4 May 2017, when the electorate of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire Councils will have their say on the candidates. 

Other members of the Combined Authority are Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of B&NES Council; Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, and Cllr Matthew Riddle, Leader of South Gloucestershire Council. The Chair of the LEP, Stephen Robertson, will also attend the meetings.

Minutes from the meeting, which was webcast live, will be published online at www.westofengland-ca.org.uk

The West of England Combined Authority will meet hold its second meeting in public on Wednesday March 15 at Armada House, Bristol. Papers for this meeting will be available on the website on March 7.