Your chance to voice your opinion.

Your chance to voice your opinion.

Buses, the environmental impact of new build developments and clean and affordable energy.

These are some of the main topics coming up for discussions when The West of England Combined Authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meets at the Bath Guildhall  on Wednesday, March 21, at 10.30am.

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The Bath Guildhall

Members will hear about, and contribute to, plans for a for clean and affordable energy system. WECA received £50,000 from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in March 2017 to develop this work across the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership area (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and North Somerset and South Gloucestershire).

Over 70 people from local organisations attended a workshop in Keynsham in February, organised by Centre for Sustainable Energy on behalf of the LEP, to start discussing priority areas, including low and zero carbon electricity; decarbonisation of heat; electric vehicles and ensuring new build developments achieve their low carbon potential.

There will also be a discussion about developing a Green Infrastructure Plan, which will look at environmental mitigation of future development across the region.

The meeting will also consider reports on West of England Local Enterprise Partnership funding and a regional bus strategy. This will consider options to improve the performance of the bus network and set out how further growth in bus use will be encouraged with faster, more reliable and more accessible services.

The committee, made up of 11 members from the across the Combined Authority region, is chaired by Cllr Stephen Clarke (Bristol City Council) who was elected alongside vice-chair Cllr Steve Pearce (Bristol) in September.

The full meeting papers, including details of how members of the public can register to speak, are available on the West of England Combined Authority website www.westofengland-ca.org.uk/meetings/

5G boost to Bath tourism

5G boost to Bath tourism

The West of England Combined Authority has secured £5 million from government to trial a superfast 5G network at tourist destinations in Bath and Bristol.

The trial will see 5G infrastructure put in place at the Roman Baths in Bath, M Shed and in and around We The Curious and Millennium Square in Bristol.

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The Great Bath – filled with natural spa water.

“Imagine a virtual Roman soldier showing you around the Roman Baths,” said West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles. “Now imagine this moving 360 degrees on your mobile phone at a resolution you have never experienced before – that’s what 5G technology can offer.

“The 5G Smart Tourism bid will allow us to trial some exciting technology at our top tourist attractions, whilst looking at wider and longer-term benefits for our region. This new technology holds the key to a more advanced, sustainable and smart future which will revolutionise the way we all live, travel and work.”

Margot James, Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries said: “The next generation of connectivity is set to transform business and society, and the Government is committed to ensuring the UK is fit for a 5G future.

“Smart tourism is just one of the projects we’re funding to drive this forward, and I look forward to its exploration of the innovative ways 5G can boost the West of England’s fantastic tourism experiences.”

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Cllr Tim Warren – Leader of B&NES – and West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles at the Roman Baths.

Cllr Tim Warren, Leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said “We’re proud to be part of this innovation; which supports our commitment to providing 21st Century technology across Bath. We hope it will enhance the experience for people visiting such heritage gems as the Roman Baths.”

5G is set to be the largest step forward for mobile network technology yet, offering much faster speeds than 4G. It won’t be used for human communication alone; it will also support communications between things humans have invented, forming the ‘Internet of Things’.

This will have a huge impact on people’s lives, supporting everything from driverless cars to smarter homes. The trial will look at this wider impact and how the West of England can become a smart region, using new technology to link up our transport and homes, hospitals and schools.

Professor Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This is great news – 5G offers significant business growth opportunities for our tech sector. The West of England is well placed to become a smart region – we are home to the largest cluster of digital expertise outside London, and our businesses and universities are at the forefront of innovation in next-generation networks including 5G.”

 

The 5G Smart Tourism project, funded by the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport, brings together a partnership, led by the West of England Combined Authority. It is a diverse, high profile and highly skilled consortium including 5G network and service providers (BT, Zeetta, CCS, InterDigital, Bristol is Open) through to tourism and business support organisations (Destination Bristol and Business West), visitor destinations (The Roman Baths, The Grand Appeal’s Gromit Unleashed Arts Trail, MShed), ), innovation centre (Digital Catapult), tech hubs (Bristol VR Lab), SMEs and large businesses (IBI Group, Mativision, Smartify, Landmrk, 3Sixty, Bristol Futures Global, Mo-Sys), research bodies (University of Bristol, Kings College, London), world-class media and content companies (BBC, Aardman) and public sector partners Bath & North East Somerset Council and Bristol City Council.

 

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.