£13m investment in measures to encourage cycling and walking is set to be discussed at the first virtual meeting of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) Committee on Friday 19 June, at 10.30am.
An investment of £3m is recommended to underwrite the cost of temporary measures to help people walk and cycle while maintaining social distancing. By underwriting this investment WECA would be able to help councils to immediately implement measures in advance of receiving government funding. Government has made an indicative allocation of £3.7m to the region for this work with the first tranche of funding, £741k likely to be received by WECA shortly.
WECA is proposing to invest an extra £10m of new money for longer-term solutions to encourage cycling and walking. This could significantly increase cycling and walking within the region, building on the increase in active travel that has taken place in recent months.
The committee will also discuss investing a further £5m to kick-start the region’s business recovery and support the early work of the new West of England Regional Economic Recovery Taskforce. The taskforce will provide the evidence base for this work, which will focus on clean, inclusive and digitally-connected projects. This will be in addition to WECA’s ongoing support for business and skills, which includes sector-specific business support, skills and employment initiatives and work with councils to support businesses at a local level.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “We are discussing projects and programmes that will give us the building blocks for the long-term recovery and renewal of the West of England’s economy. They will help build a positive, inclusive and low-carbon legacy from Covid-19 in the region, whether that’s better walking and cycling infrastructure, or helping our businesses build low- carbon into their own recovery plans, with the skills to support it.
“We will also be discussing progress on the MetroWest rail services including the extension of services to Westbury and Gloucester. This could provide a better mix of local and regional train services connecting more people in the region to rail services.”
The Combined Authority is chaired by Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles, and is made up of the leaders and Mayor from its three member councils – Bath & North East Somerset (Leader, Cllr Dine Romero), Bristol City Council (Mayor Marvin Rees) and South Gloucestershire Council (Leader, Cllr Toby Savage – who is also Deputy Regional Mayor). The Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Professor Steve West, also attends committee meetings.
The WECA Committee meeting – which will be livestreamed on the West of England Combined Authority’s YouTube channel – will be held jointly with a meeting of the West of England Joint Committee, which is the decision-making body for issues relating to the West of England Combined Authority, Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils, and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership. Members of the public will be able to present their submitted statements at the virtual meeting. The meetings will be held in the same sitting to improve efficiency – for example, there will be one combined public forum section near the start of the meeting to enable members of the public to present public items to both committees. The WECA and the Joint Committee will continue to make separate decisions on matters falling within their respective remits, but will also be able to consider some items jointly where this is appropriate.
The WECA Overview & Scrutiny Committee will meet in advance of the committees on Wednesday 17 June at 10.30am.
For more details and agendas visit: www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk/meetings.