The West of England Combined Authority is working closely with government, council partners, education providers and others to support residents and businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic.
“This is a difficult time for all concerned and we are working around the clock with government to secure support for our region’s businesses and their employees,” said Regional Mayor, Tim Bowles.
The WECA and West of England Joint Committee met today (20 March) to approve a number of actions to support communities across the region through the current situation, in the immediate future, and to prepare for the longer-term, including:
- Helping keep bus operators afloat by reimbursing concessionary fares and providing financial assistance for supported bus services.
- Agreeing the Adult Education Budget and continued support for education providers, to help minimise disruption to learners.
- Joint Committee adopted the final draft of the Joint Local Transport Plan 4 (JLTP4) to address current transport challenges – pledging to consider the implications of emerging national guidance, legislation and targets on climate change before incorporating it into regional and local plans and policies.
- £1.5m from WECA for the bus strategy infrastructure programme and £300,000 for metrobus service improvements – including new bus stops and electronic traffic signals to ensure bus services have priority.
- One-off transport levy funding of £57,000 from WECA to cover the shortfall in costs for the No.17 Southmead Hospital to Keynsham bus route – safeguarding funding for the route to the end of February 2021.
- WECA matching £548,000 of Government funding for railway stations to have better access – with improvements at Freshford, Lawrence Hill, Nailsea & Backwell, Parson Street, Patchway, Severn Beach, Stapleton Road and Yate stations.
- Investing £250,000 to support the development of a 10 Year Plan, and 25 Year Strategic Outline Business Case for the region’s railways network, working with Network Rail.
Regional Mayor Tim Bowles said: “Public safety must be the top priority but we also recognise the significant impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses and their employees.
“As bus services and passenger numbers are reducing in the short term, we are particularly keen to ensure that bus operators are given the help they need to see them through the current situation and will therefore provide specific funding and business support where we can.
“We also have a team of advisers talking to our region’s businesses to help them find the support they need, and we continue to feed back their concerns to government. We are also working with adult education providers to help minimise disruption to learners.”
If your business has been impacted by coronavirus, the West of England Combined Authority’s enterprise team can help answer your queries and signpost you to the latest information and advice. Please visit: wearegrowth.co.uk/ for regular updates.