The recently elected West of England Combined Authority (WECA) Mayor, Tim Bowles, has used his first meeting as mayor to announce up to £10m worth of investment in infrastructure spending for the region.
More than £10m will be spent on walking and cycling links, public spaces, transport and road safety. Mayor Bowles claimed the projects “add up to deliver a better connected region”.
The Mayor seems keen to spread investment across the three areas included in the WECA, with money being directed to projects in Bristol, South Gloucestershire as well as Bath & North East Somerset. The most significant spending of £2.8m will be used to speed up work on the Bromley Heath Viaduct in South Gloucestershire. £1.8m will be allocated to relocate a coach park in Bath from Bath Quays North to Odd Down Park and Ride and £2.2m will go towards a new rail station in the Severn Beach Line, next to the park-and-ride at Portway, Bristol.
Perhaps as a sign of his commitment to the project, £800,000 will also be spent on improving access and drop-off facilities for the as yet unbuilt Bristol Arena.
Although North Somerset are not part of the Combined Authority or the devolution deal, they would seem to be benefitting from it, with £500,000 assigned by Mayor Bowles for pedestrian and cycling routes through the centre of Weston-super-Mare.
Conservative Mr Bowles commented on his new role: “Taking on these new powers, funding and responsibilities from central government means we can be much more ambitious as a region.
“Together we will make decisions about what is best for our region and its residents, cutting across the divides of council boundaries.”