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Seven projects share £13.7m as region gets building

Town Centre improvements, new homes and office space, road and cycling improvements and a long-awaited new railway station are all set to be developed more quickly thanks to new funding.

The £13.7m funding, which will come through WECA and  the LEP is from the Government’s Getting Building Fund to help complete major projects which are planned to stimulate jobs and support the region’s economic recovery.

The projects are anticipated to improve connectivity across the region through significant transport works, investment in digital connectivity, bringing together academic research and economic sites, and regeneration to revitalise town centres and high streets.

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Supporting more creative businesses


Another 20 creative companies have joined our Creative Scale Up scheme – which provides online peer and mentoring support to help them respond to the impact of COVID-19.
 
West of England Mayor Tim Bowles announced the cohort via video on social media – featuring a huge variety of businesses from the creative and cultural sector that the region is renowned for.
 
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UK’s first scheduled bus booking system trialled in West of England
 
First West of England has launched the first ever booking system for spaces on its buses.
The ‘Book my bus ride’ initiative is being pioneered by First West of England in partnership with WECA and is believed to be the first system of its kind operating on regular, scheduled bus services in the UK.

This innovative new service comes as First continues to find ways to use technology to improve the experience for its customers. It follows recent changes to First’s app, which now enables customers to track the location and seat availability of their bus.  Along with social distancing measures on its buses and an enhanced cleaning regime, it forms a package of measures to ensure customers are able to make informed and safe journeys.

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Trading Better Online

 
Due to the successful launch of our Trading Better Online programme, we are increasing the number of small businesses we can support to enhance their web presence by adopting new technology or new digital practices.

Through the scheme, businesses will be matched to a consultant and supported through up to four days of free hands-on support.

Delivered in partnership with TechSPARK, Trading Better Online is available to SMEs with between 5 and 250 employees based in the West of England (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire).

SMEs in the region can access a range of tailored business support through the West of England Growth Hub, which offers free, one-to-one advice and guidance for SMEs to help them innovate and adapt, build resilience and grow.


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Business Support Service opens in South Bristol
 
A new support service has been launched for residents and businesses based in South Bristol.

Existing small and medium sized enterprises and residents based in the South Bristol area – who are looking to start or grow their business - could be eligible for support from a partnership of providers who have expertise in a range of areas including; business training and mentoring, supporting young people in enterprise, and digital manufacturing.

The South Bristol Enterprise Support project forms part of the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA) expanded regional Growth Hub support offer to help businesses through Covid-19. The project will connect businesses with WECA’s Growth Hub to access the range of support available – for trading better onlinefinancial resilience, innovation and green grants.

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Recovery Taskforce looks ahead
 
Our Taskforce continues to lead work on the region’s economic recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic - bringing together senior figures from industry, education and local government - led by West of England Mayor Tim Bowles.
 
Taskforce members are currently preparing for their next meeting, which takes place next week. This will focus on positive low carbon changes, addressing redundancies, social inclusion, culture, and the ongoing need for high skilled workers
 
If you’d like to keep up-to-date with the work of the Taskforce, we have a dedicated webpage on WECA’s website, which you can visit here.

New report commissioned on the future of LegalTech
 

The future of innovation and technology in the legal sector will be the focus of a new report that will analyse how the West of England can extend its growing reputation and competitive advantage in LegalTech.
 
Commissioned by the Bristol Law Society, the WECA and Bristol+BathLegalTech, with leading West law firm Foot Anstey signed up as the first business partner, the report will provide comprehensive analysis of the region’s strengths in LegalTech and innovation and provide recommendations for the next phase of growth in the sector.

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Major milestone for Bath Quays Bridge

 
A major milestone has been reached in the construction of the Bath Quays Bridge, the first new crossing point to be installed across the River Avon in Bath for a century.

The final pile for the bridge substructure has been completed, paving the way for installation of the bridge itself later this year.

Once completed the 60m long steel bridge will link Bath Quays North and South, providing a new route for pedestrians and cyclists and greater connectivity around the city. The Bath Quays development is part-funded by the LEP through the Local Growth Fund, administered by WECA.


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New electric vehicles for community transport

 
Community transport operators have received the keys to their new electric vehicles from South Gloucestershire Council and the West of England Combined Authority.

Kingswood Community Transport, Green Community Travel in Yate and Four Towns and Vale Link Transport in Thornbury each received a brand-new Nissan ENV WAV (wheelchair accessible electric people carrier) to use for their local services, which will help to reduce harmful emissions, as well as reducing ongoing maintenance costs. The new minibuses form part of a fleet of fifteen vehicles being provided to South Gloucestershire’s community transport operators this year.


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Economic briefing

We’re tracking the impact of the pandemic on our region’s economy, building up the picture over time, drawing on what businesses are telling us, and the economic indicators available.

We’re putting together fortnightly briefings intended to deepen our understanding of the challenges faced by businesses across the region’s industries, and where there might be gaps in support coming from government.

You can find the latest briefing here.

Mayor's blog

In his latest blog, Mayor Tim Bowles talks about improving air quality.

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The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) covers
Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
WECA also supports the Local Enterprise Partnership and
Joint Committee, which includes North Somerset.


Our mailing address is:
West of England Combined Authority, 3 Rivergate, Temple Way, Bristol BS1 6ER

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