A £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 next week.
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 regions 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.”