The £100-million Bristol Metro train network which will bring massive improvements to local railways is to go ahead with the first services running by 2016. It comes as a result of the City Deal agreed between local council and the Government which was announced yesterday...(more here).
Business rates to be kept in Bristol and used to raise more money for investment is very welcome. Plans to improve the local rail network are also welcome. Lets hope what is planned is effective and efficient. I do think there is a democratic deficit in all this thinking though and would like to see much greater and inbuilt opportunities for public participation, creating better openness and accountability - it wont be sufficient to simply lobby our authorities to use this money in the best way.
Details of the 'City Deal' for Bristol, according to The Post, are:
* A new growth incentive and the economic investment fund, which will allow West of England to keep 100 per cent of growth in business rates over 25 years to invest in projects, allowing authorities to deliver an investment programme worth £1 billion over 30 years.
* Ten years of major funding allocation for the Greater Bristol Metro; flexible delivery for the Bus Rapid Transit Network which will allow savings to be recycled locally; and new powers over rail planning and delivery.
* A Public Property Board will manage up to £1 billion of city council assets and an estimated 180 land and property assets to unlock more land for economic growth or housing and to lever in additional investment.
* A city growth hub with up to £2.25 million of government funding which will provide additional support to inward investors. This will be based in the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone and will work closely with UK Trade and Investment.
* The business community and local enterprise partnership will have more influence in skills provision in the city region, in particular the £114 million Skills Funding Agency funding for Further Education colleges for post-16 provision, to help capture employer demand.