Work to create a new riverside park in Bath begun on Monday, and I was delighted to be able to attend the official ground-breaking ceremony in glorious sunshine.
The north river bank between Churchill Bridge and Green Park is undergoing work to create the riverside park and reconnect the city centre to the riverside, as part of £6.22m Bath Quays project. This joint initiative with the Environment Agency will improve flood defences as well as helping to boost the district’s economy and create even greater prospects for local people.
Last week I was in London with colleagues from the West of England to talk to Government about Local Growth Deals. These provide Government funds to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) for projects that benefit the local economy. The government has announced a new round of funding and the West of England LEP is proposing a bid of around £80m.
On Tuesday we held the first consultation events about the creation of a new West of England Mayoral Combined Authority and the proposed devolution deal. I was pleased with the turnout and look forward to attending events including Keynsham, Midsomer Norton, Chew Valley and Bath in the coming weeks.
The proposed deal will affect everyone so it is vital that we get as many local views as possible so I would urge everyone to get involved. If you can’t make it to one of the events you can take part in the consultation online.
We now have a new Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid. Educated in South Gloucestershire, he knows the West of England and I look forward to meeting him and working with him.
We’re working closely with businesses in the city centre as part of our Gull Strategy at the moment. We need everyone to do their bit to help us keep the streets clear of litter and waste, to discourage gulls and other pests. Don’t forget that we’re also making plans to change our recycling and rubbish collection service from autumn 2017 to improve recycling rates and keep the streets cleaner.
Finally, I visited Farleigh Further Education College in Frome with my Cabinet colleagues Cllr Michael Evans and Cllr Vic Pritchard. It’s a specialist residential college for young people aged 16 to 25 with autistic spectrum disorders, Asperger's syndrome and associated complex needs. Many young people from Bath and North East Somerset attend the college, which has great success rates.
I originally met representatives from the college back in May, when The Roman Baths was presented with an Autism Friendly Award by the National Autistic Society. It’s great to see them doing such great work.