Supporting business and creating opportunities for our local economy to grow has been a key focus for me this week at the many meetings I have attended.
On Wednesday I was at the board meeting of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership along with leaders from other councils, mayors, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and businesses representatives from across the region.
The partnership supports business growth and works to attract new jobs to the area and one of its key objectives is to identify key growth locations and connect people to employment opportunities.
Identifying key growth locations and generating the opportunity for jobs is something Bath & North East Somerset Council is also committed to and so I was delighted with this week’s announcement that the West of England Joint Committee (which is part of WECA) is recommending £50,000 funding to one of our major regeneration schemes.
The money has been earmarked for the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone - a 13.5 hectare greenfield site on the A362 between Midsomer Norton and Paulton more commonly known as Old Mills which the council is investing £343,000 in.
The site was awarded its Enterprise Zone status last April by the government following a successful application by the council. Enterprise Zones are designated areas across England which encourage business growth and new jobs by providing tax breaks and government support.
It means any businesses that locate to the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone may be eligible for 100% business rates relief and will be able to access super-fast broadband. Once complete, the development will provide up to 54,000 sqm of commercial space creating 1,700 new jobs for local people and increased prosperity for the area.
This week, we also announced plans to give Bath and North East Somerset residents a discount in Bath’s council-run car parks. In order to support local shops and traders, any resident parking for three hours or less in one of the Council’s city centre car parks would see the cost of parking either reduced or staying broadly the same.
However, as part of the council’s efforts to tackle air pollution and encourage commuters and visitors to use the city’s Park & Rides or other public transport, the cost of long-stay parking will be increased under the proposals.