SOUTH Gloucestershire has welcomed news that the region will benefit from a multi-million pound share of a government investment package announced this week.
Business Secretary Vince Cable visited the district on Monday (July 7) where he announced an £86million Growth Deal to boost jobs and economic growth nationally, including specific funding for various projects with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Projects in South Gloucestershire to benefit include £4.5million for the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of the West of England’s Frenchay campus, £1million towards innovation in composites for marine energy will see a new tidal blade test facility developed at the National Composites Centre, based in Emersons Green, £2 million to construct a new ‘composite’ footbridge on the A4174 Avon Ring Road at Bromley Heath, linking the Filton and Emersons Green Enterprise Areas and Bristol Parkway station and increased funding for the Advanced Engineering Centre at Bristol College, Filton Campus.
Mr Cable said: “The Growth Deal will see £213million being invested in projects including the Bristol Robotics Institute of Technology, which is already the foremost centre for robotics research in the UK. The deal will also help attract additional private sector funding into Bath, South Gloucester and North Somerset, and is expected to create almost 5,000 jobs in the area.
“The West of England LEP was clear that it wanted to build on its position as a world leader in the robotics field, and they should rightly feel very proud of the Growth Deal it has secured today.”
The money will be available from 2015/16 and is part an overall investment package worth £400 million for the LEP area.
In a statement on Monday when the funding was announced, South Gloucestershire Council’s three political leaders Cllrs John Calway (Con, Longwell Green), Ruth Davis (Lib Dem, Yate) and Pat Rooney (Lab, Woodstock) said: “Today’s announcement is welcome news for the economy in South Gloucestershire and the wider West of England area.
“From advanced engineering to high tech industries including robotics, we are already one of the leading areas for innovation in the country.
“This latest allocation of funding will ensure that we continue to be at the forefront of sustainable economic growth in our area in the future.”
University of the West of England (UWE) vice-chancellor Professor Steve West said: “ “The West of England is increasingly being seen as a leader in a number of sectors, such as high tech, creative and digital innovation.
“The local Growth Deal recognises these strengths and provides the means to deliver a number of key projects that will secure our place at the forefront of these sectors.
“Having the right skills in our workforce is also key to the area’s success, therefore the funding to ensure we can provide the right skills for our industry is vital.”
The award follows the submission of the Strategic Economic Plan to the government earlier this year, alongside plans from 38 other LEPs around the country.