Conservative Leader Councillor Mark Weston has warmly welcomed the news that the West of England is to get a big financial package from the Chancellor of the Exchequer to build new infrastructure in the region.
Last September, the Leaders of the four local authorities in the area (BANES; Bristol City Council; North East Somerset; South Gloucestershire) submitted a devolution bid for £1 bn – to be raised from borrowing and repaid by government once this investment had been built and proven to be successful.
These proposals included ambitious plans for spending on major projects around transport, flood defence and housing over the next ten years.
Whilst a response to this submission was not contained in the eagerly anticipated Autumn Statement, agreement over it has now been unveiled in George Osborne’s 2016 Budget Statement.
The deal announced provides for a West of England Mayoral Authority to make £1 bn investment in physical assets.
Cllr Weston (Henbury & Brentry) said: “This funding deal being underwritten by the government is really good news.
“It has often been stated, and acknowledged, that our region is the most economically dynamic, vibrant and successful in the country outside of London.
“Yet, without substantial investment in aging infrastructure, there was a real risk of killing the goose which lays the golden eggs and seeing cities like Bristol – a net contributor to the Treasury – becoming a less competitive or attractive place in which to live, work or do business.
“The agreement which has been reached with the Chancellor demonstrates the confidence this government has in our ability to invest wisely for the future and underpins its commitment to devolving real power and decision making away from the Capital.
“It is also a testament to the ability of local Leaders to work together successfully – and I look forward to learning more detail about this funding package over the next few days and weeks.”