Businesses leaders in West of England voice hopes following election of first mayor

Business leaders in the West of England Combined Authority area have set out their aspirations for their area following the election of Tim Bowles as its first mayor. Some of these many and varied hopes are included in the bulletin below which was issued today by Insider News Media.

Roger Mundy, Managing Director, Beardsley Theobalds. 8th May 2017



Business leaders set out hopes for West of England mayor

Business leaders in the West of England have set out their hopes following the election of the first mayor to oversee the new combined authority in the region.

Conservative Tim Bowles was elected after beating Labour candidate Lesley Mansell when second-preference votes were counted.

The West of England Combined Authority covers the Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils.

The new metro mayor position is part of a £1bn devolution deal of the West of England secured by the three authorities.

Nick Sturge, SW regional chairman of the Institute of Directors, called on Bowles to ensure the new combined authority was “effective in stimulating inclusive economic growth”.

He said: “It is such an important role for the West of England area – to provide strong and visionary leadership in allocation of the £30m per year and in effective and constructive chairmanship of the Cabinet of the three partner local authorities.

“We would like to see strong business and third sector engagement – given that this is where the majority of jobs growth will come from – and building on the excellent work that the LEP and other organisations have done over the last few years.

“We do not want to see simply another layer of bureaucracy – or traditional thinking. The opportunity to deliver creative solutions across the key responsibilities of housing, transport, skills and economic development is exciting – but will be wasted if silos are created.”

Tim Davies, head of the South West office of Colliers International, stressed the importance of improving the region’s infrastructure.

He said: “As commercial property specialists we are very much aware of the how infrastructure is key to improving access in the region and driving prosperity, so we welcome his manifesto commitment to improving infrastructure in the West – notably the Avon Ring Road, the M4 Junction 18a and the A36/A46 link.

“We also applaud his commitment to easing pressure for green field development and to seeking out Brownfield sites. These sites cost more to develop, but regeneration of Brownfield sites can be an important part of the regeneration of the communities in which they are located and can help to boost the wider economy of the West.”

Simon Prescott at Barton Willmore set out his hoes for what the new mayor do on planning, transport and managing successful growth.

He said: “His three-year term of office coincides with a period in which hugely important decisions need to be made about the scale and location of development for the next 20 years. Later this year, the three authorities over which the Mayor takes on new powers, together with neighbouring North Somerset, will be publishing a joint spatial development plan for consultation covering the period up to 2036.

“The biggest challenge for the mayor will be bringing together the West of England’s leadership so that it can take forward a more realistic plan that grapples with the big issues of housing, transport and, dare I say it, the Green Belt.”