This week has marked the first anniversary of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) where, as the deputy mayor, I am proud to see a great deal of work already under way delivering on more homes, better transport and skills across the region.
Building homes, particularly affordable homes, is a priority for Bath and North East Somerset Council and WECA - as well as developing a skilled local workforce which can meet the demand for new homes. Investment in training, at centres like the Somer Valley campus of Bath Colleges in Radstock, is part of a region-wide commitment to improving skills
To support new homes, WECA is also investing in transport to get the region moving. One example is Keynsham where it has commissioned a business plan to look at improvements on the A4/A4174 Hicks Gate roundabout to reduce peak-time delays. It will look at a link from the A4174 to the A4 removing traffic from the roundabout.
Housing was on the agenda when I had the chance to meet senior officers from a new housing association Liverty, last week.
Liverty is a merger between Knightstone and Devon and Cornwall Homes and is now the largest housing provider in the South West with 36,000 homes.
In Bath and North East Somerset it means people living in Knightstone properties will see the new name Liverty. As a council we hope to continue the good relationship we had with Knightstone, which had 667 rented affordable properties, 71 supported housing properties and 48 properties for older people in our area.
The association has also worked with us to complete four schemes delivering 24 new homes and currently has three much-needed schemes in progress at Midsomer Norton, West Harptree and Keynsham delivering 40 units.
Late last week I was able to find out more about the growth of tourism and the hotel sector in the city when I attended a hoteliers and accommodation owners’ forum which also looked at future developments in the sector. It goes without saying our heritage sites play a hugely important role in the city’s fortunes in terms of tourism. So congratulations must go to staff at The Roman Baths and Pump Rooms who were recognised for the outstanding welcome given to visitors with disabilities at the national VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.
The historic attraction won Gold in the Inclusive Tourism category as well as a Silver for Inbound Tourism. Thanks to recent major redevelopments, 90% of the Roman Baths can now be accessed by wheelchair users. Visitors with hearing or visual impairments can explore the site using British Sign Language guides and tactile displays, and visitors on the autism spectrum can find detailed guidance about what to expect on the Roman Baths website.
And on the sporting front congratulations also need to go to Bath for their away win against Gloucester at the weekend.