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June 2016


New bridge in place over the M32
A new bridge for the MetroBus was successfully installed over the M32 motorway near Bristol earlier this month. The M32 was closed over a weekend so the bridge could be safely lifted into place. It was the first weekend closure since the M32 originally opened in 1966. 

Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council and their MetroBus teams worked closely with Highways England to minimise disruption so that the works were completed as quickly and efficiently as possible. The work was done over a weekend when traffic flows are 20% lower than on an average weekday. Watch a timelapse video of the bridge lift.

A new equestrian and pedestrian bridge was also installed last weekend over the A4174 in north Bristol replacing the one moved last year. The works were completed on time and the road was opened to traffic 12 hours ahead of schedule. The new 58 metre bridge has a longer span than the previous bridge to accommodate the wider road.

Review launched to help BME workers progress in their careers
A consultation aimed at black and minority ethnic (BME) people has been launched to help understand the obstacles faced in the labour market. The call for evidence has been launched and businesses and third sector organisations are being asked to take part in the review and share their views on why BME people find it more difficult to progress into managerial and senior positions than their white counterparts. more

In the West of England, the LEP is commissioning a piece of work to better understand the extent and specific support required by women and minority ethnic group led businesses in the region.

This research is on the back of information found in our Annual Equality and Diversity Report. The project is believed to be a ground breaking opportunity and one which will set the standard for other LEP areas to follow.

New chair and chief executive for the LEP
Stephen Robertson has been appointed as the new Chair of the West of England LEP following ratification at the recent LEP Board meeting. At the same meeting it was confirmed that as from 1 July, Dr Patricia Greer will take the role of West of England LEP interim Chief Executive as Barbara Davies has decided to move on after 25 years of roles within the West of England. more

Bath and North East Somerset Council have also confirmed the appointment of Ashley Ayre to succeed Jo Farrar as chief executive of the council. more

Funding boost for West of England green transport schemes
The West of England has received £2.2m of government funding to support its work encouraging more people to take up sustainable travel after the four authorities demonstrated that they could cut emissions, support social and economic growth and increase cycling and walking in their areas. more

Supporting this, the Big Commuter Challenge (6 June – 15 July) returns – the campaign encourages commuters across the West of England  to swap their solo car journeys for alternatives – just log your journey on the website or app and compete for top place on the leader board!


North Somerset Food and drink innovation centre takes stepS forward
A food and drink innovation centre for manufacturers at Junction 21 Enterprise Area, Weston-super-Mare has taken a step forward as councillors supported the proposals to develop a centre, funded by the West of England LEP, with the potential to create 160 jobs and provide a regional focus for the industry. more

New ICAEW president vows to build a stronger region
Duncan Stratford, the newly appointed West of England president of ICAEW, the leading body for chartered accountants, is to use his term in office to support projects that prepare young people for work, create growth opportunities for all businesses and encourage the wider profession to do more in the local community. more

Multi million pound redevelopment plans for Broadmead
The owners of Cabot Circus have announced they are developing plans to transform Broadmead offering a mix of shops, restaurants, leisure and open spaces.

The proposed investment would reinvigorate a large area of Broadmead around Penn Street and the Horsefair, and bring new jobs to the city centre.

Businesses, residents and the local community can view the developing plans and give their views.

New £100m office scheme at Parkway
A new £100m 200,00sq ft. office building adjacent to Bristol Parkway Station has moved a step closer after outline planning consent was granted.

The site has been designed to take advantage of the electrification of the Great Western line, offering lower occupational costs than London and central Bristol plus a wealth of local talent in the South Gloucestershire region. more

Passenger numbers reach 7m at Bristol Airport for first time
Bristol Airport passenger numbers have soared past the seven million mark for the first time in its history as airlines continue to add new routes.

With 116 destinations now served, Bristol Airport is the third largest regional airport and has long term plans to handle up to 10m passengers a year. more

Bristol is the most attractive location in England for property investment outside of London
Morton Fraser has conducted new research amongst British property investors that shows Bristol is the most attractive location in England for property investment.

David Steward, commercial real estate partner at Morton Fraser put it down to “Bristol’s success in protecting inward investment attracting business and talent and developing infrastructure”. more

International recognition for pioneering surgical work by Bristol Robotics Lab team
Experts from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), a collaborative partnership between UWE and the University of Bristol, have won the “Best Medical Paper” award at one of the world’s largest robotics conferences for their pioneering work helping treat fractures.

The paper outlines how robotics can assist surgeons as an aging population means a growing number of fractures. more

Foreign Visitors to Bath rose by 36.8%
Bath is aiming to become one of Britain’s top 10 cities for overseas tourists after leaping five places to reach no 12 in the latest rankings.

Statistics from VisitBritain, show foreign visitors to Bath rose to 323,000 in 2014-15 reflecting strategically focussed marketing efforts supported by the Regional Growth Fund. more

Footie Fever
Bristol & Bath Regional Capital CIC (BBRC) have raised around £1m of social investment on behalf of South Bristol Sports Centre (SBSC) for a new football centre to benefit the local community and grow local talent.

BBRC was launched by a group of cross civic society stakeholders including Bristol City Council, local universities, Business West, The Society of Merchant Venturers and the John Potin Trust. more


Employer Skills Survey 
The LEP’s Annual Employer Skills Survey is now live. It is seeking the views of employers across the West of England on subjects such as recruitment experiences and skills gaps, and the results will influence the area’s future skills strategy and £32 million of capital spending across education institutions.

The survey should take no longer than 15 minutes; please click here to begin online survey now.

We have also now included a telephone survey to assist local businesses. If you would like to arrange a suitable date and time for us to contact you click here to request a call back

South West SKILLS show – 5 July, UWE
The South West Skills Show provides an opportunity for young people to try a range of work related skills and speak to employers from all over the South West, offering the chance to look at specific careers, talk to people already doing the jobs, and gain a complete understanding of the routes into employment or further education. more

Providing strategic support to school leaders
As part of the Careers & Enterprise Company  initiative to create powerful connections between local businesses and education providers, we are looking for business leaders or middle/senior managers to volunteer as an Enterprise Adviser, who can support specially selected head teachers and school senior leadership teams in developing their schools careers strategies and employer engagement plans.

If your business could offer strategic direction to a local schooland want to find out more and apply - Enterprise Adviser Recruitment - West of England LEP or email for more details.

Bath is a skills hotspot
New research from Office for National Statistics has ranked Bath as number four in a table of UK’s best performing cities with 60% of the workforce classified as highly skilled.

The report also shows that the South West as a whole is outperforming other UK regions in attracting and developing highly skilled workers. more

Bristol Girl Geek Dinners
Bristol Girl Geek dinners are an opportunity for like-minded women to talk and learn about all things technology.

The initiative was founded in 2005 by a girl geek who aimed to readdress the gender balance at technology events. Scott Logic are hosting the event on 20 July. more


Last chance to promote your business by entering the West of England business awards
The Business Leader Awards bring together influential leaders in business, education and government along with the media in celebrating business success.

Entries close on 30 June with the awards taking place on 22 September. LEP chair, Stephen Robertson will be joining the Engine Shed and Lambert Smith Hampton on the judging panel. more

Confidence running high in creative sector
Confidence has soared among creative firms with more expecting to make higher profits and take on more staff this year compared to 2015, according to a survey by Bristol Media. more

West of England Growth Hub
West of England Growth Hub is the first port of call for businesses looking to grow and provides tailored search results and personalised recommendations based on individual business needs. Register now

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