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September 2014


New report ranks Bristol amongst England’s top 5 economic hotspots

A report, based on Grant Thornton’s High Growth Index, ranks Bristol fourth in its list of growth cities (outside London) behind Manchester, Reading, Birmingham and Milton Keynes. The report analyses economic and demographic expansion over eight years and also identifies a number of ‘growth corridors’ including the stretch along the M4 from Swindon to Bristol. High growth areas share characteristics such as a supportive environment for enterprise, diverse communities and a presence of high-value, knowledge-intensive businesses. Read more here.


First ever nationwide OpenCo Innovation festival to be held in Bristol and Bath

Bristol and Bath’s high tech cluster will be in the spotlight as fourteen businesses showcase their innovations to investors, entrepreneurs and members of the public as part of the OpenCo event.  OpenCo was launched in 2012 in San Francisco and is now in its third year taking place across the US as well as Amsterdam and London. This year’s festival will include clusters from across the UK including Bristol and Bath, the main event will take place on 2nd October at Bristol & Bath Science Park with a closing evening reception, sponsored by Invest Bristol & Bath, held at the Engine Shed. Find out who is taking part.

Bristol Airport records record numbers

Bristol Airport has reported the highest total for any month in its history – a record 723,000 passengers passed through the terminal in August. September figures are also high following the Nato Summit in South Wales and managers predict the annual total is now set to pass the pre-recession high of 6.2million passengers recorded in 2008. Growth has been driven by the introductions of larger aircraft on existing services and the launch of new routes to new destinations.  Following increased demand, a £8.6m expansion project is due to begin with the completion date set for summer 2015. Read more about airport expansion plans here.


Chair of West of England LEP receives life time achievement award

Congratulations to Colin Skellett, Chief Executive of Wessex Water and Chair of the West of England LEP who has been awarded the Bath Chronicle Business Lifetime Achievement Award.


Bristol house prices on the up

Following their latest market analysis, Savills estate agents claim the cost of buying a house in Bristol and the surrounding area is expected to rise by 21% over the next five years.  With the exception of Brighton and Liverpool, the increase in house prices in Bristol is the biggest for any English city outside of London and the upward trend is not expected to change at any time in the near future. Read the full Savills report here



Good news for Bristol and South Gloucestershire commuters as extra 710 spaces open at Parkway

A new £13m car park at Bristol Parkway railway station has officially opened providing an additional 710 spaces in addition to the existing 1,100 to cater for increasing passenger numbers. The project saw a redevelopment of the whole site which included a new storey to the car park.  Bristol has one of the highest predicted growth rates on the Western route over the next decade and the improvement will help meet future demand.


Superfast broadband - grants available and rural rollout due to begin

SMEs located within five miles of Bristol have until March 2015 to apply for a Government grant worth up to £3000 each to cover the costs of installing faster, better broadband. Apply for Bristol grants.

The programme is running alongside the rollout of superfast broadband to rural areas.  Bath & North East Council are investing a further £350,000 to ensure businesses and homes in their area have access to superfast broadband. Read more here.

In South Gloucestershire, an additional 1,000 rural homes and businesses will benefit from high speed broadband thanks to the £35.6m Great Western Broadband (GWB) partnership between South Gloucestershire Council, Wiltshire Council and BT. Read more here


Investment in local bus networks

The final section of the MetroBus network, running from the North Fringe to Hengrove in south Bristol, has been granted planning approval by Bristol and South Gloucestershire councils.

MetroBus is a modern public transport network that will be faster, more reliable, and more comfortable than existing bus services. Services will start in Summer 2016. Read more here.

In another boost to the region's public, Bristol City Council and Bath & North East Somerset Council have secured £462,000 in funding to re-fit buses with the latest low carbon technology.  With just over 100 days to go until Bristol's year of being European Green Capital 2015, the news is a further reinforcement of the city's green cred credentials. Read more here.


MetroWest Phase 1

The reopening of the Portishead line, along with improved half hourly services on the Severn Beach Line and between Bristol and Bath, has received a boost to progress with the publication of the Preliminary (Strategic Outline) Business Case. 

The 400 page assessment demonstrates the scheme is value for money, has a commercial footing, is financially affordable and is deliverable in 2019. Importantly, it clarifies that there are no ‘fundamental impediments’.  The current estimated capital cost for the scheme is £58.159 million. Read more here. 


Discover Festival

Now in its third year, South Gloucestershire’s Discover Festival (11 Sept – 31 Oct) is well under way.  The Discover Festival showcases what makes the area a great place to live and work. There are over 150 events to visit run by the council, local residents, community groups and businesses. It is a great opportunity to explore wonderful heritage, meet well known authors, sample local food or to go on a bat walk. For up to date news on festival visit the South Gloucestershire website.


Seven Dials transformation

An ambitious £1.2million scheme has been unveiled for Seven Dials, incorporating Kingsmead Square and Saw Close, the historic west gate of Bath. Pavements and kerbs are disappearing to allow pedestrians, cyclists and motorists equal rights to the road. The scheme, funded by the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Programme, is expected to start in the New Year to avoid roadworks over the holiday period. Find out more here.


Thank You for the Music – Colston Hall redevelopment

Colston Hall has launched their ‘Thank You for the Music’ campaign, a national appeal to raise £45m to transform the hall into a regional centre for entertainment, education and enterprise.

The redevelopment will include a £20m foyer space, remodelling of the auditorium and a renovation of its second hall. The project, scheduled to start in 2017 to mark its 150th birthday, aims to transform the iconic building into a major international standard venue for music and performing arts, attracting top artists and boosting visitors to the West of England. Read more here.


Hot tub cinema experience coming to Bristol

Bristol is to host a pop-up hot tub cinema event at the Paintworks. The hot tub experience, which started as a private party for friends in Exeter in 2006, has already been a huge hit in London and New York.  The event, which sold out in 24hours, will run for four nights from 9 October.120 guests will enjoy tub side waiter service whilst watching film classics such as Grease and the Lion King. Read more here.


“ A Forgotten Landscape” secures heritage lottery fund investment

More than £1m has been awarded to the unique area covering the Lower Severn Vale levels between Avonmouth and Lawrence Weston.  The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced that a partnership of private and public organisations, hosted by South Gloucestershire Council has been granted just over £1m for the 3.5 year Landscape Partnership project “A Forgotten Landscape”. The project will restore a range of wildlife habitats, increase public access to the Levels and improve transport facilities such as the ferry at Aust and the railway from Temple Meads to Severn Beach. Read more here.


North Somerset business networking group launched

Pure Business Networking have launched a new North Somerset focused business networking group and have announced the first event will take place on 7th October in Portishead.  Pure Offices and a number of other businesses are supporting the group which aims to introduce like-minded local business people providing an opportunity to share experience and expertise. Find out more here.


Growth Fund applications closed 

The third application window of the West of England Growth Fund closed on 8th September 2014. 130 applications were received for grants of up to £80,000 from companies forecasting to expand and create jobs. The Growth Fund team are now feverishly processing the applications received, with the intent to notify applicants of decisions by the end of September.Find out more here.


Good results for Bath Tourist industry

Bath Tourism Plus, has found its recent marketing campaign, “Growing Tourism Locally” has generated an additional £10.5m in tourism spend and created 195 jobs in the area. The results, which far exceeded targets, are from a campaign aimed at inspiring UK residents to take more holidays at home.



North Somerset Enterprise and Technology College (NSETC) opens its doors

A new academy, based at Weston College’s South West Skills Campus, opened at the beginning of September promising students excellent teaching combined with superb facilities and industry support. NSETC is a specialist science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) college developed by key figures across the industrial and commercial sector. Find out more here.


Inspire the next generation with Digimakers

Bristol University, @Bristol and the local British Computer Society have collaborated to develop a series of community technology events aimed at children, parents and teachers. They aim to provide a fun introduction into the digital world and inspire our next generation of technical innovators and engineers. The next event takes place at @Bristol on 4th October. To register click here.


Businesses urged to support Bristol’s inner city youth

BYEP, the Bristol based social enterprise dedicated to mentoring, enterprise training, inspiring and supporting young people, has launched a five year plan seeking corporate involvement to help tackle youth unemployment. Initiatives include its “Ask About Me” project, supported by the Mayor and the Big Lottery, which brings together professionals and inner city young people at an annual networking dinner aimed at securing mentors and finding pathways into professional industries. Get involved.


New programme to develop skills and experience of local people

A skills employment programme has been launched by HYPE West to provide 600 unemployed young people with support to increase their employment prospects. The initiative looks at developing skills and included a work placement, reference and ongoing support for six months of employment. Find out more here.


Success all round for Weston College

The college celebrated the largest graduation ceremony in its history with more than 350 students awarded degrees. The college has achieved an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ grade and successfully bid to be recognised as a Further Education and Higher Education establishment. Over the summer Weston ran a hugely successful week long summer school aimed at easing the transition into Higher Education which provided mature and part-time students the opportunity to develop their skills and sample the HE learning environment prior to starting their courses. Find out more aout Weston College.


World Skills Experience

As part of the world skills events happening around the UK, the City of Bristol College, South Gloucestershire Council in collaboration with the West of England LEP are hosting the Skills Show Experience and Ambitions 2014. The interactive events provide opportunities for young people and parents to receive careers advice from employers, training providers and the voluntary sector.



Award winning Caerphilly cheese moves production to Weston

Gorwydd Caerphilly, described by chef Nigel Slater as “one of the great cheeses of the world”, has built a new dairy next to Puxton Court Farm, near Weston Super Mare. The project, which includes a viewing gallery for visitors, received funding from the West of England LEP. The move from West Wales was a result of their search for the “best possible milk” which they found in the Mead brother’s herd. View website.


Portishead’s Viper Subsea triumphs at National Private Business Awards

Subsea engineering company, Viper, based at Portished, is celebrating after winning the Technology Innovation of the Year category for the design of its V-LIFE Electrical Insulation Resistance Improvement system. The company, which has a 45% growth rate over past 12 months, provides consultancy and develops products for the oil and gas sector worldwide. Visit website.


Comms company launches Bristol branch

Following growing demand for its services in the South West, national communications company Remarkable Group has launched an office in Bristol. The company have recruited locally based employees to capitalise on their regional knowledge and networks. Remarkable also has offices in London, Winchester and Manchester. Visit website.


Bristol’s Wriggle named in Europe’s top seven tech start ups

Mobile app Wriggle, based in Bristol Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone, has been named as one of the top seven tech start ups in Europe at Seedcamp 2014. The app connects users to exclusive 'on the day' discounts at bars, restaurants and events was launched in May has rapidly grown with 5,000 users in Bristol. Following investment from crowd-funding website Seedrs, it plans to expand to London and Manchester. Visit website.






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