£40 million to be spent in Bristol
ALMOST £40 million is to be spent on Bristol's infrastructure to try to kick-start the local economy.
Managers of a regional programme to hand out government money to projects such as roads and schools will meet next week to consider how their £39.8 million infrastructure fund should be spent, after being inundated with bids. The cash was given to the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, which covers Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and B&NES, by the government under its Regional Growth Fund in March.
The RGF has been criticised for the amount of time it is taking to get cash to the front line.
Nationally, just £60 million of the £1.4 billion allocated to the fund has been used on projects since it was set up in June 2010, creating 2,442 new jobs from a target of 36,800.
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The Commons Public Accounts Committee says too much cash is being swallowed up by admin fees and third parties, with some schemes costing more than £200,000 for each job created.
Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge, below, said: "Given the dire state of the economy, it is nothing short of scandalous that so few projects funded by the Regional Growth Fund have actually got off the ground."
So far in the Bristol area only one scheme, to regenerate Dolphin Square in Weston-super- Mare, has received funding from the infrastructure fund.
But programme manager Antony Corfield promised: "Everything is happening as quickly as possible."
Bids totalling £120 million have already been received, he said. The cash will be used to get schemes that have been mothballed off the ground before being repaid in future years.
The infrastructure fund, which is being run by B&NES, is among the biggest RGF awards made so far.
Another successful RGF bid of just under £2 million came from Filton- based EADS, for its 3D printing facility. The company said the cash would create 22 new jobs and bring in £8.8 million of private investment, while Bristol University has also secured almost £200,000 under another RGF scheme.