The Forest of Dean has benefitted from two separate pots of Government funding, boosting local bus services and being prioritised to bid for the £4.8 billion Levelling Up Fund.
The first bit of good news is that the Forest is one of two areas in Gloucestershire to benefit from over £1.3 million from the Rural Mobility Fund, trialling demand responsive bus services to ensure that public transport better meets the needs of local communities.
The bid was made by our local transport authority, Gloucestershire County Council, with my support as the Forest’s MP.
Buses are the unsung heroes of local transport. While rail steals much of the media limelight, the reality is that over 50% of public transport journeys in the UK take place by bus. Demand responsive transport has the potential to open up parts of the country where existing services are limited or don’t even currently exist.
The trial will involve two fully accessible minibuses for the South Forest of Dean area, with the services being entirely flexible, responding to local needs and filling gaps in existing public transport provision.
I look forward to working with the County Council and sharing more details as we get closer to the trial’s launch.
The second piece of good news in this column relates to the announcement in the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget that the Forest of Dean is one of the areas of the country that has been awarded funding to assemble a bid for the Levelling Up Fund, designed to support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets.
I have already had my first meeting with the District Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership, and I look forward to continuing to work with them to assemble a brilliant bid that both the Forest’s District Council and local MP can back and loudly recommend to the Government.
I’m really pleased that the Forest has benefitted from these two pots of Government funding – it’s what you get with a local Conservative MP who stands up for the Forest’s interests in Westminster.