England

Bristol Arena: Further regional cash loan supported in Bath

Artist's impression of the Bristol Arena
Image caption The Arena project and its financing is yet to be approved by Bristol City Council

A request for a further regional loan of £27m for the Bristol Arena would be supported by politicians in Bath.

Bristol mayor George Ferguson said last week he was still in discussions about more money needed to breathe life into the £90m project.

Some £25m has already been given by the West's Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), for which he is a board member.

Bath and North East Somerset Council's leader, another board member, said he would not stand in the way of the bid.

Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Crossley, said: "If this is a priority for Bristol then it is not for me to say it is not a priority."

Two other neighbouring council leaders, from North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, also have a seat on the LEP board and could possibly have to vote for or against Mr Ferguson's request for extra funding.

Both authorities are yet to respond to questions from the BBC about their support of the Arena plan and its funding shortfall.

The LEP has 11 board members in total, eight of whom have voting power and half of those represent the four neighbouring councils.

However Mr Crossley said it was in the West's best interests to show central government, which ultimately provides the LEP with its funding, that the region could work together on its priorities.

"What we're showing is that, as four authorities, we're working in partnership on a range of difficult projects to boost the economy and infrastructure," he said.

"We will be supporting [Bristol] and making sure that we add to the mix in terms of what we provide."

He said all four authorities had "exciting projects" to make the West of England "a really fantastic place".

The 12,000-capacity arena is part of Bristol's plans to regenerate some 70 hectares (173 acres) of land surrounding Bristol Temple Meads railway station.

City Mayor Mr Ferguson hopes the arena will be open in 2017, but first the idea and finances must be approved by Bristol City Council.

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