Great news: one of the HGN Stronger Towns Fund bids is still in the running for funding!
In September 2019, Hereford was named as one of 100 places in the UK to receive a share in the Government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund which supports economic growth in towns and cities. The fund’s aim is to drive sustainable economic regeneration and deliver long term growth – boosting productivity, skills and living standards. Up to £25 million will be available for regeneration projects in Hereford which create new jobs, help train local people and boost growth.
In November 2020 Rail and Bus for Herefordshire (RBfH) was invited, through Herefordshire Green Network, to contribute a ‘Connectivity’ element to Hereford’s Stronger Towns Fund Investment Plan. An independent Towns Fund Board, backed by Herefordshire Council and comprising representatives from the public, private and voluntary sectors, has been established to lead this work locally.
A small team put together a scheme for an electric bus service connecting Hereford’s four bus ‘stations’ with its key cultural, retail and hospitality venues as well as the city’s principal health facilities. The service, to be known as Hereford City Zipper, aims to showcase quality zero-emission public transport. Through its accessibility and convenience, it will encourage people not to use their cars when accessing the core of the city. A frequent ‘turn up and go’ service will minimise the need for users to consult a timetable.
The route will include the Station Medical Centre, Hereford Transport Hub and Railway Station, Student Accommodation, County Hospital, the Country and City Bus Stations, the Town Hall, St Owen Street (for Castle Green and Riverside), Maylord Shopping Centre, High Town, Broad Street (for Cathedral and Library), Hereford Swimming Baths and Old Market retail complex.
RBfH worked closely with the City Council in preparing the bid. The City Council has agreed to make a generous contribution to initial running costs and the bid is made jointly with them.
Just before Christmas we were pleased to learn that the £1.8M bid had cleared its first hurdle and would definitely form part of the Hereford Towns Fund Investment Plan. Provided the plan is accepted by government (reckoned to be a formality!) then detailed planning of all aspects will begin after Easter. This will include the appointment of a bus company operating locally as a development partner.
RBfH are very pleased to be involved in this exciting project and we look forward to delivering another positive report in the Spring.