Residents seeking employment, volunteer opportunities, training and education in south Essex have received a huge boost after more than £3 million was awarded to an innovative project aiming to promote sustainable transport.
The project – called South Essex Active Travel – will see jobseekers, young people, students and volunteers offered targeted travel advice and sustainable transport incentives to better connect them with 12,100 jobs and 10,500 education and training opportunities in South Essex over the next three years.
A total of £3.323 was awarded to the project by the Department of Transport’s Access Fund after Southend-on-Sea Borough Council led a funding bid with Essex County Council and Thurrock Council to develop their work in using sustainable transport as a tool to accessing learning, jobs and skills. Additional benefits of the project include improving air quality, reducing carbon emissions, and alleviating traffic congestion.
Funding will be allocated from 1 April 2017 and will be used to develop new active travel initiatives, expand walking and cycling services in Southend, Thurrock and Essex. It will build upon existing award winning projects such as Southend’s Ideas in Motion
and Beat the Street
, which saw Tendring residents run, walk and cycle more than 8,000 miles in its first week.
Cllr Eddie Johnson, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “There are thousands of employment and education opportunities across south Essex and I am delighted that this fund will help residents to access these more easily.
“With the ever increasing number of cars on our roads, it is vital that we explore new and innovative transport solutions to get people to work quicker and easier while reducing the impact of carbon emissions on our environment.
“I look forward to working with our partners at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Council to help boost not only job opportunities, but also sustainable economic growth, within the south of the county.”
In a letter to the Councils, Pauline Reeves, Deputy Director, Sustainable Accessible Travel Fund at the Department for Transport said: “Transport Ministers felt that the South Essex Active Travel proposal was a particularly strong bid that will deliver against the fund’s primary objectives of supporting the local economy by supporting access to new and existing employment, education and training as well as active promotion of increased levels of physical activity through walking and cycling.”
The bid to DfT was supported by Opportunity South Essex, a private/ public sector body governed by a Board made up of the six local authorities in South Essex (Essex County Council, Thurrock Council, Southend-On-Sea Council; the District Councils of Basildon, Castle Point and Rochford) and nine business leaders including Stobart Group, Port of Tilbury, DPW London Gateway, Olympus Keymed, Southend Business Partnership, C2C, Chamber of Commerce, Pixelwork Limited and PROCAT.
The Chair of the Opportunity South Essex, Kate Willard, Stobart Group, said: “This funding award is fantastic news for the sub-region and the Partnership very much looks forward to supporting the delivery of the proposed schemes’.”
Cllr Tony Cox, Executive Councillor for Transport at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “We’re thrilled to have been awarded this money, which will help us to make a real difference to the prospects of hundreds of people in South Essex, by linking them up to education, training and jobs that they might otherwise have considered out of their reach.
“This award builds upon that solid foundation and is a ringing endorsement from central government of South Essex authorities’ track record of successfully delivering innovate projects that positively engage our local residents and businesses.”
The participating councils will now start setting up the programme by recruiting staff and talking to partners about how they can get involved with the aim of starting to deliver the services from April.