As Cheltenham begins its cautious and calibrated emergence from lockdown, it is essential that every effort is made to fire up our local economy.
So last week I was pleased to attend a progress update from Gloucestershire County Council about the major highways improvements to the west of Cheltenham. If you’ve driven towards Gloucester you may have the roadworks on and around the Arle Court Roundabout. These started in summer 2020 and are currently on target to be completed later this year.
These improvements come as a result of a £22m pot of central Government funding that we were able to secure in 2018 after lobbying the then-Communities Minister Sajid Javid. I realised it was essential to delivering the vision of Cheltenham as a cyber/tech hub, which I first set out in 2014 before I was elected Cheltenham’s MP.
That’s because it will reduce existing congestion in the area, maintain and improve existing routes for sustainable travel, and open up employment land for the site.
The second element of the £22m road improvements includes the A40 east towards Cheltenham, including Telstar Way and Benhall Roundabout, up to Gloucester Road Junction. The work will include carriageway, walking and cycling improvements. They are expected to be completed within twelve months.
Silicon Spa, as some have called it, is already delivering local success. Since the pilot Cyber Innovation Centre was established in 2015, Cheltenham business start-ups have boomed with an estimated value of over £75million. 55 per cent of the UK’s cyber start- ups are now based outside of London, with thriving cyber clusters like Cheltenham leading the way.
This sector is worth billions every year to the British economy and continues to grow. It has the potential to generate incredible, life-changing, opportunities for young people in Cheltenham.
This project is putting our town at the heart of the country’s cyber-economy – creating jobs and opportunity for Cheltenham’s people whatever their backgrounds.