Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Growth Deal Announces Funding - good news for Birmingham

This is a positive move for the regions - although Labour's proposals promise even more funding and freedom for regional groupings. The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership - the government's chosen method of delivering funding - has been given £357 million to support training and education and deliver on infrastructure needs. The GBSLEP will be able to fund 34 projects over the next few years. Unfortunately, this doesn't even reach the targets that Lord Heseltine proposed in his No Stone Unturned report, as that promised an annual pot five times bigger than the £2 billion that the government is offering a year. It is ironic that a Tory peer gets the regional need far better than his government.

Within Birmingham, this will help fund major repairs to the Tame Valley Viaduct (better known as the elevated stretch of the A38M that carries 100,000 vehicles a day) and station improvements around Snow Hill. It will also help us maximise the benefit of HS2 by improving local transport links - connecting New Street and Moor Street, extending the Metro to Centenary Square, down to the Curzon Street HS2 station site and on to Edgbaston, bus rapid transit from Quinton into the city centre and put some more money into improving walking and cycling in Birmingham. There will also be funding to support the extension of Battery Way in Tyseley - something I want to keep a close eye on, as regenerating the brown field site there is one thing, but I'm wary of other potential side effects.

In terms of business support and training, money will go into skills to support car manufacture, life sciences, aviation engineering, food technology and advanced technologies.

This is good news for Birmingham and the wider area - the Black Country LEP doesn't do badly either.

It is just a shame that the government haven't been brave or generous enough. Lord Heseltine urged them to do more and Labour will deliver our proposals quickly if we're elected next year.

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