Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, today (Monday October 29) welcomed the Chancellor’s Budget and said it was a £100 million vote of confidence in the region’s on-going economic revival.
The West Midlands is to get nearly £72 million for new transport schemes and £20 million to help cement its role as a global leader in the development of connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) and electric vehicle (EV) technology. Coventry is to get £8.5 million to help fund its City of Culture activities in 2021.
The Mayor said Philip Hammond’s decision to offer £900 million in business rates relief for Britain’s small high street retailers and make £675 million available to rejuvenate high streets was also much needed. The nationwide help for retailers comes just days after the Mayor launched the West Midlands’ own pioneering project to transform and revitalise five town centres across the region.
The Mayor said:
The money announced for the West Midlands once again demonstrates the Government’s confidence in our region and our ability to build a strong and resilient economy that can meet the needs of local people and the challenges and opportunities of Brexit. The extra funding for transport infrastructure is especially important and will help us manage the increased congestion and disruption that comes with a growing economy and the construction of major projects like HS2.
It will also help us tackle poor air quality. The Chancellor has also recognised our role as a global player in the development of future transport technologies. The £20 million he has awarded for a new data research centre will help keep us at the cutting edge of this future industry.
So there is some positive news in this Budget for our region and we now look forward to working with Government to secure further funding in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.”
The £71.5 million for transport schemes is being made available from the Government’s Transforming Cities Fund and will help fund the West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) existing transport investment strategy.
A further £20 million will help fund the UK Mobility Data Institute, a joint venture between the WMCA and the Warwick Manufacturing Group.
The Institute will collect and analyse huge volumes of transport data generated by new mobility technologies and projects such as the one testing connected and autonomous vehicles and infrastructure on roads in Coventry, Solihull and Birmingham.
The Institute will also benefit from being located in the UK’s first urban 5G network after the Government’s decision earlier this year to make the West Midlands the initial pilot area for the superfast mobile technology. Last week, the region’s seven metropolitan councils agreed plans to transform and revitalise five town centres across the West Midlands - Bilston, St Thomas Quarter in Dudley, Bordesley Green in Birmingham, St Matthews Quarter in Walsall and West Bromwich.
The Town Centre Programme will unlock new funding, expertise and support from the WMCA and other partners and be delivered by councils. The aim will be to further bolster the scheme by accessing funding from the £675 million announced today for the rejuvenation of high streets.
Commenting on the nationwide help for small retailers and high streets announced in the Budget, the Mayor said:
Last week we launched our programme to help town centres in the West Midlands and today’s announcement from the Chancellor is timely support for the hard-pressed retailers on our high streets.”
Today’s Budget also confirmed announcements made at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham earlier this month including £165 million to support the Commonwealth Games Athletes’ Village which will provide 5,000 new homes for the local community.
It also confirmed £20 million to develop and trial the UK’s first Future Mobility Zone. This will help put the region at the forefront of technological innovation including self-driving shuttle buses and e-bikes.