Transport projects 'can lift Birmingham out of recession'
Birmingham can beat the recession if it invests in key transport projects, a leading city councillor has said.
Coun Timothy Huxtable (Con, Bournville) said the city needed economic growth and transport projects could stimulate this.
But he warned that getting the go-ahead for such work can take a long time, and we could better learn from our European counterparts who moved more swiftly.
Coun Huxtable is now the leading representative for Birmingham at the passenger transport authority, Centro.
He is also lead member for Rail and Rapid Transit, which means the Metro extension, Longbridge transport interchange and work on the Camp Hill Chords, which will open up railway stations at Kings Heath and the Fort, are under his remit.
He said: “We need to have the foresight that has been lacking in Birmingham when it comes to transport projects.
“I’ve always known that transport infrastructure works take a long time and it seems they take even longer in the UK. When I look at what is happening on the continent I’m convinced we could learn from what they’re doing.
“French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed an economic stimulus package which will see France build a number of high-speed rail lines in a four-year period.
“I know it’s slightly easier for them because they’re adding to an existing network but it just takes too long to get things done in the UK.
“And this problem is not unique to Birmingham. It’s estimated that it takes 69 stages for a transport project to move from idea to approval at the Department for Transport.
“This means a lot of good projects are caught in bureaucracy and paperwork and things take a very long time.
“When we are thinking about high-speed rail we need to consider how it would get in and out of Birmingham and the surrounding area so planning is crucial.”
Coun Huxtable feels the high-speed rail link from the West Midlands to London would yield economic benefits, but these must not be at the expense of regional concerns. We are committed to making sure the Camp Hill Chords (which will enable more trains to use Moor Street Station) will go ahead as we know it will be of benefit to the city,” he said.
“Creating capacity at New Street is not only good for Birmingham, but good for the region. What we have to make sure of is that if a high-speed service comes to the city, it is not a hindrance to what is going on in Birmingham.
“There needs to be proper integration and that means a high-speed service must be on the right route for the region.”