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Buses to be top priority

Councillor Mike Sheridan is hoping Solihull does not get overlooked should the government back a county-wide plan which could see up to £500m become available to upgrade public transport

Councillor Mike Sheridan is hoping Solihull does not get overlooked should the government back a county-wide plan which could see up to £500m become available to upgrade public transport.

All seven local authorities in the West Midlands have commissioned a study into whether business rates could be used to fund transport improvements as part of an American-style 'Accelerated Development Zone' (ADZ).

Their proposal is that businesses located in the ADZ would pay their rates as usual but instead of the money going to the treasury, local councils will be able to use it to upgrade transport services.

Coun Sheridan from the Smith's Wood ward said his Green party are also giving their full backing to this scheme but he is calling for Solihull to receive its fair share of funding.

"We have an historic opportunity to invest some serious money into public transport to keep the West Midlands moving and help tackle climate change. But Solihull must not be overlooked."

Should the scheme get the go-ahead, the forward-thinking councillor believes the bus services in north Solihull should be improved following the regeneration of the area.

Also on his wish-list are new rail stations in Castle Bromwich and Dickens Heath.

No decisions have been made on where to prioritise the spending but extending the Metro tram service from the Black Country all the way to the Airport and NEC is believed to be an idea.

The main worry with the scheme kicking off is whether businesses are prepared to set up in the ADZ and although leader of the council, Ken Meeson, is backing the idea, he feels that it may be a while before it goes ahead.

"Everyone knows we need to improve public transport in the whole of the region.

"But until businesses are confident with the economic climate they are not willing to invest."

 

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