The planned #72 million metro tram extension through Birmingham city centre is on the brink of collapse. Council engineers fear that the Passenger Transport Authority's insistence on running 15 trams an hour will impose impossible demands on busy road junctions, plunging major routes into gridlock. The business case for the extension from Snow Hill to Edgbaston, which must get Government approval before the project can go ahead, has still not been completed more than a year after a public inquiry backed the scheme. Council sources have made it clear that they would not rubber-stamp the business case until Centro, the passenger transport authority, provided modelling information showing the impact of 15 trams an hour on city centre roads.
Thousands of pupils will remain at home on Tuesday as at least 300 schools across the Midlands close in a massive public sector walk-out over pensions. Dozens of libraries, nurseries, day centres and job centres will also shut, rubbish will remain uncollected and school crossings will be unmanned during the day of strike action. Up to 80,000 local government workers in the West Midlands are expected to remain at home or attend picket lines. Emergency cover similar to Christmas Day provision will be provided for key council services in what unions claim is the biggest walk-out since the 1926 General Strike.
The Birmingham Post has appealed against a decision by Solihull Council to refuse to disclose documents relating to the #100 million redevelopment of Shirley town centre. The council had blocked a request by The Post to disclose the agreement between the local authority and developers relating to the New Heart for Shirley proposals. Developers Shirley Advance will this week submit a planning application which contains proposals designed to revitalise Shirley with new shops, houses and environmental improvements. Legal officers at the council claim documents relating to its settlement with the developers are commercially sensitive and disclosure could provoke a legal challenge from Shirley Advance.