Building a motorway service station on the M42 will do nothing to tackle high unemployment rates in North Solihull, campaigners against the proposals have argued.
Representatives from the leafy districts of Catherine-de-Barnes, Hampton-in-Arden, Balsall Common and Dorridge yesterday aired their views on plans for two separate service stations in Solihull.
Giving evidence at a planning inquiry into proposals for the motorway service stations (MSSs), Maggie Throup, a representative of the Say No Action Group (Snag) told Government inspector Michael Ellison the plans would neither benefit the local economy or provide jobs for North Solihull's unemployed population.
Mr Ellison has spent the last month considering proposals for a MSS between junctions 5 (Solihull) and 6 (NEC), close to Catherine-de-Barnes, submitted by Swayfields Limited. He has also been hearing evidence surrounding another application by Shirley Estates, which intends to build on land near junction 4 (Shirley).
Evidence has already been heard from both applicants, the Highways Agency and Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.
Ms Throup, who is also a prospective Tory candidate for the Solihull constituency, said: "As of May 2007, there were 2,390 people in the borough of Solihull registered for Job Seekers' Allowance. This represents approximately one per cent of the population of the Solihull Constituency and two per cent of the population of the Meriden Constituency.
"It is questionable whether the employment opportunities for these residents would be suitable.
"Without private transport, it would be virtually impossible to get to either site from the area of the borough with the highest level of unemployment, ie North Solihull."
Her comments come just days after civic leaders in the borough outlined ambitions for a 15-year £1.8 billion project to "socially engineer" a new Solihull.
The plan involves helping to improve the standard of living in the north through creating job opportunities and boosting education opportunities.
Ms Throup also highlighted her environmental concerns about the service station.
"It is feared that permission for such a development at either site would set a precedent for other development on this area of Green Belt and destroy the natural separation of the two conurbations," she said.
The inquiry also heard from George Goodall, a representative of the Solihull Against Motorway Service Area Group (Samsag) - an umbrella group of various residents' groups opposed to the plans.
The inquiry continues.