The West Midlands has failed to win a share of the £1billion transport package announced in Alistair Darling’s emergency budget.
The chancellor told MPs this week he was bringing forward capital projects costing £3billion, as part of his attempt to kick-start the economy.
It included £1billion for transport. But it emerged the West Midlands will be excluded, even though a range of transport projects are waiting for funding.
Ministers have been considering whether to support a £180million Midland Metro extension from Snow Hill to Five Ways since 2006.
Plans to extend the Black Country Metro to Brierley Hill are stuck on the drawing board because of a funding shortfall of £253million.
A number of new railway stations have been proposed to improve rail services in the region, including in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. And the region is waiting for measures to improve capacity on the M6, between Birmingham and Manchester, even though these were approved by the government in 2002.
Geoff Hoon, the transport secretary, announced the £1billion windfall would be spent on a range of measures including new rail carriages in the Thames Valley area and the north of England.
There will also be a new link between the A1 and M1 by improving the A46 from Newark to Widmerpool in Nottinghamshire, and a new road linking Manchester Airport to the A6. London gets £54million to improve rail services in the capital.
The one ray of hope for the West Midlands is the government has promised to “accelerate” the decision about expanding capacity on motorways, and is promising to announce a decision in the New Year.
Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride (Con) said: “It is absolutely scandalous if the region is not benefitting from this funding package. There are detailed plans for construction of a Bromsgrove station and all they are waiting for is government support.”
Labour MP Gisela Stuart (Lab) said: “We do need to keep fighting to ensure the West Midlands receives funding, but the government’s commitment to refurbishing New Street station demonstrates that ministers recognise the importance of transport in the region.”
The M6 widening scheme would mean expanding the M6 to eight lanes between Junction 11A at Cannock and Junction 19, south of Manchester, and has the strong backing of the business community. Industry leaders argued better transport links with the North-west would boost the region’s economy.
The government committed a U-turn in October last year when a new transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, announced adding extra lanes to the M6 was one of “a broad range of options”, which included allowing motorists to use the hard shoulder or building a new rail line.
Ms Kelly suggested this year the widening scheme could be replaced by plans to use the hard shoulder – but even that proposal has yet to get off the ground.