Budget 2017: West Midlands and JLR at centre of driverless vehicles revolution

By Pete Madeley | Wolverhampton | Politics | Published:

A Revolution in electric and driverless vehicles will centre on Wolverhampton, it has been revealed.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

The Chancellor gave the go ahead for a second devolution deal for the region in his Autumn Budget.

And Philip Hammond has vowed to work with Mayor Andy Street to put the region at the forefront of the burgeoning autonomous cars industry – a move which is expected to benefit the Jaguar Land Rover plant at the i54 in Wolverhampton.

A funding announcement for the scheme is expected next week when Business Secretary Greg Clarke unveils the Government’s industrial strategy.

It came as the Chancellor announced a raft of ambitious plans for the West Midlands as part of a second devolution deal, which will see the region given more funding and powers to improve infrastructure.

They included £6 million for a housing delivery taskforce to examine plans for 210,000 new houses by 2031, £5m for construction skills training, a portion of a £2.6 billion pot to improve Russells Hall Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre, and a share of £28m to battle homelessness.

Earlier this week the Metro extension between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill was given the go ahead after the Prime Minister announced a £250m transport fund for the region. The West Midlands Conservative Mayor Andy Street, said: “This is fantastic news for the region. Nowhere else in the country has got a second devolution deal, whereas ours is done. It shows how well we are working with the Government."

JLR has spearheaded the UK’s research into driverless vehicles, and has already revealed it is testing them in the West Midlands.

The Chancellor committed £100m to extend the grant for motorists buying plug-in cars – with a further £400m for installing electric charging points – and £150m will be ploughed into new job training and self-driving research projects. Firms including JLR will be allowed to test autonomous motors on public roads by 2021.

Mr Hammond said: “For the first time in decades, Britain is genuinely at the forefront of a technological revolution.”

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.


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