Express & Star

Andy Street: Black Country Midland Metro extension 'just the beginning'

A £250 million Metro extension in the Black Country is 'just the first' in a host of ambitious plans to revitalise the West Midlands economy, the region's Mayor has said.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

Andy Street hailed the Government's decision to award the West Midlands Combined Authority a grant to start work on the tram line between Brierley Hill and Wednesbury.

And the Conservative Mayor said that he was now committed to pushing for more funding to get other transport schemes off the ground.

Mr Street made the Metro extension his number one transport priority and had lobbied the Government for funding even before he was elected as Mayor in May.

"The critical thing is that's not the end," he told the Express & Star.

"This is just the first major step. We have got other Metro extensions, and other investments in rapid buses, so we must continue to assemble the case for more transport investment.

"We have got to start thinking about how we can put those things together."

Other transport schemes in the works include Metro extensions to Edgbaston and Curzon Street in Birmingham, along with a proposal to extend the line to Birmingham Airport.

The West Midlands was the only region to be guaranteed its transport funding ahead of the budget.

Mr Street has also bid for money from the housing infrastructure fund, although he says he does not expect an announcement regarding that grant in tomorrow's Budget.

"We can be really clear on this. We put our bids in for the housing deal and the housing infrastructure fund, along with other combined authorities," he said.

"We always expected they were not going to be announced in the Budget. That is more likely to come in January as it is taking time to assess. It is an ambitious combined bid."

In his Budget the Chancellor is reportedly ready to find £5bn for housing schemes and underwrite loans to small home builders.