As Cabinet Member for Transportation on Birmingham City Council it seemed to me necessary to press ahead with what was on the table rather than stop to consider other ideas. There were a range of measures in process dealing with congestion, pollution, cutting accidents and so on which needed to be moved on. Stopping and starting didn’t seem an option – as it has to the present mixed-up leadership. A delay in the Metro extension Alastair Darling has warned, could prove a very grave mistake and extremely costly.
A feature of the year 2003-4 was a Transport Summit chaired by Fiona Alexander, Editor of the Birmingham Post. The Post’s “Get Moving” campaign helped put transport well on the agenda. Remember Tony Blair thought it was not an issue and put Prescott in charge.
I revisited this site because the 2000 Local Transport Plan for the West Midlands is key to the region’s future in transport. By 2003 this was thought to be far too limited in scope and so it was substantially revised when the Government released a considerable increase in funding. It seemed to me a golden opportunity to move ahead. This is not to say it was what the region needed as the hub, the very strategic heart of the national rail – and road – system. Anything getting clogged up at New Street – generally agreed to be dire – has a knock on effect as far as Scotland and the South Coast of England. This actually happens, though the Strategic Rail Authority doesn’t seem to regard the Midlands as strategic.
There are a number of presentation worth looking at by visiting the link above and then clicking on “presentations”. Tom McGrath from WMPTA takes a look at the proposed Metro plan – now seriously compromised in Birmingham’s case by the sheer folly of stopping everything to look at something else. When it has taken since 1992 to develop the Metro just imagine how long it will take to start soemthing else up. You have to go through all the planning again wasting huge amounts of time and money. It’s depressing because many of us won’t be around to see a serious change in the transport infrastructure. David Bull, Head of Transportation Strategy for Birmingham City Council, looks at congestion in the City, its effects and plans to deal with it.
Ken Livingstone’s comment about Birmingham “not having a public transport system” was made in 2003. The Metro plans started to take shape. Tunnels were already on the agenda but the Tory/Lib-Dem leadership decided to stop progress and spend a sizable sum on a folly in spite of criticism.
The Government has agreed for the Midlands Metro extentions to go ahead, at the same time turning down Liverpool’s request for a tram system, and Manchester’s request to extende their popular metro.