In a presentation at the Transport Summit in March this year (2006), Cllr Len Gregory introduced a taskforce on Congestion in Birmingham. The presentation consisted of just six slides. The final slide entitled “ACTION” merely says “must be value for money”. A case of fiddling while Birmingham grinds to a halt. Seems as if the Councillor is a bit short on ideas and is even less inclined to reduce car journeys into Birmingham in case “they migrate to Solihull or Merry Hill”. Meanwhile Birmingham Metro has been stopped in its tracks.
The following was published in the Birmingham Post today following an earlier article on congestion:
Your articles on transport and problems in keeping it moving is a welcome continuation of the campaign the Post conducted two years ago when I was Cabinet Member for Transportation. I took the issues you raised very seriously and worked closely with the PTA of which Gary Clarke was then a member. We pressed hard to push forward the agenda already set for the West Midlands. This was modified as things moved forward mre rapidly than expected and extra funding was identified by the Government. The plan to extend the Metro through to Five Ways, plus lines to East Side, Birmingham Airport, Bartley Green, along the Walsall an Hagley Roads were all on the agenda. We acknowledged that at some time in the future there would have to be an underground development, so why did the incoming administration stop its progress? Tory and Lib-Dem couincillors in particular caved into NIMBY pressure from those they told would have their properties devalued along the route. The experience across Europe and elsewhere is that house prices rise if they are adjacent to good public transport. You look at house prices near to the London Underground network, including where they run above ground in plaves like Enfiled. Everyone always knew tunneling would be prohibitively expensive. As it is delay has meant that costs will have escalated wildly. Nevertheless the tram remains a viable option and has the ability, with park and ride schemes, to get the motorist out of cars.
I looked at a wide range of measures during my year in office to improve public transport, including railways, the Metro, and buses (which will make life better for private transport users!) and safety measures. Gary Clarke is a Conservative councillor, but he has taken a very different line to the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition which “runs” Birmingham. They seem to have reversed gains being made, such as closing bus lanes and giving the City Centre back to the car. I think my successor should in future be given the title Cllr Len “Gridlock” Gregory.