Black Country’s aging transport network ‘must improve’
Feb 21 2006
By Jonathan Walker, Political Editor
Business leaders have launched a major campaign to improve the Black Country’s creaking transport network.
Black Country Chamber of Commerce is urging local businesses to call on councils and the Government to improve roads and invest in new Metro lines and public transport.
Research from the British Chambers of Commerce says poor transport systems cost i ndustry more than £15 billion a year – the equivalent of £27,000 per company.
The Black Country Chamber has established a task-force of business leaders to act as “transport champions” for the four boroughs of Sandwell, Walsall, Dudley and Wolverhampton.
It has launched a website to collect evidence, share information, and offer a chance for businesses to exchange views on transport issues. Thousands of bumper and windscreen stickers featuring the Get Moving! logo are also to be distributed.
Taskforce member David Sedgley said: “Everyone who earns a living in the Black Country knows that it can be a nightmare to complete even a seemingly straightforward journey. Our companies, our staff, our customers and their families waste thousands of hours a year through transport problems.”
Mr Sedgley, chairman of Willenhall-based commercial vehicle parts supplier Roadlink International, added: “The situation can only improve through a concerted effort by the private and public sectors to identify the main problem areas and coordinate imaginative solutions.”
Ian Brough, chief executive of the Chamber, said the campaign would operate on several levels.
“We have identified major areas of concern, like the difficulties in accessing the Black Country from the western side and the need for an extended Metro system, among many others.
“Those are, of course, potentially expensive projects, but there are more straightforward solutions to some of the Black Country’s problems.
“We will be compiling a dossier of ‘quick wins’ that will involve minimum cost but will have a significant impact.”
The other taskforce members are Paul Coxhead, managing director of transport training company Targeted Training Services; Chris Kelly, chairman of West Bromwich Scania dealer Keltruck, and John Murray, managing director of Oldbury electrical contractors Atack Electrical.
The long-awaited seven-mile light railway scheme for the Black Country is soon to be submitted to the Government for final approval.
The Wednesbury to Brierley Hill route has already received planning permission, and a detailed business case is set to go to the Department for Transport.