Government plans to downgrade a major road link between Birmingham and the Black Country will cause chaos, the region’s business community claims.
The Department of Transport is preparing to “de-trunk” the A4123, the main arterial road between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, transferring control of the road to four individual local authorities on its route.
Jerry Blackett, policy director at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCI), said: “This move could bring chaos to the West Midlands. Each local authority would be able to do as it wishes with its own section.
“So we could have a situation where traffic calming measures, traffic lights and other obstacles are introduced into an area which should be kept as free-flowing as possible for the movement of people and goods.
“The road provides a vital link between the two areas and any changes aimed at cutting use of the A4123 would present real problems for manufacturers moving goods in and out of the region.”
Debbie Walsh, head of policy at the BCI, said: “The consultation process appears to have been kept very low key, which is disturbing when the issue involves such a vital link.
“It has far-reaching implications for companies trying to move people and goods and it will also impose a serious barrier to regeneration of the areas.
“With the rejection of any western orbital route, the prospect of traffic being slowed on the A4123 – the only key part of the national road infrastructure in the area – will have a devastating impact for business.
“The whole plan is an impediment to business and the economic health of the whole region and could be positively dangerous. We urge local businesses to voice their objections immediately to a plan that the government seems determined to push through with minimum noise.”
Chris Kelly, chairman of Keltruck of West Bromwich and a member of the Business Transport Group, has accused the Government Office for the West Midlands of asking him to drop his objections.
“They suggested that mine was the only remaining objection, which, of course, is not the case. We simply cannot allow this major arterial road to come under local authority control, even though traffic has already been slowed unnecessarily.
“There needs to be a concerted effort to raise awareness of this issue, which will have serious economic consequences for the region.”
The Business Transport Group includes the BCI, the Confederation of West Midlands Chambers of Commerce, Black Country Chamber, Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber, the Confederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors, the Engineering Employers’ Federation, West Midlands Business Council, Birmingham International Airport and representatives from several major businesses.
Visit www.bci.org.uk to read more.