AN extra 500,000 new jobs for the region, increasing life expectancy, growing productivity, better qualified citizens and more brownfield sites converted to ‘first class employment land of national significance’ – that’s the vision of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for 2030.
And even as neighbouring Bromsgrove bungled their attempt to join the new body – at the second attempt – Councillor Bill Hartnett, the leader of Redditch borough council returned from the unveiling of the WMCA’s strategic plan to 2030 secure in the knowledge that Redditch is at the table and part of what he described as ‘the only game in town’.
“This is a really exciting business plan and because in comparison to the metropolitan boroughs Redditch is small, it is likely we will be taking part in the initial roll out of many of these initiatives,” he said.
The proposals are backed up by the release of £8 billion over 30 years with the largest tranche coming early in the programme.
“We are at the table, we are part of it and we will be influencing the decisions on how that money is spent,” said Coun Hartnett.
The targets include improving competiveness through energy and resource efficiency, improving the life chances and well being of communities, developing brownfield sites, improving transport links and improving the balance between the skills in demand and the skills local people have.
“HS2 will be based in Birmingham and that will bring us work – as well as cutting journey times from the city to London to 38 minutes. In addition we have the involvement of Oxford University,” said Coun Hartnett.
He is also hopeful that Centro will extend its transport links to Redditch, further enhancing the ability of local people to get to and from the city cheaply and efficiently.
“The problem is that London and the south east distorts the economic balance of the country. In the Combine Authority the sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces and will help address that,” he added.