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Mike Wood: Dudley South has one of the biggest shopping centres in the country, a new enterprise zone and one of the largest secure industrial parks in Europe, but it has no railway station and on a good day it is probably half an hour from the nearest motorway junction. Infrastructure is absolutely vital, therefore, if the potential of local people and businesses is to be realised, which is why, before I was elected, one of my first campaigns was for a new tram extension to join my constituency with the midland metro network and the main line rail network.
The extension has been on and off the agenda since the days of the old West Midlands County Council in the early 1980s. Understandably, when I knocked on doors, the most common response I got was, “Yes, we’ve been told this for 30 years. It’s never going to happen.” Along with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, we have continued to make the argument, however, which is why we were absolutely delighted when the Chancellor and the Prime Minister announced at the start of last week £250 million for transport infrastructure in the west midlands, of which £200 million will be used to fund the tram extension out to my constituency, with a tramline to Brierley Hill.
Amanda Milling Conservative, Cannock Chase
Does my hon. Friend agree that the Budget has been great for the West Midlands? As he says, it is about transport infrastructure, which is so important for investment and business growth in our area.
Mike Wood: My hon. Friend hits the nail on the head. This has been a great Budget for the West Midlands, but not only for the West Midlands; it also builds on the Government’s commitment to rebalance the economy and deliver for every part of the country and every sector of the economy.
The £200 million being invested in the tramline to my constituency will have the transformative effect we need in the Black Country in supporting our local economy. Independent analysis by Lichfields found that it would have a multiplier effect, increasing the benefits from other economic initiatives in the region. For example, it will increase the annual delivery of new homes by nearly 1,500—an increase of 250% against the baseline if the tramline were not going ahead; increase the number of direct and indirect permanent jobs by nearly 8,500; and almost double economic output from the 2 km corridor around the tramline from £14.4 billion to £28.6 billion, vastly increasing both council tax and business rates receipts by nearly £400 million.
This is only a snapshot of the economic activity that the metro will bring to my constituency and neighbouring constituencies. It will enable the Black country to capture more effectively the numerous growth opportunities presented by both HS2 and the DY5 enterprise zone in my constituency. It will increase the ability of businesses to attract investment, while the enhanced transport between the towns and cities of the west midlands will bring greater access to work and reduced journey times and offer better access to a wider labour market, to the benefit of both businesses and employees. With better transport comes better access to local shops and services, including a wide range of social and community networks. That is why the Budget delivers for my constituency and why I wholeheartedly support it this evening.