Longbridge announcement shows governments should “listen to local voices”

Claim by Birmingham MP.

The lessons of the Longbridge Connectivity Package reveal why it is vital that Governments go further to devolve power and resources to towns and cities, said Richard Burden MP today.

Responding to the inclusion of significant transport and infrastructure investments in Longbridge within the larger £357 million Greater Birmingham and Solihull Growth Deal, the MP for Birmingham Northfield said: “The announcement of an £8 million+ package to improve transport links in and around Longbridge in great news for the entire South Birmingham area. Longbridge rail station will be upgraded. There will be better passenger information, an improved interchange for bus passengers, and a better environment for cyclists and pedestrians. The existing park and ride facility is due for extension and road infrastructure work will also help improve traffic movement more generally. Longbridge is an internationally significant investment site for our region and this will help give it the gateway it deserves.

“All too often the huge potential offered by the redevelopment of the site has not been recognised beyond our local area. Previous council administrations’ pre-occupation with the city centre meant key investment opportunities to build jobs and opportunities in South West Birmingham were being missed, despite constant pressure from myself and other local representatives for a different approach.

“Upgrading Longbridge station and capitalising on the area’s location with improved transport links have been a priority for us locally. Two years ago we ‘took the law into our own hands’ when I convened a Longbridge Connectivity summit to push for Longbridge to get the priority it deserves. The summit brought together Centro, site developers St Modwen, Bournville College, London Midland. Network Rail and the City Council, together with myself and local councillors. The Longbridge Connectivity Group was born and today’s announcement is a tribute to the work it has done.

“The Longbridge story so far highlights how much we can achieve if national government is prepared to devolve power and resources to our towns and cities, and if city government engages better with people and businesses in local areas. That is why it is good that Longbridge and the other GSLEP projects have received backing from the Government’s Local Growth Deal. But it is also a reminder that the government should be far more ambitious. Overall, today’s packages are a fraction of what is needed. In government circles, there is still far too much preoccupation with London compared to the rest of the country. The recent report by Lord Adonis shows how much more could be done to rebalance our country’s economy if there is the will to do it.

“This announcement is another important milestone in building a new future, not only for Longbridge, but for the entire South West Birmingham area.”