Solihull can look forward to a year of investment and growth says West Midlands Mayor - The Solihull Observer

Solihull can look forward to a year of investment and growth says West Midlands Mayor

Solihull Editorial 3rd Jan, 2019 Updated: 3rd Jan, 2019   0

THE Mayor of the West Midlands says Solihull can look forward to a year of investment and growth – but he has also pledged to help protect the ‘unique character’ of the town where he grew up.

Andy Street, who heads the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), said: “I really do understand what a special place Solihull is. I grew up here.

“Solihull has been incredibly successful economically – with the fastest growth in the West Midlands – and is often listed among the best places to live in the UK.

“But the real test is to maintain that growth, seize the opportunities ahead of us and at the same preserve the character of the place.”

Mr Street said that the decision not to build a second runway at Birmingham Airport was an ‘important battle to have won’ for Solihull.

“We put forward the argument that there was no need for another runway at Birmingham Airport,” he said.

“This has now been incorporated into the airport’s masterplan, giving certainty and relief for Solihull and the communities around it.”

The preservation of the Green Belt around Solihull is high on Mr Street’s agenda in 2019, he says, as the WMCA presses for much-needed new homes to be built on ‘Brown Field’ sites where possible.

“I’m determined to protect the Meriden Gap as best I can,” he said. “The Green Belt between Birmingham and Coventry is an important part of Solihull’s unique character.

“Of course, many more homes are needed across the West Midlands, but we have to ensure that they are built in the right place.

“We have seen a 20 per cent increase, since 2016, in the number of homes built while protecting the Meriden Gap.

“That has been done by using the WMCA’s funding to support development on Brown Field sites. By doing this you don’t put pressure on the Green belt around Solihull or elsewhere,” he added.

There are also major plans for developing public transport in Solihull.

“We have just retendered some of the local bus service in Solihull,” Mr Street said, “We will see a new local operator take over and are expecting it to be a more reliable and efficient service.

“We have been able to protect the vast majority of services in Solihull and develop new and innovative services too – in fact the WMCA will be spending an extra £200,000 supporting bus services in the borough.

“We have also completed the consultation over the new Sprint route, working with the borough council, which will provide a rapid bus service from Birmingham to Solihull,” he added.

“We will see real progress on this new service over the next year, as we want to get it in place before the Commonwealth Games.”

Finally, Mr Street said he is committed to supporting Jaguar Land Rover as Brexit unfolds in 2019.

“JLR’s continued success is vital for the economic wellbeing of Solihull,” he said. “I am in constant contact with JLR and lobby for their interests on a national and international basis.

“That’s why I want to see a Brexit deal that enables them to continue to operate in the way that has made them so successful.”

With all this activity in 2019, Mr Street expects to be a regular visitor to the town where he grew up over the next 12 months.

“I’m proud to be from Solihull and my parents still live there – I understand the psyche of the place, and what sets it apart from other parts of the West Midlands,” he said.

“I think there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic for 2019. Solihull can go from strength to strength.”

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