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Is There A 'Significant Risk' To £8B West Midlands Infrastructure Projects?

There is a significant risk to major West Midlands infrastructure investments, according to a report the West Midlands Combined Authority will hear at its meeting Friday.

The West Midlands Combined Authority, which is chaired by Metro Mayor Andy Street and includes seven local council leaders, will consider a report that warns about £8B in planned infrastructure spending.

Andy Street West Midlands mayor
Andy Street addressing the Conservative Party conference

The budget report notes significant risk to ambitious infrastructure investment plans because just 30% of the £8B funding allocated to the West Midlands Combined Authority is assessed as secured. The remainder is coded as either red (most risky) or amber (some risk).

"There remains a significant risk that all investments may not be able to be funded unless key areas of red and amber risk ... are addressed. Therefore each investment decision ... will need to be considered in the light of the current financial position," the report from Chief Executive Deborah Cadman and Director of Finance Sean Pearce said.

Funding has been agreed for 2018-19 for the HS2 Connectivity Programme (£56M), Birmingham Eastside Metro Extension (£21M), Metro Birmingham to Solihull (£3.6M) and Metro Wednesbury to Brierley Hill (£13.7M).

A further £30M has been made available for land remediation.

The 9 February meeting will also be told that business cases have been prepared for a further £204M of investment:

  • Coventry Very Light Railway Transforming Connectivity, £55M
  • Sprint Corridor – Longbridge & Frankley to Birmingham, £38.4M
  • Sprint Corridor – Hall Green to Interchange via Solihull, £26.9M
  • Sutton Coldfield Gateway, £20.9M
  • U.K. Central Infrastructure Package, £62.6M
Conservative Street will also shelve plans to raise an extra mayoral council tax precept this year, after opposition from Labour council leaders. Instead mayoral funding will come from £265K freed up from an unexpected saving on the concessionary fares scheme for older people.