£ 70m for transport, but police are given NOTHING
WEST Midlands Mayor Andy Street has welcomed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s announcement that the region will get funding of more than £ 70 million to improve public transport in the region.
And Mr Hammond also confirmed that another £ 20 million, announced earlier this month, will be allocated to the West Midlands.
This will help fund schemes such as a driverless “shuttle” bus service between Birmingham New Street station and the Curzon Street HS2 station.
Mr Street, a Conservative, said they would help “our ability to build a strong and resilient economy that can meet the needs of local people and the challenges and opportunities of Brexit.” He added: “The extra funding for transport infrastructure is especially important and will help us manage the increased congestion and disruption that comes with a growing economy and the construction of major projects like HS2.
“It will also help us tackle poor air quality.”
But there was fury from Labour politicians after Mr Hammond refused to provide a much- needed boost to cashstrapped police forces such as West Midlands Police.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May told the Conservative conference in Birmingham that the Government was “ending austerity”.
And delivering his Budget speech to Parliament, Mr Hammond said: “The era of austerity is finally coming to an end.” But he also said the details of funding increases for public services would be revealed in another financial statement, the spending review, to take place next year.
And he hinted that significant increases would only come about if the UK managed to secure a good Brexit deal with the EU.
Mr Hammond said: “I expect that the ‘ Deal Dividend’ will allow us to provide further funding for the Spending Review.”
He did announce an extra £ 160 million specifically for counter- terrorism policing.
But there was nothing to help police forces struggling to cope with cuts to regular funding. Instead, Mr Hammond said that Home Secretary Sajid Javid would “review police spending power and further options for reform” in December. One option the Government is believed to be considering is lifting the cap on the police precept, which is added to council tax bills.
This would allow Police and Crime Commissioners to raise more money for forces by increasing local taxes, possibly adding as much as £ 50 a year to household bills.
Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: “While the Prime Minister hailed the ‘ end of austerity’ at the Tory Party Conference in Birmingham, you’d hardly know it judging by the actions of her Chancellor in the Budget.
“A ‘ review’ of police funding and a ‘ bit of extra kit’ for schools are not enough to keep the public safe or recruit enough teachers to provide the world- class education our children deserve.”
The extra funding for transport infrastructure is especially important and will help us manage the increased congestion and disruption that comes with a growing economy and the construction of major projects like HS2. WEST MIDLANDS MAYOR ANDY STREET
Chancellor Philip Hammond before the Budget