The West Midlands has created a new authority to drive investment in transport projects in the metropolitan county.
An inaugural meeting in Birmingham saw the political leaders of the region’s seven metropolitan councils appointed to the new West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority (ITA).
The leaders, Cllr Sir Albert Bore (Birmingham), Cllr Ann Lucas (Coventry), Cllr David Sparks (Dudley), Cllr Darren Cooper (Sandwell), Cllr Bob Sleigh (Solihull), Cllr Mike Bird (Walsall) and Cllr Roger Lawrence (Wolverhampton) will be responsible for transport strategy, budgets, scheme prioritisation and bids for funding.
The move is aimed at ensuring the metropolitan area acts in a unified way on transport and can punch its collective weight when seeking funding for rail, tram and road schemes that can grow the economy.
It will also create a direct link with the region’s three Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) - Greater Birmingham & Solihull, the Black Country, and Coventry & Warwickshire - which were established by the Government in 2011 to help drive economic regeneration.
Cllr Lawrence, who was appointed chairman of the ITA, said: “With the setting up of the three LEPs it became clear we needed a new governance structure – one that was capable of bringing the various parties together in the interests of the whole region.
“I believe this new ITA can do just that. Not only are the seven leaders also members of their respective LEPs but the LEP chairmen will be able to join us on the ITA.
“This new authority, working with the LEPs and local councils, will enable us to speak with one voice on transport and help the region deliver those schemes that can best secure our plans for economic growth.”
Cllr Lawrence said one of the key tasks of the new ITA would be to secure future funding on top of the £385 million awarded last week for West Midland transport projects including extensions to the Midland Metro tram system.
The development of a longer term transport plan for the region and closer working ties with the surrounding shire counties would also be high on the ITA agenda, he said.
Meanwhile Centro, as the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, will continue to deliver transport projects while working with bus, rail and tram operators to further improve services and infrastructure for passengers.
Cllr Lawrence added: “We recognise the value of Centro as the delivery body and would also like to thank former transport authority members for their work.”