This month has seen Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Norman Baker formally getting the works under way on the new Midland Metro extension at the junction of Corporation Street and Bull Street. The first phase for the provision of the tram link between Snow Hill and New Street stations is the complicated relocation of water pipes and gas cables.
Local Liberal Democrat campaigners, including former councillor Ann Holtom, have welcomed the start of this work, carried out by transport authority Centro, not just for the improvement to the city's transport infrastructure but because the scheme is expected to create 1,500 jobs and is set to boost the local economy by £50 million a year.
Mr Baker who has previously visited Castle Vale to support Ann Holtom's campaign for a new rail station to link our area directly with the city centre, said: "This scheme is great news for Birmingham and the West Midlands and will provide a greener transport choice for those wanting to reach the city's shopping streets as well as the emerging business district in Snow Hill. The metro extension will also cut congestion, improve air quality and be a boon for the local economy.
"This is an example of the kind of infrastructure project we need to help boost growth around the UK and that is why I am pleased we have been able to contribute £75 million towards the cost of the scheme."
Councillor John Hunt (Lib Dem, Perry Barr), the vice chairman of local transport authority Cento , said: "The start of work on the metro extension is a real milestone in the transformation of our city's transport system. It will not only bring jobs and increased economic activity but will also help create a much improved shopping environment especially in Corporation which will be cleaner, quieter and far less congested."
Ann Holtom said; "These improvements are very welcome and I hope they are a sign of more good things to come for our area. Despite claiming to 'shout up for the city' Labour didn't even mention the tram link in their election manifesto for Birmingham 2012 - yet another example of Liberal Democrat action and Labour indifference."