By Daniel Hunter

Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group (BCCG) has joined forces with the Black Country Chamber (BCC) to support a far-reaching review of the region's transport network.

Chief executives Jerry Blackett (BCCG) and Margaret Corneby (BCC) have offered their backing to Atkins Global, who have been commissioned by the government to carry out a review of transport in the cities and regions.

In a letter to Jonathan Foster-Clark, senior managing consultant at Atkins Global, they say: "...we wish to convey our support for the proposed Transport Governance Review. The decision to launch a review of the transport arrangements in the West Midlands presents an opportunity to acknowledge the weaknesses of the current governance and is an opportunity to move towards more effective integration to deal with long-term structural challenges to the transport network.

"The Black Country Chamber of Commerce and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group comprise some of the UK's oldest and largest business membership organisations covering an area of over 2.5m people. Together they represent around 4,500 businesses that employ over 250,000 employees across Birmingham, Solihull, Southern Staffordshire, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

"Both organisations offer an extensive range of services to industry and commerce, having served the interests of business for over two centuries by promoting trade locally, nationally and internationally.

"Transport in the West Midlands needs to be an enabler of the region's economic growth strategy. The roles and responsibilities of transport bodies in the West Midlands have often been unclear, duplicative, and inefficient.

"Transport planning, funding, and delivery are currently managed by several different bodies, including local authorities, cross-boundary bodies, central government, and other stakeholders in the public and private sector. This split means that individual bodies are often limited in their scope. Business voices have also been underrepresented, with no clear mechanism to take their opinions into account."

The letter adds: "It is important that the review takes into account the role of business representative bodies. While over half of LEP board members are appointed from the private sector, they exist in a personal capacity only, and do not act as official representation of the business community.

"Deeper consultation with the business community will enable decision makers to look at how transport can act as an enabler to improve employment and skills, and generate more effective connectivity within supply chains."

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