Details of £392m 'Midlands Engine' investment revealed

Derby City centre
Image caption The scheme includes £6m to improve Derby city centre

A strategy outlining plans to maximise the economic potential of the Midlands has been unveiled.

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the "Midlands Engine", which sets out £392m government investment in skills, connectivity and local growth.

Projects include a global hub for space technology in Leicester and £25m to tackle congestion and improve major employment sites in the Black Country.

However, Labour MPs said the Midlands region was still being "left behind".

Image caption Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the Midlands Engine Strategy during a visit to Dudley

The strategy, which outlined investment of £392m across the Midlands through the Local Growth Fund, was announced by Mr Hammond during a visit to Dudley on Thursday.

Mr Hammond described it as an "an important milestone".

Highlights include:

  • £12m to develop the Black Country Garden City, offering new locations for high quality housing
  • £6m for the regeneration of Derby city centre
  • £2m for cultural improvements in Warwick, including redevelopment and expansion of Warwick Arts Centre
  • £0.5m for a new visitor centre at Sherwood Forest and improvements to existing walking and cycle routes
  • £8m to create a new teaching university in Hereford to address the shortage of skilled graduate engineers
  • Local transport investment, including £25m to tackle congestion and improve access to major employment sites in the Black Country and £12m to improve road connections in and around Loughborough
  • £14m to develop a global space technologies hub in Leicester
Image copyright Black Country LEP
Image caption An artists impression of new homes in the Canal Quarter in Wolverhampton, which forms part of the Black Country Garden City plans
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sherwood Forest will receive investment for a new visitor centre and to improve walking and cycle routes

The announcement is part of plans to make the Midlands an engine for economic growth for the whole country.

The region is home to more than 10 million people with an economy worth £217.7bn - 13% of the UK's annual output - and the government believes there are opportunities to build on this.

Mr Hammond said: "The Midlands Engine Strategy is an important milestone, setting out the concrete actions we are taking, where we are not only investing in what it does well but also tackling some of the long-standing productivity barriers in the region including skills and connectivity.

"It is a vital part of the government's work to create an economy that works for everyone, and all parts of the country."

Image copyright DCLG

Jack Dromey, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, said: "We have secured £392m for our region but London has been awarded near 10 times that amount for housing alone.

"Neither does the fresh investment begin to compensate for the huge cuts to council budgets. Birmingham alone has lost £700m.

"This pales into insignificance compared to the commitment made to London. Once again, Birmingham and the Midlands are in danger of being left behind."

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