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£357m Birmingham growth fund cash is ‘Tory election bribe’ claims city MP

£357m Birmingham growth fund cash is ‘Tory election bribe’ claims city MP

🕔10.Jul 2014

A Birmingham Labour MP has dismissed the region’s £357 million local growth fund settlement as a “bribe” designed to improve the Conservative party’s chances of winning the next election.

Steve McCabe clashed with David Cameron in the House of Commons when he pointed out that the regeneration cash pot would be available for the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP to spend from next April, a month before the 2014 General Election.

Mr McCabe asked the prime minister: “As bribes go, is offering that huge region less than £10 per head just 37 days before the general election not too little, too late?”

Mr Cameron replied: “I think that we can probably tell the difference between a ray of sunshine and the hon. Gentleman on this issue, as on so many others.”

He went on to remind the Selly Oak MP that the growth fund settlement had been praised by the Labour leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore.

The prime minister added: “This is an excellent deal for Birmingham and the West Midlands. If he does not think so, he might want to explain why Sir Albert Bore said ‘this is good news for Birmingham.

“A number of major projects will now be accelerated. Transport routes across the city will be much improved And other money will go into site development that will provide much needed jobs in the city’.

“I think that the hon. Gentleman needs to spend a little more time with Sir Albert Bore.”

Mr Cameron was at Birmingham Town Hall earlier this week to announce the £357 million local growth fund award for GBSLEP.

The five-year settlement will allow several key projects to be financed include extensions to the Midland Metro tram system and improved pedestrian links between New Street and Moor Street stations in Birmingham.

The money will also deliver rapid transit bus routes, an advanced manufacturing hub and a Centre of Excellence for advanced technologies at Birmingham Metropolitan College, and infrastructure improvements to open up development sites.

At prime minister’s questions, Mr Cameron told Lichfield Tory MP Michael Fabricant that he had spoken with GBSLEP chair Andy Street when he was in Birmingham.

Mr Cameron said he hoped GBSLEP would develop “every piece of unused brownfield land”.

The prime minister said: “I met the chair of the LEP board on Monday when I hosted a meeting in Birmingham to mark the agreement of the growth deal that will see over £350 million invested in Greater Birmingham and Solihull.

“The projects in the deal will help to create up to 19,000 jobs, allow up to 6,000 homes to be built and generate up to £110 million from local partners and private investment”.

“As I said at the meeting with the LEP, I think that the growth deal is a very big step forward for Birmingham and the west midlands.

“It will result in more jobs, more investment and more houses. It will see new railway stations and transport links built. I think that we need to be more ambitious about the money we can find in central Government to support these schemes, but I also hope that local councils, including Birmingham city council, will look at every piece of unused brownfield land and every extra bit of development they can put on the table so that these growth deals get ever more ambitious.”

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