A support package was announced today to help businesses directly affected by the construction of new routes for the West Midlands Metro tram network.
The new initiative, which will include financial assistance, has been approved by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), which owns and operates the network.
With the network set to triple in size over the next few years, the scheme is designed to support businesses during periods of unavoidable disruption.
The support package has been drawn up by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA, and the Midlands Metro Alliance (MMA) which is building five extensions on behalf of the authority.
Laura Shoaf, managing director of TfWM, said: “We already work closely with the MMA and local highways authorities to minimise disruption as far as possible. But it is inevitable that intensive construction works of this nature will have an impact for some businesses alongside the route.
“That’s why we want to work with them to minimise that impact. While there is no obligation on the WMCA to implement a business support scheme we believe it is only right to offer a level of financial assistance to those smaller businesses who may experience a drop in trade as a result of the works.
“In the longer term, of course, there will be a huge benefit for those businesses with the Metro going right into the heart of their communities, boosting the local economy and making it quicker and easier for people to get to there.”
The initiative will be specifically targeted towards businesses who have frontages directly affected by construction along the new routes.
There will be three levels of assistance for small businesses which have been trading for more than 12 months. Qualifying businesses will receive a proportion of demonstrated losses subject to the submission of properly documented accounts to the independent scheme administrator.
Full details of the scheme are available at www.metroalliance.co.uk/businesssupport but the package allows for support of up to 70 per cent of lost profits. The financial assistance will be assessed and administered by an independent body.
In addition, TfWM and the MMA will work alongside identified local trader groups to support them with a series of ‘open for business’ campaigns to assist in maintaining footfall levels during the height of the construction programme.
MMA director, Alejandro Moreno, added: “Similar schemes have been tried and tested in other parts of the country when tramways have been constructed and they have proved beneficial.
"Legislation allows the WMCA to provide this sort of help around the construction of new tram routes and we welcome the announcement. Ultimately this expanded Metro network will play a key role in supporting the region’s future economy, opening up new job, education and leisure opportunities for thousands of people.”
The five new tram routes being built at a cost of more than £1bn are:
- Birmingham Westside – from Grand Central to Centenary Square (end of 2019) and along Broad Street to Edgbaston (2021)
- Wolverhampton City Centre - along Pipers Row stopping at the bus station and the redeveloped rail station 2020
- Wednesbury to Brierley Hill – connecting Line 1 at Wednesbury to Dudley town centre, Merry Hill and Brierley Hill including the DY5 enterprise zone 2023
- Birmingham Eastside – serving the Curzon Street HS2 and on through Digbeth
- East Birmingham to Solihull – from Digbeth through the east of the city and north Solihull before terminating at the airport/HS2 Interchange station – both of these last two schemes are earmarked for completion in time for the opening of HS2 in 2026