The Government are investing £1.6 billion through the nine midlands local enterprise partnerships and have established the £250 million midlands engine investment fund. Some £217 million of the local growth fund is being invested in the Black Country, and projects such as the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills, with Dudley College, will drive economic growth in the area.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that response, but businesses and residents in my constituency are frustrated at a lack of connectivity. Does the Secretary of State agree that a priority for the midlands engine and the Government as a whole must be to invest substantially in connecting our region, whether by rail, by road or digitally?
I agree with my hon. Friend’s point about connectivity, and he will know that I visited Dudley recently to hear about those issues directly. That is why £215 million of the transforming cities fund has been made available to the West Midlands Combined Authority to support extending the midlands metro tram links to Brierley Hill, enhancing accessibility across the Black Country and helping to drive growth.