PUBLIC SECT0R: West Midlands transport lobbies for extra funding

Centro, the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, and seven councils in the area have launched a lobbying and PR campaign to gain an extra £100m for transport.

Centro senior media officer Kevin Rawlings says the area has become a transport 'bottleneck' and extra money is needed urgently to fund public transport initiatives. These include the development of Birmingham New Street station, extension of the light railway and improvements to bus services.

According to figures released by Centro, congestion costs businesses an estimated £2.3bn in journey time and lost business each year.

The launch has been timed for the start of initial consultation for the West Midlands Local Transport Plan this month.

This plan will be submitted to Government in July 2003 - two years ahead of the planned submission date - due to the need for urgent reform.

Citigate Communications' Birmingham office has been recruited to assist with raising awareness of the plan and the consultation process. This will include media relations, online campaigning and advertising.

The Citigate team, which is targeting residents, councillors and interest groups, reports to Centro head of communications Conrad Jones.

Account director Harriet Dunkerley said a key aim of the campaign was to change the behaviour of local residents: 'We want people to consider other options, this could be walking, cycling or public transport.'

The campaign runs alongside consultation work being carried out by the local authorities involved: Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton city councils and Solihull, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell metropolitan borough councils.

Centro's revenue budget is funded by the local authorities with the cost of its Central Trains services met by central Government funds.

A consultation document called Moving with the Times has been produced for the initial consultation stage.

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