This week’s announcement about the historic devolution agreement reached for the West Midlands has been welcomed by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. Vice President Kevin Rogers, a former manufacturer said in response to the announcement: “We have always been concerned that Whitehall did not properly understand manufacturing. The devolution agreement enables us to take control back and invest in the areas that concern manufacturing.

“Transport, skills and land are top of our agenda and it is good to see that they have received top billing in the agreement with a £200 million land remediation fund and a £30 million employment, education and skills programme. In addition, funding to support HS2 will also ensure that nowhere in the West Midlands is more than 40 mins from an HS2 station.

“Over £5 billion of transport investment over ten years, integrated and locally controlled, will mean better integration between local and national transport networks and as a result ways to reduce congestion on the strategic road network. We have estimated that road congestion alone costs our businesses at least a third of a billion pounds a year.

“We now need to engage with the 4 million people who live in the West Midlands and help them understand that the Combined Authority is not another layer of bureaucracy but the means by which we can take control of our futures. Businesses will provide support and challenge but we really need to get everyone engaged.

“We look forward to playing our full part in this new opportunity for growth.”