die belebende Bedenkung

Planning Centro’s future budget

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BBC Midlands Today, interview with West Midlands ITA councillor John McNicholas

West Midlands councils appear to resent having to make expenditure cuts, at a time when transport authority Centro was making few economies.

As a result, as of December 2013, Centro is reluctantly conducting a consultation on its own budget.

[Centro consultations]

Consultation April 2014 – March 2016

The seven district councils of the West Midlands have requested that we save 10% or our expenditure.

That is £14 million over the next two years. This means there are difficult decisions to be made about how we save this money.

We are therefore undertaking this consultation on behalf of the ITA Shadow Board and the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority. We want to hear from you about where you think we should make savings and the impact such changes to services will have on the way you travel.

We have already saved nearly a third of our operational expenditure over the last four years without impacting on frontline services for passengers. But with district councils facing financial constraints of their own, Centro has been tasked with consulting on the options and consequences of making a further £14 million of savings over the next two years. […]

We want your views on proposed changes to:

child fares

Ring and Ride

Metro and rail concession for elderly and disabled people

subsidised bus network

free bus after 11pm for elderly and disabled people.


This consultation will run from 25 November 2013 for eight weeks to 19 January 2014

You can give your views in the following ways:

By filling in the online questionnaire
By emailing
By writing to Budget Views, Centro House, 16 Summer Lane, Birmingham B19 3SD
Via Twitter @networkwm #yoursay
Via Facebook #yoursay
At one of our budget exhibitions

In the case of Birmingham city council expenditure, the obvious areas for making budget savings are the ‘Service Birmingham’ contracts. In the case of Centro, the savings from thorough rationalisation of its internal organisation and governance would be significant, but that is not an option being put out to consultation. There seems to be strong internal pressure to deflect cuts onto public transport user groups, such as the disabled.

In the 1970s, Centro (then called the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive) had a very small head office at Pitmaston, in the south Birmingham suburbs.

By the time of bus deregulation in 1986, WMPTE head office had moved from Pitmaston to Centro House, a multi-storey office block in Summer Lane near St Chad’s cathedral, and headcount had increased to about 150. The separated ex-PTE bus operations (West Midlands Travel Ltd) occupied one floor of Centro House for a while, and then moved to Edgbaston.

A large part of Centro House has been unoccupied for years, and it appears the prospects of sub-letting its empty floors are marginal. Why the transport executive ever took on such a large building, has never been explained.

Currently, there are apparently nearly 400 Centro staff, mostly at Centro House, but few details on their disposition.

Another cost centre apparently exempt from the budget consultation is high speed rail propaganda (the ‘Go HS2’ campaign).

Recently, Centro has been agitating to take over local rail stations, in order to have ticket offices staffed at all times. Nowadays, most tickets are not bought at station offices, and the benefits of having more staff shut away in cubicles selling handfuls of tickets look somewhat dubious. How much that policy would add to Centro’s costs has never been revealed.


Written by beleben

December 16, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Posted in Centro

2 Responses

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  1. Joe Rukin

    December 17, 2013 at 8:49 am

  2. […] and easy-read versions of its short-form consultation document on the transport authority’s future budget. Public consultation on the budget for the period from April 2014 to March 2016 is being undertaken […]

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