Black Country towns to benefit from multi-billion pound regeneration fund
Towns and cities across the Black Country will benefit from a £3.6 billion cash pot – as the government announce plans to regenerate run-down areas of the country.
A total of 100 places across England have been invited to be a part of the new project, to encourage economic growth.
Towns involved in the local area are Dudley, Walsall, Bloxwich, Rowley Regis, Smethwick, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.
The news was announced by local government secretary MP Robert Jenrick, who said: "Ensuring that prosperity and opportunities are available to everyone in this country, not just those in London or our biggest cities, is at the heart of the mission of this government.
"We want to level-up our great towns, raising living standards and ensuring they can thrive with transformative investment in transport, technology, skills and culture.
"I will now work with local people from the 100 communities announced today to agree proposals to invest up to £25 million in each place. I hope these deals will provide the investment and the impetus for long-term renewal ensuring each town can look to the future with a new optimism."
Communities, businesses and local leaders will now join forces to draw up ambitious plans to transform their town’s economic growth prospects with a focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture.
The Government said that the towns eligible for support from the £3.6 billion Towns Fund include places with proud industrial and economic heritage but that have not always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.
Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, has worked closely with the Government to secure more money for town centres.
He said: "I have lobbied Robert Jenrick for more money for town centres from the minute he took up his cabinet post, and so I am delighted that so many of our town and city centres here in the West Midlands have access to this significant pot of funding.
"The West Midlands Combined Authority will now work closely with the six towns listed and the city of Wolverhampton to make sure their bids to MHCLG are successful for the maximum amount of funding available.
"It is clear our high streets need significant investment and a rethink, which is why I have launched the Town Centre Task Force and why I am so grateful for this funding from Government today. The Task Force has clear plans for our town centres and will work hand-in-hand with the local authorities to find the best way to spend the new money available.
"This is a great start towards a positive future for our high streets, but there is still plenty more work to be done - particularly around business rates. I am committed to working with the government to make sure the archaic system, which punishes those businesses who disproportionately rely on property, is overhauled.
"There are clearly more towns and high streets in the West Midlands past the seven announced today that need funding and help, and the WMCA and I will continue to work with Government to make sure further support and funding is made available."
The government will soon publish a prospectus to guide towns through the process and set eligibility criteria for funding.
Once approved, new Town Deals will improve connectivity, provide vital social and cultural infrastructure and boost growth – with communities having a say on how the money is spent.
Decisions on funding any proposals will be made in due course.