Speaking at PMQs, Mr Longhi requested a private meeting with the Prime Minister in order to discuss Dudley’s failed levelling up bid – and how the borough could secure funding in the next round.
“Our high street is on its knees,” Mr Longhi said.
“Will the prime minister meet with me and Dudley council to discuss our levelling up bid and how we can ensure success in the next round?”
Bids were submitted to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) last year in the hope of securing £20m each for improvements in Lye, Brierley Hill, Dudley and Halesowen.
But, Dudley – as well as Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Coventry – received no money from the levelling up fund.
In response, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: ” I know there will be disappointment about the levelling up fund but all bids including that made by Dudley council can receive feedback to strengthen their bid for future rounds of funding and I would be very happy to meet with him further to discuss.”
Mr Longhi did thank the Prime Minister for the £25 million Dudley had received to fund the redevelopment of the Dudley Hippodrome – which will now become a University Centre.
However, there was no mention of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill Metro extension – which is now at extreme risk of being delayed or cancelled according to council documents.
Mr Longhi continued: “While I was disappointed that Dudley did not make the final cut in the latest levelling up funding round I am of course pleased that we received the £25 million towns deal, the brand new Duncan Edwards Leisure Facility and a transport interchange project secured since my election in 2019.”
Speaking at a WMCA meeting at the end of last year, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority said funding for phase two of the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill project could come from either government funding which former prime minister Liz Truss had vocally supported, diverting some funding from other transport projects, or if patronage on the metro and the profit it generates increases, this can be reinvested.