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War of words over claims Wolverhampton has 'fallen behind' Birmingham and Coventry due to lack of ambition

Wolverhampton has "fallen behind" the likes of Birmingham and Coventry due to a "lack of ambition" being shown by chiefs, it has been claimed.

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Conservative chief Councillor Wendy Thompson said the area had been eclipsed by others as she pointed the blame at the city's Labour-run council.

But the criticism has been branded "electioneering" ahead of voting in May, with a senior figure accusing the Tory leader of "talking down" the city.

Councillor Thompson, who leads the Conservative Group, said: "Wolverhampton is suffering from 'third city syndrome', falling behind Birmingham and Coventry – and it's all because of a lack of ambition.

"There has probably never been more investment into the West Midlands, thanks to the efforts of West Midlands Mayor Andy Street who, working with our fantastic MPs, Stuart Anderson and Jane Stevenson, has secured the City Learning Quarter for Wolverhampton, which will create hundreds of jobs.

"But under Labour, Wolverhampton consistently fails to show the kind of ambition that we see across the region. In the last few years, Birmingham has held a Commonwealth Games, and Coventry has been the UK City of Culture. What have we had here? Where is the ambition?"

But Councillor Stephen Simkins, deputy leader of the Labour-run authority, highlighted the City Learning Quarter – a project from the council backed by Conservatives in the city – and the £20m for the Bilston Health and Wellbeing Hub announced in the budget as evidence of investment.

And he cited the council's ongoing plans to look to bring a hotel to the city, the £6 million entertainment and events box space, as well as other regeneration schemes in the pipeline.

He added: "The comments do a detriment to our city. There's lots of challenges, but I like to think the council is meeting those challenges in regards to regeneration.

"I don't think we're lagging behind, I think we've set out a vision for the city and we will work tirelessly to get these projects over the line regardless of who is in Government. And what's their proposals? If there's an alternative plan give it to us."

Councillor Simkins, who pointed out part of the Commonwealth Games had been held in Wolverhampton, said the authority would "get on and do the job" rather than talking the city down.

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