Leader issues funding plea to Government as Dudley Very Light Rail plans 'under threat'
Plans to pioneer Very Light Rail technology in Dudley are "under threat", the leader of the council has warned.
Dudley Council boss Patrick Harley has written to the Government asking for help in meeting a near £14 million shortfall in funding for the project.
The £22.6 million project includes plans for a test track and National Innovation Centre built at Castlegate.
In a letter to Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Councillor Harley said there was a funding gap of £13.7 million at a "critical stage" of the project.
The leader of Dudley Council has now urged the Government to treat the project as "the highest priority for funding" to support the borough's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Councillor Harley said: "The Very Light Rail Test Track and National Innovation Centre is a key project for our borough.
"It offers an innovative and exciting opportunity to provide lower cost local rail connectivity, encouraging shift from private vehicles towards public transport.
"This project is now under threat just at the time when we need it more than ever to boost our recovery from the economic impacts of the pandemic."
He added: "I am asking that the Government treats this project, which cuts across local authority areas and supports the green agenda, as the highest priority for funding to support the economic recovery."
The innovation centre, which will be built at Castle Hill, will design and build lightweight rail vehicles. Research and development laboratories will also be built alongside facilities for general manufacturing, conferences, teaching and training and further infrastructure.
Test tracks for the lightweight trains will run for 2km from Castle Hill to Cinder Bank.
A new footbridge will be built over Tipton Road to connect the light rail centre to the new metro line, when it is extended to Dudley.