Dudley's "lack of ambition" blasted after paltry housing handout

Tory Cllr Patrick Harley says a £36k government handout is peanuts compared to what other councils got in an empty homes payout

Tory Cllr Patrick Harley says a £36k government handout is peanuts compared to what other councils got in an empty homes payout

First published in News
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DUDLEY Council chiefs have been slammed for a lack of ambition after coming up short in a housing handout.

While neighbouring authorities scooped hundreds of thousands of pounds from the government’s Empty Homes Programme, Dudley collected what it applied for - a paltry £36,000.

Communities minister Don Foster MP handed the borough the money from the Homes and Communities agency to refurbish a former wine bar.

At the same time other West Midlands authorities received much more generous rewards.

Birmingham was granted a cool £1.6million, Wolverhampton got £885,000, Cannock Chase trousered £370,000, Stafford scooped £300,000 while Sandwell bagged £625,000 Even rural South Staffordshire benefitted to the tune of £150,000.

Dudley's Conservative leader, Cllr Pat Harley, said: “If £36,000 is all we’ve applied for, then it’s extremely disappointing. We should have asked for more.

“It shows a lack of ambition. We’ve asked for peanuts and that’s what we received."

The £36,000 will be spent converting the former Merlin's Cafe, Wolverhampton Street, into two affordable one bedroom apartments on the upper floors.

Cllr Steve Waltho, Dudley cabinet member for housing and community safety declared the grant was good news for Dudley town centre while council leader, Cllr David Sparks, said: “Dudley is ahead of the game. We received £630,000 from the Homes and Communities agency in 2012. It was a partnership bid with housing associations, Jephson and Accord.

“We have recently submitted a bid for £36,000 to demonstrate a commercial property can be converted into residential property, while retaining its commercial side.

“This is important for Dudley town centre where there is a lot of empty commercial property.

“I’m hoping to be able to show the merit of using empty commercial property to provide much needed housing right in the centre of the borough."

A council spokesperson confirmed that Dudley has applied for £385,000 in the next round of funding to provide 14 new homes for people with learning disabilities.

She added: “There is a set criteria which has to be complied with to achieve the funding."

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