CAMPAIGNERS have hit out at Dudley Council's latest rebuff to reopen the Hippodrome and have vowed to continue their fight to restore the Jazz Age theatre.

It was announced last week that council officers favour turning the site into a control centre for driverless cars by working with the Driverless Vehicle Consortium as part of a £9 million project that would see the creation of a control centre and training site on Castle Hill.

A report to the council’s cabinet stated: "The objective is for Dudley to become a key national centre for autonomous vehicles.”

However, Dudley Hippodrome Community Group have vowed to fight on after their expression of interest to the Council was rejected because of its failure to provide sufficient funding proposals and proof that a theatre could be viably sustained.

A spokesman for the Group said: “We are obviously disappointed that the Council officers have dismissed our bid which we feel is both feasible and vital for the development of the town.

“Given the right support from the Council, the local community, businesses and funding bodies, the Hippodrome and its wonderful history could be preserved.

“All it needs is some commitment and foresight. The fact that we have not been able to provide positive proof of funding is down to the Council as much as a lack of interest in the theatre."

The council have previously said that the group has no 'clear and cogent plan' for how funding would be secured for the building.

The group said they are happy to work alongside the Driverless Vehicle Consortium in order to preserve the historic building, which dates back to 1938.

The group spokesman added: “All it needs is a united sense of direction and purpose and we could steer the combined project forward. Why not combine the wonders of the past – the Black Country Museum, Dudley Zoo – with the future and realise all the enterprise, entertainment and jobs it could provide."

Dudley Hippodrome Community Group will be holding a an 80th birthday party for the Hippodrome at the Station Hotel on December 21 to rally support for their campaign.

The council bought the building in 2009 after it closed as a bingo hall. It took back control of the site in February this year after a plan to reopen the theatre did not reach specific targets.

The proposals for the future of the Castle Hill site will be debated at full council on December 6.