THE council cabinet have officially given their support for the Dudley Driverless Vehicles Consortium to take over the Hippodrome, giving the group 12 months to finalise their plans.

Campaigners hopes were dashed as the cabinet gave their support to the consortium, who now have 12 months to 'enhance' their bid and prove it's viability.

The cabinet were told that if in 12 months the bid does not prove viable, the plans for the Hippodrome site would be 'back to square one'.

Former council leader Councillor Patrick Harley told the committee that his 'heart says hippodrome', but weighing up both bids he supported the consortium's plan for the Castle Hill site.

He said that in the future he would support the building of a new entertainment venue in Dudley, and praised campaigners for working 'tirelessly' to restore the 1930s theatre.

Leader of the council Councillor Qadar Zada also said his 'heart' was with the Hippodrome, but their bid had to be taken 'in context' of the borough's regeneration plans.

Campaigners from the Dudley Hippodrome Community group expressed their disapproval and disappointment at the council's stance, and left the committee chamber immediately after it was announced.

Campaigner Paul Winchurch said: "Why should we have travel out of the borough to go to the theatre? There's nothing in Dudley now.

"Every great town and city has a theatre. Why doesn't the capital of the Black Country?"

Angela Fletcher added: "We're not giving up. We're going to find the funds they reckon we need."