PLANS to pioneer Very Light Rail technology in the borough and put Dudley on the national map are “under threat”, the leader of the council has said today (Monday).

Councillor Patrick Harley has written to the government asking for help in meeting a near £14million shortfall in funding for the project, which includes plans for a test track and National Innovation Centre (NIC) at Castlegate in Dudley.

In a letter to Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the leader said there was a funding gap of £13.7million at a “critical stage” of the £22.6million project.

The leader has urged the government to treat the project as “the highest priority for funding” to support the borough’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

Cllr Harley said: "The Very Light Rail Test Track and National Innovation Centre (NIC) 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.

"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."