COUNCIL chiefs aim to spruce up Dudley and Stourbridge town centres and help keep people safe during the pandemic with a new pavement widening scheme.

Work got underway yesterday (Tuesday January 12) after Dudley Council secured £285,000 through the European Regional Development Fund’s Reopening High Streets Safely scheme.

More than £110,000 of the ERDF funding will be used to fund pavement widening in Dudley – on High Street and New Street – and in Stourbridge High Street.

Boardwalk and artificial grass will be installed in parts of High Street and New Street in Dudley. Boardwalks are also on the way to Stourbridge, with new trees in planters also forming part of the proposals there.

Council bosses say the plan is to create more space for people to walk in the town centres, making it easier to follow social distancing guidelines.

It is expected the measures will stay in place until at least the summer.

Councillor Karen Shakespeare, Dudley Council's cabinet member for public realm, said: "We used cones and barriers to initially widen the pavements in our town centres to make them safer for people to use. But we received feedback from shop owners and residents that they did nothing to make the high streets appealing.

"The funding we have received allows us to put something in place which will be much more visually appealing and improve the look of the main streets in two of our town centres.

"We spoke to shop owners in Dudley to see what they would like to see, and the finished proposals are a reflection of that. Stourbridge is a trial scheme, and we will get feedback from traders and residents on what they think of this partial scheme.

"I welcome the start of work, and I look forward to seeing the finished results."