THE leader of Dudley Council believes the future is bright for Brierley Hill.

Councillor Patrick Harley made the bold statement after meeting with business leaders in the town on Tuesday (August 31).

The borough's top politician met with Ellandi, the new owners of Merry Hill, plus council regeneration officers and community leaders for a walkabout and discussion about how they could work together to improve things.

Cllr Harley said:"We are delighted to welcome Ellandi to the borough, one of many good new stories that signal a bright new future for Brierley Hill.

"Like many retail sites, Merry Hill has been hit hard by the pandemic, but we will do all we can as a local authority to support.

"Add to that the millions of pounds pouring in as part of the Future High Streets Fund and the future looks very positive for Brierley Hill."

At the start of the year, the government announced almost £10million would be heading to Brierley Hill, as part of the Future High Streets Fund, which cllr Harley said would be a catalyst for regeneration in the town.

The bid, headed up by Dudley Council, was one of just 15 in the country to be approved in full.

Meanwhile, Ellandi announced plans earlier this year for £50million to be spent on improving the offer of new shops, restaurants and family entertainment available at Merry Hill.

And in 2020 the government agreed £1.8m from its Heritage Action Zone programme to help regenerate historic buildings and engage local communities through art and cultural projects.

Work is also underway to bring the Metro to the town to link Brierley Hill with Wednesbury, with discussions ongoing about potential links from Brierley Hill High Street to Merry Hill.

Mark Robinson, founder of Ellandi and chairman of the government’s High Street taskforce, added: "There are a lot of exciting opportunities in Brierley Hill and I am really encouraged by the vision and the enthusiasm of the council and the community.

"We have to look at every opportunity we can to work together and bring about improvements to the whole of Brierley Hill."

Community groups have been highlighted as key to the future of the town especially the work of Brierley Hill Community Forum

Representatives from the group highlighted successful schemes such as the events planned at the indoor market and volunteers watering plants as part of Brierley Hill in Bloom.

Tim Sunter, chairman of Brierley Hill community forum, said: "Brierley Hill High Street faces significant challenges. Community run activities such as Brierley Hill in Bloom, litter picks and Heritage Open Days demonstrate the passion and commitment of local residents and stakeholders to the town. There is now an opportunity to work with the local authority and other partners to see some real improvements."