SOME positive news has come through of late on one of my priorities for Stourbridge constituency - regeneration.

The new West Midlands devolution deal is a gamechanger with the mayor Andy Street now a driving force and decision maker when it comes to investing in areas like Lye and Stourbridge High Street.

We met up recently to discuss these big issues. Already £3million has been earmarked for the High Street but more is needed to make the progress local people and I want to see happen.

For Lye, the combined authority, Dudley Council and myself are looking to work up the business case for a wider housing and regeneration programme. This might mean money from the combined authority’s devolution money pot or a further bid to the Levelling Up Fund. However, what I want to make clear is that this is something all three are completely focused on and something we are aiming to achieve as soon as possible.

Last week more disruption was heaped on rail passengers in Stourbridge and the wider West Midlands when the RMT and the train drivers’ union Aslef went on strike again.

The dispute has been going on for a year and both the RMT union Aslef have rejected pay deals of nine per cent and eight per cent respectively. In the case of the train drivers, they turned down a deal that would leave them on £65,000 a year!

Frankly, it’s time the unions accepted these fair and reasonable pay deals and went back to work. The rail network is already in a big financial mess and the taxpayer is shelling out £2 billion a year to plug the shortfall between costs and revenue.

Passenger numbers have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the network needs to modernise working practices but the unions reject this and want it to remain like the 1970s. I cannot help but think this is not about pay but the issue of modernisation. The train operators are rightly adamant a pay deal must be linked to reform of the network, the government agrees and so do I.

This week is Carers Week and I would like to put on record my thanks to the thousands of people across Stourbridge who look after loved ones and friends while often unpaid. You are unsung heroes and without you in our communities, our social care and health services would be under even more pressure.

And finally, the government’s tough line on channel migrants is starting to pay off. The number of Albanians using this route is dramatically down from earlier this year. Just one per cent of those making the dangerous journey on small boats are from Albania. There’s more to do but very good news.