THE approval of two £20million funding bids to boost education and transport facilities in the Dudley borough has been hailed as a “pivotal moment” by the council’s leader.

The government has today (Monday November 20) confirmed Dudley Council has been awarded Levelling Up funding in round three - securing £20million each for Brierley Hill and Halesowen.

Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove visited Brierley Hill today to learn more about the plans first-hand which will see the council progress plans to work with Dudley College to create a new transport technologies centre and improve transport links in Brierley Hill.

The transport technologies centre will expand existing facilities to offer training and upskilling in future transport technologies, including electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as the wider applications of electrification on our local industries.

There will also be investment in the way people can move around the town, through improving connectivity between the new technology centre, Merry Hill Centre and the High Street. This will include extending and adding to the existing cycling infrastructure and improving pedestrian access.

In Halesowen, the council will work with Halesowen College to create a new building in the town centre to accommodate students for vocational training programmes and adult education courses.

It is proposed that Pool Road car park will be demolished to make way for the new building with alternative car parking arrangements available at Andrews Road car park and at the adjacent leisure centre.

The money will also be used to improve the town’s cycling provision, introduce traffic calming measures and improve pedestrian access.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said: "This is a pivotal moment for the future of Halesowen and Brierley Hill town centres as it will allow us to push ahead with our ambitious regeneration plans.

"We’ve already been successful in securing Future High Streets and Heritage Action Zone funding for Brierley Hill, which is allowing us to improve transport links and the High Street, upgrade public toilets, refurbish the library and provide new seating, planting and cycle facilities for the town.

"But with this funding we can go further and continue with our commitment to improve the borough for the people who live, work, visit or study here.

"In Halesowen, the new college building will right in the town centre and provide upskilling opportunities to boost employability standards.

"In Brierley Hill, the new technology centre will allow students to be at the cutting edge of technology and support a growing industry where more people are choosing to drive hybrid or electric vehicles to reduce their carbon emissions.

"I welcome this investment and look forward to seeing these projects get off the ground."

Neil Thomas, chief executive and principal at Dudley College of Technology, said: "I am delighted we have secured the investment in this new facility in Brierley Hill.  

"The college’s vision is to provide a state-of-the-art learning centre offering training and upskilling in future transport technologies.

"We will be expanding our current provision by relocating our Wolverhampton Street site, so we support both young people and adults to work with electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as in industries making use of the wider applications of electrification."

Jacquie Carman, chief executive and principal at Halesowen College, said: "I am delighted the college now has further opportunity to have a positive impact on Halesowen town centre.

"Education, training and the development of skills is pivotal to driving our community forward and enabling businesses in our area to recruit the talent needed to bridge the current skills gap."

Dudley South MP Mike Wood described the funding boost for Brierley Hill as "huge" and said: said it would create a new  Brierley Hill Education Quarter that "not only opens up new career opportunities for young people, but is a vital part in making sure our local engineering sector – has access to the skills they will need to survive and thrive at a time when vehicle technologies are changing so rapidly".

He added: “The funding will also help to open Brierley Hill town centre, creating nicer places to shop, work or to meet up and making it easier to move safely between the High Street, Venture Way and Merry Hill to take advantage of the new Metro tram line that is on its way.

“This is the latest in a string of record investments in our local community that shows that the Government not only recognises the challenges that our towns face but has confidence in our abilit​y locally to deliver the change that is needed.”

Stourbridge News: Dudley South MP Mike Wood, centre, with councillors Wayne Little, left, and Adam Davies, right.Dudley South MP Mike Wood, centre, with councillors Wayne Little, left, and Adam Davies, right. (Image: Cllr Adam Davies)

Brierley Hill councillors Adam Davies and Wayne Little also welcomed the investment for the town.

Cllr Davies said:  “This is yet more great news for our town and wider area – helping make sure local young people can get the skills right here in Brierley Hill that lead to the good paying careers of the future. 

“Along with the other ongoing regeneration projects taking place in the town, this funding will help breathe new life and opportunity into Brierley Hill.”  

Cllr Little added: "Both as a councillor and as a local dad I am really excited by this news.  

“We need to be planning for the jobs of the future and making sure that our local young people are able to obtain the skills and education that will allow them to qualify for those jobs.

"The new Brierley Hill Education Quarter will make sure they can get that without having to travel or move away.” 

Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris said of the funding news: “After previous setbacks I’m delighted that Halesowen has been awarded £20m to level up our town centre, creating better parking facilities, increasing footfall in the town and providing a boost to adult skills provision with a new centre for the college. 

"I’m pleased that the new Minister has approved our proposals, and I’ll be working with central Government, Dudley Council and Halesowen BID to ensure they come to fruition.”