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Government confirms VLR funding, hailing it ‘exciting and innovative’

Dudley’s council leader has today welcomed written confirmation the government is to contribute nearly £13m to get the ‘exciting and innovative’ Very Light Rail back on track.

Council leader Patrick Harley - in partnership with the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and supported by the West Midlands Combined Authority had urged ministers to step in to meet the funding shortfall and support the next phase of the project.

Councillor Harley wrote to Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick MP to say the whole scheme, which includes plans for a test track and National Innovation Centre at Castle Hill, was “under threat” unless the cash could be found.

Last month the secretary of state said the project would be included in the region’s Getting Building Fund and Councillor Harley has now received a letter confirming the news. In the letter from Simon Clarke MP, the minister for regional growth and local government wrote ‘it is excellent news we can support such an exciting and innovative project through the fund.'

The government will be contributing £12.35 million towards the shortfall, with the balance of funding required coming from the Black Country LEP. Councillor Patrick Harley leader of Dudley Council said:

“It is fantastic to get this news confirmed in writing this week. The Very Light Rail Test Track and National Innovation Centre is a key project for our borough. It will offer an innovative and exciting opportunity to provide lower cost local rail connectivity, encouraging shift from private vehicles towards public transport.

"The world’s eyes will be on Dudley as we develop very light rail, a project which will revolutionise light rail technology globally. With the money confirmed, I’m looking forward to this project moving quickly through to delivery."

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