HISTORIC canals and towpaths in Dudley could be given the same status as Stonehenge and the Great Wall of China as part of an ambitious proposal to transform them.

Andy Street, Conservative candidate for the Mayor of the West Midlands, is seeking to secure UNESCO World Heritage Site status for the canal network.

On May 4, voters in the West Midlands will decide their first directly elected Mayor.

And in his manifesto, the former John Lewis boss has pledged to begin a campaign to get UNESCO to protect the network and increase the scope for investment. The bid would run alongside an existing bid by the Black Country boroughs to become part of the UNESCO Global Geopark network.

The canals bid would specifically help to drive a transformation of the region’s canals as a means of improving sustainable transport links.

Mr Street said: “The canals and towpaths of Dudley aren’t just an important part of our industrial heritage, they also represent a significant opportunity to attract investment and become an even more crucial part of our culture.

“That’s why if I am voted in as Mayor I’m keen to pursue this UNESCO World Heritage status.

"It would not only help us to attract investment to the canals and make them more accessible and become a part of the cycle networks.

“The fantastic work of the Dudley Canal Trust in recent years can be built on, the portal is a fantastic facility and shows what canals can inspire."

“Across the West Midlands we are blessed with more canals than Venice. Let’s transform them into superhighways for cycling and walking safely to school and work.

“I am confident that alongside the Global Geopark bid, the canals in Dudley can be given a new lease of life and not only boost the culture of the area, but make a huge difference to being able to get around.”

Mr Street is standing against Labour’s Sion Simon, Beverley Nielsen (Liberal Democrat), James Burn (Green), Pete Durnell (UKIP), and Graham Stevenson (Communist).