DUDLEY is set to get a refreshed Town Board of community leaders, employers and politicians to oversee how regeneration cash is spent.

The creation of the new panel is a condition of the allocation of £20m levelling up funding to Dudley Council.

The Town Board will have the job of delivering the government’s Long Term Plan for Towns (LTPfT) initiative which sees 55 towns including Dudley getting £20m each to spend over the next 10 years.

Dudley Council leader, councillor Patrick Harley, said: “We are delighted to be receiving this major funding boost to invest in Dudley over the next 10 years.

“Initial planning is getting underway, but a key element will be working with our local community and I’m looking forward to hearing people’s views on where this long-term funding will be invested through the Town Board.

“This additional long-term investment will complement the multi-million-pound regeneration plans already underway in the town centre, including the new Dudley Interchange, the Metro extension and £25m towns fund, being used to develop new educational facilities.”

The Town Board will work on schemes for Dudley with safety and security, high streets, heritage, regeneration and connectivity at the centre of their plans.

The board will be expected to set out its long term plan and how it will use existing powers, including Compulsory Purchase Orders.

The £20m for Dudley will be made up of £15m for capital investment and £5m for revenue however councillors are already squabbling over how to spend regeneration  cash.

At a full council meeting on December 4, Labour councillor Cathryn Bayton was concerned about the council spending £20,000 on a feasibility study into the development of a new ice rink and hotel complex in Dudley.

Cllr Bayton said: “At a time when all non-essential spending at the council has been halted I am concerned at the proposed £20k cost. The West Midlands Growth Company has agreed to pay the initial £50k, they have in the last 12 months received circa £16m of public funding.

“I believe they should be footing the bill for the entirety of the studies being proposed.”

Cllr Bayton also called for the findings of the study to be considered by full council before decisions are made.

However, council leader, Cllr Patrick Harley, dismissed her worries and accused Labour of dithering.

He told Cllr Bayton: “It’s incredible that you want to put at risk a project that is worth in excess of 20 to 25 million pounds.

“There is a feasibility study going on with the West Midlands Growth Company which they are, by-and-large, funding.  The data to date shows the ice rink is extremely feasible.

“Our commitment is to help prove the feasibility, this nonsense from the opposition helps delay that."

He added: “I believe the ice rink is the game changer for this town centre, it’s something new.

“Someone else picks up the tab but that footfall will regenerate the town centre and it will mean areas around that area having a great uplift.”