PRIME Minister Theresa May called in at a thriving Black Country furniture firm this morning (Monday) as part of efforts to give Dudley Conservatives a boost ahead of the looming local election.

Mrs May stopped off at Boss Design in Dudley, which has just secured a deal to kit out the World Trade Centre in New York, to big up Tory colleagues who are fighting to hang onto Dudley Council.

The Prime Minister, however, would not be drawn on how she thinks the Conservatives will fare in the local election, nationally or locally, and she said she has made it a practice throughout her "lengthy political career to never predict election results" - adding: "Elections are about going out and working for them."

Dudley News:

During her visit though she was keen to praise Dudley's Tory-run council for the way it has been managing services over the last year - adding: "When people go out to vote they need to think who is it that's going to provide them with the good local services, who's going to deal with the issues that matter to them, keep that weekly bin collection, keep that two hours of free parking, fix those potholes?"

She said the Tories were working to keep costs down and the council tax down - adding: "Conservative councils cost you less."

Councillor Patrick Harley, Dudley Council's leader, said: "It's clear that since we took control we've made a difference. People talked about free parking and said it couldn't happen, two months the council pushed through free parking. We haven't made any cuts to adult social care - which is unheard of. We've put money back into green care and other front line services - we're making that difference. Bed-blocking at Russells Hall Hospital has gone down. We're showing with good governance and a good political steer you can make a difference to people's lives."

The Conservatives seized control of Dudley Council from Labour last May with a little help from UKIP councillors, but with five out of six UKIP councillors fighting to hang onto their seats this time round - the Tories have their work cut out to make the gains they need to achieve overall control.

But cllr Harley said: "Having the Prime Minister here is a massive boost to the local election campaign."

Dudley News:

Brian Murray, CEO of Boss Design, was also chuffed to have the PM visit his thriving firm which he started in 1983 and which now boasts around 250 staff.

He said: "She was very impressed with the shop floor staff - a lot of whom have been here for over 25 years - and in the manufacturing process. I found her quite inspiring. We showed her the furniture that goes all over the world. We've currently got a big job going through for the World Trade Centre in New York."

Dudley South MP Mike Wood added: "Boss Design is another one of the great Dudley South businesses that are exporting right around the world. They;re producing really high level furniture for the World Trade Centre."

The Prime Minister's visit to the borough comes hot on the heels of Chancellor Philip Hammond's stop off at Westfield Sportscars in Kingswinford.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, also recently visited Dudley's Lister Road waste depot and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling stopped off in Brierley Hill to talk about the Midland Metro extension back in March.

Meanwhile - keen to take back council control - Labour group leader Councillor Pete Lowe has welcomed party leader Jeremy Corbyn to the borough twice in recent weeks.

As well as promising to put more police back on the streets and to do more to help the homeless - Mr Corbyn spoke in confident terms about hoping to see the authority return to Labour's control.

Cllr Harley, however, said it would be "possibly wrong to make any predictions" on how the election may play out but he said: "We have a good field of candidates - youthful, young candidates who are very energetic and enthusiastic, mixed with experienced candidates, who have been working really hard in lots of wards."

And he added: "I think we could have a few shocks on May 3."