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Dudley Council decides on next steps for ice rink and football team projects

A council has debated and agreed on the next steps for a new ice rink and the future of a football team.

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Dudley Council House was the setting for the meeting

The councillors and Mayor of Dudley met to discuss the plans for the multi-million-pound redevelopment scheme for a new ice rink and hotel complex on Flood Street as part of Capital Programme Monitoring at the Dudley Council meeting on Monday evening.

The council chamber was full for the discussion on the ice rink, as well as hearing notice of a motion from Councillor Shaukot Ali about bringing Dudley Town Football Club back to Dudley Borough - plus acknowledging the efforts of politicians to bring the team back and the success of other sportsmen and women from the borough.

As part of the meeting, councillors were asked to discuss the latest stage in a scheme for a new ice rink and hotel complex on Flood Street.

The discussion, under the plan of Capital Programme Monitoring, came after an initial proposal for redeveloping the site had collapsed, but the West Midlands Growth Company then agreed to initially spend £50,000 on a viability assessment, provided Dudley Council contributed £15,000 to the cost of the assessment if it is successful and then a further £5,000 for an economic impact assessment.

In response, Councillor Cathryn Bayton offered an amendment to remove the planned discussion to a further meeting, stating that at a time when the council had halted all non-essential spending due to its precarious financial state, she was concerned at spending £20,000 on a viability and financial impact study.

She also stated that she believed that the West Midlands Growth Company should be paying the whole bill and proposed that further discussions take place with the Growth Company to cover the full cost.

In response, Councillor Harley said he felt the new ice rink would be a "game-changer" for the town and provide more than £25 million worth of funding and increased footfall in the town, as well increased food and beverage providers in and around the town centre.

After further points were made by Councillor Pete Lowe and Councillor Paul Bradley, the amendment was put to a vote, with 38 voting no, 25 voting yes and two abstaining, meaning the amendment did not carry and the motion by Councillor Harley was carried forward.

Councillor Ali read his motion regarding Dudley Town Football Club, describing how the club had lost its original home in 1985 amid subsidence issues, with the site subsequently closed and renovated into what is now Castle Gate.

He mentioned how the club had moved across the borough, currently played in Willenhall and had won promotion last season to the Midlands Football League Premier Division, so asked the council to acknowledge the efforts of politicians across the political spectrum to bring the club back to the borough.

He also asked the council to acknowledge the club's achievement with a walk down the market place with a trophy, to regularly celebrate significant achievements of sporting heroes and sports clubs across the borough and to acknowledge the work done on the Dudley Playing Pitch and Outdoor Sports Strategy and to progress this work through a cross-party working group.

Councillor Damian Corfield offered an amendment to the motion to ask for acknowledgement of the work by Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, which Councillor Harley seconded, and while Councillor Ali said he was not prepared to accept the amendment due to having already acknowledged all politicians, the amendment was carried by 39 votes to 26.

Councillor Harley also reported back that the council had been working with the club to find a new home and had located a site, but said it would take work and, potentially, some investment from the club to be able to make the move possible. He also said the council would do more to acknowledge the success of sport stars and teams from the borough in the future.