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Residents will be invited on a panel to discuss future of town centres

Borough residents will be invited to sit on a People’s Panel later this year to discuss the future of Dudley and Brierley Hill town centres.

Letters will go out next month to 10,000 randomly selected addresses inviting people to apply to sit on the panel, with those chosen receiving £300 plus expenses for their time.

An independent body will go through the applications before selecting a group of 50 people that represents a broad cross-section of the borough.

The panel will meet over four days in November to discuss the issues and question experts before coming up with detailed recommendations to present to councillors.

People will also be able to apply to attend the sessions as observers from October onwards.

Dudley Council has received £60,000 government funding to run the People’s Panel, and is one of just three local authorities nationwide chosen to take part in the pilot scheme.

It comes as it was revealed this week that Brierley Hill has been shortlisted in a bid to receive £16m government funding to revitalise the town through the Future High Streets Fund.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of the council, said:

"We want to give members of the public more say over decisions that affect them and their communities.

"As part of this, we are thrilled to be one of only three councils selected by the government to set up a People’s Panel.

"It will allow us to capture the thoughts of borough residents on how we can help our town centres thrive.

"Current regeneration projects in Dudley and Brierley Hill have the potential to significantly change how these town centres are used in the next five years, so it is important to have public input here.

"It is particularly timely given the announcement this week that we have moved a step closer towards securing significant funding for Brierley Hill High Street, with this new panel able to discuss what it would like to see that money spent on."

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