THE Prime Minister hailed Dudley as being at the cutting edge of green technology as he announced a £5bn investment plan to help Britain bounce back after the coronavirus crisis.

Announcing plans to spend big on schools, colleges, hospitals and roads, Boris Johnson paid tribute to Black County industrialist Abraham Darby and name checked Kingswinford’s Westfield car company which in 2011 created the world’s first viable electric car.

He also gave a nod to the efforts of Dudley College, which hosted the PM’s visit to the borough, to create an Institute of Technology in Dudley and he said: “Today Dudley remains at the cutting edge of green technology.”

Cotswold Journal: Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson hold up the Black Country flagAndy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson hold up the Black Country flag

Mr Johnson pledged his government will “back Britain” with his 'new deal' which includes plans to invest in further education and to guarantee every young person an apprenticeship place or in-work placement to help them find the right job for them.

He promised to cut red tape in the planning system and help to get Britain building – with particular emphasis on brownfield sites which should please green belt campaigners.

He said: “This country has got the space on brownfield sites.” He pledged to “do things, better, bolder and faster” and added that the package set out to help the country recover from COVID-19 “is the right one”.

Mr Johnson promised to level things up and said it was time to ensure no one is “left behind” or “neglected” on the grounds of their background or ethnicity.

He said: “I believe in building people up, giving everyone in this country the opportunity they need.”

The Tory promise to build 40 new hospitals was re-iterated. He said: “We were elected to build 40 new hospitals and we will and that is just the beginning.”

He said he would end the unfairness of elderly people having to sell their homes to pay for care that some receive free of charge but gave no details and he promised the West Midlands would  receive a “huge investment” but added that he “wouldn’t like to identify the exact figure now”.

But he stressed the funding pledge was about “creating conditions for a long term increase in productivity” to help make British companies more productive and ensure projects can come to fruition faster.

Cotswold Journal: Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, with Dudley North MP Marco Longhi welcoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson to DudleyAndy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, with Dudley North MP Marco Longhi welcoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Dudley

Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, who welcomed Mr Johnson to Dudley, said of the plans: "What we have heard from the Prime Minster today is a visionary plan for us to not only bounce back but also forward with accelerated economic growth with a focus on making things happen that will deliver jobs and crucially address inequalities in the country by levelling up as well as address issues coronavirus has exposed.

"It was a pleasure to welcome him to Dudley and show him the excellent facilities at the college, which is a beacon for new skills and growth for the area."

Dudley South MP Mike Wood said of Mr Johnson’s speech: “It’s really appropriate that the Prime Minister chose Dudley to announce a massive infrastructure and investment programme to help rebuild the economy after the coronavirus pandemic.

“Boris Johnson highlighted Kingswinford-based electric and autonomous vehicle manufacturer Westfield Sports Cars as an example of world-leading British innovation and there are so many other brilliant businesses in our area who - with the right support and the right conditions - can drive our economic recovery, creating high-quality jobs in the Black Country.

“This is only possible because the economy was so sound going into the pandemic, allowing the Government to borrow at low interest rates for long-term investment to create the best possible opportunities for local people.”

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb added that she was “delighted” the Prime Minister had chosen Dudley to visit and “deliver a speech of this significance for the future of our country”.

She said: “The Prime Minister says that the UK is the greatest place on earth, I would like to think that the Black Country is one of the greatest and most creative places in the UK.

"The spirit and determination of Black Country people in the face of Coronavirus has been a testament to this.

“It is also fitting that he chose to deliver his speech on the economic recovery from the virus in the Dudley borough - an area where regeneration is firmly at the top of the agenda.

Cotswold Journal: Mayor - Andy Street, MP Marco Longhi and Prime Minister Boris JohnsonMayor - Andy Street, MP Marco Longhi and Prime Minister Boris Johnson

“The Prime Minister's announcements on house building and investment will be particularly important for areas like Lye and Cradley in my constituency, both of which have huge potential for more homes and more jobs to be sited on brownfield sites.

“The announcement of £5bn in investment for schools, hospitals, high streets roads and rail will be game changing, as will the commitment to cut red tape and get Britain building quicker than ever. The announcement on planning reform looks very positive, with people being given more freedom to turn their properties into the residential and commercial properties we need, whilst retaining protections for important community assets like pubs and libraries.

“The Prime Minister has laid out an ambitious plan for our economic recovery which reflects my plan for Stourbridge, focussed on "jobs, jobs, jobs” and on reskilling and re-training, helping people to get back on their feet following coronavirus.”