PLANS to spend £650,000 to upgrade the bar and kitchen facilities at Dudley Town Hall have been given the green light by council chiefs.

The money will be spent to overhaul an area of the town hall with a modern commercial kitchen, new bar, dining area and better disabled access at the town centre venue after Dudley Council's ruling cabinet gave it approval.

It is hoped the improvements will help boost the town's night time economy.

The proposals proved controversial in the council chamber earlier in the year, when they were sent to a committee for further scrutiny after councillors thought the business plan needed further checks.

Speaking in February, the then leader of the opposition and current leader of the council Councillor Patrick Harley, criticised the cost of the plans, saying: “As someone who has experience of running bars and investing in them, £650,000 is a hell of a lot of money.

“Having seen some pub refurbishments and that amount would probably rebuild an entire pub.”

The Place Scrutiny Committee then supported the plans but with the condition that further research was carried out to ensure best value for money, leading to a revised business plan being put to the cabinet which has now been approved by the Conservative cabinet.

Speaking now the plans have been approved, Councillor Harley said he was 'satisfied' the revised business plan is a sensible one.

He said: "The previous cabinet meeting report made real wild claims about how much money it would make.

"I'm satisfied now that we have got it right. It's important when we're spending significant amounts of money that we get it right.

"We will be monitoring it and making sure it holds up to further scrutiny. We hope that it's a great success, I'm optimistic now because we have a revisited the business plan."

The local authority-run venue is one of the borough’s top live entertainment halls and regularly attracts big names from the comedy circuit and shows from the entertainment world, with Sir Lenny Henry and Frank Skinner some of the famous names lined up to perform at the venue.

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: "Dudley Town Hall has positioned itself as the borough’s premier live entertainment venue, attracting some of the biggest names in comedy and entertainment.

"We’re really proud that the venue is thriving but we know we need to do more to give the visitors the best experience and future proof the venue for many years to come and boost the town’s night time economy.

"This is a significant investment but we are confident it will be worth every penny and we’ll be able to recoup it through visitors spending more at the bar and on food provided at the new facility."

The revamp of the town hall is part of a wider regeneration project, which will also see the former Dudley Museum brought back into use as a training facility. The cost of the combined project is £1.5million of which £150,000 will come from transformation reserves and £1.35million from the disposal of assets no longer required.