FORMER Labour leader Ed Miliband has welcomed West Midlands Mayor candidate Liam Byrne’s manifesto plans for the region to ‘lead the green industrial revolution’.
Mr Miliband was speaking to the Observer during a tour of the Energy Innovation Centre based in the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at Warwick University in Coventry.
He said: “What Liam has developed is a vision where the West Midlands can be at the forefront of green manufacturing and that’s what he’ll do if elected.
“I back what he says – ‘the West Midlands led the industrial revolution and it can lead the green industrial revolution’.
“We need better jobs and better lives for people but let’s make no mistake, we are in a global race here and this needs Government to step up otherwise we are going to get left behind.
“If we step up, we can lead and the West Midlands is up there to lead because of its centrality and motor manufacturing past.
“But we need manufacturers, scientists and Government all on board.
“We have the right to be at the forefront if we have a mayor who ‘really gets it’ and Liam does.”
On WMG he added: “It’s incredibly impressive in that it brings together the university, scientists and manufacturers to develop the technology we need.”
Mr Byrne said: “We have got the ideas, we have the tradition and we need to put them together to build for the future.
“When I have been out and about people have told me we need to go green but we must do it by making things as that is how we have always done it.
“This is our chance to be a global leader again and we need to grasp it with both hands.”
He said brownfield sites needed to provide on-site renewable energy and battery technology.
“It’s not just vehicles we need the batteries for – we need the energy to power the green economy – for business parks and homes.
“We need a Mayor who will square up to the Government and get the cash we need for the gigafactory.
“The Government is dithering not driving hard to get this in place.”
He added green skills were also much-needed to action the plans and to do that the region’s whole education system needed reorganising.
“What we have at the University of Warwick is a fantastic blueprint but the model needs scaling up and rolling out across the West Midlands.”
On a busy week of campaigning, which has seen Sir Keir Starmer and Sarah Jones MP come to the region he said: “The West Midlands is a key battleground.
“Since the campaign began I have met thousands of contacts and had thousands of conversations.
“Politics has been frozen, almost on hold, during the pandemic but people are now focusing they have got to make in the coming days for their futures.”
To read Liam Byrne’s ‘A New Future for the Heart of Britain’ manifesto, click here.
Standing against Liam Byrne are Conservative Andy Street, Liberal Democrat Jenny Wilkinson, the Green Party’s Steve Caudwell and Pete Durnell from Reform UK.