A FORMER Solihull schoolboy and prolific local businessman has thrown his hat in the ring to become the Conservative candidate for the West Midlands Combined Authority metro mayor.
John Lewis managing director, Andy Street, has announced he is standing down as chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) in order to campaign to become the region’s first elected mayor.
The former Langley Primary School pupil grew up in and around Birmingham and Solihull before going on to study politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford University.
After he graduated, Mr Street joined John Lewis in 1985 and worked his way through the ranks to become managing idrector in 2007.
Commenting on his decision to stand down from his position as chair, deputy chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, Steve Hollis, said: “It has been a privilege to work with Andy and witness the Greater Birmingham Solihull economy move from being the laggard in the UK five years ago to now being the leader across many measures.
“Andy’s passion for his home region is infectious as is the way he has brought partners together to realise our shared goals for the area.
“We are witnessing an economic renaissance and new era of optimism.
“We are the outperforming region in the UK and we are positioned to be one of the global leaders.
“We owe a huge debt of gratitude for Andy’s leadership.”
Solihull’s MPs, Caroline Spelman and Julian Knight, have also welcomed the naming of Mr Street as their party’s candidate for the controversial elected mayor role.
Julian Knight, MP for Solihull, said: “The West Midlands has a once in a lifetime opportunity to become a major economic force, and to do this we need powerful and effective leadership.
“Andy Street is just that leader – with him as mayor we have the opportunity to unite and deliver the step change we all want to see.”
Describing him as a potentially ‘excellent mayor’ for the region, Meriden MP, Caroline Spelman, added: “Being a local, he understands our heritage and has applied his business acumen to the front line of public service.
“Our area needs the kind of leadership he offers; determination, practicality and the courtesy of someone who understands all about customer service.
“The West Midlands would flourish under his mayoralty.”
If he is successfully selected as the Conservative candidate, Mr Street is expected to stand down from his role at John Lewis.
Sion Simon, MEP for the West Midlands has been announced as Labour candidate for the role, while Birmingham City University director Beverley Nielsen will stand for the Liberal Democrats.
The Conservative party will make their decision on who will be their candidate for the West Midlands Mayor on September 29.