THE CANDIDATES for the first West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) mayoral election have been confirmed.
A total of six candidates will now seek to become the region’s first ever Metro Mayor as residents head out to the polls on May 4.
The WMCA Mayor will:
· Have control over new long term budgets from Central Government.
· Implement transport investment, strategic planning, improve skills and invest in new homes.
· Lobby on behalf of their area, on the issues that matter to local people not only in Westminster, but on the world stage.
· Work with local business leaders to achieve what’s best for local jobs and the economy.
· Capitalise on local strengths and assets like our universities, scientific research and innovation.
WMCA chief executive Martin Reeves said: “This is the definitive list of candidates for the election and it is now down to the people of the West Midlands to make their choice.
“This election is a historic first for this region and I would urge people to ensure they are registered to vote and that they turn out on the day to do so.”
The election is being held as a result of the devolution deal with the Government, which will see more than £1.1 billion made available for investment in the region over the next 30 years.
Those eligible to vote should register to do so by midnight today (Thursday April 13).
For more details about the election and to register to vote go towww.wmcaelects.co.uk
James Burn – Green Party
James is currently an elected councillor for Chelmsley Wood in Solihull and is leader of the opposition on Solihull Council.
He has lived in the West Midlands for more than 15 years and has worked across much of the region in the private, public and voluntary sectors including as a senior policy advisor within Local Government.
He is a qualified social worker and currently runs his own small business.
James has been scrutinising the WMCA since its announcement in 2015 and has appeared on radio, TV and in the press discussing its development and raising concerns about how it is proposed to work.
James is the only mayoral candidate who can claim to have both a deep understanding of local politics and a real appreciation of the needs of both businesses and ordinary people throughout the West Midlands.
Beverley Anne Nielsen – Liberal Democrats:
“I am West Midlands born and bred and passionate about our region. I believe we are the heartland of UK makers and creators, with a goldmine of young talent.
“I became the Liberal Democrat candidate to be the first Mayor of the West Midlands Combined Authority to use my 30 years’ working experience to fight for our region.
“I’m not a career politician. I’m primarily a business woman and educator. I’ve been very lucky in my career to have great opportunity and be right at the heart of change.
“I want to make sure that our region and our young people also have opportunity and the kind of lift up that can change lives. I want to make the West Midlands one of the best places in the UK to live, work and thrive.
“My record is one of navigating and embracing change.
“Now, I’m standing as champion for change and the unifying voice for the West Midlands.
“We are on the cusp of a period of massive upheaval as the complex and confusing Brexit process gets underway. We face more cuts and uncertainty but also opportunity.
“I want to be the mayor that unites us and takes our region forward into a future made by us, for us.”
Andy Street – The Conservative Party Candidate:
“I gave up my job running John Lewis to stand as Mayor of the West Midlands – because I believe this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our great region.
“At John Lewis, I helped generate jobs and investment across the country, including here in the West Midlands – and as your Mayor, I would use the skills I learnt in business to help create jobs and opportunities for your family and everyone in our area.
“Having led the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, I know how to get local politicians, businesses and councils to work together on large projects to benefit our community and grow our economy.
“And if elected Mayor, I’ll use my experience of getting things done in our region to deliver the investment, jobs, housing, safer streets and transport network your family deserve – and build a West Midlands that works for everybody.”
Graham John Stevenson – Communist:
The Combined Authority will have significant powers over public transport, including buses and trams.
Mr Stevenson, a former head of transport in Unite the Union and President of the European Transport Workers Federation, says he wants to campaign as Mayor for an input into regional railway and aviation policy as well.
He added: “I’m for complete public ownership of public transport.
“Anyway, isn’t private ownership a contradiction in terms?
“Nationalise the M6 Toll Road to be sure but whilst we are at it, how about the combined boroughs looking to bring National Express, which dominates travel in the conurbation, into line? Road re-instatement and tougher control of parking and on-street emissions should ease our clogged up back streets.”
Mr Stevenson added: “I heard that lettuces have soared in price due to rainy weather in Spain and they are virtually unattainable in lower price supermarkets.
“Could we not develop urban poly-tunnel farms, providing training and jobs for young people in the heart of the conurbation?
“The sooner we adopt the Living Wage as the only acceptable wage, and look for a shift to a People’s Britain as the terms for negotiation after Article 50, then fears about migration can be eased.”
Siôn Llewelyn Simon – Labour and Co-operative Party
“My family moved to Sandwell when I was six.
“Mum and Dad were both teachers. Mum taught French at a secondary comprehensive and my dad taught at a special school. “Our family come from a Welsh non-conformist background. My parents taught me the value of education – and sought to ensure that I had a great one.
“They taught me that as neighbours, we have obligations to one another. They taught me that looking after the old lady down the street isn’t charity – it’s what it means to be a good person.
“My mum used to talk a lot about her grandfather.
“He was a farm worker who left school at 11.
“He was incredibly well educated – much of which he taught himself before he went blind.
“Education was very important in our house when I was growing up. It was so important – and remains so – because it gave me choices in life.
“I’m very proud to be from the West Midlands.
“Our region holds an incredibly special place in world history – but all too often we don’t celebrate where we’re from. Think about what’s come from the West Midlands.
“Shakespeare – arguably the most creative figure in history. His body of work is unparalleled. The steam engine. The Lunar men.
“Manufacturers of world-class cars. The spitfire – made in Castle Bromwich.
“The collective geniuses of the West Midlands are game-changers – global and historic leaders.
“We should celebrate this more. As Mayor, I will champion our region. If we were a nation, we’d be the 58th biggest country in the world.
“We’ve got so much to be proud of. But we need to restore our pride and place as the great engine of business, jobs and opportunity at the heart of England. If I am elected West Midlands Mayor, that will be my guiding purpose.”
Pete Durnell – UK Independence Party (UKIP):
“I am currently Chairman of UKIP’s Sandwell branch, was privileged to have represented my party in my constituency of Warley in the 2015 General Election, in 2016 was Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for the West Midlands Police Area,
– now extremely proud to have been selected as UKIP’s candidate to become the first West Midlands Metro Mayor in the elections which will be held on May 4th, 2017.
“If you voted to Leave the European Union, and you would like Theresa May to keep to her stated aims of regaining control of our borders, regaining the ability to make our own Laws, regaining the ability to make trade deals that benefit the UK’s interests, not those of Germany or France and of course to cease handing over 100’s of millions of pounds each week to the European Union – what better way than to elect a UKIP Metro Mayor for the West Midlands.”