Andy Street, the former John Lewis boss, and the Conservative candidate for West Midlands Mayor, surprised many when he won the mayoral election on Thursday 4th May. Mr Street won the election on the back of making several promises to bring change and improvement to the West Midlands, and to ensure that the region was not left behind, in these changing times. The West Midlands Mayor will have control over transport, housing and jobs.
During the campaign, Andy Street highlighted the importance of developing a proper transport network within the West Midlands to ensure that people could get to work on time, and to do the things they wished to in their spare time. To this end, he proposed opening several new tram and train lines between Birmingham City Centre and various other areas of Birmingham, such as King’s Heath and Moseley. Mr Street has also discussed improving the car parks in Birmingham and other areas in the West Midlands to ensure better security for citizens and their cars.
Mr Street highlighted the importance of ensuring that people were given the tools to get back into work during the campaign as well. He focused on ensuring that apprenticeships were rolled out for the people, including digital apprenticeships, to ensure that the people of the West Midlands had the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive and changing world. Mr Street focused particularly on increasing youth employment through his digital apprenticeship scheme, and through ensuring that they were put through an employment boot camp to properly equip them for the world of work.
Housing was highlighted throughout the mayoral campaign as a serious issue for the people of the West Midlands. The candidates all expressed the ways in which they hoped to address this issue, Mr Street amongst them. Mr Street proposed building new houses on allotments of green belt, as well as on brown belt. This, he argued during the campaign would spread the balance of housing development, whilst also preserving valuable patches of green belt for conservation. He proposed that this method would help see 25,000 houses built in the West Midlands over three years.
Now that he has been elected mayor, Mr Street will have a tough task ahead of him. It will be interesting to see whether he is fit for the challenge!