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Will the West Midlands elect a Conservative mayor?

John Lewis’ former managing director has insisted he can win the West Midlands mayoral election as the Conservative candidate next year.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Andy Street said: “On the last General Election results, we need just a 4% swing for victory. We can win here, we will win here.”

As mayor, he pledged he would “fight hard for the best deal from central government”, address the “inbalance” in transport spending and bid for Birmingham to host the Commonwealth Games.

Mayoral elections so far have been dominated by Labour, which won the mayoral elections in London, Salford, Bristol and Liverpool in May. Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham is the favourite to win in next year’s Manchester election in May.

Indeed, prime minister Theresa May is now rumoured to be considering abolishing the requirement for devolved administrations to introduce elected mayors, a key and controversial policy from the previous government, to avoid fostering a breeding ground for opposition support.

It remains to be seen whether Street will convince enough voters that he has the necessary experience to break the pattern. He is running against Labour’s Sion Simon, the MEP for the West Midlands, and businesswoman Beverley Nielsen as the Liberal Democrat candidate.

For now, at least, the devolution process is going ahead as planned, although it has faced recent setbacks such as the withdrawal of the North East devolution deal. PSE will be keeping a keen eye on the elections in the West Midlands, Manchester and elsewhere next year, as well as how the new mayors use their powers, to see how the devolution agenda takes shape in the future.

(Image c. Steve N)

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Eric Firth   15/12/2016 at 15:03

I think that most councillors and the general public have accepted devolution and combined authorities as the way forward in the brave new world. But why the government continue to persist with the Mayoral model that no one really wants baffles me and I'm sure many folk.

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