Andy Street, left, shakes hands with Sion Simon following the announcement of the result.

Street elected first mayor of the West Midlands

Former John Lewis boss and Conservative Party candidate Andy Street has been elected the first mayor of the West Midlands.

Following a historic first election, Street will now chair the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and its cabinet of the seven West Midlands council leaders.

Thanking his election team, Street said: "I want to be a mayor who works for everyone across the West Midlands and binds all of our leaders together.

“That’s because ultimately that's what this job is all about - about building a team to champion the West Midlands, building an alliance with central government, with local people, that will put the West Midlands back in its rightful place as the leading region of the UK."

The election, on Thursday 4 May, saw votes cast in Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton. In what was a close contest, Street secured victory over Labour’s Sion Simon by 238,628 votes to 234,862.

A West Midlands mayor was part of the devolution deal between the WMCA and the government, which will see more than £1.1bn made available for investment in the region over the next 30 years.

As mayor, Street 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
  • Speaking after Street’s election, the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) said the mayor “must make the region the best place to start and grow a business.”

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of the GBCC, said: “We look forward to working with Andy to help make the region the best possible place to start, grow and move a business and ensure a strong business voice is heard in the West Midlands Combined Authority.

“While the General Election is understandably taking a significant amount of media and political attention at present, we would urge the new mayor not to lose time in their (relatively short) 3-year term and get straight to the business of establishing their office and delivering for the region.”

Business leaders from across Coventry and Warwickshire have urged Street to stand up for the whole region to help drive investment and create jobs.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said growth, jobs and prosperity should be at the heart of Andy Street’s focus for the region.

She also urged him to stay true to his pre-election promise of backing Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021.

Bennett said: “With every decision that is taken by the new mayor, investment and jobs for our patch must be at the heart of it.

“Whether that’s around improving infrastructure or upskilling our people, economic growth is going to be key to the overall wellbeing of the West Midlands.”

She added: “Ahead of the election, Andy promised – like all of the candidates – to help with Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture and we have absolutely no doubt that he will be true to his word.

“We all know just how big that would be for the city and the region – culturally, socially and economically – and it would have a major impact for many years to come.”

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, echoed Bennett’s views: “The Black Country Chamber of Commerce are looking forward to working with Andy to help drive forward the West Midlands economy by creating first class infrastructure, excellent skilled workers and businesses selling their goods all across the globe.

“Andy has been a tireless campaigner over the last few months and we will make sure that they get the support they need to help local business grow and create jobs.”

Street will hold office for three years. The next election is in May 2020, then every four years after that.