Election Special

Business News Mayoral candidates set their stalls out

The West Midlands mayoral candidates for 2021 are (clockwise from top left): Liam Byrne, Steve Caudwell, Ashvir Sangha, Jenny Wilkinson, Tim Weller and Andy Street


Currently Labour MP for Hodge Hill, Liam Byrne held a number of Ministerial roles under the Blair and Brown-led governments, including as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Mr Byrne, if elected, hopes to

invest in more ‘very light rail’ schemes and negotiate a ‘green devolution deal’ for the region. A very light rail scheme is one

that does away with the overhead cabling, and uses batteries instead. Such a system is being developed in Coventry, and is due to become operational in 2024. He said: “My ambition as mayor

of the West Midlands is for the region to lead the green industrial revolution. Our green future will create high-skilled jobs to meet the global demand for environmental friendly energy, transport and manufacturing. This will be good for business, and our young people.”


Steve Caudwell is the Green Party leader at Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and a Castle Bromwich ward councilor. He has held roles at Airbus and

Jaguar Land Rover, and hopes to make the Midlands the centre of the

green technology sector if elected. He said: “The climate emergency

is the defining challenge of our time, and the Combined Authority’s 2041 target for carbon neutrality is much too late. As a Green mayor I’ll bring businesses, politics and people together to focus on delivering a West Midlands that works – for people today, and for future generations.”


Oxford-educated Ashvir Sangha has worked in the education sector for more than a decade. He has established a variety of schemes supporting and mentoring young people, including the ‘Brum Young Leaders’ programme. If elected, he wants to establish

more devolved powers for the mayor’s office, and sell off the Combined Authority headquarters in Summer Row. He said: “Re-open further and

faster - smartly and safely. Bring in an extended business rates holiday and pause the incoming driver’s charge (generates more revenue than cleaner air). “Work together to reset the

Westminster/West Midlands balance. With more of the power & purse strings, we can control our own destiny.”

ANDY STREET Conservative

Andy Street was boss of John Lewis for nine years and chairman of Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership before being elected as mayor in 2017. If re-elected, Mr Street has

committed to not raising council tax for three years. He’s also spoken about the Metro being the key to his transport plan, doubling the fleet and creating more jobs in the process. He also wants to create more

opportunities for people in the region, after what he calls ‘40 years of underinvestment’. He said: “As someone who spent

decades in business before entering politics, I fully understand the challenges you now face. By continuing to win huge investment, adopting new technology, reshaping our transport network and supporting our high-streets, I want to use my experience to drive the recovery for West Midlands business.”

TIM WELLER Independent

Former social worker Tim Weller has previously stood in parliamentary and local council elections. He has long campaigned for better rail services and on a number of environmental issues.

If elected, he would like to

improve railway services, free fares for all on electric buses and scrap plans for new Metro routes. He said: “It is the business of all

of us to curtail our activities to minimise finite fossil fuel use and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions. It isn't fair to live it up today when we know there will be shortages tomorrow AND a most uncomfortable existence from climate breakdown.”

JENNY WILKINSON Liberal Democrat

Veteran forensic accountant Jenny Wilkinson has worked for KPMG for more than 20 years and previously stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate for Sutton Coldfield in the 2019 general election. If elected, Jenny wants to ensure

businesses gain the support they need during the Covid crisis and build a greener West Midlands. She said: “Small and medium-

sized businesses across our region have been devastated by the pandemic and let down by the government. The Liberal Democrats are calling for a German-style furlough for small businesses scheme, compensating them for lost revenue and, as mayor, I would support growth and innovation by ensuring access to capital.”

April 2021 CHAMBERLINK 19

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