West Mid­lands is the en­gine of UK suc­cess – Mayor It is ‘our time’, Street tells Tory Con­fer­ence

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Jonathan Walker Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

THE West Mid­lands is pow­er­ing the UK’s suc­cess, Mayor Andy Street has told the Con­ser­va­tive con­fer­ence.

In an up­beat ac­tivists, he said: time”.

But he also warned that “not ev­ery­one is shar­ing in this suc­cess”.

Mr Street played a high-pro­file role at the Con­ser­va­tive con­fer­ence in Manch­ester this week, af­ter win­ning the elec­tion ear­lier this year to be­come the first West Mid­lands mayor.

He used the plat­form to high­light the suc­cesses of the West Mid­lands and to urge the Gov­ern­ment to con­tinue sup­port­ing the re­gion.

The Mayor told the con­fer­ence about driver­less and elec­tric cars pro­duced in Coven­try, the next gen­er­a­tion of medicine be­ing pi­o­neered in Birm­ing­ham, and the Black Coun­try be­ing at the heart of our fu­ture trans­port tech­nolo­gies.

He praised gov­ern­ment plans for an “in­dus­trial strat­egy” to grow the Bri­tish econ­omy, but he warned: “If the in­dus­trial strat­egy is to work, it has to be a roar­ing suc­cess in our re­gions, and in par­tic­u­lar in the West Mid­lands, be­cause once again Birm­ing­ham, Coven­try and the Black Coun­try are be­com­ing the en­gines of the UK’s suc­cess.

“And that’s be­cause we’ve been get­ting on with the job, and maybe mes­sage to Tory “It is in­deed our we don’t shout about it enough, and per­haps you don’t know our econ­omy is grow­ing faster than any­where else. We’re top for in­ward in­vest­ment, ex­ports, start-ups out­side Lon­don and last year for pay growth.

“Some would say, af­ter decades of wait­ing, it is in­deed ‘our time’. ”

Mr Street stressed that the West Mid­lands was united – a ref­er­ence to seven lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in the re­gion work­ing to­gether through the West Mid­lands Com­bined Au­thor­ity, and Labour coun­cil lead­ers work­ing with the Tory mayor.

How­ever, he said there was a need to im­prove skills and train­ing in the West Mid­lands.

“The job is far from done. Not ev­ery­one is shar­ing in this suc­cess and we sim­ply do not have the skills to match our am­bi­tion.

“So con­fer­ence, ad­dress­ing the skills chal­lenge is my pri­or­ity and I hope it will be the Gov­ern­ment’s in or­der to reach the full po­ten­tial of the in­dus­trial strat­egy.”

The re­gion is bid­ding for three ma­jor projects at the mo­ment – host­ing the 2022 Com­mon­wealth Games, be­com­ing the new home of Chan­nel 4 and win­ning Coven­try’s bid to be 2021 City of Cul­ture.

> Andy Street

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