Mayor tells To­ries re­gion is

Birmingham Post - - CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONFERENCE -

THE West Mid­lands is “on the cusp of great things”, mayor Andy Street has told the Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence.

And it “truly is our time” to take ad­van­tage of the unique sit­u­a­tion the re­gion finds it­self in, he said.

This was the first Con­ser­va­tive Party Con­fer­ence to be held in the West Mid­lands since the mayor was elected a lit­tle over 18 months ago.

Speak­ing on the open­ing day of the four-day event at the ICC in Birm­ing­ham, Mr Street cham­pi­oned a “new way of do­ing pol­i­tics” which in­volves work­ing with busi­nesses and char­i­ties.

To huge rounds of ap­plause, the for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of John Lewis told a packed con­fer­ence hall of some of the ex­cit­ing changes that had been hap­pen­ing dur­ing his time in charge.

“In the last few years, we have started to turn things around,” he said.

“The West Mid­lands had the big­gest in­crease in jobs last year, more start-ups than any­where else out­side Lon­don, and we are the only re­gion in the coun­try with a trade sur­plus with China.

“So how have we done it? We have firstly fo­cused on our strengths. Those in­dus­tries where we re­ally are the best in the world. Au­tonomous ve­hi­cles are be­ing tested in Birm­ing­ham, elec­tric taxis man­u­fac­tured in Coven­try, and Range Rovers are sold around the globe.

“Be­yond en­gi­neer­ing, our doc­tors and sci­en­tists in the West Mid­lands are fo­cused on the race against dis­eases such as can­cer and Alzheimer’s.

“We are world lead­ers at get­ting new drugs from test-tubes into the hands of GPs as quickly and safely as pos­si­ble. We have a thriv­ing creative and me­dia scene, led by the youngest, most di­verse pop­u­la­tion in Europe.

“We’re hop­ing that Chan­nel 4 will see our tal­ent and cre­ativ­ity, and join us in Birm­ing­ham to shape the fu­ture of broad­cast­ing to­gether.”

Mr Street spoke in the week work fi­nally got un­der way on the new high speed rail (HS2) line from Lon­don to Birm­ing­ham. He and Sec­re­tary of State for Trans­port, Chris Grayling, took time out to visit the old Cur­zon Street Sta­tion in East­side where dig­gers broke ground on the £56 bil­lion project

Phase 1 of the rail­way will open be­tween Lon­don and Birm­ing­ham in De­cem­ber 2026. A sec­ond Y-shaped phase will launch in two stages. Phase 2a from the West Mid­lands to Crewe will be­gin in 2027, fol­lowed by Phase 2b from Crewe to Manch­ester, and Birm­ing­ham to Leeds, in 2033. Dur­ing his speech, the

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