Six months of Andy Street – Key moments and future opportunities
Andy Street the Conservative mayor for the West Midlands has been in his role for six months now and we look at the progress he has made over this time.
Andy Street kick-started his term by launching the ‘Mayor’s mentors scheme’ (aimed at supporting young people to improve their skills and move into employment), and concluded his first 100 days by ticking off all the objectives he set himself for the first few months. These included meeting with the Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the ambitions of the combined authority. They also comprised meeting his target of 1,000 applications for his mentor scheme, and holding ‘Ask Andy’ sessions to engage with the public in areas across the city region. Mayor Andy Street also went on a trade mission to Toronto to raise the profile of the region, and brought Robin Walker – a Government minister for Exiting the European Union – to the West Midlands to discuss its future in light of Brexit.
The most high-profile moment of Street’s mayoralty has been his address to Conservative Party Conference last month. To promote the West Midlands across the country, Street has led Birmingham’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games and to become the new home of Channel 4, as well as Coventry’s bid to be named UK City of Culture in 2021.
One of Street’s mayoral priorities is to boost employment and improve skill levels in the West Midlands. In his vision for 2020, the new mayor pledged to reduce the number of young people not in education, employment or training to zero by 2020. And given the high number of residents with no qualifications and the low employment rate, it’s clear that urgent action is needed on this front in the West Midlands.
Improving transport and infrastructure will be critical in driving economic growth and opportunity in the West Midlands, and this also formed a central part of Street’s manifesto aims. As the metro mayor dashboard shows, people in the West Midlands use public transport (both bus and train) less than the national average. This is problematic as connecting people with employment opportunities is key for the success of the region, and requires urgent action. Street has pledged to deal with this issue by introducing smart ticketing, improving rail services and the tram system, and promoting cycling and walking.