4th May 2017 will see the election of the first West Midlands mayor, arguably the most important vote for the region since Brexit. But despite the huge impact this result promises to have on the area, public awareness and understanding of the mayor’s role remains low. Warwick has teamed up with West Mids Elects to back four public debates and generate vital support for the election.
So why is the West Midlands getting a directly-elected mayor, and what does that mean for Warwick?
The new mayor will become the chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), a combination of councils from the West Midlands boroughs. The WMCA was established in 2016 as part of the Government’s devolution agenda, enabling local authorities to collaborate and make decisions on region-wide issues. The directly-elected mayor will be responsible for devising the strategy to tackle these priorities. The full devolution agreement for the WMCA is available to read here.
So, the new mayor will be making decisions in line with the WMCA’s priorities on regional economic growth, skills, transport and housing. At Warwick, we’re committed to raising the profile of the West Midlands area and developing regionally-focused initiatives to make it a better place to live, work and visit. It’s precisely this ambition which means we have a key role to play in the work of the WMCA and the newly elected mayor – making sure that the voices of the region’s universities are heard, and our expertise utilised accordingly to benefit our area.
Professor Simon Swain, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement at the University of Warwick, said, "The emergence of the WMCA and the role of mayor are significant developments for our region. Increasing awareness of the opportunities an elected mayor presents and the election on 4th May are essential, so we are delighted to support this unique series of Public Debates. The events will also give us an opportunity to bring issues like skills, research, productivity and industrial strategy to the fore."
What can you do?
Warwick has a number of tickets available for interested staff and students - please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
If you live in the West Midlands mayoral area and are aged over 18 on 4th May, you’re eligible to vote in the election. (N.B. Warwickshire is not part of this area.) See more about who's eligible here.
Ensure you register to vote by 13th April: visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Candidates Councillor James Burn (Green Party), Pete Durnell (UKIP), Beverley Nielsen (Liberal Democrat), Siôn Simon MEP (Labour) and Andy Street CBE (Conservative) will be appearing at four public debates across the West Midlands in the lead up to the election on 4th May 2017:
Black Country – 7th March, Black Country Living Museum
Coventry – 22nd March, 6.30 – 8pm, Coventry Cathedral
Register for tickets via the Coventry Telegraph
Birmingham – 4th April, 6.30 – 8pm, the Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome
Register for tickets via the Birmingham Mail
West Mids Elects Finale – 23rd April, the Vox Conference Centre, Resorts World Birmingham
Please look out for details of how to apply for tickets in the Birmingham Mail paper or go to: www.birminghammail.co.uk
We’ll be tweeting live from the Coventry debate on 22nd March, so follow @WarwickRegional to stay up-to-date.