BUSINESS leaders have urged new West Midlands mayor Andy Street to stay true to his ‘pre-election promise’ of backing Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture in 2021.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Ahead of the election, Andy promised – like all of the candidates – to help with Coventry’s bid to be UK City of Culture and we have absolutely no doubt that he will be true to his word.
“We all know just how big that would be for the city and the region – culturally, socially and economically – and it would have a major impact for many years to come.”
Conservative Mr Street beat Labour candidate Sion Simon in Thursday’s election to become the first West Midlands’ elected mayor. He will take charge of some powers and spending pots on economic redevelopment, housing and transport. He will also head up the new West Midlands’ Combined Authority.
Leaders such as Ms Bennett are also imploring Mr Street to stand up for the whole region to help drive investment and create jobs – emphasising that growth, jobs and prosperity should be at the heart of Mr Street’s focus for the region.
Ms Bennett added: “We congratulate Andy on his victory and, as a Chamber, we look forward to working with him in the coming weeks, months and years to help shape the regional economy to get the best for the people and the businesses on our own patch.
“Many haven’t engaged with the process and over the next few years it will be the role of the mayor to convince the people of the region that this position can bring tangible benefits to the whole area, not just part of it.
“But whatever you think of the concept of a regional mayor, this is going to be a key role for the region so it’s now absolutely vital that our voice is heard in Westminster and we are always striving to secure the best possible deal for Coventry, Warwickshire and the wider region – and that means ensuring we get the funding we need to grow.
“With every decision that is taken by the new mayor, investment and jobs for our patch must be at the heart of it. Whether that’s around improving infrastructure or upskilling our people, economic growth is going to be key to the overall wellbeing of the West Midlands.
“Andy knows that our door, as a Chamber, is always open and we will, of course, be representing the views of businesses in our area to ensure we get the best deal for Coventry and Warwickshire.”