West Midlands Combined Universities has welcomed the region’s newly elected Mayor, Andy Street.
The leaders of Birmingham City University, Coventry University and the University of Wolverhampton offered their congratulations after the former John Lewis boss was named as the West Midlands’ first elected Mayor.
The region’s residents headed to the polls on Thursday 4 May to vote in the landmark election, and West Midlands Combined Universities believes the new role can serve a key function in unlocking investment, closing skills gaps and boosting the West Midlands’ economy.
Professor Graham Upton, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “I would like to offer my congratulations to Andy Street on being named as the region’s first directly elected Mayor.
“This is a historic moment for the West Midlands and presents a fantastic opportunity to bring wide reaching benefits for those who live, work and study in the region, now and in the future.
“We were lucky enough to host all of the candidates for a lively debate in the run up to the election and the questions raised highlighted some of the important challenges which face our region at the moment, as well as many of our continued and historic strengths.
“Now is the perfect opportunity for Mr Street to take the lead in building on these strengths and tackling these challenges, to truly make sure the West Midlands gets what it needs, and deserves, from devolution.”
Professor, John Latham, Vice-Chancellor at Coventry University, said:
“I commend all of the candidates who took part in the mayoral contest but of course offer special congratulations to Andy Street.
“I know that Andy is immensely proud of the West Midlands and is fully committed to helping our region grow and prosper. We share that ambition and are perfectly placed to support the Mayor and the combined authority deliver on their objectives.
“Universities are centres of creativity and knowledge as well as learning grounds for future generations. But increasingly we are focusing more and more on connecting skills and research with the needs of business and society. We can play a pivotal role in helping the new Mayor secure a bright future for the West Midlands.”
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said:
“Bringing power from Westminster to the West Midlands is key to driving forward change and delivering economic growth in the region.
“We look forward to collectively working together to support the new Mayor Andy Street and congratulate him on a successful campaign.
“As a combined entity, WMCU is ideally placed in Birmingham, the Black Country and Coventry to support the ambitious strategic aims of the Combined Authority and we look forward to working with the newly elected Mayor to help create a wider strategy for the region, ensuring that the skills agenda remains a priority.”
West Midlands Combined Universities held a series of Mayoral hustings debates in the run up to the election to give the public an opportunity to quiz the candidates in each of the region’s three core cities.
The Mayor will now be tasked with Chairing the West Midlands Combined Authority and will be responsible for key issues such a housing, transport and skills.