Andy Street has today announced the new top team to continue to drive the West Midlands forward.
Following the local elections the region’s council leaders have been appointed to portfolio roles on the Board of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
New portfolios have also been introduced to place a renewed emphasis on climate change, culture, and the region’s digital advances.
On top of welcoming four newly elected council leaders onto the board and introducing two brand new portfolios, the Mayor has also reworked existing portfolios and, for the first time ever, announced a brief for a deputy council leader.
These portfolio holders will work alongside the combined authority’s taskforces, which include groups dedicated to tackling homelessness and improving the fortune of high streets.
The mayor said: “I am delighted such a strong cross-party team has been put together. I know they will work tirelessly to improve the region and the lives of those living in it.”
Cllr Ian Ward, the leader of Birmingham City Council, now has the portfolio for transport after previously being in charge of economy. In his new role, Cllr Ward will help to drive a transport revolution in the region, which will include an expanded tram network, more frequent trains and a cleaner bus fleet.
Cllr Ward said: “I am looking forward to taking on the transport portfolio role at a time of unprecedented investment in our bus, rail, tram and cycle networks. I will be keen to ensure that all our diverse communities continue to feel the benefit of this investment.
“It is a new WMCA Board with several new faces joining us, however the commitment to work together to deliver for the West Midlands remains.”
His previous portfolio of Economy and Innovation will be led by Cllr Ian Brookfield, the newly elected leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council.
Cllr Brookfield will be charged with continuing to grow the region’s economy – which has already increased by nearly 25 per cent in the last five years – while also looking at ways the region can position itself at the forefront of new technology.
Cllr Ian Courts, who has succeeded Cllr Bob Sleigh as the leader of Solihull Council, has an expanded environment brief which also now incorporates clean energy and HS2.
The high-speed rail link is vital to the West Midlands’ growth and the Mayor has tasked Cllr Courts with making sure all the benefits of the new line are capitalised on.
Cllr Courts will also be at the forefront of tackling climate change in the region.
Cllr Bob Sleigh remains a part of the Mayor’s top team as deputy mayor and as the portfolio holder for finance.
Cllr Patrick Harley, the new leader of Dudley Council, has been handed a new brief of Culture and Digital. He will oversee the implementation of 5G across the West Midlands while also supporting the region’s fantastic arts community.
Cllr Brigid Jones, the deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, is also joining the WMCA Board with a new portfolio for Inclusive Communities, working to make sure all communities across the region are given equal opportunities.
Cllr Yvonne Davies, the new leader of Sandwell Council, is in charge of Public Service Reform and Social Economy, while Councillor Mike Bird, the leader of Walsall Council, retains his brief over Housing and Land.
Two others staying put are Cllr George Duggins, the leader of Coventry City Council, who remains in charge of Skills and Productivity, and Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the leader of Warwickshire County Council, who keeps her Wellbeing portfolio.
The politicians join a team of leaders from the business, charity, creative and sporting sectors in supporting the future success of the West Midlands.
These include Jean Templeton, the chief executive of homelessness charity St. Basils’, who chairs the Homelessness Taskforce, and Jon Bramwell, a managing director at HSBC Commercial Banking, who is chairing the newly established High Streets Taskforce.
Mr Street, who has been Mayor since 2017, said: “The local elections has given us a chance to review our portfolios.
“With climate change requiring urgent action, digital advances continuing to revolutionise the way we live and work, and our cultural and creative sector ramping up ahead of Coventry’s year as the UK’s City of Culture in 2021, we felt it was time to reshape the Combined Authority team.
“With explicit briefs I am confident the new portfolio holders will achieve great success for the region.
“Collaborative working is the key to achieving this success, which is why we have appointed such a diverse team with wide-ranging views, taking in political leaders and leading lights from across the West Midlands.”
The WMCA was set up in 2016 with a 30-year £8 billion investment package and powers devolved from Government over strategic transport, housing, skills, digital technology and more. A further £1.7 billion investment has been secured since then as the WMCA continues its work to build a healthier, happier, better connected and more prosperous West Midlands.
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