The first metro mayor of the West Midlands will need a vision for the city region and clear strategic, deliverable policies to meet it. The challenge and workload will be considerable, with powers and expectations ranging from delivering policy, to establishing the institutions and capacity for effective city region governance. This briefing outlines priorities for the West Midlands and offers steps to help the new metro mayor effect change in their first term.
Not all of these policy priorities can be enacted immediately: some will be quick and visible, while others will reflect a longer term vision for the city region.
- A ‘quick win’ will help the mayor to set the tone for delivery right from the start. Delivering results quickly will build trust, and show what the metro mayor is able to do for the city-region. The best ‘quick wins’ in these circumstances are high profile and of value to citizens.
- Strategic decisions form the framework for delivering the metro mayor’s vision. As such, the mayor will have the power to take the decisions that will make the most of the new geography of governance. While the mayor will be keen to show progress towards their vision, strategic decisions will often take longer to show outcomes, therefore careful evaluation is needed to allow for flexibility and to demonstrate the effects.
- A long term vision for the city will be the key election platform – it is what the mayor is working towards while in office. This should be ambitious, but reflect the real needs and potential of the city. Some aspects of the vision will be achievable within the mayor’s term in office, while others will build momentum or signal a change in direction. It is important to be clear and strike the balance of where each policy lies on this spectrum.
Policy priority 1: A quick win
Getting people out of their cars
- Signal an intent to keep West Midlands moving by retaining the M6 toll, the metro mayor should commit to use scarce funds on other transport priorities instead.
- Pledge to increase walking, cycling and taking public transport to work, commit to making other transport options more attractive and easy to use.
- Simplify ticketing across the West Midlands by fully integrating the Swift card and making it easier to use.
- Improve public transport with a strategic plan to make the West Midlands work as a single city region to live, work and travel across.
Policy priority 2: A strategic aim
Be the spokesman for the West Midlands internationally
- Use the metro mayor’s profile and visibility to make the case for the West Midlands globally by leading trade envoys, establishing international networks between cities.
- Represent all industries, not just one or two key firms, to ensure that the broad range of businesses and workers benefit from exporting to the world.
- Encourage and enable exporters to be ambitious under the West Midlands brand and enhance this brand with the globally recognised firms already exporting.
Policy priority 3: A longer term vision
Helping people back into work
- Encourage more key employers to work directly with schools and skills providers to give residents a second chance to access job-ready skills.
- Challenge firms to offer high quality in-work training to ensure workers are best placed to thrive, and firms are as innovative and productive as possible.
- Work with local universities, using them as a hub to improve the skills of local residents and businesses.