Mayoral Elections - West Midlands

Newington's Joshua Lindsey previews the West Midlands mayoral election

Despite traditionally forming Labour’s heartland, the battle to be West Midlands Mayor is neck and neck.

As the national Labour Party struggles to find its voice after Brexit, a slew of recent polls have put Labour and the Conservatives within a hair's breadth of one another in the West Midlands race.

Labour’s candidate Siôn Simon promises (without a hint of irony) to ‘Take Back Control’ for the West Midlands. Simon is currently a Member of the European Parliament and served as an MP for the Birmingham constituency of Erdington from 2001-2010.

Despite Labour holding six of the seven local authorities in the area, pollsters have Labour and the Conservatives within a few points of each other and the final decision is likely to come down to voters’ second preferences.

Simon remains the bookies favourite, but a Conservative win in the West Midlands would be a knife to the heart of a once safe Labour area.

Andy Street, the Conservative candidate is the former Managing Director of John Lewis and an outspoken critic of business rate rises. Throughout his campaign he has made a ‘Brownfield First’ pledge to protect the Greenbelt from residential development.

Siôn Simon, on the other hand, has pledged to double the number of affordable homes in the West Midlands, blaming ‘bureaucratic barriers’ and ‘indifference from London politicians’. Like his Conservative counterpart, his focus has been on brownfield land, although notably he does not make the same commitments to the Greenbelt.

But, with little excitement around the election reported from the doorstep and the general election looming in just a few weeks, turnout is expected to be low on Thursday.

Everything is still to play for in the West Midlands and Newington will be providing a full update once the final result is announced.

The full list of candidates is: James Burn - Green Party, Pete Durnell – UKIP, Beverley Nielsen - Liberal Democrat, Siôn Simon – Labour, Graham Stevenson – Communist, Andy Street - Conservative.