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.
The WMCA Board
Position Portfolio holder Council
Deputy Mayor Cllr Bob Sleigh Solihull
Transport Cllr Ian Ward Birmingham
Housing and Land Cllr Mike Bird Walsall
Skills and Productivity Cllr George Duggins Coventry
Economy and Innovation Cllr Ian Brookfield Wolverhampton
Environment, Energy and HS2 Cllr Ian Courts Solihull
Public Service Reform and Social Economy Cllr Yvonne Davies Sandwell
Culture and Digital Cllr Patrick Harley Dudley
Wellbeing Cllr Izzi Seccombe Warwickshire
Finance Cllr Bob Sleigh Solihull
Inclusive Communities Cllr Brigid Jones Birmingham
Commission and Taskforce roles
Jean Templeton, Homelessness Taskforce Chair Jean has been chief executive of St Basils, the Birmingham charity for young homeless people, since 2000 and has chaired the Taskforce since it was founded in 2017. As a member of the Government’s Advisory Panel on Rough Sleeping she is a national authority on this crucial issue.
Mike Wright, Innovation Board Chair The former executive director with Jaguar Land Rover is bringing his expertise in global industry and engineering to work with universities and business to develop ground breaking new projects.
Gill Morbey, Social Economy Taskforce Chair Gill was formerly chief executive of the Sense charity for eight years. She will now be encouraging the growth of third sector and not-for-profit enterprises in the West Midlands.
Anita Bhalla, Leadership Commission Chair The ex-BBC broadcaster has led this commission since its foundation in 2017. The report ‘Leaders Like You’ resulted in the Inclusive Leadership Pledge under which companies and organisations encourage greater diversity in their leaders.
Jon Bramwell, High Streets Taskforce Chair The managing director at HSBC Commercial Banking was earlier this month appointed to lead the High Streets Taskforce which will offer expert advice on investment and development in our high streets and town centres. The WMCA recently committed £20 million support for five regional centres.
Shanaze Reade, Cycling and Walking Ambassador The former World BMX and Track Cycling Champion is advising on policies and investment as well as working with communities and schools to help people across the region discover the benefits of cycling and walking.
Steve Hollis, HS2 Growth Board Chair Former Aston Villa chairman and a former regional chairman for accountancy firm KPMG is working with business, universities and local authorities to ensure the West Midlands is well placed to maximise the benefits of HS2 as it develops.
Derrick Anderson, Commonwealth Games Director Derrick is the WMCA’s appointee to the organising committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. He has previously been chief executive of Lambeth and the City of Wolverhampton Councils and has a strong track record in the delivery of major projects.
Jonathan Browning, Chair of Strategic Economic Development Board Jonathan is a major figure in the automotive industry with senior roles with Ford, General Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, Volkswagen and Vauxhall on his CV and is chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership. He has played a key part in shaping the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy.
(Photo: The WMCA Board meeting on 24th May, 2019)
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