West Midlands Mayor Election: Parker – This region really needs a fresh start

I’ve lived and worked in the West Midlands for 40 years. The son of a docker and a school secretary, I left school at 16 but since then I’ve thrived in business and delivered over £1billion of investment in this region.

I’m standing because eight years ago I put together the first devolution deal and brought about the West Midlands Combined Authority with great hope.

Sadly, we haven’t seen the success we hoped for. Since 2016, under the Mayor, we’ve seen public transport fall behind the rest of the country. We’re the worst performing region economically and we’ve got areas in our region where youth unemployment is twice the national average. People can really see the reality beyond the Mayor’s high vis and hard hat photo opportunities and outlandish claims of success.

We need a fresh start, where people can see change in their communities. I’ve promised to deliver that change with 150,000 new jobs and training opportunities with an apprenticeship guarantee. These aren’t empty data targets that we can easily achieve, these are very real and very deliverable life changing job opportunities – in every corner of the region.

I’ll also tackle rogue landlords and build more homes, with a brownfield-first approach ensuring that we don’t build on our protected green spaces.

Fixing our public transport system is also a key promise I’m making. I’ll do this by bringing the buses into public control. That will allow us to increase and improve services as well as reducing fares. It’s crucial that we get more services running in all corners of our region to connect people. So instead of the profits going to shareholders they’ll go back into the bus system to allow us to invest in more routes.

And finally, our towns and cities deserve a real sense of community around their high streets and town centres – so I’ll be working to bring life back to our high streets and bring back our traditional community markets. When high streets thrive, people can see and feel their community is thriving. It’s very important.

For all these reasons, and more, I’d appreciate the support of voters in the West Midlands on May 2 for a Mayor for all of the region. I won’t let you down, so please vote for Richard Parker, for Labour and for a fresh start.

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