Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

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So what’s all this about a Metro Mayor?

by Ian Shires on 19 March, 2017

In May 2017 a number of areas will be electing a metro mayor for the first time.

The directly-elected metro mayors will be responsible for setting out a strategy for growing the city region economy, in our case that would be through the West Midlands Combined Authority West Midlands City Region .

The elected Metro Mayor will, through the West Midlands Combined Authority, have certain powers over issues such as housing, transport and skills. These powers are high level powers and should compliment that work being done at a Local Authority level.

So what’s all this about a Metro Mayor got to do with me? How am I going to influence what their priorities are all about? You may well ask. From what we have seen to date it’s not a lot. Except for Liberal Democrat hopeful and only female candidate Beverley Nielsen who is taking the trouble to find out at the grass roots just what are your issues that would come within her remit should she become the first West Midland’s directly elected Metro Mayor..

Recently Beverley joined with Liberal Democrats in Willenhall delivering Focus newsletters in New Invention. She took time out to talk with local residents and was briefed on plans in progress to develop New Invention library into a community hub.

Transport is an important responsibility for the Metro Mayor and the West Midlands Combined Authority. Beverley was interested in the work done by local Liberal Democrats when they influenced the review of bus services through the area a few years back. The outcome saw The Square at New Invention become a transport hub linking New Invention with Willenhall, Wolverhampton, Cannock, Bloxwich, Pelsall, Bilston and Walsall.

Beverley would press for the West Midlands to have the same powers over bus operators as Transport for London. “Local people deserve public transport systems which fit their needs and not just those of the bus operators.”

Beverley is also backing the ongoing Liberal Democrat campaign for improved rail links to the Willenhall area, including reinstating passenger trains between Walsall and Wolverhampton, with a new train station at Willenhall, and creating a tram/train link from Wolverhampton, through Walsall and on to Aldridge and the existing Cross City route”.

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