West Midlands: No-one left behind
I am proud to live in the West Midlands. It is a great part of the country, with a rich history and a dynamic sense of diversity and inclusion. And it is an area that seems to offer hope and promise. And it is in that context that the mayoral election coming up on the 4th May seems to be an incredible opportunity for a new direction – one in which we see some real development that benefits everyone and in which no-one is left behind.
That is the promise being offered by James Burn, the Green Party candidate for the West Midlands mayor.
In his manifesto, James Burn outlines his vision for a better West Midlands:
This is a bold and ambitious manifesto, but one which seems to get to the heart of what is needed to make the West Midlands a better, healthier and more sustainable region. James sets out his vision for what is needed in terms of greater transparency, accountability and inclusion in the governance of the region; for a growing economy; more accessible transport and housing; a healthier environment; steps to boosting equality and diversity; tackling crime; and working for greater wellbeing and public health.
And, although ambitious, I see this as a credible and achievable manifesto, and one which James seems to have the credentials and commitment to see through.
James is currently an elected councillor for Chelmsley Wood in Solihull. He is Leader of the Opposition on Solihull Council (one of the 7 constituent members of the WMCA).
James has lived in the West Midlands for more than 15 years and has worked across much of the region in the private, public and voluntary sectors including as a senior policy advisor within local government. He is a qualified social worker and currently runs his own small business.
So I will be voting for James Burn in the forthcoming Mayoral election.
I encourage all my West Midlands friends to read his manifesto and to take this opportunity to bring about a positive change for our region.
James Burn’s Mayoral Manifesto
Here are some highlights:
- Ensuring that the West Midlands Combined Authority is transparent and accountable and truly representative of the people of the West Midlands;
- Taking a lead in only taking the average salary for the West Midlands and being transparent in his own expenses;
- Engaging more directly with the communities he is representing
- Championing inclusive growth and supporting small enterprises, co-operatives and local businesses in the region;
- Supporting more apprenticeships and skills training;
- Pressing for the living wage throughout the West Midlands, reporting on the gap between the highest and lowest paid workers in the authority, and lobbying for a trial of universal basic income in the region
- Bringing public transport back into public ownership;
- Improving local bus, metro and rail links and ensuring they are more accessible to all, including students, the elderly, the disabled, and parents with young children;
- Developing a long-term plan to increase walking and cycling and making them safer and more accessible to all
- Making the provision of more housing, including more affordable housing, a top priority;
- Improving standards for private landlords;
- Helping homeless people get back on their feet and stay there by the provision of more housing options, linking together homeless services, and ensuring the provision of good information to those in need
Environment and Energy
- Working towards a clean and affordable, low-carbon energy system;
- Setting up a municipally owned West Midlands Energy Company to provide clean and affordable energy to the West Midlands;
- Protecting wildlife and green spaces and making them more accessible to all
Equality and Diversity
- Challenging discrimination and inequality throughout the West Midlands;
- Promoting open working and collaboration between faith groups, BAME communities and women’s groups and the police, schools, voluntary groups and others;
- Ensuring more women, members of BAME communities and people from socio-economically disadvantaged groups are able to start up their own businesses;
Crime and Community
- Commission community and voluntary organisations to investigate ways in which the police can improve their relationships with local communities;
- Targeting sexual violence and abuse of both adults and children through police training, reporting of violence and abuse, and public education;
- Focusing more resources on tackling the causes of crime including evidence-based drugs policies, restorative justice, and support to reduce reoffending
Wellbeing and Public Health
- Institute well-being measures for the success of the combined authority broken down across geographical areas and socio-economic groups;
- Tackling income inequalities;
- Promoting programmes to improve mental health and wellbeing