Image: Warwick Media Library

West Midlands Councils declare no-confidence in Mayor, as elections loom

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, has become embroiled in a row with his local councils, after their leaders released a letter of no-confidence in his leadership.

The dispute comes weeks ahead of local elections on 2 May, in which Mr Street, 60, is fighting an uphill battle for reelection.

In a letter released on 27 March, council leaders expressed a loss of confidence in Mr Street’s ability to govern effectively and attacked the “tone and substance” of his reelection campaign.

Four council leaders signed the letter, representing the districts of Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, and Wolverhampton. All are governed by the Labour Party, whereas Mr Street represents the opposing Conservative Party.

We need a Mayor that will stand up for local authorities, not undermine us for political gain

John Cotton, Birmingham City Council Leader

John Cotton, Birmingham City Council Leader, who published the letter on X, said:  “We need a Mayor that will stand up for local authorities, not undermine us for political gain.”

Mr Street has been West Midlands Mayor since 2017 when he pulled off an upset win against Labour candidate, Siôn Simon. Street previously served as managing director of department store retailer John Lewis.

Having been reelected in 2021, he is now seeking a third term in office. The bid has been characterised as an uphill battle, as the Conservatives lag behind Labour by as much as 26% in national polling.

Mr Street has insisted that the margin is far closer in the West Midlands. In interviews, he has played up the theme of “Brand Andy,” insisting voters will make their decision based on character, rather than party.

Yet, a Redfield and Wilton poll of voters in the West Midlands, published 16 April, found Street 14 points behind Labour’s candidate Richard Parker. The same poll had Labour ahead of the Conservatives by 28%, an even larger margin than nationally.

This letter, then, comes as another blow, specifically targeting the mayor himself. It accuses Street of “resorting to adversarial rhetoric,” and making “unfounded claims of success”.

It alleges Street’s campaign has taken credit for projects without his direct involvement, and that he has made “tens of billions of pounds” in unfunded promises.

The letter concludes by attacking Street’s retention of £2.2 million in campaign contributions from the Conservative Party. It argues that this undermines his “assertions of political impartiality”.

His plan is to put the West Midlands first, and he is delivering on it. There’s lots done, and lots more to do

Spokesperson for Andy Street

A spokesperson for Mr Street has since hit back at the councils, labelling the letter a “desperate attempt at gutter politics”.

They refuted the letter’s claims of unfunded promises, maintaining that the Mayor has brought in £10 billion in government funding.

They further argued that Street has “smashed” affordable housing targets in the West Midlands and that he is now embarking on the “biggest expansion of the West Midlands’ transport network in a generation”.

They concluded: “His plan is to put the West Midlands first, and he is delivering on it. There’s lots done, and lots more to do.”

Tensions continue to brew in the battle for 16 Summer Lane, as the local elections draw closer. The showdown promises far higher stakes than usual, in a preliminary nationwide contest between the Tories and Labour, ahead of the expected general election later this year.

Comments (1)

  • A declaration of no confidence from only the Labour councils in the region, the largest of which is bankrupt. Not party political at all…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.