Everything you need to know about the new West Midland’s Mayor Andy Street
From his upbringing, career progression, personal life and policies for his upcoming mayorship.
Following the elections on May 4th 2017, ex-Managing Director of John Lewis, Andy Street, officially became the first ever West Midlands mayor. Having grown up in Northfield and Solihull and going to King Edward’s School in Edgbaston, it can’t be denied that Street knows Birmingham on the back of his hand. Moving on to study Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Keble College at Oxford Uni, Street went on to be President of the Oxford University Conservative Association and has been interested and involved in business and politics ever since.
After graduating from university, Street’s ambition for business initially fell short as he was rejected by both Birmingham City Council and the Marks and Spencer’s training scheme. In 1985, Street began his career with the John Lewis Partnership where he moved up to work in department stores, head office and manufacturing units before eventually landing the job of Managing Director in Milton Keynes by 1993.
In 2007, Street successfully took the position of Managing Director of the John Lewis company and in his time in charge, saw gross sales reach over £4.4 billion, a 50% increase despite the financial crash hitting the entire country hard. As a businessman, Street clearly knows what he was doing.
September 2016 saw Street officially selected to stand in the election for West Midlands Mayor as a Conservative Party candidate.
During the campaign, Street announced that his mission was to “build the economic powerhouse of Britain in an inclusive way,” which hints at his experience and knowledge as a business man being a significant driving force for his policies as Mayor. Street also said he wants to address the large imbalance of spending that Birmingham receives for transport infrastructure per head, with London receiving seven times as much as the West Midlands overall. In his West Midlands Renewal Plan, Street has 10 main objectives, these are to:
1. Restore pride in our region
2. Get our transport system moving again
3. Build the houses we need and protect the green belt
4. Lead a coalition against crime
5. Create highly-paid jobs for you and your family
6. Get the best financial deal for the West Midlands
7. Make a success of Brexit
8. Care for those who need it most
9. Champion all the makes the West Midlands a great place to live
10. Be the most transparent mayor in Britain
For more detailed information on any of these points: https://andy4wm.co.uk/renewalplan
Using what spare time he has, Street has spent over 20 years involved in the charity Birmingham Young Volunteers Adventure Camps where he has helped with trips for underprivileged children to visit Wales on adventure activity camps. Street is also Vice Chairman of the group responsible for running the Birmingham Symphony Hall, the Birmingham Town Hall and Performances Birmingham Limited. It seems his leadership interests do not entirely rest on economics and business ventures.
Some other facts about Andy Street, aside from his career in business and politics, include his support for Aston Villa Football Club, his hobby for running half marathons, and the fact that he is openly gay.
All in all, the new West Midlands Mayor seems set on using his experience as a top businessman and leader to try his hand at helping Birmingham and the West Midlands develop into the best possible version of itself. There is a point to be made that, like many high status politicians, Street’s Oxbridge education and potential lack of understanding to issues unrelated to business and economics, will hold him and the West Midlands back.
However in anticipation of the effects of Brexit, there is definitely strength in putting the West Midlands in the hands of somebody with experience and knowledge of economics, politics and business. Now, all that’s left to do is wait and see how Andy’s Street’s mayorship unfolds.
For more information on Andy Street, the new West Midlands Mayor:
Credit for photos: University of Birmingham Conservatives