Tory Andy Street increases margin over Labour to remain West Midlands mayor
Conservative Andy Street comfortably secured four more years as mayor of the West Midlands, winning 54% of the vote after first and second preference votes were counted.
The former John Lewis managing director, whose re-election campaign was backed by comedian Jasper Carrott, became the inaugural mayor of the West Midlands when the post was created in 2017.
Mr Street said he was delighted to have received even stronger backing than his 50.4% vote share four years ago.
Although the contest went to a second preference count, Labour’s Liam Byrne was unable to make up a 55,309-vote deficit from the first round, trailing Mr Street’s total vote of 314,669 with 267,626 first and second preferences.
Speaking at the election count at Birmingham’s Utilita Arena, Mr Street, whose mother died in February after contracting Covid-19, thanked everyone who had put their faith in him, and praised hundreds of Conservative activists for their exemplary support of his campaign.
The 57-year-old said: “There is no question that the West Midlands faces serious challenges after the impact of Covid, and we have no time to waste in addressing the deep-seated issues exposed by the pandemic.
“But equally there is no question that the West Midlands will bounce back strongly, and that we will create the dynamic, meritocratic, inclusive society we all crave.
“Our success goes well beyond the Conservative team – so I also want to thank everyone else who’s come on board over last four years, and shares our vision for and belief in the renewal of the West Midlands.
“It’s that growing sense of unity and shared purpose that makes me certain we will succeed.”
Mr Byrne said Labour had won in Birmingham, Coventry and Sandwell but he conceded that his overall defeat was a “bitter blow” for his party.
Offering his congratulations to Mr Street, Mr Byrne said: “You have won the day in what I know for you has been the toughest of years.
“But I know that your mum is watching down today with immense pride.
“Today you have earned the right to lead.”
The Birmingham Hodge Hill MP added: “This defeat is my responsibility. In the weeks ahead I’ll tell the full and astonishing story of this ground-breaking campaign, but today I simply say this – do not be down-hearted because if you lose heart our country loses hope.
“We may have lost a battle today but there will be no surrender in our fight to build back stronger and fairer and greener.”
Commenting on Mr Street’s re-election, Henrietta Brealey, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said the campaign had taken place “in the most extraordinary circumstances”.
Ms Brealey added: “Having worked closely with Andy and the senior team at the West Midlands Combined Authority for a number of years, the Chamber look forward to building on that spirit of collaboration and ensuring that the voice of business is central to the mayor’s plans for revitalising the region.
“Between Brexit and Covid-19 it has been quite the year for the business community to put it mildly.
“As a Chamber we stand ready to work with the mayor and ensure that the West Midlands emerges from the pandemic ready to drive ahead on jobs, investment and innovation, re-establishing our place in the country and the world.”