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Chamber POTY: Andy Street, by Kevin Johnson

Chamber POTY: Andy Street, by Kevin Johnson

🕔17.Dec 2012

My first POTY post goes on a man who, by some definitions, is not a politician. By my interpretation he is in every real way – and most certainly in the small ‘p’ sense.

Andy Street, Chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBS LEP), has become a constant of the political scene in the city region. From the Enterprise Zone to the City Deal; the follow up to the Heseltine Review and the economic strategy has seen Street in the spotlight throughout the year.

There are plenty of people who would prefer to see Advantage West Midlands back and quite a few who have not grasped how the LEP works and what it does. What’s difficult to argue, though, is that Street has become a key figure in the local world of politics, civic life and, of course, business.

Andy Street is a good operator – a very solid, if not exceptional public speaker. He comes alive in discussion and Q&A formats and performs very well in the media. Anyone who watched the fly on the wall BBC2 series about John Lewis a few years ago will not be surprised that he is making a mark outside retail.

His political skills are clear, both at national and local/regional levels. He uses his access and links into the Conservative Party well and would appear to be able to negotiate Government across the two parties and officials. Locally, he has been able to engage both Mike Whitby and Sir Albert Bore as well as politicians across the LEP’s districts.

I suggest next year will be more challenging for Street and GBS LEP. Many of the Partnership’s programmes will come into sharper focus as will the economic strategy as it moves from consultation to final form. His Deputy, KPMG’s Steve Hollis, will step down removing a lot of the local cover and groundwork done for the man based outside the Partnership area. Plus, I think that the LEP and its workings will be scrutinised to a greater degree – not least here on the Files.

In the meantime, Street has to be a contender for our POTY.

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