Sion Simon wins Labour mayor selection with ‘growth, prosperity and social justice’ pledge
Siôn Simon has been selected as the Labour party candidate to run for West Midlands metro mayor, and promised to build homes, invest in skills and “make sure growth and prosperity go hand in hand with social justice” if he gets the job.
Mr Simon, a former Birmingham MP and currently a West Midlands MEP, beat the only other contender Steve Bedser by 2,718 to 1,099 votes and will contest the mayoral election next May.
The poll along with mayoral elections in Greater Manchester and Liverpool will coincide with county council elections across England and Wales and will be the biggest test of voter sentiment since the 2015 General Election.
Mr Simon described the election as an opportunity to “bring real Labour government to the West Midlands” and promised to do a better job of running the region than the Government in London.
The mayor will chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and have limited powers to oversee transport, economic development, housing and skills.
Mr Simon added:
We in the West Midlands can show that under Labour growth and prosperity go hand in hand with social justice.
Let’s really invest in skills and apprenticeships. This region is a world leader in advanced manufacturing; it’s a great creative hub; we’re uniquely placed in biotech with our many great universities and our super-diverse population.
We need not just more jobs, but better jobs, and better paid job. And this new devolution is a means to get them.
Let’s build more houses that people can actually afford to live in. Let’s have a sustainable, affordable, 24/7 public transport system that takes people where they need to get to, right across the region, at prices they can afford.
We need a West Midlands voice in the Brexit discussions. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the City of London can’t be the only “special interests” at the table. The West Midlands is a £110 billion economy, and it’s one that Whitehall doesn’t understand. We need our case to be heard and our interests accounted for.
During the selection campaign Mr Simon promised a one year freeze on all bus, rail and metro fares as well as subsidised charges for jobseekers, and a big increase in house building.
After the result of the selection ballot was announced, Mr Simon said:
We must win the election in May. The heart of our campaign, as it always is, will be our party members and activists, led by our councillors, champions every one of them in their own communities.
I’ve had fantastic support from Labour councillors at every level in every council in the region. It’s a great base from which to launch our mayoral election campaign, and I intend to waste no time in doing so.
He was congratulated by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who said mayoral elections in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Liverpool would be “an opportunity for Labour to set itself out as an alternative to this Tory government’s failure to invest in local communities and public service”.
Mr Corbyn added:
It’s crucial we have a mayor willing to do everything possible to improve the lives of everyone in the West Midlands and in Siôn Simon we have that candidate.
Mr Bedser, the losing candidate, said:
I’d like to thank everybody that voted for me. I’m humbled by the faith they had in me.
It’s been a complete privilege to have so much direct contact with members of the Labour Party in the West Midlands. And it’s been so heartening to know that so many of them agreed with my priorities for the office of Mayor; building council houses, cracking down on rogue landlords, dramatically improving public transport and leading the way to become a living wage region.
My congratulations to Siôn. He can count on my full support in next May’s election.
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