West Midlands elects ex-John Lewis boss as region's mayor

Updated: 

Tory Andy Street narrowly won the mayoral race in Labour's West Midlands heartland after campaigning to make sure the region makes a success of Brexit.

Massive majorities over Labour's Sion Simon in Solihull and Dudley, and solid backing in second preference ballots, saw former John Lewis boss Mr Street elected to oversee an £8 billion investment budget.

Mr Street, whose high-profile election campaign is reported to have cost almost £1 million, gave up his business career last year to stand for the newly-created mayoral post.

Mr Street secured victory over Mr Simon, the former Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, by 238,628 votes to 234,862 and will now head an authority covering Birmingham, Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Coventry and Solihull.

Pledging to provide a blueprint for other regions to follow, the new mayor, who started work with John Lewis on the shop floor in 1985, said West Midlanders had made a decisive choice.

In his victory speech, the 53-year-old told cheering supporters: "Naturally I am humbled by the trust of my fellow citizens.

"Back in September I talked about what I wanted to achieve in the campaign.

"I said I wanted it to reach every single community across the West Midlands.

"I said I wanted to present practical solutions to difficult issues and that is exactly what we have done.

"And judging by the results, we have reached every area across the West Midlands."

Mr Street added: "I want to be a mayor who works for everyone across the West Midlands and binds all of our leaders together, and that's because ultimately that's what this job is all about about building a team to champion the West Midlands, building an alliance with central government, with local people, that will put the West Midlands back in its rightful place as the leading region of the UK."