04 May 2021

West Midlands Mayoral Election 2021


On 6th May 2021, voters across Birmingham, Walsall, Sandwell, Dudley, Coventry, Solihull and Wolverhampton will once again head to the polls to elect the region's Mayor and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), writes Raj Kandola, head of policy at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.

This is the second ever West Midlands Mayoral Election, the first took place in May 2017 and Conservative candidate (and current incumbent) Andy Street was elected with 50.4% of the vote using a supplementary vote system (see below for more details). The turnout for the first ever West Midlands Mayoral Election was 26.3%.

This current election was due to take place in May 2020, however it was subsequently postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Mayoral Election is also taking place on the same day as other local elections (including councillors in all seven of its boroughs) and the Police & Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands city region.

All registered electors (British, Commonwealth, Irish and European) living in the seven metropolitan boroughs listed above aged 18 or over are entitled to vote in the Mayoral Election.

The candidates standing for West Midlands Mayor are:

Liam Byrne - Labour

Steve Caudwell - Green Party

Pete Durnell - Reform Party

Andy Street - Conservative

Jenny Wilkinson - Liberal Democrats

Click here to find out more about the policy priorities for each candidate

What powers does the West Midlands Mayor have?

Specific Powers that the WMCA Mayor is responsible for:

  • Overseeing the delivery of a thirty year investment fund worth £1.1bn

  • Formulating a Local Industrial Strategy - the West Midlands was chosen as one of three “trailblazer” areas, however it remains uncertain what happens to the Local Industrial Strategy in the long term given changes at the national level in relation to industrial policy

  • Skills - the Mayor is In charge of an Education & Skills Budget, oversight of the post 16- education system and oversight of the Skills Advisory Panel

  • Housing - the Mayor possesses strategic planning and compulsory purchase powers. The Mayor can also set up Mayoral Development Corporations in order to fulfil strategic objectives around delivering housing

  • Transport - The Mayor is in charge of a consolidated transport budget (the delivery is overseen by Transport for West Midlands) along with the Local Roads Network and certain powers around bus franchising. The Mayor is also in charging of the Transforming Cities Fund for the region which is worth £80m

However, the Mayor is also expected to use a number of ‘softer' powers in order to bang the drum for the West Midlands and secure funding and investment for the region.

How does the election process work?

The election uses a supplementary vote system, in which voters express a first and a second preference of candidates:

  • If a candidate receives over 50% of the first preference vote the candidate wins

  • If no candidate receives an overall majority (over 50% of first preference votes) the top two candidates proceed to a second round and all other candidates are eliminated

  • The first preference votes for the remaining two candidates stand in the final count

  • Voters' ballots whose first and second preference candidates are eliminated are removed and not counted

  • Voters whose first preference candidates have been eliminated and whose second preference candidate is in the top two have their second preference votes added to the count

Ultimately, the winning candidate has the support of a majority of voters that expressed a preference amongst the top two.

Click here to find your nearest polling station

What activity has the Chamber undertaken during the Mayoral election campaign?

As an apolitical organisation, the GBCC has been working hard to raise awareness of the elections amongst our members and encourage them to exercise their democratic right. In line with this, the GBCC has undertaken the following activity:

  • Produced a Business Manifesto in partnership with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce which sets out what businesses in the West Midlands want to see from a Mayor over the next four years - click here to review

  • Held an event with two of the candidates bidding to become West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street (Conservative) and Liam Byrne (Labour) in which both candidates set out how they intend to follow a pro business agenda over the next four years - click here to access

  • Liaised with all of the candidates that running to in order to understand their priorities for the business community - click here for more information

  • Produced a podcast with Andrew Carter, CEO for Centre for Cities which explored the powers bestowed on a West Midlands Mayor and why this Election is so important for residents of the West Midlands - click here to listen

For more information, contact Raj Kandola, Head of Policy at the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce on r.kandola@birmingham-chamber.com