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BPS Birmingham announced as partner in Series of Mayoral Public Debates

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• Four Public Debates will feature James Burn, Pete Durnell, Beverley Nielsen, Siôn Simon and Andy Street
• Debates start at Black Country Living Museum on Tuesday 7th March
• Around 1,000 people expected to attend across four events
• 84 days to Election Day.

All of the five main candidates will appear at four Public Debates across the West Midlands in the lead up to the election of the first regional mayor on 4th May 2017.

Councillor James Burn (Green), Pete Durnell (Ukip), Beverley Nielsen (LibDem), Siôn Simon MEP (Labour) and Andy Street CBE (Conservative) will line up for the events starting on 7th March.

The Public Debates will be led by local newspapers across the region: the Express & Star, Birmingham Mail and Coventry Telegraph. The papers will be responsible for selecting members of the public to attend the Public Debates and putting their questions to the candidates. Details on how to apply for tickets will be published next week.

The dates and venues are:

Tuesday 7th March: The Workers Institute, Black Country Living Museum
Wednesday 22nd March: Coventry Cathedral
Tuesday 4th April: Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome
Sunday 23rd April: Vox Conference Centre, Resorts World Birmingham, NEC Campus.

All Public Debates will take place in the early evening, with the exception of the last one which will be during Sunday daytime. A total of around a 1,000 people are anticipated to attend the Public Debates.

The Public Debates have been enthusiastically welcomed by the candidates.

The Public Debates are organised by Urban Communications, sister firm of RJF Public Affairs which publishes the Chamberlain Files political blog. It is also launching an information website – www.westmidselects.org.uk – to help voters find out more about the role of mayor, the candidates and details of how to cast a vote on 4th May. The site is introduced today (Wednesday 8th February 2017) with the full site available from the day of the first debate.

BPS Birmingham is one amongst a range of regional partners supporting the Debates, including the Lunar Society, Downtown in Birmingham and Colmore Business District.

Hilary Smyth-Allen, Executive Director of BPS Birmingham, said:

“BPS Birmingham is delighted to be a partner in this significant series of Public Debates that form part of the campaign to elect a Metro Mayor for the West Midlands. This is a momentous milestone in the governance of our region, a role we fully support and hope will help to drive the region’s growth, particularly in terms of business, skills and transport infrastructure.

“BPS Birmingham will look to work closely with the elected candidate on a whole range issues that impact on the Business and Professional Services Sector.

“We look forward to not only supporting Urban Communications with the delivery of the Debate series, but also in engaging our members in the election, a large majority of whom will have voting powers on 4th May.”

Kevin Johnson, Managing Director of Urban Communications and Partner at RJF Public Affairs, said:

“The election of the first West Midlands Mayor will be a landmark political moment in the region.

“The creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and now the election of a Mayor represent huge advances for an economic area where pan-region, cross-party working has not, until recently, been the order of the day.

“However, a West Midlands Mayor does not have widespread public awareness, understanding or anything near to total support.

“With no other elections currently taking place on the same day, 4th May 2017, there are fears of a low turnout for the election. That could impact upon the mandate of the incoming Mayor.

“Generating interest and engagement in this election is going to be challenging. It will need big moments to bring the contest and the opportunity to life.

“Debates that are open to and fully involve the public are therefore essential to this election.

“I am very grateful to all the candidates for readily signing up to Public Debates when we started to pull together plans some months ago.

“Having local newspapers at the forefront of the Public Debates – including before and after the action on stage – is also critical. I am looking forward to working with the editors and their teams to make sure the Public Debates reach as many people as possible.

“Staging the events in venues which are accessible to the public; which provide great backdrops for Public Debates and which symbolise some of the best features of the West Midlands is also important. So, I appreciate the incredible support we have received from the Black Country Living Museum, Coventry Cathedral, Birmingham Hippodrome and the NEC Group in staging these Public Debates.”

It is hoped that other media, including regional broadcasters, will also be on hand to cover the debates.

The Public Debates are supported by a range of service partners including Purpose (brand and design), PSP (technical services) and Action Starter (technology). Principal partners include the Chambers of Commerce across the region (Greater Birmingham, Black Country and Coventry and Warwickshire) and leading think tank Centre for Cities. Other partners include BPS Birmingham, the Lunar Society and Downtown in Business Birmingham.