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Candidates take to stage with one month to go

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The third of four Public Debates featuring all five main candidates for West Midlands Mayor will take place tomorrow (4th April 2017) exactly one month before polling day.

Over 200 people are expected at Birmingham Hippodrome, with a large proportion of the audience made up by members of the public who applied for a ticket to the Birmingham Mail newspaper.

Marc Reeves, Birmingham Mail editor, will chair the Public Debate along with Kevin Johnson, Managing Director of Urban Communications, the firm behind West Mids Elects.

James Burn (Green), Pete Durnell (UKIP), Beverley Nielsen, (LibDem), Siôn Simon (Labour) and Andy Street (Conservative) will line up for 90 minutes of wide-ranging debate. Nominations for the WMCA Mayor close at 4.00pm tomorrow (4th April).

The first two events featured lively debates over the proposed nationalisation of the M6 Toll, the impact of HS2, how to tackle housing and homelessness and whether there should be a Mayor at all.

The Birmingham Public Debate is scheduled to start at around 6.30pm. It will take place in the Patrick Centre at Birmingham Hippodrome, courtesy of DanceXchange.

On the evening, the Public Debate will be streamed live by the Birmingham Mail via Facebook Live at:

Social media users can also engage with the Public Debate using the hashtag #wmmayor. The Birmingham Mail will be tweeting @birminghammail and the organisers @westmidselects.

Among the organisations supporting the Public Debates are the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), which the successful candidate will go on to chair, and the University of Warwick.


Martin Reeves, CEO at WMCA said:

“The West Midlands Combined Authority must do all that it can to raise awareness of the Mayoral Election on May 4. The WMCA must also commit and be seen to commit to broaden and deepen engagement across all of our communities and stakeholders. We will use a variety of media and engagement approaches to explain and clarify what the Mayoral Combined Authority will mean for the electorate across the 7 Metropolitan areas.

“So as part of this critical engagement programme, the WMCA is pleased to support Urban Communications’ Mayoral Public Debates.  We are making history as we move to elect the first ever Mayor for the West Midlands and these events will offer all candidates an opportunity to share their visions for the future.”


Professor Simon Swain, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement at the University of Warwick, commented:

“The emergence of the WMCA and the role of Mayor are significant developments for our region. Increasing awareness of the opportunities an elected Mayor presents and the election on 4th May are essential, so we are delighted to support this unique series of Public Debates. The events will also give us an opportunity to bring issues like skills, research, productivity and industrial strategy to the fore.”

The event is open to coverage by all media.

More details on the events and the election, including the Rules for the Public Debates agreed to by all candidates, can be found at

There are still opportunities to be a Partner in West Mids Elects. Anyone interested should contact Kevin Johnson:

West Mids Elects Partners include the Birmingham Mail, West Midlands Combined Authority, The University of Warwick, Birmingham Hippodrome, DanceXchange, Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Centre for Cities, Purpose, PSP, Action Starter, BPS Birmingham, The Civic Society, Culture Central, Colmore Business District, Downtown in Business Birmingham, The Lunar Society, Unison and Midlands TUC.