Watch: West Midlands Mayor clashes with rival Labour candidate at Hockley Social Club election debate

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A West Midlands Mayoral Elections debate took place at Hockley Social Club between incumbent Mayor Andy Street for the Conservatives and Labour candidate Richard Parker

The West Midlands mayoral elections race heated up as candidates gathered at the Hockley Social Club for a high-stakes debate.

The event, hosted by Hockley Social Club and moderated by political journalist Lewis Goodall, co-presenter of The News Agents podcast, brought together incumbent West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, for the Conservatives, and Labour Party Mayoral Candidate Richard Parker on Monday night (April 15).

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The candidates delved into critical issues, including transportation, housing shortages, and job opportunities for young people. Here’s a look at what each of them had to say on key topics. You can see them clashing in the video at the top of our story.

Transportation

Incumbent Andy Street emphasized the success of the Commonwealth Games and the region's international brand, highlighting the importance of promoting the West Midlands globally.

He underscored the need for initiatives in transportation, housing, and cultural development to bolster Birmingham's economy and reputation. Street also reflected on the progress made during his term, citing achievements in transport vision and inward investment, positioning Birmingham ahead of Manchester.

Mayoral Candidate Richard Parker spoke passionately about improving connectivity in the region by having an integrated, accessible, and publicly controlled transport system, when asked how this would work financially he said ‘I'm an accountant, so trust me with the money’.

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Credit: Wezism/Hockley Social Club Credit: Wezism/Hockley Social Club
Credit: Wezism/Hockley Social Club | Credit: Wezism/Hockley Social Club

Housing

Parker used the debate as an opportunity to attack Street's record on housing.

He said; “In eight years in office, he's delivered 68 units of social housing. That's a chronic failure for anyone leading this region. Because there's an abundance of housing resources, and the current plan has failed to use 70% of his housing resources.”

Street responded and said that a third of the homes that he’d supported, were affordable homes.

Richard Parker advocated for addressing the housing shortage by promising 5000 new social housing units on his first day in office. Burden also echoed the importance of job opportunities, mentioning affordable housing and training initiatives aimed at empowering young people in the West Midlands.

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Night Life Economy

The cost-of-living crisis, post-Covid recovery and the UK’s departure from the European Union have had a catastrophic impact on the Night Time Economy (NTE).

Martin Murray, the former owner of the UK's longest running same-owner nightclubs told BrminghamWorld that neither candiate had an answer or solution to save nightlife.

“I don’t think they care, they do not see the importance that the night time economy brings” he said.

Richard Parker said that one way of reducing pressure on the industry would be to a reduction in VAT which would stimulate economic growth in the hospitality market.

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He added that a future Labour government would do a comprehensive overhaul of business rates, however highlighted that this would be in a few years time.

The elections for the West Midlands Mayor will take place on May 2.

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