5th May 2020 – COVID-19 Briefing from Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street

Our sincere thanks to Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, for taking time out to brief our network on the impact of CV-19.

5th May 2020

Guest Speaker: Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands


(NB. This is not a full nor necessarily accurate set of notes!)

  • Although the government specifically called out the region as “serious cause for concern”, back in early April, there has been a brilliant reaction to social distancing
  • At time of speaking there are 7915 cases across the West Mids, there were 105 new cases reported 4th May and our regional death rate was currently below national average.

Returning to work

  • Transport, we need to move from being underused (which is still running to support key workers), to increasing the frequency, whilst maintaining social distancing
  • We need to give people confidence in using the public transport, and not go back to using cars
  • Currently construction has re-started, JLR in Solihull expected to go back 18th May
  • Discussions have been held with the CEOs of more difficult areas, Birmingham airport, NEC, and it might sound ambitious, but they are looking for ways to re-open, safely, and bearing in mind social-distancing and we are supporting this gradual return to work effort
  • We are expecting more people to want to walk & cycle to work, particular as people have taken to cycling as their form of daily exercise.  
    • Aim to publicise and market the existing cycle infrastructure
    • Encourage employer’s to be set-up to accommodate (eg showers/bike storage)

Councils are looking at innovative ways to change the use of pavements.

Questions asked and Answers:

Q:        What steps will be taken to safeguard workforces returning to large buildings that a number of organisations may be housed? Any guidelines to be provided?

A:         Yes government guidelines will be provided. Space has been categorised into 7 types. This will include risk assessments being done, before being open to large numbers

Q:        Have there been any delays or push backs in relation to big regional projects, such as HS2/commonwealth games

A:         We have created a Regional Recovery Plan and this is being put forward for ratification. We are moving swiftly with this

We do not want to prolong the impact on the regional economy & want to get it going again – need to inject cash into it

We are pushing forward with a number of public sector contracts which are still well funded, for example the government has taken notice to proceed to Phase 1 for HS2, so we can start placing contractors, also the Commonwealth games, will still be on track there are the three big infrastructure projects (Sandwell Swimming Pool & the Stadium & Athletes village being building in Digbeth)

Q:        Transport innovation – can we bring anything forward

A:         Birmingham University Station will be revamped, and is a £50million project, hope to award the contract on this soon

Q:        Ambition – has anything fallen off you own agenda this year?

A:        Major election was supposed to take place, 2/5 which was significant.

Q:        What is you view on face masks

A:         Need medical opinion and advice on this.  Expect the government to advise on this, on Suspect that material face masks will be suggested

Q:        What impact does COVID-19 have on the LGBTQ+ ?

A:         Didn’t feel it would have any significantly different or greater impact than on other communities across Birmingham

Acknowledges the financial impact on Southside businesses and these will be considered alongside others in the recovery plan

Recommended people review WMCA’s Thrive At Home resources             (https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/covid-19-support/working-at-home/) to help and support them during this time.