Written by Matthew Bacon
The Labour Party’s candidate in the West Midlands Metro Mayor race, Sion Simon, has pledged to kick start the building of 30,000 new homes in the region by providing a £500 million reclamation fund in order to prepare former industrial sites and waste ground for new development.
Mr Simon said to the local media: “Everyone should have the right to their own front door. Under the Tories, home ownership is falling, rents are rising and homelessness gets worse every week. Strong Communities are built on safe homes. And right now, we don’t have enough homes – or enough affordable homes."
A current MEP for the region, Mr Simon has previously sparked controversy by stating that the more Conservative voting areas outside of Birmingham, such as Solihull, should be more flexbile when it comes to building on the Greenbelt. This comment attracted a sharp response from the Conservative MP for Meriden, Caroline Spelman, who was quoted as stating: “Mr Simon has failed to acknowledge that Solihull has in recent years, already sacrificed much of its green belt in order to support strategically important regional and national infrastructure such as the NEC, the expansion of the runway at Birmingham Airport and the expansion of Jaguar Land Rover.”
The Conservative candidate, Andy Street, has pledged to protect the Greenbelt in Sutton Coldfield and Solihull, while promising £200 million to clear up Brownfield sites.
Mr Street is going to need both a big turnout and victory in both the Solihull and Sutton Coldfield areas to counterbalance Labour’s hold on Birmingham.
Currently Mr Street is the favourite to win the race with odds of 4/7. However, Mr Simon is not far behind on odds of 6/4, making for a highly interesting two horse race with second preferences potentially deciding the outcome.