ON May 4th the West Midlands region will elect its first Mayor.

This an important role: the new Mayor will represent the West Midlands Combined Authority comprising Birmingham, Coventry, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Walsall and Sandwell.

Disregarding the candidates from minority parties who cannot possibly win, it is basically a fight between Conservative and Labour.

Fortunately, the Conservatives have a dream candidate in Andy Street ,the man who left his nine year post as Managing Director of John Lewis to campaign for this prestigious role. Under his leadership, John Lewis became synonymous with quality products at competitive prices; every town centre and major shopping mall now wants a flagship John Lewis store . Andy Street has also been Chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership since April 2011.

Labour is fielding a career politician, Sion Simon, closely connected with Jeremy Corbyn’s backward - looking 70s vision of the UK. It is worth remembering what life was like in the 70s wIth Trades Union and Labour driven strikes. With a few exceptions such as Solihull, Labour has dominated West Midlands councils in recent years and its record scarcely bears inspection.

If you want some examples , look up “Birmingham Council + scandal” on Google .There are some unedifying results.

(“Birmingham City Council to lose control of children’s services deemed ‘a national disgrace’”; “Birmingham accused of going soft on extremism amid fears of another Trojan Horse scandal” ; “Birmingham City council faces ‘mammoth’ cuts after overspending £49MILLION”.) The mayoral election presents a golden opportunity to break Labour’s regional stranglehold.

In Andy Street we have the chance to elect someone with a proven track record of excellent financial and resource management, someone with skill and experience who has a forward-thinking plan for our future. For me the choice is simple: if you want jobs, growth and prosperity for the West Midlands, vote for Andy Street; if you want a return to the 70s era of strife and strike, Sion Simon’s your man.

M Holder