UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 11 APRIL
The public are being given the chance to quiz all six candidates for West Midlands Mayor this week, as one of the mostly hotly contested elections taking place anywhere in the country enters its final stages.
Residents are being asked to submit questions for the candidates before a debate held at Birmingham City University on Wednesday (April 12), with just three weeks to go until voters head to the polling stations for the landmark election (May 4).
All six candidates will go head-to-head in the debate, ahead of what is expected to be one of the closest races among all six regions set to install their first elected Mayors next month.
Pollsters currently have Conservative candidate Andy Street and Labour candidate Siôn Simon level pegging, while bookmakers suggest only the West of England Mayoral election is more difficult to call.
The six official candidates who will be taking part in the debate are:
- James Burn - Green Party
- Pete Durnell - UK Independence Party (UKIP)
- Beverley Anne Nielsen - Liberal Democrats
- Siôn Llewelyn Simon – Labour and Co-operative Party
- Graham John Stevenson - Communist
- Andy Street – The Conservative Party Candidate
Questions can be submitted to the University by tweeting @MyBCU, using the hashtag #BCUcitytalks.
Questions can also be handed to staff on the day of the debate and there will be opportunities for people to put their questions directly to the candidates during the debate.
Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “This election will have a transformative effect on this region so it is vital that we give people the chance to put their questions to the candidates and hear their visions for the West Midlands.
Research last year showed that only 40 per cent of West Midlands residents were aware of plans to install a new Mayor despite it forming a central part of the region’s devolution deal.
Student leaders at Birmingham City University have highlighted the importance of the vote as well as the major issues they would like to see tackled by the incoming Mayor, including transport costs, sport and mental health.
Jo Goodman, President of Birmingham City University’s Students’ Union, said: “Transport is a huge issue in the city for students and young people at the moment. At Birmingham City University we have around 71 per cent commuter students and the cost of transport and the network is causing a lot of issues for students commuting into university.
“So a priority for me would be to decrease the cost of rail fares and make amendments to the 16-25 rail card so students can use it for lectures before half 9.”
The debate is being hosted by Birmingham City University in partnership with Bosch and West Midlands Combined Universities.
For more information and to book your place visit: www.bcu.ac.uk/citytalks