West Midlands mayoral election: Labour plots selection strategy
The Labour Party has drawn up plans to select its candidate for the first directly elected mayor of the West Midlands.
Labour's National Executive Committee has decided to pick a candidate in July through a 'one member, one vote' ballot.
The party will first draw up a list of candidates before putting them to the vote so that its nominee will be in place before the Labour Party conference in September.
It comes as the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act – which paved the way for the WMCA – was granted Royal Assent and has passed into law.
Voters in the newly formed West Midlands Combined Authority will elect a metro mayor in 2017. The position will arguably be the second most powerful figure in local or regional government, after London's mayor.
The mayor will wield wide ranging powers over the region's economic development, housing, transport networks and skills.
Possible Labour candidates for the role include Sandwell Council leader Darren Cooper, who has already declared his interest in the post.
West Midlands MEP Sion Simon is another who may throw his hat into the ring. The former Birmingham MP stood down in 2010 to campaign for an elected mayor to run Birmingham City Council. That proposal was thrown out after a referendum.
Mr Simon said: "I stood down from the House of Commons in 2010 specifically to campaign for devolution, and I've been relentlessly making that case ever since.
Wolverhampton council leader Roger Lawrence has ruled himself out of the running. The Conservatives and Lib Dems are yet to confirm selection arrangements..
Potential candidates for the Tories include Solihull Council leader Bob Sleigh, and Dudley councillor Les Jones.
There is also likely to be interest from the business world. Last year former CBI chief and business minister Lord Digby Jones admitted he was 'sorely tempted' by the idea of running, while Black Country Chamber of Commerce president Ninder Johal has refused to rule himself out.
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