Dudley councillor Pete Lowe confirms he's running for mayor with pledge to cut public transport fares

Dudley councillor Pete Lowe confirms he’s running for mayor with pledge to cut public transport fares

Labour mayor hopeful Pete Lowe has vowed to cut the price of public transport in the West Midlands if he wins power.

He said his plans include “reducing the cost of transport for working families, making sure that we reform fares across the region so that it doesn’t break the bank to get to work”.

Coun Lowe has confirmed he wants to be Labour’s candidate for West Midlands Mayor.

It means he faces a battle with other Labour politicians including Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Hodge Hill, and Lynda Waltho, a former Black Country MP.

Local Labour party members will choose their party’s candidate.

And the winner of that contest will go on to stand in next year’s mayoral election, where they will take on Andy Street, the incumbent Conservative Mayor who is to stand for a second term.

Other parties including the Liberal Democrats, Greens and more are expected to field candidates of their own.

Coun Lowe, currently a Dudley councillor, set out his plans for the region in an article written for website LabourList.

 

He said: “I want the West Midlands to be a pioneering region, testing new, radical policies that will clear the path for the next Labour government and demonstrate what we can achieve when we are bold.”

As well as cutting fares, his priorities include cutting the number of rough sleepers in the West Midlands; testing “experimental and innovative green policies” to drive an “environmental revolution” across the region; establishing a “People’s Bank” to invest in the region, including backing co-operatives and ethical enterprises, and creating “community hubs” to provide support to people in need.

He also said he would campaign to reverse cuts in funding to local councils.

Coun Lowe said: “I will be a campaigning mayor if elected. My first, second and third campaigning priority will be to demand the restoration of all funding lost by councils in the West Midlands since the Tories came to power in 2010.”

According to think tank the Centre for Cities, local government funding in Birmingham has been cut by 13% in real terms since the Conservative government came to power in 2010, a reduction of £259 per person.

Coventry has faced an even bigger cut, with spending down by £458 per person.

 

The West Midlands Mayor serves the areas covered by Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell local authorities.

It seems that Mr Lowe, who is on the left of the party, already has the support of at least a section of local Labour Party activists.

Mr Byrne’s campaign appeared to get off to a flying start with endorsements from Labour shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and shadow minister Clive Lewis.

But a hundred members of the Labour Party in the West Midlands last month signed a statement calling for what they describe as a left-wing candidate to be chosen instead.

Signatories include regional Fire Brigades Union Secretary Andrew Scattergood, University and College Union NEC member Rhiannon Lockley, Labour’s parliamentary candidates in Walsall North and Halesowen & Rowley Regis, and constituency and branch party secretaries, chairs and officers.

 

The statement said: “As socialist members of the Labour Party, we are calling for a left-wing candidate with strong experience in local government and trade union support to put their hat into the ring.”

Labour has not yet officially begun the process of choosing a candidate.

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