‘Brave’ vision launched for Walsall's future

Teenage students in Walsall have backed a ‘brave’ vision that aims to transform the borough by the time they are twice the age they are now.

Students at Walsall College\'s Digital Engineering Skills Centre. PIC: Gurdip Thandi
Students at Walsall College\'s Digital Engineering Skills Centre. PIC: Gurdip Thandi

We Are Walsall 2040 will see thousands of people and businesses in the town giving their views on what changes they want to see in place in 18 years’ time and create a shared ambition for everyone.

The project will see Walsall Council work with partners such as Walsall College, West Midlands Police, Fire Service, health organisations and the voluntary sector.

Next month, the first consultation phase will see 10,000 residents and businesses canvassed for their views. A plan for We Are Walsall 2040 is expected to be unveiled in spring next year.

The proposals were unveiled at Walsall College’s Digital Engineering Skills Centre campus on Thursday.

Eshana Kainth, 18, said: “I’m studying T-level construction. It’s a new course and it’s to open us up to the employment world and the real world.

“It will be really nice to see Walsall develop into somewhere we can come and work instead of going to big offices in cities such as Birmingham.

“It would be great to stay in the community and invite people into those industries. It will become more of an inviting space.

“I don’t live here but I’d love to work in Walsall and see it develop over the years.”

Another 18-year-old student Harry Wilding-Wills added: “I think Walsall has a lot of very good and positive people here who are willing to help each other out.

“I’ve looked at the project and believe it is an interesting idea and approach for Walsall. I hope eventually this will all come to fruition.

“It’s a very nice plan and hopefully through this Walsall will evolve to be better than it is already.”

And Ahasam Sarwar, also 18, said: “Walsall feels like an integrated community. There’s lot of different people from different backgrounds and it feels like everyone gets along.

“I’m excited to see what they can do (in 2040). I feel like there are a few things they have to work on but it’s interesting. It’s an 18 year project so I’ll be in my 30s.”

At the launch, bosses said the ultimate aims of We Are Walsall 2040 were to have people proud of the borough and wanting to live and work there.

But they also want young people to have skills required for jobs which might be available across the West Midlands.

Long term plans and visions have been launched before but they said the difference with this one was how ‘brave’ it was by going out to thousands of people and responding to their views rather than developing something and running a consultation on it.

Walsall Council deputy leader Adrian Andrew said: “We have big ambitions for Walsall’s future.

“Tens of millions of pounds have already been secured to transform the borough over the next 15 to 20 years.

“We want Walsall in 2040 to be shaped by our residents, our children, our young people, our businesses and by our communities.”

Jatinder Sharma OBE, principal and chief executive of Walsall College, said: “We have more than 11,000 students at the college every year and we work with them to develop their skills for a successful future.

“For many of our students, that future will be here in Walsall. Babies born today will be our students in 2040 and together with our partners we want to shape a thriving Walsall where there are opportunities for everyone.”

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