Andy Street: The Black Country will thrive again post-pandemic
To celebrate Black Country Day, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street pens an open letter to Express & Star readers
To those who have the honour of calling the Black Country home, I wanted to today take the opportunity on this special day to write to you.
Normally there would be dozens of celebrations taking place to mark Black Country Day.
It has become a highlight for me personally to visit and see the best of the Black Country in full flow.
This year many events will have been postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But we must not let that dampen our spirits – and there is still plenty to celebrate.
Thanks to the hard work and responsibility shown by so many of you throughout this pandemic, we are on top of the virus and are slowly driving it out of our region. We must always remember those who lost their lives, and never forget that this deadly virus is still in circulation.
But the number of cases has reduced substantially since the peak, and the rate of infection in our region is low. This would never have been possible without all of us showing such resolve and responsibility during lockdown.
You have all definitely earned a socially distanced pint of Black Country ale today!
It has also been amazing to how see the Black Country community has rallied together during such a difficult period to help one another out. The true spirit of our region has truly shine through.
From Warley Baptist Church and the Kings Community Church in Brandhall coming together to deliver hot food to the vulnerable, to charity Just Straight Talk adapting its services online to keep people connected, the response has been phenomenal.
At every level, from the individual doorstep to whole community efforts, help has been at hand. You should all be immensely proud of your efforts.
There are plenty of challenges still ahead, not least around the economy.
The Black Country was particularly badly hit in the last financial crash of 2008, and I know many of you are worried about a repeat.
There is no sugar-coating the fact that the West Midlands could be the region worst affected by the economic downturn.
But we are doing all we can to mitigate this.
What the Chancellor announced last week will help tens of thousands of people in the region with their employment.
And we are continuing to press the case for further support from Government to help protect people’s jobs.
And we must not forget some of the great successes achieved in the Black Country before the pandemic hit.
There were record numbers of people in work, the eyesore that was Cavendish House finally came down, and a flurry of old derelict industrial sites saw work under way to turn them into new communities filled with hundreds of homes. And we now have the exciting that the Black Country has been designated a global geopark.
The Black Country was thriving before the pandemic.
And, with a new Metro line through Dudley and Sandwell, a new hospital in Smethwick, and the re-opened Walsall to Wolverhampton railway line, all on the horizon, it will do so again.
Thank you to everyone for playing your part throughout this crisis, and happy Black Country Day.
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