Star Comment: Make your mark and give us more funding
With the budget on the horizon, the nation’s attention will be focused on whether Philip Hammond can finally make his mark as an effective Chancellor.
His record up to this point is decidedly average – and that’s being polite.
Sixteen months into his tenure at the Exchequer, it is hard to think of a single successful initiative that Mr Hammond has announced.
As it stands, his legacy is bookended by a hugely embarrassing climbdown over National Insurance contributions, and his largely unjustified downbeat attitude towards Brexit.
The Chancellor needs to make an impression, and he can start by giving the West Midlands the funding it needs to continue the pattern of growth it has embarked upon.
One of the benefits of electing a mayor to represent the West Midlands is that we finally have a figurehead to speak up for the region in Westminster.
And whether people agree with his politics or not, few would doubt that Conservative mayor Andy Street has put in the hard yards when it comes to flying the flag for the region.
From the moment he was elected, the former John Lewis chief executive has put forward a compelling case for more investment.
And he clearly has the ear of those who decide where funding will be distributed.
The overall impression is that the West Midlands is on the cusp of real growth and prosperity.
No other region in the country appears as prepared to take advantage of the boundless opportunities that Brexit will bring. Mr Street deserves credit for the work he has put in to get us to this stage.
Had Labour’s incompetent and listless mayoral candidate Sion Simon been elected, it is impossible to imagine the West Midlands ever being in this position.
While there are still those who rail against devolution, as a region we must be committed to making the most of it.
Under the umbrella of the combined authority, our local councils are working together for the good of the region.
Ambitious proposals are in place for transport improvements and house-building schemes.
Now is the time for the Government to provide us with the funds to make these plans a reality.