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Express & Star comment: Creative industries are the future

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

You have to hand it to Andy Street, he is nothing if not persistent.

Crews on set at Black Country Living Museum filming scenes for Peaky Blinders

The West Midlands Mayor has had some major achievements since he was elected in May 2017, but it is his biggest failure that still haunts him to this day.

Losing out in the bid to bring Channel 4 to Birmingham last year was undoubtedly a major setback.

It cost the region not just jobs and new infrastructure, but also the prospect of a whole new industry developing in the West Midlands.

While the region’s bid was clearly hampered by party politics – the lack of support from Labour MPs for a plan put forward by a Tory Mayor was noticeable – it still served as a savage blow to Mr Street’s dream of making the second city home to a new breed of creative industries.

But credit where it is due, the mayor has gone back to the drawing board and appears to have come up with an alternative plan.

From later this year a new body will aim to boost the television, film and games industries across the West Midlands region.

It will serve as a focal point to bring businesses together and promote the West Midlands region around the entire world.

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This is a welcome development that could make up for the failure to land the Channel 4 headquarters, provided it is given the support it deserves.

According to the West Midlands Combined Authority, the message is clear.

Despite a proud tradition of filmmaking and gaming, the region has not done enough to attract the movers and shakers of the creative industries.

And while the West Midlands has a wealth of talent in these areas, much of it remains untapped.

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There is no doubt that as we look to the future, the region needs to look at other growing industries.

Recent figures have shown the decline in manufacturing.

In order to prosper, we need a varied economy that is not reliant on one or two particular sectors.

There is absolutely no reason why the West Midlands cannot be a major player in the creative industries of the future.

But for that to happen, Mr Street’s plan needs to run over the long term.

And that means it must be properly funded too.

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