THE BLOG

#WMelects17 - Young People Meet Liberal Democrat Candidate For West Midlands Mayor, Beverley Nielsen

20/04/2017 10:56 BST | Updated 20/04/2017 10:56 BST
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It can't be the easiest read for Lib Dem voters when they look at the party's record in the West Midlands.

After the last General Election, they lost their only MP in the region with Lorely Burt losing out to the Tories in Solihull, a seat she held for ten years and in regards to the 2016 local election results based on one council seat per ward, the party walked away with 8 wards throughout the whole West Midlands Combined Authority area.

But there is a feel good vibe coming from party HQ and with their leader, Tim Farron MP charging forward with the so-called "doorstep fightback" and with remain voting big population areas in Birmingham such as Hall Green, Ladywood and Edgbaston, could the Lib Dems actually create a few surprises?

Step forward Beverley Neilson an Executive Director and Associate Professor at Birmingham University. Former Director of CBI West Midlands, and a Midlands Business Woman of the Year who is battling to be the first Mayor of the West Midlands.

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'Author's own'

Back on the #WMelects17 campaign trail, Civify Youth Activist Connor Hill caught up with the Liberal Democrat candidate at Black Country Radio studies and here's just some of what we found out.

On young people's issues are fairly represented in the West midlands - she calls young people the "human goldmine of the future that will power growth" and goes on to talk about she will be offering free transport for young people aged 16 to 25 along with bursaries for young people working for small to medium sized enterprises or looking to set up their startups.

She touches on what she calls the "brain drain" the need to stop people leaving the area after studying at West Midlands Universities saying there is research that "the more you can keep graduates in the region, the greater success for the region."

In regards to further youth services cuts in the area stating "I think it's really shocking with what's happened with the cuts that we have seen over the last five years" using "50% cuts in adult" education as an example and youth community centres closing - going on to say even though devolution will bring 1 billion there is still 4 billion of cuts to make by 2020.

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'Author's own'

On teaching politics in schools, she said "if there is a way to fit it into an already full curriculum, yes I think so" and going on to say it's important young people are constantly engaging with the structures that are there.

When Connor quizzed her on youth employment and high-value jobs to keep young people in the region - she touched on the importance of research such as electric vehicles, energy storage, life sciences and leadership in places such as Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and connecting young people from primary age to these opportunities in regards to careers advice.

Talking about the need to double the number of homes in the region that construction will be a form to offer young people jobs.

Turning to Brexit, she said "we have to protect the livelihoods of people" who are exporting to the Europe, "42% of goods go to the EU, about 12 million pounds of goods and services destined for that market" going on to say "we need the greatest ease of access."

When a young person who asked a question on how'd the Lib Dem's would reach out to young leave voters where the party rhetoric is clearly in the remain campaign she said "the big opportunity that Brexit has posed is reform" and "let's try this new way of valuing our people and communities."

You can listen to the full interview here or check out all the interviews so far, including past West Midlands Mayor blogs for Huffington Post Young Voices here.