METRO Mayor Andy Street paid a flying visit to Redditch on Tuesday to talk transport, business growth and plugging the skills gap.
The former head of John Lewis had come at the invitation of borough council leader Bill Hartnett and took in the proposed Eastern Gateway development, a visit to Mettis Aerospace and a tour of the Kingfisher Shopping Centre.
“Redditch was one of the first, if not the first non-constituent member of the West Midlands Combined Authority and as the Mayor I wanted to come and really immerse myself in the practical issues there are here at the moment,” he said.
He added key among those was the transport connection to Birmingham, and one practical benefit for Redditch was the Swift travel card.
Having travelled to Redditch by rail, he proudly showed off his own Swift pass which he said would be launched here ‘imminently’.
The card will enable Redditch residents to travel freely by bus or train across the region.
Mr Street added that talks with Windsor Road-based Mettis centred on competitiveness, energy costs and recruiting the right people to grow the business.
“They said they have 21 vacancies, mostly in engineering, and asked what we can do.
“Redditch is a member of two local enterprise partnerships and they are already playing role in this.
“However I think the skills gap is a national issue and how are we going to make sure our advanced anufacturing industries continue to grow across the Combined Authority and what are we doing to provide the necessary skilled people.”
Coun Hartnett said: “I invited the Mayor to Redditch so he’s familiar with the town and to tell him how we want to see Redditch grow and prosper and talk about how we want to bring skilled prestigious jobs here.”