My new commission will “make West Midlands a global capital of green manufacturing” - Liam Byrne

Shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, Liam Byrne, has today (Monday, November 23th) launched a new Commission to help make the West Midlands a global capital of green manufacturing.

The Shadow Mayor will be advised by a nine strong Commission of experts drawn from across sectors, with unparalleled national and cross-regional expertise.

The Commission launch came as Byrne led calls for the Government to kickstart the regional with much-needed support and stimulus. Central to this is the unlocking of new funds for a gigafactory in Coventry to manufacture the batteries for electric vehicles – a long-called for demand from the Shadow Mayor.

The move comes after the current Mayor’s ‘State of the Region’ report admitted the region’s exports had fallen by £2 billion before the Coronavirus crisis, while unemployment continued to mount.

Liam Byrne, Shadow Mayor of the West Midlands, said:

“This is an incredible group of experts who share my view that our region, home of the industrial revolution, should set course to become Britain’s capital of green manufacturing. This work could not be more timely or pressing.

“Every earthquake has aftershocks, and if the Bank of England is right, the aftershocks of Covid that’’ hit the West Midlands could create unemployment the like of which we’ve not seen for decades. At the same time we face a growing climate crisis. These are huge challenges, but we can and must take these on and build a better future for our region.

“This is founded on making the West Midlands the capital of green manufacturing with good, new full time jobs. Our history is making things here in the West Midlands and we can make our green future too. We need to develop the widest and best opportunities, use the power of the Mayor to drive these and provide ladders of opportunities for our young people.

“This will be my focus as Mayor and our new Commission, brings together great expertise to help develop the programme we need.”

The Commission’s targeted workstreams will focus on four key areas:

•             What the West Midlands needs to become one of the world’s leading centres making the technologies the world needs to cut carbon emissions;

•             How a faster move to a greener economy can help the region bounce back faster;

•             How green manufacturing can provide opportunities for small businesses and the self-employed;

•             How a green manufacturing economy can create ladders of opportunity for young people across the region.

Running for the next five months, the Commission brings together a wide range of expertise in manufacturing, skills development, industrial sectors, innovation, industrial strategy and government.

The Commission’s co-chairs are Associate Professor Beverley Nielsen and Executive Director of the Institute of Design and Economic Acceleration at Birmingham City University, Paul Everitt, outgoing CEO of ADS, the trade organisation for UK aerospace, defence, security and space sectors and former CEO of SMMT, the trade association for the UK motor industry, and Cllr Lisa Trickett, Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority Scrutiny Committee and who previously Chaired Birmingham’s Green Commission. The Green Manufacturing Commission will be gathering evidence from a range of companies and business organisations to support its work.




The full commission members are:

Beverley Nielsen is an associate professor and executive director of the Institute of Design and Economic Acceleration (IDEA) at Brimingham City Univeristy. Previously she became the first female director of publicly quoted business, AGA Rangemaster plc, later becoming MD of its subsidiary, Fired Earth. Beverley is also a member of the Manufacturing Commission, part of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Manufacturing.

Paul Everitt is the outgoing CEO of ADS Group, the national trade association for the UK aerospace, defence, security and space industries, and was previously chief executive of SMMT, the trade association for the UK motor industry. He has more than 20 years’ experience of the manufacturing and transport sectors.

Cllr Lisa Trickett is a Birmingham City Councillor and Chair of the West Midlands Combined Authority Scrutiny Committee, and Chaired Birmingham’s Green Commission and was the former Cabinet Member for a Green, Smart & Sustainable City. Lisa is the Co-Founder of Places in Common, and previously was the Director of Knowledge Transfer at the University of Birmingham linking between industry and academia to foster commercial growth.

Lowell Williams is the former CEO of Dudley College of Technology and current Chair of Colleges West Midlands. Under his leadership the College created the Dudley Learning Quarter, and centres for Engineering and Built Technologies, and in 2019 was selected to develop The Black Country and Marches Institute of Technology, opening in 2021 as one of twelve new institutes of technology.

Matthew Rhodes is a Board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership and Chair of Energy Capital in the West Midlands. He has worked in the energy industry for over 20 years, (following 15 years in manufacturing) and specialised internationally in low-carbon innovation, developing and delivering collaborative projects at the leading edge of the energy system transition.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle is the Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration. Jim is also Board Member to the University of Warwick Business Innovation Centre and a Director and the lead transport spokesperson of the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership. A Coventry kid, Jim’s career began at the Peugeot factory in Ryton in 1988, rising to become TGWU Convenor of the plant in 2004.

Steve Turner is Assistant General Secretary of Unite the Union, and also represents Unite on the Trades Union Congress Executive Committee and General Council. He is responsible for the union's manufacturing sector.

Jake Sumner co-chairs green body, SERA, is an Institute of Innovation & Public Purpose fellow, and advises companies working in the green economy. As Special Adviser to CLG Secretary he drove responses to the 2008 recession, as Chief Adviser to the Opposition business team 2010-15 developed the modern industrial strategy policy and set up an entrepreneurs’ network, and at TfL, led the funding campaign for Crossrail then Europe’s biggest construction project. 

Hopi Sen is a Research Fellow at the WMG (Warwick Manufacturing Group), University of Warwick. Founded in 1980 by Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, Britain's first ever Professor of Manufacturing, WMG provides research, education and knowledge transfer in engineering, management, manufacturing and technology. Hopi is sitting on the Commission in a personal capacity