Centre for Progressive Policy
In conversation with Tracy Brabin MP
On the 6th of May residents of West Yorkshire will vote for the first time for their regional mayor in an election that will have ramifications beyond the region. The newly elected candidate will oversee a devolution deal which will include an annual £38 million budget, new powers over transport, education and housing and regeneration, as well as control of the Adult Education Budget. It’s no surprise the deal is being pitched by government as evidence of further investment in the Northern Powerhouse and its ongoing commitment to levelling up.
But at a time when inclusive economic recovery is critical, the first mayor of West Yorkshire will also carve a place on the national political landscape. The tensions between local and central government have become all too clear during the pandemic with mayors gaining increasing attention. An additional mayoralty will influence economic and social policy making beyond the region, as well as shaping the devolution debate and wider constitutional issues for years to come.
After a longstanding career in the public eye, Tracy Brabin became the Labour Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen in 2016. Re-elected in 2017 and again in 2019, she is now running for Mayor of West Yorkshire and, if successful, would be the first elected female mayor of a combined authority in England. Ahead of May’s local, mayoral and Scottish Parliament elections we will discuss her vision for the future of the region and how the first mayor for West Yorkshire could catalyse inclusive economic recovery and growth.
Key questions include: What challenges and opportunities are likely to arise for West Yorkshire over the next four years and how can they be addressed? How has the coronavirus pandemic changed the role of local and regional leaders in shaping and delivering economic growth? How can mayors influence the levelling up debate and shape the Northern Powerhouse? How can they incentivise investment in their region to solve inequality and drive forward inclusive growth? In which ways might West Yorkshire shape the future of further devolution in England? What does a transition from MP to mayor involve in practice and which role can make the bigger difference?
The event was chaired by Zoë Billingham, Head of Policy and Engagement, Centre for Progressive Policy.