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The West Yorkshire Mayoral Election: A Breakdown

On the 6th of May 2021 the people of West Yorkshire will head to the polls to vote in the inaugural West Yorkshire mayoral election. This will be the first election for the mayor of the West Yorkshire combined authority. The election will be taking place alongside local council elections and police and crime commissioner elections for the area. This makes these elections crucial in determining the future of the West Yorkshire area.

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority

The local authority was created in 2014 as an expansion of the previous West Yorkshire integrated transport authority. This saw the authority gain a greater remit outside of transport but still lacked the power of the mayoral authorities of London and Manchester. However, in 2020 the current government signed a deal with the Leeds local authority to increase the devolution of power in the area. The devolution deal has brought with it the creation of the Mayor position and the following to the West Yorkshire area:

  • £38m for 30 years into West Yorkshire Investment Fund

  • A government commitment to develop modern mass transit in the region

  • £317m for the transforming cities fund to improve access to public transport

  • Control of the Adult education budget for West Yorkshire

  • A £25m fund to support the development of a British Library North in Leeds

  • Funding for city development

  • Access to a brownfield regeneration Fund to support the construction of new homes in the area

The Area

The combined authority is made-up of 5 metropolitan boroughs of west Yorkshire:

  • City of Leeds (The administrative centre)

  • City of Wakefield

  • Kirklees

  • Calderdale

  • City of Bradford

Electoral system

The election uses a Supplementary voting (SV) system similar to how mayors are elected across the UK. The system gives voters a first and a second preference, giving voters greater representation if their first choice is unsuccessful.

Under this system the election can be won in two ways. First, if a candidate receives more than 50% of all the total first-choice votes. Secondly, if a candidate is unable to win an overall majority then the two leading candidates go into a final round. This considers second preference votes from the candidates which have already been eliminated in the second round of voting. The candidate with the highest amount of first and second preference votes then wins the election.

The Candidates for the 2021 election

Tracy Brabin (Labour Party) is currently a sitting MP for Batley and Spen and was previously the shadow Minister for Cultural Industries. She grew up in the area and has a background in writing and acting appearing in TV shows such as Coronation Street, EastEnders and Emmerdale. She wishes to represent the region in the following areas:

  • Fight for a fair deal for the local authority in funding distribution

  • Close the gap between the North South divide

  • Support the growth of local business especially after the Covid-19 pandemic

  • Support the creation of green jobs as part of a reindustrialisation as part of a ‘creative new deal’

If she wins, she could become the first female metro mayor potentially alongside Jessie Joe Jacobs in Tees Valley.

TBC. (Conservatives) The Conservative party are yet to announce their candidate for the election. However, it is speculated that the previous parliamentary candidate for Huddersfield Ken Davy could be selected for the position.

Stewart Golton (Liberal Democrats). Stewart is currently a long-standing city councillor in Leeds having served for over 20 years. Stewart too believes his long history in the region will make him a successful mayor for the region. He has been campaigning for the following:

  • Negotiate a greater devolution of powers to the region which will put the local authority at a similar level to that of London or Manchester

  • Increase investment in the region

  • Support local businesses

  • Investment in walking and cycling programs and infrastructure.

Andrew Cooper (Green Party) Leader of the Green Party on Kirklees Council. He has a strong history in the region pushing for green policy and investment in the region.

Bob Buxton (The Yorkshire Party) Bob and the Yorkshire Party run to better represent the needs of Yorkshire on a national level, believing that Yorkshire would be best represented independent of national parties. He also calls for greater devolution for the region.

Register to vote here:

Sam Ward (Policy and News Analysis Associate)

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