Why mayoral elections matter for Yorkshire businesses in the run up to General Election: Beckie Hart

In May, voters across England will elect 10 metro mayors, the most to date. By May 3 approximately 26 million people, or 44 per cent of the English population will be presided over by a mayor representing more than 50 per cent of English GDP.

In Yorkshire there will be three elections as voters go to the polls in both West and South Yorkshire once more and in York & North Yorkshire for the very first time.

With a strong personal mandate, mayors provide a powerful and influential voice, bringing a strategic regional view to crucial policy decisions on areas such as transport, housing, education, strategic planning, and infrastructure, all of which are crucial to growing the economy.

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Across England, we see mayors continue to play a vital role in ensuring a region is an attractive place for inward investment and to do business, both for domestic and international firms.

Tracy Brabin is standing for re-election as Mayor of West Yorkshire. Picture: James HardistyTracy Brabin is standing for re-election as Mayor of West Yorkshire. Picture: James Hardisty
Tracy Brabin is standing for re-election as Mayor of West Yorkshire. Picture: James Hardisty

This next round of mayoral elections comes ahead of a hotly anticipated general election and provides an opportunity to build frameworks to deliver growth across regions in key sectors. With both main parties committed to devolution, the CBI will be pushing for the development of existing settlements and the delivery of funding simplification.

In a nutshell, we’re asking politicians in Westminster to put trust in the regions to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth that aligns with their economic strengths.

A recent report commissioned by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit working with CBI Economics and Yorkshire’s very own Data City suggests that the UK economy grew by 0.1 per cent in 2023 but that the net-zero economy grew by an astonishing 9 per cent. Importantly this growth wasn’t attributed to any one part of the UK but is distributed around the country. In Yorkshire, companies in the net zero sector are twice as productive as those in other industries.

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Across our region there are many opportunities to build on this, in areas such as clean technology, carbon capture, hydrogen, and advanced manufacturing. Yorkshire mayors, working in close collaboration with each other, central and local governments, as well as the private sector

Beckie Hart is regional director for Yorkshire & Humber at the CBIBeckie Hart is regional director for Yorkshire & Humber at the CBI
Beckie Hart is regional director for Yorkshire & Humber at the CBI

have an opportunity to sell Yorkshire to the world.

The CBI has long been a strong supporter of devolution and of directly elected mayors. We have seen how mayors can be strong advocates for their region, utilising their convening power to effect meaningful change. Mayors act as ambassadors for their regions – in both national and international contexts. Importantly, they provide the governance and accountability Whitehall needs in order to devolve powers and funding.

We will keep pushing politicians to go further on devolution – because we know those closer to the impact are best placed to make the right calls needed to secure opportunities for economic growth in Yorkshire.

Here at CBI Yorkshire & Humber, we remain committed in our support to the Yorkshire mayors – to help amplify their voices and provide the business intelligence needed to make thoughtful decisions. Ahead of the mayoral elections we have developed business led manifestos which will help them to drive sustainable economic growth.

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We look forward to working with the successful candidates and stand ready to help them lead the way in improving the economic prosperity of Yorkshire.

Beckie Hart is CBI regional director for Yorkshire & Humber

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