Dan Jarvis is Yorkshire’s first metro mayor - now comes the hard part

Dan Jarvis, the new mayor of the Sheffield City Region. Picture Scott Merrylees
Dan Jarvis, the new mayor of the Sheffield City Region. Picture Scott Merrylees
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It could be argued that getting elected as the mayor of the Sheffield City Region was the easiest part of the task facing former Paratrooper Dan Jarvis.

The Barnsley MP, who today won the election to become Yorkshire’s first metro mayor with a majority of around 94,000, was always going to be a heavy favourite in a county with four Labour-run councils and a full slate of red-rosetted MPs.

The greatest jeopardy came a few weeks earlier, when he was named as Labour’s candidate with a much more slender margin of victory over his Unite-backed rival, Sheffield city councillor Ben Curran.

At that point it looked as if Mr Jarvis, who insists being an MP whilst holding the mayor’s office is an advantage, would have to choose between the two roles before Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee performed a screeching U-turn.

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After a long weekend, presumably spent recovering from a month on the campaign trail, the new mayor starts his job in earnest on Tuesday with a long to-do list but few powers or resources to get things done.

His only meaningful power, until a devolution deal is agreed, is the ability to pursue bus franchising, but even this would require the support of the members of the combined authority he will now chair.

A lack of agreement by South Yorkshire’s quarrelling local authorities means the devolution deal agreed in 2015 has not come into force, and Mr Jarvis will not have access to the £30m a year gainshare fund announced by George Osborne at the time.

Around £9 a vote for a South Yorkshire mayor who could have been appointed for free

He plans to meet the leaders of the four authorities at the earliest possible opportunity in a bid to get them to agree a way forward for the transfer of money and powers from Whitehall.

Also on the list of things to get done this week is a meeting with the Local Government Secretary, whose department has been resistant to his proposed ‘One Yorkshire’ devolution settlement with a single mayor for the entire region.

With Sajid Javid leaving for the Home Office, his replacement James Brokenshire is an unknown quantity in terms of his views on Yorkshire devolution. His junior, Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry, appears reluctant to embrace the idea if it puts the existing Sheffield City Region deal at risk.

During the campaign trail, Mr Jarvis made much of his superior ‘clout’ as a well-known MP being key to his success, should he be elected. He will likely need every ounce of it to succeed in a role whose ability to effect change has been hamstrung before it even begins.