Labour mayors in Yorkshire can help usher in a new era of prosperity - Rachel Reeves

Next month, millions of people across Yorkshire will head to the polls to vote in the county’s mayoral elections. I have made no secret of the fact that I wish we were having a general election next month too.

After 14 years of Conservative chaos and economic turmoil, Britain is crying out for change. Families across our county are worse off, with prices still rising in the shops, monthly mortgage payments higher after Liz Truss’ disastrous mini budget and the average household set to be £870 worse off under Rishi Sunak’s tax plan. Millions are stuck on hospital waiting lists, struggling to get an appointment with their GP and unable to see a dentist.

And at the same time, we have a Conservative Party that is still too busy fighting itself, rather than fighting for the interests of people living in Yorkshire. Despite the challenges our country faces, we are once again seeing Conservative MPs openly speculating about the future of Rishi Sunak’s leadership and talking about imposing on the country the sixth prime minister in more than a decade. The Conservatives are offering more of the same: party first, country second.

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It is time for change – and when that general election comes Keir Starmer and I will be out and about every single day fighting for every single vote so we can change Britain for the better. However, the elections next month are still crucially important. They are a chance for people in Yorkshire to decide who should be running our local services, and to send a message to the Conservatives in Westminster about the direction of the country.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, making an announcement on West Yorkshire bus reform at an event held in Leeds City Square. PIC: James HardistyTracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, making an announcement on West Yorkshire bus reform at an event held in Leeds City Square. PIC: James Hardisty
Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, making an announcement on West Yorkshire bus reform at an event held in Leeds City Square. PIC: James Hardisty

Since the last election, it has been Labour’s councils and mayors who have been leading the way in providing good public services, supporting families through the cost-of-living crisis, and working in partnership with business to bring the investment and jobs we need to grow the economy.

It was Labour’s Tracy Brabin in West Yorkshire who capped bus fares at £2, secured 1,000 new green jobs for our young people and recruited over 890 new police officers to our streets. It was Labour’s Oliver Coppard who brought South Yorkshire’s Supertram back under public control after nearly three decades, has backed the region’s steel industry, and is attracting some of the world’s most exciting companies to come to our towns and cities to invest. And it is David Skaith, Labour’s candidate to be the first mayor of York and North Yorkshire, who has a plan to take back our streets, towns and villages by tackling crime and clamping down on antisocial behaviour. That is the change Labour is offering at these elections.

But there is a bigger prize on offer this year. The chance to bring about a new era of prosperity with Labour mayors in Yorkshire working side-by-side with a national Labour government. Under the Conservatives, too much power has been held in Westminster. The promise of levelling up has been broken by the failure of successive prime ministers to give our regions the levers to make it happen.

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With Keir Starmer as prime minister that will be different. The next Labour government will end the ‘Westminster knows best’ model and empower local leaders to tackle inequality, unlock economic growth and turbocharge their areas. We will not play communities against one another or force towns to bid against each other, but instead bring about a new relationship built on partnership; with towns, cities and regions working together in pursuit of shared national goals.

That new relationship will start straight away. Our Take Back Control Act will empower local communities, so they have the chance to control their own destiny.

We will move control away from Westminster and deepen devolution so combined authorities have the opportunity to gain greater powers over transport, skills, housing and planning and employment support.

As Chancellor, I will support our regions to develop local growth plans that can bring jobs and investment to our communities, rejuvenate our high streets, and attract the new industries of the future that can create opportunities for the next generation.

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There is so much potential in Yorkshire, but what we need is a government in Westminster that champions that potential and mayors in our county that will help deliver it. This year’s elections are a chance to realise that ambition. But that change will only come if people vote for it.

Every vote cast for Labour next month brings us one step closer to turning the page on 14 years of Conservative government. It is a vote for strong Labour voices in Yorkshire who help bring about a new chapter for our county with a growing economy, stronger public services, and more money in people’s pockets.

The choice at these elections is as stark as it has ever been: five more years of continued decline with the Conservatives, or national renewal with a changed Labour Party. That’s why next month I would urge you to vote for change – and to vote for Labour.

Rachel Reeves is Labour MP for Leeds West and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.

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