Metro mayors and how role can prosper in West Yorkshire – The Yorkshire Post says

THE challenges facing West Yorkshire Combined Authority are significant as it consults local people prior to the election of its first metro mayor next year.

West Yorkshire's new metro mayor will be responsbile for economic growth in cities like Leeds.

Another milestone on Yorkshire’s devolution journey, the city-region approach is, like it or not, the Government’s preferred policy and it would be counter-productive to defy Ministers at this point.

But it will also require WYCA to reach out to residents of Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees and Calderdale and respect those still sceptical about this tier of bureaucracy’s inception.

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First, this means the new body being precise about its intentions and accepting that total transparency will be a pre-requisite from the very outset.

West Yorkshire's leaders with Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, and Government minister Simon Clakre, after the area's devolution deal was confirmed in the Budget.

Second, the unfettered recruitment of executives – all at the taxpayers’ expense – is still to be matched by lasting change when it comes to transport, skills and economy. There’s work to do here.

Third, WYCA needs to demonstrate how it intends to work with the rest of Yorkshire on those many issues, and campaigns, which do transcend local government boundaries – the region is invariably at its strongest when it speaks with one voice and it is important that this continues, not least to avoid the duplication of effort and resource.

On these issues, and others, it is actually in WYCA’s best interests to confront them during the consultation, and not pay lip service to them, so that the new mayor can begin work after their election next May from a position of strength rather than scepticism.

In the meantime, WYCA must remain at the heart of the region’s response to Covid-19. Its welcome new scheme to help young people develop new digital skills during the lockdown shows how it intends to be a force for good and devise local solutions to national challenges. It now needs to start convincing its ultimate bosses – the people of West Yorkshire.

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James Mitchinson