The survey of more than 500 people in West Yorkshire for the Centre for Cities think-tank shows that 84 per cent back giving a metro mayor more powers to help shape the local economy.
But awareness of the election of a metro mayor on May 6 and the seven candidates in the running remains very low. Less than half (44 per cent) of people in West Yorkshire were aware of the election and 97 per cent can’t correctly name a candidate.
Of those polled, three per cent were able to name Labour’s Tracy Brabin, the current MP for Batley & Spen, while one per cent could name the Conservatives’ candidate, Leeds councillor Matthew Robinson.
Other candidates standing are Liberal Democrat Stewart Golton, Andrew Cooper of the Green Party, Bob Buxton of The Yorkshire Party, Wajid Ali of Reform UK and Therese Hirst of the English Democrats.
The mayor’s role was created as part of the devolution deal signed last year by local leaders and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, handing over £1.8bn in funding and powers over housing, skills and transport to a mayoral authority.
Well-known names including former Labour Cabinet Minister Andy Burnham and ex-John Lewis managing director Andy Street have been elected in other parts of the country.
In the poll, carried out by Savanta ComRes, half of those surveyed want the winner of next month’s election to take more responsibility from government for providing affordable housing and supporting businesses.
Around four in ten want the new mayor to have more responsibility for providing access to skills and training (43 per cent) and tax and spending in West Yorkshire (38 per cent). The mayor will have the power to impose a tax to pay for major projects but a number of the candidates have ruled out the prospect of using it.
The public’s top priorities for West Yorkshire’s metro mayor are health care provision, schools and social care provision.
Centre for Cities’ Chief Executive Andrew Carter said: “People in West Yorkshire overwhelmingly support shifting power out of Whitehall and down to the city region. Devolving more responsibility for providing affordable housing, supporting businesses and running adult education schemes are all popular with the public in West Yorkshire.
“At the 2019 election, the Government backed the principle of more devolution in England yet, more than a year later, we are still waiting to see what its plans are.
“As West Yorkshire look to recover from the pandemic, it is vital that the Government listens to demands for more devolution and gives the first mayor the powers and resources to build back better. People want Whitehall to do less, it’s time for it to listen.”
People in West Yorkshire were also polled on much they approved of the Government’s and their local council’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both had similar levels of public approval (46 per cent and 44 per cent respectively) but disapproval of the Government’s handling was also higher (36 per cent and 20 per cent respectively).
Local elections will also be taking place on May 6, with councillors in Leeds, Calderdale, Kirklees, Wakefield and Bradford being elected. South Yorkshire councils and Hull will also be holding elections, and police and crime commissioners are due to be elected.