Tracy Brabin says mayors should deal directly with Treasury rather than Tory ministers

Regional mayors should be able to deal directly with the Treasury rather than going through Government ministers, Tracy Brabin has argued.

Speaking at an Institute for Government event in Leeds yesterday, the West Yorkshire mayor said she was concerned at some of the proposals contained within the recent Levelling Up White Paper which the Government argue will lead to greater accountability as devolution deals are rolled out.

One proposal within the White Paper is for the publication of “rigorous, comparable data on performance” by local leaders with a new independent body being set up to oversee this.

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Ms Brabin said: “I think the idea of Government is that they have a mayors’ league table, which I think could be quite skewed.

Tracy Brabin has suggested regional mayors should be able to deal directly with the Treasury rather than going through Government ministers. Picture: Simon Hulme

“If you want us to be accountable, certainly I’m accountable. I’ve got an election in two years’ time, 2024, and am going back out to the public to see if they believe we’ve made a difference.”

The Department for Levelling Up is understood not to be considering a direct league table but is in the process of developing a new "accountability framework".

Ms Brabin said a preferable idea would be letting mayors deal directly through the Treasury rather than going through different Ministerial departments on different issues.

“I would say what happens with Government structures is the Government gives their ministers money, they give the money to us and then they put pressure on us to be accountable to them,” she said.

“I would say, surely it must be simpler for us to be accountable to the Treasury.

“Why have these ministers in the way who maybe have their own pecadillos about what they want to see or they are in and then they are out? How many culture ministers have we had in the last two years, it is almost like five-a-side.

“I think it is really important to have that direct chain of command. We could report directly back to Treasury and you could put us under as much accountable scrutiny as you wish.

“But I think it is a bit clunky at the moment.

“If you want the mayors to be accountable then also Government needs to be accountable for its promises. When you promise to give us money, you’ve got to deliver it. When you promise schemes, then you have to deliver schemes too. It is two-way traffic.”

Her comments follow Ms Brabin raising concerns in December about Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ oversight of spending decisions for the £830m of funding granted to West Yorkshire for environmentally-friendly transport investments.

Mr Shapps had told her and other regional mayors that key spending decisions would require his department’s approval before going ahead - something Ms Brabin described as going against the principles of devolution.

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