Yorkshire metro mayors Tracy Brabin and Dan Jarvis want to form a 'really powerful alliance' on transport, skills and culture to aid the region

The partnership between Yorkshire's two metro mayors working together on issues such as transport, skills and culture could be a "really powerful alliance" for the people of the region, it is claimed.

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis said the election of Tracy Brabin as his counterpart in West Yorkshire was a "really big moment" for the region after years where Yorkshire lacked an elected figure with powers similar to Greater Manchester's Andy Burnham.

Ms Brabin, the former MP for Batley and Spen, became the country's first female metro mayor when she was elected earlier this month and after her meeting with Mr Jarvis she said she would be "picking his brains about great ideas".

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Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin and the Mayor of Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis are pictured in the Joana Vasconcelos exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield. Pic: Simon Hulme

She said that with 35,000 people crossing between West and South Yorkshire every day, "there's a whole community of people that we can serve and support by making sure that that transport network is better".

The pair met at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near the border of South and West Yorkshire, to discuss how they could collaborate on the visitor economy, connections between the two areas and growing their collective cultural offer.

Mr Jarvis, the Barnsley Central MP who became mayor in 2018 but only got the full devolved powers from government last year, told The Yorkshire Post: "We're cutting new ground here for all of us because we've never had two Yorkshire metro mayors.

He said: "I think it helps that we get on a lot. We've known each other for a number of years, we've worked very closely together in Parliament. So I would anticipate that we will be probably speaking most days, we certainly have since Tracy was elected.

Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin and the Mayor of Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis are pictured in the Joana Vasconcelos exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield. Pic: Simon Hulme

"I think there is so much potential, and there's so much opportunity to actually build upon the relationship that the combined authorities had previously."

The devolution deals signed in South and West Yorkshire mean both mayors have powers over transport and housing as well as access to the adult education budget that was previously held centrally. Agreement was reached last year in the two areas after the Government rejected a pan-Yorkshire deal.

Mr Jarvis said the role of the two existing mayors for the wider Yorkshire region was important. He added: "I've looked very closely at the close working relationship that [Greater Manchester mayor] Andy Burnham and [Liverpool City Region mayor] Steve Rotheram have had together in the North West and that's worked really well for them.

"It's been a slightly more lonely furrow to plough in the context of Yorkshire because it was just me and we've had all sorts of challenges with our deal down in South Yorkshire.

"So I think this is a really big moment for Yorkshire, and there's a really good opportunity for us to work really closely together on the big issues, whether that is the economy, the environment, transport, skills, culture, the visitor economy.

"These are the sort of things that we're both really passionate about, and I will certainly want to work very closely with Tracy, and our team will want to work very closely with her so I think this is a really good big moment for Yorkshire, and I think if we get it right, we can be a really powerful alliance for the good and for people of Yorkshire."

Ms Brabin, a former Labour Shadow Culture Minister, said that after being an opposition MP she was excited to have the "chance to actually make a difference for the community of West Yorkshire is very exciting and I really feel a sense of history as well being the first female metro mayor in this country".

She said: "Certainly both of our regions have a fantastic cultural offer. But it's also about skills. It's also about transport. It's about bringing Dan and myself closer together so we can serve a wider region.

"We're developing that relationship between us so watch this space about the things that we can introduce, but certainly amplifying our offer across the country and saying, this is where you can get the skilled workforce, this is where the ideas are, this is where the music is, the film and TV.

"But also it's an opportunity to talk about regeneration of our communities, also our high streets, having a cultural offer for our high streets and sharing best practice."

The mayor, who wants to take West Yorkshire's bus network into public hands, said she also wanted to make sure it was better connected to rail links.

Describing her journey to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, she said: "Now we came from Leeds 10 minutes on the trains down to Wakefield, and then jumped in a cab to the brilliant Sculpture Park. But we're going to have conversations about how to make that easier. And obviously, it would be great to have better connectivity between West Yorkshire and the sculpture park."

She said that while there was already a shuttle bus from Wakefield station she wanted to "get that connectivity nailed down" to people from all over West Yorkshire could access it more easily.