On the 6th of May residents of West Yorkshire will vote for the first time for their regional mayor in an election that will have ramifications beyond the region. The newly elected candidate will oversee a devolution deal which will include an annual £38 million budget, new powers over transport, education and housing and regeneration, as well as control of the Adult Education Budget. It’s no surprise the deal is being pitched by government as evidence of further investment in the Northern Powerhouse and its ongoing commitment to levelling up.
But at a time when inclusive economic recovery is critical, the first mayor of West Yorkshire will also carve a place on the national political landscape. The tensions between local and central government have become all too clear during the pandemic with mayors gaining increasing attention. An additional mayoralty will influence economic and social policy making beyond the region, as well as shaping the devolution debate and wider constitutional issues for years to come.
After a longstanding career in the public eye, Tracy Brabin became the Labour Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen in 2016. Re-elected in 2017 and again in 2019, she is now running for Mayor of West Yorkshire and, if successful, would be the first elected female mayor of a combined authority in England. Ahead of May’s local, mayoral and Scottish Parliament elections we will discuss her vision for the future of the region and how the first mayor for West Yorkshire could catalyse inclusive economic recovery and growth.
Key questions will include: What challenges and opportunities are likely to arise for West Yorkshire over the next four years and how can they be addressed? How has the coronavirus pandemic changed the role of local and regional leaders in shaping and delivering economic growth? How can mayors influence the levelling up debate and shape the Northern Powerhouse? How can they incentivise investment in their region to solve inequality and drive forward inclusive growth? In which ways might West Yorkshire shape the future of further devolution in England? What does a transition from MP to mayor involve in practice and which role can make the bigger difference?
The event will be chaired by Zoë Billingham, Head of Policy and Engagement, Centre for Progressive Policy.
This event will take place as a Zoom webinar and via live streaming. Those joining via Zoom will be able to ask questions via the Q&A function. Those who aren't will be able to submit questions in advance via Facebook and Twitter using #CPPdevolution.
Tracy Lynn Brabin, MP for Batley and Spen and Labour candidate for the West Yorkshire mayoral election.
Tracy Brabin is the Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen, which is her home town and where many of her family still live. Tracy is Labour’s candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor.
Tracy isn’t a typical politician. She was a free school meals kid who – like so many people in our area – started work as soon as she was old enough to do so, working in her local hairdressers.
Growing up in Batley in the 1970s, Tracy watched headline acts at the Batley Variety Club which is where she first got stars in her eyes. Seeing the likes of Louis Armstrong, Eartha Kitt and Shirley Bassey in her small market town set Tracy on a path in the entertainment industry. For three decades she worked in the entertainment industry, and might be familiar to voters as Tricia Armstrong, a Coronation Street character Tracy played from 1994 – 1997. She also appeared in Emmerdale and wrote for both Hollyoaks and Shameless.
Tracy has always been politically active, marching on Greenham Common, organising donations during the miners strike of 1984/85 and protesting against the Iraq War, but she only stood for office after her friend Jo Cox was tragically murdered in Batley in 2016.
Tracy says representing her home area in Westminster is the honour of her life, but that she will stand down as an MP if elected as West Yorkshire Mayor in order to be a full-time mayor for the region.
Tracy’s priorities as Mayor would be protecting and creating good, well paid jobs – including in the growing entertainment industry which is already starting to flourish in the region, alongside the green economy; safer streets and community policing; expanding clean and green transport, including a mass transit system for the region and ensuring a fair recovery from the COVID19 pandemic.
Mayoral powers in West Yorkshire include transport, adult skills, some aspects of planning and housing, policing and the economy.
HEAD OF POLICY AND ENGAGEMENT, Centre for Progressive Policy
Zoë is Head of Policy and Engagement at the Centre for Progressive Policy and a Crook Fellow at the University of Sheffield. With previous experience spanning the private and public sector, Zoë has held several roles in government including as Senior Policy Adviser at HM Treasury, advising the Chancellor on EU economic policy and as Economic Policy Adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister during the coalition government. Zoë has also worked in M&A at Lazard, advising large scale and start-up technology, media and telecoms clients.