LGC’s round-up of the ambitions and aspirations expressed by some of the main mayoral candidates across the country.
There are just 93 days (not that many people outside of local and central government are counting) until the first mayoral elections linked to devolution deals take place.
The race to become the figurehead for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West Midlands, and West of England has hardly captured the wider public’s imagination so far. That’s why the government is planning a major publicity campaign to encourage people to vote on 4 May.
But today James Palmer (Con), the leading candidate to become Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s mayor, brought a bit of imagination to proceedings by telling LGC he wanted to explore the possibility of building an underground rail network in Cambridge.
In this briefing LGC has rounded up the ambitions and aspirations expressed by some of the main mayoral candidates across the country.
Former health secretary Andy Burnham (Lab) told LGC last August that “one of [his] main priorities” would be to integrate Greater Manchester’s social care services into the NHS. There are also plans to gain greater control of funding from the Department for Work & Pensions to tackle unemployment. While he highlighted tackling the housing crisis and transport issues in his selection speech, Mr Burnham also has some interesting proposals around scrutiny. He wants to give councillors the power to call-in mayoral decisions and proposals should a proportion of members across Greater Manchester have concerns, and he wants to introduce an e-petition system so the public in Greater Manchester can raise awareness of particular issues. Should he win Mr Burnham also wants to create a “council of the north” that would “speak with one voice” in order to hold central government to account.
His rival Conservative candidate Sean Anstee, leader of Trafford MBC, thought he could bring “bold, fresh, civic leadership” to the mayoralty. As mayor, Cllr Anstee told LGC in October that his priority would be to provide young people with the “best start” in life, along with increasing the region’s productivity and skills.
Liverpool City Region
The firm favourite to win this contest in a Labour-voting stronghold, the party’s candidate Steve Rotheram has set his sights on tackling the crisis in adult social care “as a matter of urgency”. The MP for Walton also wants to have greater influence over education in schools that are outside council control and get the regional education commissioner to report directly to the mayor. Mr Rotheram has also backed Mr Burnham’s ‘council of the north’ proposal.
Much like the way the region has gone about its business to date, Sue Jeffrey (Lab) – the favourite to win in yet another largely Labour-voting area – has given the impression of preferring to carry on flying under the radar. In November she told LGC she was more concerned about ensuring the powers and funding of the combined authority worked well rather than seeking to take control of other aspects, such as health. Cllr Jeffrey thought it was important the region had a “collaborative” mayor who would work closely with the region’s five councils: Darlington BC, Hartlepool BC, Middlesbrough Council, Redcar & Cleveland BC, and Stockton-on-Tees BC.
This is arguably the most hotly contested and high-profile race, if only because any Conservative MP from the prime minister down can’t stop crowbarring cringeworthy references to Tory candidate Andy Street into speeches and responses to questions.
Mr Street, who used to run John Lewis (in case you hadn’t heard), has indicated securing more funding for transport projects will be a top priority. This includes securing an expansion to Birmingham Airport, and gaining control of the region’s rail services.
His main rival, Labour MEP Sion Simon has already set his sights on gaining greater powers for himself should he win. When he’s not doing that Mr Simon wants to develop the West Midlands as the UK financial centre outside London, as well as creating jobs, improving transport and housing, and boosting economic growth.
West of England
This is another area where historic voting patterns suggest the contest could be close.
The Conservative candidate, confirmed this week as South Gloucestershire councillor Tim Bowles, wants to produce “a clear strategy to boost economic growth and prosperity for locals” while “developing long-term solutions for the region’s transport and housing needs, attracting new businesses and supporting existing ones” as well as improving higher education results.
His Labour rival is parish councillor Lesley Mansell. A big supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Ms Mansell wants to renationalise railways and put bus, leisure and sports facilities “back into local government control”, according to her election manifesto. She also wants to build one million new homes in five years, half of which would be council homes, and end to zero hours contracts.