In May this year, new metro mayors will be elected in some of England’s biggest cities, armed with the largest personal mandates in UK politics outside of Sadiq Khan’s. With significant powers over housing, transport and infrastructure in their city region up for grabs, it’s no surprise that well-known candidates from Westminster and the business community have thrown their hats into the ring for the mayoral offices – including former health secretary Andy Burnham, and John Lewis managing director Andy Street.
Here at the Centre for Cities, we have long advocated for the introduction of city-region mayors, arguing for over a decade that they could have a significant impact in strengthening UK city economies in a number of important ways. For a start, mayors offer leadership and representation – both in terms of decision-making, but also in making the case for major developments and projects to local residents and businesses. Secondly, this visibility and representation gives public accountability for policies as they are introduced and implemented. Finally, mayors can play a more informal (but critical) role in overseeing and bringing together the complicated web of agencies and organisations involved in any large city region.
However, it’s also clear that the new metro mayors will face many challenges when they take office in May, including implementing their campaign pledges, preparing their city-regions for Brexit, and establishing the new mayoral office and institutions in Britain’s political landscape
To be successful, the mayors will need to act quickly to address the biggest issues that their city-regions face. To help them hit the ground running, the Centre is publishing a series of briefings over the coming weeks highlighting the big policy priorities in each place holding mayoral elections this year, starting this week with our briefing on Greater Manchester.
The aim is to offer mayoral candidates ideas for quick policy wins they can aim for to build trust across the city region and prove they mean business, along with more strategic, ambitious policy proposals to underpin their visions for their respective city-regions.
You can read our policy priorities for Greater Manchester’s new metro mayor, including tackling the social care crisis and implementing the city region’s spatial plan. Watch this space over the coming weeks for more briefings on the big political issues facing the new mayors of Liverpool, West Midlands and other city-regions.