The West of England has elected its first metro mayor, Tim Bowles. He will have control over the whole West of England combined authority area, working with existing city leaders to take forward his strategic plan. You can find out more about the new metro mayors and how they work on our FAQ page.
The economic and political outlook for the West of England’s new metro mayor
This page brings together the key facts and figures about the West of England economy. It shows what local residents see as the top priorities for the new metro mayor. It also shows what previous elections tell us about voting patterns in the area.
The economic data for the West of England
West of England consists of the following local authorities: Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Understanding how the city-region performs on key areas such as productivity and employment helps the metro mayor to assess what he should prioritise. The table below shows how West of England compares to the national average on these indicators.
The city-region performs well against the average, it has seen a higher rate of growth in population compared to that of the rest of the country. It has a slightly higher rate of productivity (measured in Gross Value added per worker) than the national average.
The skills level in the city-region are also higher than average. Wages are slightly below average, but growth in wages in recent years was strong.
Key economic indicators for the West of England
What are the policy priorities for the West of England metro mayor?
We outlined a set of priorities that the West of England metro mayor should focus on in his first term. Read them in full, or read more below.
Policy priority 1: A quick win
Get more homes built
- Signal your intent to build more homes by developing a more ambitious strategic plan for the city region
- Use the mandate and political capital of office to call for a strategic review of local green belts
- Look for ways to make development attractive for sceptical communities
- Widen the scope of the Bristol Land Commission to the city region
Policy priority 2: A strategic aim
Build the profile of the West of England economy
- Promote the businesses and amenities of the West of England across the UK
- Build international links to make it easier for firms to trade following Brexit
- Represent a range of industries where firms benefit from international links
- Build on the profile of West of England’s globally recognised Universities
- Ensure that a higher national and international profile also translates into benefits for communities across the city region
Policy priority 3: A longer term vision
Investing in transport to make the city region more accessible
- Take ownership of the Joint Transport Strategy findings
- Ensure transport helps to make a coherent city region for all residents
- Review the strategic decisions on rail extensions bringing together decision makers in City Hall.
- Champion the West of England’s cycling and walking culture
What powers does the West of England metro mayor have?
Below is a summary of the powers the new West of England metro mayor has, based on the devolution deal agreed with the government.
What did the West of England metro mayor candidates say in their manifestos?
Click through the presentation below to find out what the different metro mayor candidates said in their manifestos on key issues such as housing and transport:
What the voters say about the new metro mayor
In May 2016 Centre for Cities commissioned ComRes polling to find out what issues the residents of West of England think should be top priority for their new metro mayor. This is based on the powers they will have, as well as wider priorities. We also asked whether or not they wanted to see more powers handed down to the metro mayor. Below are some of the main findings.
Three in 10 adults (29 per cent) in the West of England think that health care provision should be the most important priority for local politicians.
Interestingly, transport is a higher priority in the West of England (13 per cent) than in other city-regions polled.
Which, if any, of the following issues do you think should be the most important priority for politicians in your city at the moment?
When minds are focused on the specific powers that the new metro mayor will have, a quarter (24 per cent) say that affordable housing should be the top priority for the metro mayor. A significant number also think the metro mayor should invest in road and rail (19 per cent) and focus on major developments and infrastructure (18 per cent).
Of the powers that the new metro mayor will have, which of the following issues, if any, do you think should be her/his top priority in their first 100 days?
Source: ComRes. Average first preference of adults across the West of England (n=501)
The metro mayor’s powers
More than half of adults from the West of England (53 per cent) say that they agree that the new metro mayor should have greater powers than local council leaders. Three in 10 (31 per cent) say they disagree.
To what extent, if at all, do you agree or disagree that the new metro mayor should have greater powers than local council leaders?
Source: ComRes. All adults in the West of England (n=501). Percentages are rounded.
Awareness of the metro mayor
45 per cent of adults in the West of England say they were previously familiar with the plans to introduce a new metro mayor for their region.
To what extent, if at all, were you previously familiar or unfamiliar with the plans to introduce a new metro mayor for the city-region?
Source: ComRes. All adults in the West of England (n=501).
What is the political landscape in the West of England?
Conservative Tim Bowles won the first metro mayor election with almost 52% of the vote, compared to 48% for Labour candidate Lesley Mansell. The turnout was just under 30%.
Find out more about metro mayors
Get up to date on the policies and powers affecting the metro mayors by reading our metro mayors FAQ.
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