New report highlights three top political priorities for West of England metro mayor to address from May 2017

Addressing housing shortages, raising the city-region’s profile and improving transport links should be top of the West of England’s new metro mayor’s to-do list when they take office in May this year

Press release published on 23 February 2017

This is according to new analysis published today, which sets out three policy priorities to help the new metro mayor hit the ground running from the start of their term.

Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said: “The West of England’s metro mayor will face many challenges when they take office, including acting on their campaign pledges, preparing the city-region for Brexit, and establishing the new mayoral office. To make a success of the role, it’s vital that the mayor acts quickly to address the biggest issues that the city-region faces.”

The Centre for Cities analysis includes one ‘quick policy win’ to set the tone for the mayor’s time in office, along with two long-term strategic priorities for the city-region:

Priority one (quick policy win in early days of office)

Signalling your intent to address the city region’s housing shortages

Alexandra Jones said: “Demand for housing in the West of England is high, with at least 38,000 new homes required to meet that need, and our polling of local residents and businesses shows that they expect the metro mayor to treat this as top priority when they take office. The first step for the mayor should be to signal their intent to tackle this issue by working with local authority leaders on a new Joint Spatial plan for the city-region, with more ambitious house-building targets than in the existing plan. The mayor should also make the case for reviewing local green belts, as more land is urgently needed to build the homes that the city-region needs.”

Long-term strategic priorities

Raising the profile of the city-region nationally and globally

Alexandra Jones said: “The West of England is home to some of the most dynamic and successful firms and places in the country, but its national and international profile doesn’t reflect these strengths. The new metro mayor can play a major role in addressing this by acting as a spokesperson for the city-region and raising its profile on the national and global stage. For example, by supporting local businesses to form networks with other cities across the world and taking firms on trade envoys on behalf of the West of England, the mayor can help to attract more foreign investment and jobs. This will be vital in preparing the city-region for Brexit, especially given that Bristol – its main economic hub – is also one of the most reliant cities in the UK on exports to the EU.”

Tackling congestion problems by investing in the city-region’s transport networks

“The West of England’s economic success has boosted jobs and wages, but has also placed a greater strain on its increasingly congested transport network. Tackling this problem will be vital in ensuring that it can sustain its economic growth, and continue to be a good place to live and work. The new mayor should use their powers and mandate to invest in road and rail networks, to introduce smart-ticketing in the bus system, and to consider potential new rail routes such as the Henbury loop line and extension to Portishead. Doing so will make it easier for people living across the city region to access jobs and opportunities across the wider area.”

Alexandra Jones continued: “There’s a lot at stake for the new mayor, and showing that they mean business from day one will not only be vital in building trust with local people across the West of England – it will also be crucial in achieving their vision for the city-region and securing the long-term future of the mayoral office.”

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