Tracy Brabin majored on transport in the first mayoral term. Credit: WYCA

Challengers to Brabin confirmed

West Yorkshire’s second mayoral election will take place on Thursday 2 May, with six candidates in the running, including incumbent Tracy Brabin.

The role of West Yorkshire Mayor was created as part of the £1.8bn devolution deal agreed in March 2020, covering Leeds, Wakefield, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees. Brabin won the inaugural election with around 43% of the vote.

Regional mayors have been a key part of the ruling Conservatives’ thinking on regional governance since abolishing regional development agencies following the 2010 General Election, with devolution deals of varying degree now in place across much of the country.

The Mayor of West Yorkshire represents the interests of 2.4m people across the region, and ultimately has responsibility for transport, housing and planning, and finance powers, as well as the powers currently held by the Police & Crime Commissioner.

Transport has been the most high-profile area of Brabin’s reign as the inaugural West Yorkshire Mayor, with plans now finally coming to fruition for a £2bn mass transit system: plans for the first two lines have now been rubber-stamped locally and sent to government.

This was followed by buses being brought back under public control in mid-March, in the last major act of the WYCA term.

The contenders:

  • Tracy Brabin, Labour & Co-operative Party
  • Bob Buxton, Yorkshire Party
  • Andrew Cooper, Green Party
  • Arnold Craven, Conservative Party
  • Stewart Golton, Liberal Democrats
  • Jonathan Tilt, Independent

Brabin won with 43% of the vote in 2021, and is widely expected to triumph again, polling at more than 50% in a February survey run by Censuswide.

In the 2021 election won by Brabin – who had previously served as MP for Batley & Spen – the Yorkshire Party came third, with around 60,000 votes. The party is a regionalist movement, campaigning for a fully devolved Yorkshire Parliament.

Cooper is a Green councillor in Kirklees, and said on his nomination that a greater focus on active travel and more urgency around climate action would be his goals.

Craven, head of external affairs at gas distributor Cadent, was selected in February by Conservative members. With transport infrastructure and housing for young people on his priority list, he has this week launched a plan for a Mayor’s bursary to fund adult education, upskilling 20 and 30-somethings.

Golton is the leader of the Lib Dems on Leeds City Council. He has been a public critic of Brownfield Housing Fund support being given to projects without affordable housing.

Independent Tilt, like Brabin based in Kirklees, said in his campaign literature that he “will resist the takeover of our democracy, society and public services by unelected and unaccountable corporate globalist interests”.

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