This week marks Tracy Brabin’s first year in office as West Yorkshire’s first metropolitan mayor.
A former TV writer and soap actress known for starring in Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Eastenders and Casualty, Ms Brabin began her political career as the Labour MP for Batley and Spen in 2016 after the brutal murder of then-incumbent MP Jo Cox.
Ms Brabin was announced as the Labour candidate for West Yorkshire Mayor in December 2020, defeating Leader of Bradford Council, Susan Hinchcliffe, and Hugh Goulbourne, a solicitor and chair of the Huddersfield Branch of the Co-Operative Party.
Ms Brabin was elected as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Mayor (Covering Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, and Wakefield) on 9 May last year after winning 60.1% of the popular vote after a run-off with the Conservative candidate, Matthew Robinson, when she failed to secure a majority in the first round of voting.
Ms Brabin will serve for another three years, with the second mayoral election scheduled for May 2024. After her inauguration, the Mayor appointed Alison Lowe OBE, former CEO of Touchstone, as the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.
The Mayor promised to deliver on ten manifesto pledges during her time in office, focusing on recovering the economy, putting women and girls’ safety at the heart of policing, and tackling climate change, among others listed below.
So far, things look positive for Mayor Brabin, who has begun delivering on most of the pledges that she laid out.
The Mayor released West Yorkshire’s newest Police and Crime Plan, focusing on early prevention, targeting criminals, and support for victims, especially focusing on crimes against women and girls.
“I can promise the people of West Yorkshire that I will continue working hard to deliver on my priorities and to make our region the best place to live, work, raise a family and start a business.” – Mayor Brabin
They secured additional funding for law enforcement and under the instruction of the Mayor, West Yorkshire Police became the first force in the UK to recognise misogyny as a hate crime.
The Mayor has also supported the creation of more than 500 new green jobs for young people and secured £900m funding to invest in the region’s transport systems. She has also funded the Mayor’s Screen Diversity Plan and expanded the number of low earners eligible for free training via the devolved Adult Education Budget.
For many people, bringing buses back under public control was a key aspect of the Mayor’s pledge.
Just a month after her inauguration, Ms Brabin announced that with Government funding, West Yorkshire has “moved forward with plans to deliver greater public control of buses while unlocking millions of pounds in funding to improve services” with the aim of franchising services, although nothing has been announced since.
Improvements to public transport over the last twelve months have also included breaking ground on the new White Rose Train station, delivering a new ‘Fare Deal’ for young people, capping single fares for under-19s at £1.20, and delivering the UK’s first fully solar-powered park.
The mayor has also committed to spending £40m to tackle the climate emergency over the next three years although tangible efforts to reduce emissions and become a carbon-neutral economy by 2038 have not been felt yet.
Ms Brabin also promised to build 5000 sustainable homes including council houses and affordable properties. Working with the West Yorkshire Hosing Partnership, 2114 homes have been secured with planning permission and as of September 2021 – the remaining require planning approval from across the five local councils.
The Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin said: “In the past year, I am grateful to all the partners from the public, private and community sectors who are helping to deliver on the pledges I set out which will make our region an even better place to live and work.
“We have begun to radically overhaul West Yorkshire’s transport networks and are focused on delivering improvements to bus services, new cycle routes and further progress on delivering a mass transit system for the region.
“We have worked to support our economic recovery from the pandemic and ensure everyone benefits. This of course includes supporting our vibrant creative sector.
“We are making our communities safer for everyone, especially women and girls, and furthered our work to tackle the climate emergency to reach our goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2038.
“I can promise the people of West Yorkshire that I will continue working hard to deliver on my priorities and to make our region the best place to live, work, raise a family and start a business.
“West Yorkshire is the Heart of the North, and I will be the strongest possible voice for our region.
“I will continue making the case to government for more funding and more devolved powers so that we can truly level up our communities and ensure that everyone living here has the opportunity to flourish.”
The Mayor’s pledges were as follows:
- Creating 1000 well paid, skilled jobs for young people
- Prioritise skills and training to ensure everyone in West Yorkshire has the skills to secure work
- Support local businesses and be a champion for the regional economy
- Lead a creative New Deal to ensure the creative industries are part of a broader recovery strategy
- Appoint an Inclusivity Champion to work to ensure that the region’s recovery benefits all.
- Recruit 750 more frontline police officers and staff to fight crime.
- Put keeping women and girls safe at the heart of the policing plan
- Bringing buses back under public control, introduce simpler fares, contactless ticketing and greener busses
- Build 5000 sustainable homes including council houses and affordable homes
- Tackle the climate emergency