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Crime commissioner makes bid to become first mayor of North Yorkshire

Friday, 10 March 2023 11:38

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

Zoe Metcalfe, the Conservative Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, says she wants to become the first mayor of North Yorkshire.

Under a £540m devolution deal agreed with the government, the region is set to get a mayor who will lead a new combined authority – with mayoral elections scheduled to take place in May 2024.

The new mayor would have £18m a year to spend in North Yorkshire and York, and would take charge of the combined authority that is set to include two councillors each from North Yorkshire Council and City of York Council.

There will be new powers to improve and better integrate local transport, including the ability to introduce bus franchising. More money will also be available to support the building of new homes on brownfield land.

So far, no other candidates have put their name forward for the Conservatives or any other party.

The current PFCC duties will come under the brief for the new mayor after the role is created and Ms Metcalfe said in a statement she is “uniquely qualified” for the position.

She said: “The mayor will have responsibility for economic growth, transport, housing and regeneration, but will also see the integration of the responsibilities and decision making of my current role as Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner within it too”.

“There is a rich synergy between creating safer streets and economic growth, two areas that I am passionate about. I have the necessary business experience and close links to Westminster to promote economic growth. I will also continue the great work I have started in turning around community safety in York and North Yorkshire and I will see through the transformation of both the police force and fire and rescue service.

“I have always been a supporter of devolution as it will bring many exciting opportunities for York and North Yorkshire, it will be a great platform to enable and enrich the lives of our residents and businesses bringing hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment into our region”.

Ms Metcalfe is a former councillor on both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council.

She became crime commissioner in a by-election in 2021 after her predecessor, the Conservative Philip Allott, resigned in the wake of comments he made on BBC local radio about the murder of Sarah Everard by serving police officer Wayne Couzens.

Opinions vary on whether the creation of a mayor will be a good thing for residents.

In September, Independent group leader on North Yorkshire County Council, Cllr Stuart Parsons, described the creation of the combined authority as “a blow” for democratic representation and decision-making.

However, county council leader Carl Les said the elected mayor will act as a “strong voice for the county and city” and allow decisions to be made locally rather than by civil servants and ministers in Whitehall.

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