A new era for the North through directly elected Mayors.

07th May 2024

RTC, CEO, Jamie Ollivere talks about the Mayoral elections and why he believes it represents a new era for the North of England.

Local elections 2 May saw each of the North’s existing Mayors reelected, Ben Houchen in TeesValley, Steve Rotherham in Liverpool City Region, Oliver Coppard in South Yorkshire, Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and Tracey Brabin in West Yorkshire, demonstrating the electorates' confidence in their leadership. They will be joined by newly elected Mayors, Kim McGuinness in the North East and David Skaith in York and North Yorkshire, leaving only a few areas, ( Lancashire, Humber and Cumbria) not yet covered by a devolution deal.

Now that most of the North has a directly elected Mayor, is it time for the North of England to grasp the opportunity and unleash its true potential? 

It’s clear to me that Mayors have been successful in providing people and areas with enhanced leadership, providing a central figurehead to fight for and represent their area, this has resulted in increased profile, funding, and investment, alongside a sharper focus on tackling the structural and cultural issues that have been holding places back. This is something that’s difficult to achieve through national policy, especially when subject to the competitive and short-term funding that we’ve seen in recent years.

There is a genuine feeling that we can drive change and progress locally, providing people, businesses and institutions with a greater sense of freedom and a feeling that our future is increasingly in our hands. 

I am however a realist and recognise that in many areas we are at the start of the Mayoral era. The early signs are however good, regardless of your political persuasion it’s difficult not to recognise the difference that’s being felt in areas like Teesside, West and South Yorkshire and Manchester and Liverpool. These are areas with undeniable momentum.

As an organisation that operated across the North, we recognise the economic necessity to deliver better connectivity across the region in areas that transcend political boundaries, such as, fixing our archaic transport system and sector and supply chain development. We therefore encourage Mayors to work together on cross-cutting developments whilst not forgetting those areas who are yet to land a devolution deal.

Another notable shift that Mayors bring is a policy focus towards inclusive growth. Although the underpinning targets are likely to lean towards productivity and economic growth, inclusive growth means that this will be done in a way that connects the benefits to local people, something that has been somewhat elusive in local economic development – inclusive growth is something that we wholeheartedly support and is embedded in our ethos at RTC.

It feels that the North is entering a new era, one with the leadership, political and delivery structures needed to galvanize and enable local people and businesses. I and the team at RTC look ahead with enthusiasm and look forward to continuing to work with our reelected and newly elected Mayors and their teams.


Return to list