On May 4, we enter a new phase of devolution that will profoundly change the way that our region is run. I have lived in the West of England for the last 40 years and for the first time in my life I see the possibility of a real shift in power from Westminster to local people.
Last year three councils in the West of England – Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire – agreed to a devolution deal which will allow our region to determine its own future, as well as an additional £30 million in extra funding from government.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for the West of England and it is essential that we do not waste it. We need a leader who can work across the three local authorities; someone who will not be bound by bureaucracy nor party interests.
This is not the time to be divisive, but to unite the West of England around a common purpose and, in doing so, truly let this region reach its full potential. The West of England’s Mayor must use their position to facilitate co-operation between the local authorities for the good of all.
I intend to stand as an independent candidate for this election and draw upon my vast experience of partnership working – with government, local government, businesses and charities – to bolster the status of the West of England and champion it as the best places to live and work.
I am standing in this election because I believe our politicians must do better. In our region, businesses, charities and academia lead the way globally. The local political system has been plagued by a myopic approach to planning and displays little inclination either for a long term, strategic approach to these issues.
We need the West of England to be fiercely ambitious if we are to become the best that we can be. We must compete with other city regions here in the UK and beyond if we are to maintain and grow as an internationally competitive region.
Strength of purpose and serious determination are needed, not just to get better and create better places, but to be as good as we can be and achieve as much as we possibly can. We cannot afford the complacency of the past. The role of metro mayor is for someone who can match the ambitions of every sector and get on with the job in hand.