By Joshua Robinson –
After two years in office, the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, has reflected on their time in office in a recent open letter.
Tracy Brabin was elected as the first-ever Mayor of West Yorkshire. Making her the country’s first and only female Metro Mayor.
In the open letter, Brabin said: “The significance of that trust has never been lost on me. Growing up in a two-bed council flat in Birstall, I know what it’s like to vote in an election with hope for a better life – and a better West Yorkshire – on the other side.”
“Be assured that your hope has not been taken for granted. It’s been converted into real change for our communities – whether that’s cheaper buses on our roads, more police officers on our streets, or cold hard cash to make life easier in the cost of living crisis.”
In the open letter, Brabin has listed what their administration has achieved and what they hope to achieve in the future.
Cost of Living Crisis:
Following the cost of living crisis, a multi-million-pound cost of living fund was created to help those most vulnerable.
Announced last October, the fund has provided support to charities and community groups working on the frontline, keeping people warm, fed, and supported with their mental health and debts.
For households, the Mayor’s retrofit scheme for cold and draughty homes was increased, working with council housing providers to make 1,700 rented homes warmer, with a further 2,400 scheduled for renovations.
To stop small and medium businesses from closing, by match-funding energy efficiency measures, saving over 150 businesses in West Yorkshire hundreds or thousands of pounds a year.
Cost of Transport:
Following devolution, enough money was secured to make West Yorkshire the first region in the country to cap bus fares at £2 last September while reducing the cost of a day-ticket to £4.50.
In a cost of living crisis, this saved passengers over £3 million in the first three months alone.
In the open letter, Mayor Brabin states that they’ve spent the past two years laying the groundwork for a greener, more reliable, better-connected public transport system.
Bus and rail stations across the region have been refurbished while building a brand-new rail stop at the White Rose Centre in Leeds. These are meant to give people better access to transport links.
Following private operators pulling routes and services to save money, Brabin has invested over £30 million to reconnect cut-off communities.
In the open letter, Brabin said: “I’m determined to end the injustice of West Yorkshire remaining the largest city region in Western Europe without a joined-up, metro-style transport system with trams or light rail, and have secured almost £1bn for new transport infrastructure to do just that.”
“And after beginning the process of bringing buses back under public control on my very first week as Mayor, we’re preparing the case for a decision on bus reform by the end of my first-term next May.”
Policing and Safety:
Upon taking office, Brabin also assumed the powers of the Police and Crime Commissioner – exercised by their Deputy Mayor, Alison Lowe OBE.
Brabin stated: “Since then, we’ve put vulnerable people and victims at the heart of what we do, with tackling violence against women and girls a personal responsibility for the both of us.”
Following continued underfunding from the Government, Brabin and West Yorkshire Police have recruited over 500 new police officers and staff, serving in neighbourhood teams across the five districts.
Through the Mayor’s Safer Communities Fund, 173 community projects have been supported with over £1 million seized from criminals, supporting 59,000 people across West Yorkshire.
Due to devolution, more than £200,000 has been secured for the Safety of Women at Night Fund, with a bus safety app and training for workers in the night-time economy, who are providing safe spaces through the ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme.
The stalking advocacy service – one of the first of its kind in the country – has helped over 500 women and girls since its launch, with a dedicated police unit ensuring all stalking offences are responded to within 24 hours.
Over £10 million has been channelled to support victims’ services across West Yorkshire while holding the Chief Constable to account against your priorities.
Brabin said: “Climate change is the biggest threat facing us, our children and our children’s children. In West Yorkshire, we’ve led from the front, with a Net Zero target of 2038 for our region’s economy – twelve years ahead of the Government’s national target.”
Over £40 million has been invested towards the Climate and Environment Action Plan.
Working alongside the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership, Brabin, and her administration are hoping to build thousands of new, energy-efficient homes in difficult economic circumstances.
The open letter also addressed the introduction of kickstarter grants of up to £50,000 to help get Net Zero projects off the ground in local communities.
There are year-long festivals across each district – Leeds 2023, Kirklees Year of Music 2023, Wakefield’s Year of Culture 2024, Calderdale’s 2024 Vision, and Bradford as the UK’s City of Culture 2025.
According to the open letter these festivals are to help boost local creative industries, as well as enrich the local economy.
Brabin said: “We’re making sure everyone – not just those from the ‘right’ backgrounds – has the chance to access these unique opportunities, with our incredibly successful, over-subscribed Mayor’s Screen Diversity Programme.”
“We’re nurturing children’s creativity in partnership with the National Literacy Trust, to help West Yorkshire find its very own Young Poet Laureate.”
Brabin added: “I’m pump-priming our creative industries with £11.5 million to attract new investment and boost our local economies.”
“And we led the successful, national campaign to keep Channel 4 in public hands, right here in West Yorkshire.”
Two Years in Office:
In the open letter, Mayor Brabin said: “It has been a whirlwind two years for our region.”
“Our victory on the railways last week, with Government finally stripping the dismal TransPennine Express of its contract to run rail services in the North of England, has demonstrated the power of devolution when our region comes together to demand a voice.”
Brabin ended the letter with: “This is an exciting time for West Yorkshire, and I want everyone to get on board and be part of that change.”