Why Mayors matter - six reasons to vote

Elected Mayors - it's a complicated subject. Many people still don't realise South Yorkshire will elect its very first Mayor on May 3.

Wednesday, 11th April 2018, 9:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th April 2018, 9:46 am
Six reasons to vote for the Mayor of Sheffield City Region

And other people just don’t care. The devolution deal has been drawn out, complicated and still isn’t finalised so it’s understandable that people have switched off.

Couple that with voter apathy after Brexit and notoriously low turnouts at local elections, and you can see why it’s a battle to stir people’s interest.

The new Mayor will be very different to existing Lord Mayors, who are figureheads with no powers.

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By contrast, the elected Mayor will control a huge budget and oversee crucial issues such as transport and jobs.

Here are six reasons why you need to vote:

South Yorkshire is in line for almost £1 billion

Over £900m will come directly to our region - and one of our own will decide how it is spent.

After years of Westminster holding the purse strings, this will be the first time a South Yorkshire politician has controlled a huge region-wide budget.

Our voice in Westminster

Rather than anonymous Whitehall civil servants being in charge, we will have a local person who is based here. The Mayor will have access to secretaries of state, more than a normal MP would. We will have one of our own championing the region.

They will be accountable

The buck stops with the Mayor. Not only will they our voice in Westminster, they will also be held accountable if things go wrong. They will be right on the doorstep so we can speak directly to them.

At the moment, it can be hard to pin down blame on Government ministers and civil servants. When the Mayor makes a decision, it will link directly back to them.

We’ll have joined up services

The Mayor’s powers and job description is still under discussion but they will be responsible for important areas such as transport, housing, employment and economic development. Perhaps Supertram could be extended into Rotherham? There may be extra investment for rail links from Sheffield to Barnsley? Or there could be a region-wide strategy on creating more jobs.

The role is fluid

Once the Mayor is in position, their remit could expand. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burham has power over health and social care while Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is involved in waste management, police and fire authorities.

You hold the power

Whether you are voting for the person or the party, make sure you vote on May 3.

Our elected Mayor has been a long time coming and it will be the first time South Yorkshire has had someone lobbying for the whole region on the national stage.

It’s an important role so make sure you choose the best person to do it.