It is only 30 days until voters in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset decide the next West of England ‘Metro’ Mayor.
The looming votes comes as a survey reveals that 70% of businesses feel that the West of England is being upstaged by other devolved regions with directly elected mayors.
A majority of the 400 businesses surveyed across the region said that the national and international profile enjoyed by Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan far outshone that of the West of England, raising concerns regarding the region’s ability to compete for political attention and encourage inward investment from within the UK and overseas.
The survey also shows that 64% of businesses think that North Somerset should join the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), convinced that such a move would help to strengthen the economic prosperity of the West of England region overall.
A further 80% of respondents indicated that the next West of England Mayor should play a leading role in driving development towards net zero, as well as championing a green recovery as we build back following COVID.
Other priorities highlighted by the business community, which are detailed in Business West’s Manifesto for Business released today (6 April), include transport and digital infrastructure, employment and skills prospects, affordable housing and strategic planning for sustainable land use.
Taken together, the points highlighted in the manifesto spell out the vital importance of the business challenge to the candidates and will be debated at a special business & economy focused hustings event, held in association with the Centre for Cities on 28 April.
James Durie, Chief Executive of West of England Initiative at Business West, comments: “As highlighted by the survey, business wants the next Mayor to confidently and assertively represent the region’s interests in Westminster and to encourage inward investment from within the UK and overseas, championing the strengths that the Bristol and Bath city region offers.”