A single directly-elected Mayor could run the whole of West Yorkshire under new laws to be introduced by the Government.
The Treasury said groups of councils which work together as ‘combined authorities’ – such as those in West Yorkshire – will be allowed to introduce a single Mayor to govern the whole area, should they wish to do so.
The new laws raise the controversial prospect of the cities of Bradford and Wakefield being run by a ‘West Yorkshire Mayor’ from Leeds town hall.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Eveing Post at a Westminster lunch event yesterday, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said it was for the councils in each local area to decide.
“I have no problem about governance,” he said. “If, say, West Yorkshire came to a view that they wanted to elect someone across a joint authority – fine. If they don’t, I don’t really mind.
“But any change that should take place should take place from within a local authority.”
The Government’s first attempt to introduce Boris Johnson-style Mayors to run big city councils across England was widely rejected by voters in a series of referendums last May. Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield were among the cities to vote ‘no’ to an elected Mayor.
But the idea was revived by Lord Heseltine in his growth report last November. And in its official response this week, the Treasury said it will bring forward laws to allow ‘conurbation Mayors’ as soon as possible.
“The Government accepts Lord Heseltine’s recommendation for ‘conurbation mayors’ and intends, at the next available opportunity, to seek legislation for such Mayors where the authorities want this,” it said.
There has been no response to the proposal as yet from councils in West Yorkshire.