Conservatives still looking for a candidate to be West Yorkshire's first metro mayor

The co-chairman of the Conservatives is still looking for a candidate to represent the party in next year’s landmark West Yorkshire mayoral election, with no Tories yet having publicly put their hats in the ring for the position.
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Amanda Milling said there were “plenty of Conservatives in this part of the world” as she visited Wakefield as part of a tour of former “red wall” seats taken by the party in last year’s General Election.

But she declined to offer any specifics when asked by The Yorkshire Post if the party had found any possible candidates to be the first elected metro mayor of West Yorkshire.

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The new mayor, elected next May, will have control over £1.8bn of funding and powers over transport, housing, skills and the economy.

A number of Labour candidates have already put themselves forward, including ex-Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff and Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin, while Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe is also expected to run.

Asked if she had found any prospective Tory candidates yet, Ms Milling said: “There are plenty of Conservatives in this part of the world, as we can see from the General Election last year that made big inroads in this part of the world.

“We are on our search for a candidate for the election next year. This is something that people might think is a write-off but actually, as we demonstrated in the election, there’s a lot of Conservative votes and this is no longer the so-called red wall. I would most definitely describe it as the blue wall.”

Conservative party co-chairman Amanda Milling pictured in Blackpool.Conservative party co-chairman Amanda Milling pictured in Blackpool.
Conservative party co-chairman Amanda Milling pictured in Blackpool.
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Asked if that meant she had yet to find anyone suitable, she said: “I’m continuing to seek applications and we’ll select in due course.”

It is understood that within the party opinion remains split on whether the race is worth the effort, with one source suggesting officials might be better off focusing their attention on keeping Andy Street, the mayor of the West Midlands, in place in elections also held next year.

But others suggest that December’s landslide General Election victory shows the tables have turned and that throwing resources into fighting for the mayoral seat in West Yorkshire might bring results – or at least give Labour a bloody nose.

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Dewsbury-born former Minister, has been approached by Tory MPs about running but has decided she does not have enough time at this stage of her life to take on a job of this size.

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Huddersfield Giants chairman and businessman Ken Davy has also been suggested, after coming within 5,000 votes of beating MP Barry Sheerman in December. But when approached by The Yorkshire Post he said the job was “not on his radar”.