By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
KIRKLEES Council Leader Shabir Pandor has ruled himself out of the top job as West Yorkshire Mayor as the county’s £1.8bn devolution deal was announced.
Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service if he would throw his hat in the ring the leader of the Labour-run administration gave an unequivocal response.
“No. I have got enough on in Kirklees doing what I am doing.”
He added: “I will carry on doing everything I can to get the best outcome for Kirklees.”
Coun Pandor (Lab, Batley West), who joined fellow council leaders in Leeds for the formal devolution announcement, said he had fought for “the best possible deal” for the borough in the run-up to today’s announcement.
He described the £1.8bn deal as “a huge day for West Yorkshire and for us in Kirklees”.
He added: “This gives us the funding and the power to take more of the decisions which affect our communities within the region.”
The position of West Yorkshire Mayor will be created as a result of the deal with an election taking place in May 2021.
The role will involve working with West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), a group of leading councillors and officers from West Yorkshire councils, plus York, that works on major infrastructure projects.
In the coming years, the West Yorkshire Mayor will also exercise governance and community safety functions currently held by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, similar to models in London and Greater Manchester.
The planned Police and Crime Commissioner election in May will go ahead as planned.
Coun Pandor said the deal will support his vision to secure more investment and opportunities for Kirklees.
In addition to significant funding, the deal announced in this week’s Government budget gives West Yorkshire far greater decision-making powers allowing the region to set its own priorities including ensuring a vibrant future for towns and rural areas while securing the economic success of cities.
The deal is set to drive up living standards through better transport, improved skills and stronger businesses, while tackling the climate emergency has been secured for West Yorkshire.
The agreement, announced at Granary Wharfe in Leeds, follows extensive negotiations between the leaders of West Yorkshire’s councils and Communities Minister Simon Clarke supported by officers from West Yorkshire authorities and WYCA.
Coun Pandor said he was “proud” to have played a role in this and fought for the best possible deal for Kirklees during negotiations.
He said: “This is a huge day for West Yorkshire and for us in Kirklees. This gives us the funding and the power to take more of the decisions which affect our communities within the region.
“Every place is unique and what works in one area might not be right for another. It is only right that the decisions made for West Yorkshire are done here with local people’s interests at heart.
“I’m proud to have been one of the council leaders working together in collaboration on this deal for West Yorkshire.
“Throughout the process I have been fighting for the very best outcome for Kirklees and to make sure we get the best deal possible for our residents.
“We are a council and a borough of real ambition and I will be a strong voice at West Yorkshire to make sure the opportunities within this deal come to Kirklees.”
The deal will be subject to a public consultation and will also be voted on by full council.