Matthew Robinson: The battle for West Yorkshire

19 Apr

Cllr Matthew Robinson is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of West Yorkshire and a councillor in Leeds.

The local elections are well underway. We’d been waiting for the go ahead to allow us to campaign safely – and the Cabinet Office advice that came through last month was greeted with relief as it meant that people could campaign again. It’s not quite the time to leave the face masks and sanitiser at home but there is a way to safely campaign and engage with voters.

Here in West Yorkshire, after much debate and discussion about powers, and the geographic areas to be included, on May 6th 2021 the good people of the region will elect our first ever Mayor.

Now we have a number of Yorkshire folk who might not currently live in God’s Own County (sorry Jacob but it’s Yorkshire like Imran Khan our Wakefield MP said, not Somerset that is God’s Own County) so they might not be aware this Mayoral election is taking place. Yet everyone can play their part in stopping the drama and political back-biting of another Labour Mayor who wants to pick a fight with Westminster rather than taking the action required to improve the lives of our residents and improve the North.

People ask me how West Yorkshire – particularly Leeds, the biggest financial centre outside the city of London and the second biggest local authority in the country – has found itself in 2021 without a mass transit system. Don’t get me wrong, there have been attempts; the trolley bus springs to mind. However, we’ve had five Labour Councils running West Yorkshire for most of the last 40 years who’ve scrapped like cats in sacks and we’ve had Labour MPs who failed to be taken seriously by their own Party, never mind Conservative Governments, when seeking funding for a transport solution.

They have let the bill for their plans spiral out of control too, to the point where major overspends become something the public have sadly grown to expect. I’ve asked Labour’s candidate to join my no new local taxes pledge – the response wasn’t exactly full blooded agreement (“I have no intention of introducing an additional precept”). I understand the challenges of recovery will require households budgets and businesses to bounce back and big new taxes and charges would kill the recovery in West Yorkshire before it begins, stamping on the green shoots of this spring. Labour seems to prefer to blame the Government rather than doing the ground work to move our economy forward.

If we are serious about our economic recovery in West Yorkshire, tackling crime, improving the skills to create a resilient workforce, closing the productivity gap, getting the region moving, and levelling up within the region – because if you believe in levelling up as I do then it can’t all be about Leeds and our cities but has to be about our towns too – then it’s crucial West Yorkshire has a Conservative Mayor with a strong voice – and who wants to work with Government and others to invest in our future rather than searching out the nearest camera for their latest round of political axe-grinding.

So how can you help, well it’s easy:

  • Connect Calling – every little helps (to quote a well known supermarket). Energising our voters and reminding those who voted Conservative for the first time in December 2019 that the job isn’t done just yet. We need a little less conversation and a little more action. People want to get things done and to see our region crack on. A vote for me and our Conservative Council candidates means we will focus on economic recovery, boosting our economy and our communities every day and every step of the way.
  • Donate – Labour are pumping their union cash into their former Red Wall seats. If you thought they were going to allow the people of Dewsbury, Wakefield, Keighley and others to stay blue for long then you’re much mistaken. The fight for the next General Election has started and every £1 you donate will help us keep our target seats and win more. You can still donate to my campaign so please get in touch.
  • Spread the word. I’ve set out my priorities for West Yorkshire on economic recovery, jobs and apprenticeships, helping our businesses, new local opportunity areas, greater transparency, more police on the streets with the better equipment such as tasers for frontline officers, a connected clean green and on time transport system, improving life chances, and helping our environment – including delivering the new Northern Forest. It’s the only plan that will keep taxes low, stop a congestion charge, support business and the police, ensure projects are on time and on budget – and I’m the only Mayoral candidate who’ll be able to argue for, and get the best deal from, the Government. You can follow me on Twitter and on Facebook to support #Matt4Mayor

West Yorkshire has huge potential and has the opportunity to seize the day. This May we can either vote for a plan and deliver for our future as a region. Or we can vote for Andy Burnham 2.0 (new packaging but nothing really different) and more playing politics that has let West Yorkshire down in the past. We would continue being the neighbour to Manchester that everyone mentions second, rather than the envy of the North and the pacesetters of the 21st Century.