A PLEDGE for “bold vision and leadership” has been put forward by independent West of England metro mayor candidate Dr John Savage CBE, who unveiled his campaign today.
The Bristol businessman, who currently serves as the executive chairman of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce and Initiative, and chairman of University Hospitals Bristol, has laid out his plans for delivering on the devolution agreement for the region.
The metro mayor role will oversee the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) – a partnership between South Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath and North East Somerset with new powers and funding worth £1 billion from central government.
Dr Savage said: “This is a new position that has been created to secure more local power and £30million of extra funding per year from government.
“If we elect an effective Mayor this figure will increase. I have lived here for over 40 years and for the first time in my life I see the possibility of a real shift in power from Westminster to us.
“It is a huge opportunity for the West of England and we cannot afford to waste it.
“We need a mayor who can work with all leaders across the three local authorities and who will not be bound by bureaucracy nor be divisive; a big part of the challenge will be to identify common purpose and facilitate co-operation for the good of all. I intend to serve one term and will focus on five areas that can be delivered in my time.
“In my work, I have secured significant deals for regeneration, charitable endeavours and for business. As mayor, I will press Westminster to give us more power and responsibility, and more money to affect our own decisions. We will choose how our region is run in the future.”
Among the key issues being targeted, Dr Savage’s campaign looks to address “poor infrastructure, public transport and housing.”
He said: “We are plagued by poor transport infrastructure. Politicians have failed to do enough over a very long time to change this.
“I will get on with fixing our roads and buses, and finally build decent and sustainable public transport that makes a difference for everyone.
“I will also end a culture of pointless opposition to the private car but we must achieve attractive and efficient alternative forms of transport to ease congestion.”
Dr Savage also said he would take “a new approach to tackling the housing crisis.”
“For me it’s nothing but an obscenity that here in the most civilised country in the world we still have so many people and families lacking basic homes, comfort and opportunity.
“Many of our businesses and institutions are global leaders. In difficult times, we must keep our region open to the world and I will continue to promote and boast the value of the diversity of people and business in the West of England.”
Highlighting that the region’s charities and academic institution are among the global leaders, Dr Savage said that he was standing in the election “because our politicians must do better.”
He said: “We need our region to be fiercely ambitious if we are to become the best that we can be. We must compete with other city regions here in the UK and in Europe and beyond if we are to maintain and improve the golden opportunity of our place. We cannot afford the complacency of the past.
“The role of metro mayor is for someone who can match the ambitions of every sector and get the job done.”