Voters in the West of England are electing a mayor for the first time. This is a chance to set out the kind of region we want to be; to take power locally and make decisions that affect us ourselves.

We are creating a people’s plan for the West of England so whoever our new mayor is, they’ll hear our voices for decent jobs, affordable homes, and welcoming communities.

Taking control over local decisions could enable us to set our own priorities and try new way of working . But anti-worker, anti-public service groups will try to use the new powers of the West of England mayor too.

That’s why it’s vital to build a strong alliance for a progressive platform for the West of England mayor. We’ll be campaigning to develop and publicise this between now and the elections in May.

Give your views on priorities for the metro-mayor

West of England devolution agreement



  • What is the devolution deal?

    Devolution means some powers and moneys are moved from central government in London to local government in the relevant place.

    In our case, this means the West of England area, which consists of three local councils:

    • Bath & North East Somerset
    • Bristol
    • South Gloucestershire
    • North Somerset was originally included but dropped out of the plan.
  • What new powers and money will devolution bring?

    There will be a new “mayoral combined authority” (MCA) set up. The MCA will get new powers over the following areas:

    • Transport: increased control over buses, a smartcard for travel, one budget for transport, responsibility for the key roads network
    • Skills: setting funding and priorities for 16+ education and the adult skills budget, control of the apprenticeship grant for employers
    • Housing and planning: a development plan for the region, including powers to buy up land and set priorities and rules for building new areas
    • Employment: designing new ways to assist people back to work
    • Business support: working with UK Trade and Investment to develop the economy, increase broadband coverage, and support businesses

    As well as associated funding from these responsibilities, the MCA will receive £30m per year for thirty years (£900m in total) for specific projects. A levy of up to 2p per pound of rateable value will also be allowed on businesses, and the MCA will be able to borrow money too.

  • What’s the deal with the West of England mayor?

    On 4 May 2017, voters in B&NES, Bristol and South Gloucestershire will elect a mayor for the West of England. This is sometimes called a “metro-mayor” to set it apart from a local council mayor like the one in Bristol.

    The metro-mayor will lead the mayoral combined authority, with a cabinet made up of the three local authority leaders, one of whom will be the deputy mayor.

    Although the metro-mayor will be able to make some decisions alone, their strategies and spending plans may be amended if two-thirds of their cabinet vote to do so.

    At least one scrutiny board will also be set up, consisting mainly of councillors from the three authorities. The scrutiny board will be able to pause decisions while it reviews them.

  • What does devolution mean for my job?

    At this early stage, direct impact on terms and conditions for public service workers will be limited. The West of England combined authority will not be a significant direct employer yet.

    However, there may be changes to working practices and roles as the MCA will make decisions that affect council policies and lead to more partnership working.

    UNISON is already working with the constituent councils to ensure any changes are properly thought through and implemented fairly.

    UNISON is campaigning for a devolution settlement that promotes good jobs and public services. We will work to prevent job losses, attacks on pay and conditions, and privatisation

    The evidence from the combined authority in Manchester, the most advanced in the country, is that devolution can be an opportunity to develop better ways of working, if politicians listen to the voices of staff.

  • Who are the candidates for the West of England metro-mayor?

    Candidates from Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Greens and Ukip are all running in the election.

    Conservative: Tim Bowles

    Ukip: Aaron Foot

    Green: Darren Hall

    Labour: Lesley Mansell

    Independent: John Savage

    Liberal Democrat: Stephen Williams