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Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions 2021-05-20T08:28:52+01:00

Who is the Mayor?

The Mayor of the West of England is Dan Norris. He was elected in May 2021.

The former Mayor was Tim Bowles, who was elected in May 2017.

What’s a Metro Mayor?

A Metro Mayor is another word for a Regional Mayor. You may hear this term when talking about other combined authorities or regional mayors.

How does the Regional Mayor’s powers differ from those of the Bristol Mayor, South Gloucestershire and Bath & North East Somerset leaders?

The West of England Mayor works together with the Bristol Mayor, who is responsible for the area covered by Bristol City Council, and the leaders of Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils to make decisions to benefit the wider region.

The three council are still responsible for most public service delivery (such as waste and highways management, schools, and recreational facilities). The Regional Mayor focuses on wider issues that span across the region, such as transport, skills, housing and economic growth.

How long will the Regional Mayor’s term run for?

The Mayor’s term will run for four years. For the first term, this means from 2017-2021; for the second, 2021 – 2025.

What is the difference between the Regional Mayor, the Bristol Mayor and the Lord Mayor, and why do we need them all?

The Government wants to have a named individual accountable for the additional powers and money being devolved to the West of England Combined Authority. The Regional Mayor is a condition of the Government’s devolution offer.

Sometimes referred to in the media as a ‘Metro Mayor’, he or she is a local government executive leader, directly elected by the local voting public. The Regional Mayor is responsible for the West of England Combined Authority.

Bristol has a directly elected Mayor, who is also a local government executive leader. The Mayor of Bristol is responsible for the area covered by Bristol City Council. The other two WECA councils, Bath & North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire, currently have Council Leaders responsible for their council areas.

There are also Civic Mayors in Bristol and Bath and in towns across the area (such as Midsomer Norton) – their role is ceremonial and they perform a similar function to chairs of parish and town councils. A Lord Mayor is a civic or ceremonial leader, usually elected by the local council. He or she has no decision-making powers.

How much does the Regional Mayor get paid?

An independent remuneration panel recommended an allowance of £66,788 per annum.

What checks and scrutiny are the Regional Mayor subject to?

The 2016 Devolution Bill requires all combined authorities to set up at least one overview and scrutiny committee.

WECA scrutiny committee is made up of  members from the constituent members of the Combined Authority – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City and South Gloucestershire councils. The committee has the power to suspend decisions put forward by the Regional Mayor and combined authority cabinet.

The scrutiny committee members  are selected on a politically-proportionate basis, based on population.

WECA continues to work closely with North Somerset Council, building on a legacy of successful joint working between the four authorities. North Somerset will send along representatives to meetings to comment on items that affect them, but will not be full voting members of the WECA scrutiny committee.

What is WECA and how is WECA funded?

Our councils  – Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire; the Local Enterprise Partnership and businesses came together to seek devolution because they could see the value in this new way of doing things, looking beyond council boundaries to benefit people who live and work in the region.

WECA was established early 2017 and the first West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, elected in May 2017. The current Mayor, Dan Norris, was elected in May 2021.

As a result of devolution, significant powers and funding were transferred to our region through the West of England Combined Authority and the West of England Mayor. These new powers mean action is being taken in the region to address our challenges.

In total £1.15bn of new government funding has been secured for the WECA region, because we have a Combined Authority.

How are funds allocated?

The £900m WECA Investment Fund is invested in regional priority schemes that support our Local Industrial Strategy and Regional Recovery Plan.

This is subject to five-year Gateway Review by Government, whereby we have to demonstrate ‘additionality’ and delivery against core regional priorities.

The first Gateway review will be concluded by government in early 2021 which and will unlock the next five years (£150m) of Investment Funding. The report submitted by SQW, who were contracted to undertake Gateway Reviews for all Combined Authorities, is extremely positive about WECA’s progress.

What does WECA do?

WECA works to improve the lives of the people who live, work and travel in the West of England.

This involves:

How are decisions made by the Regional Mayor and West of England Combined Authority?

The West of England Combined Authority meets in public four times a year.

The Regional Mayor has one vote and so do other voting members. Decisions by the West of England Combined Authority will be decided by a majority of the members, subject to that majority including the vote of the Regional Mayor, unless otherwise set out in legislation.

The West of England Joint Committee meets at the same time; this committee includes North Somerset Council.

What is the Local Enterprise Partnership and how does it relate to WECA?

WECA supports the Local Enterprise Partnership, which brings the voice of business to our strategic decision-making.  The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership covers the WECA region as well as North Somerset. Together, WECA and LEP aim to deliver economic growth for the region and address some of our challenges, such as productivity and skills, housing and transport.

Does WECA have councillors? 

WECA itself does not have councillors, however, the WECA Committee, chaired by the Regional Mayor, is made up of the Leaders and Mayor from WECA’s three constituent councils, which are Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council. Councillors elected to serve on WECA’s constituent councils (Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council) are also appointed to serve on WECA committees.

What committees does WECA have? 

Decision taking committees:

WECA Committee:

The WECA Committee is chaired by the Regional Mayor, and is made up of the Leaders and Mayor from WECA’s three constituent councils, which are Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council. The Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership also attends committee meetings in a non-voting capacity.  The WECA Committee takes key decisions on matters affecting WECA including funding projects through the regional Investment Fund.

 West of England Joint Committee:

The WECA Committee is chaired by the Regional Mayor, and is made up of the Leaders and Mayor from the West of England councils, which are Bath & North East Somerset Council, Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire Council and North Somerset Council. The Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), also attends committee meetings in a non-voting capacity.  The Joint Committee takes key decisions on matters affecting WECA, the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and North Somerset Council.

Other committees:

WECA Overview & Scrutiny Committee:

The WECA Overview & Scrutiny Committee is made up of 11 councillors drawn from across WECA’s three constituent councils and is chaired currently by Cllr Stephen Clarke (Bristol City Council). It’s role is to review and scrutinise the work of WECA; it can also make reports or recommendations to the decision-taking committees. 3 councillors from North Somerset Council are observers at these meetings and able to comment on matters that affect North Somerset.

WECA Audit Committee:

The Audit Committee comprises 12 members, 11 councillors drawn from across WECA’s three constituent councils and one independent member.   Its role is to provide independent assurance to the Combined Authority on its governance, internal control and risk management arrangements and to oversee the statutory financial reporting process.

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