Metro Mayor Tim Bowles will not stand for re-election
REGIONAL mayor Tim Bowles is to retire from politics.
The Winterbourne parish councillor was elected the first West of England Mayor in 2017.
But he has announced that he will not seek re-election to the £65,000-a-year role, known as the Metro Mayor, when his term ends next spring.
Conservative Mr Bowles has been involved in local politics for 20 years. He was a South Gloucestershire councillor for the Winterbourne ward for seven years before he was elected to lead the West of England Combined Authority, which is made up from South Gloucestershire, Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset councils and has a region-wide role in policies such as housing, transport and skills.
He said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve the West of England as a councillor and as the region’s first Metro Mayor.
"The combined authority has brought hundreds of millions of pounds to the region and seen major improvements that benefit every single person."
Mr Bowles said Weca was "getting the region moving with a proper transport system", including the MetroWest rail network and Metrobus, was backing future technology such as 5G, supported businesses and helped more than 700 people through the Future Bright training scheme.
He said extra funding brought by Weca had directly created 4,000 new jobs and 13,000 new qualifications.
South Gloucestershire Council leader Toby Savage said: “The impact that Tim has had as the inaugural West of England mayor, building the combined authority from scratch and bringing together the local authorities, both across geographical and political borders, has set our region on a truly positive path."
The region's Tories will now pick a candidate to succeed Mr Bowles at next May's elections.
In November Labour announced that former Wansdyke MP Dan Norris (above), who served as a minister during his 13-year Parliamentary career, had been selected as the party's candidate.
The former Chipping Sodbury Comprehensive School pupil served on Avon county and Bristol city councils in the 1980s and 90s.
The Liberal Democrats chose former Bristol West MP Stephen Williams (below), who was a minister in the coalition government from 2013-15, as their candidate in July. He also contested the 2017 Metro Mayor election.
Weca's councils are currently embroiled in a row over a bid by North Somerset Council to join, with Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees arguing that the government needs to show that existing areas would not lose out financially by adding a new member, while the Tories and Lib Dems accuse him of “putting party politics before doing the right thing for the region”.