Meet Huddersfield lawyer and Labour man Hugh Goulbourne, who needs to be West Yorkshire’s first ever elected mayor

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Meet Huddersfield lawyer and Labour man Hugh Goulbourne, who wants to be West Yorkshire's first ever elected mayor

Hugh Goulbourne wants to be Labour’s candidate at the 2021 West Yorkshire mayoral election.

Labour member Hugh Goulbourne has officially launched his campaign to be the party’s candidate on the ballot paper at next year’s inaugural poll.

Mr Goulbourne, 43, has never been elected to public office before, but said he hoped his experience in law, business and as a “negotiator” may give him an advantage in the contest ahead.

Outside of his work he founded the Huddersfield Diversity and Innovation Network, a scheme which promotes inclusion in local workplaces, and he also worked as an adviser to the last Labour government on fuel poverty and environmental issues.

Mr Goulbourne said: “We need to come together as one. Having five council areas fight for their own scraps isn’t helpful when we’re taking on Westminster.

“I think that’s what this role is about – it’s about bringing people together – and I have a track record of doing that.

“I’ve come from a different world (to other political candidates). I’ve been a lawyer and a negotiator first and foremost and I think I could bring something extra to the challenges we face.”

Educated in Coventry, Mr Goulbourne studied at the University of Bristol and then worked in London before moving to Huddersfield a decade ago.

The father-of-two describes himself as a “proud, adopted Yorkshireman” and says he would use the office of mayor to push for even more powers to be devolved to the region from Westminster.

He disputes the cynicism in some quarters that the creation of a mayor will simply add another layer of bloated bureaucracy to local politics.

“I’m a big believer in devolution and I think this is a great opportunity to take control of our own destiny.

“It depends whether you look at it as a glass half full or a glass half empty, and for me it’s definitely half full.”

Mr Goulbourne said he was currently unsure how widely he would use the tax-levying powers that the office will have, but pledged to “be a mayor that listens to people” and insisted he’d be wary about “putting additional pressure on communities”.

And Mr Goulbourne rejected the notion that whoever wins the Labour candidacy is guaranteed to be elected mayor, given the party’s dominance in West Yorkshire.

“It was only December 12 when Labour lost quite a few constituencies here,” he said, in reference to last year’s General Election.

“I’m certainly not complacent and I don’t take Labour’s vote for granted.

“I think at the moment a lot of voters aren’t worried about whether or not you’re Labour or Conservative.

“They’re more worried about who has the answers to this crisis we’re in and who can take us forward.

“I think at the end of the four-year term whoever is mayor will be judged on whether or not they’ve brought additional money into the region. Have they created more jobs? That’s what I hope I can do.”

Labour is expected to choose its candidate for the election just before Christmas.

Local Democracy Reporting Service