New West Midlands Mayor Andy Street © Matthew Cooper/PA Wire/PA Images Commentators struggled to separate the mayoral elections on 4th May, in six new city-regions across England, from the general election that will follow a month later. We heard more about what surprise Conservative wins in the West Midlands and Tees Valley mean for Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May than for local residents in Birmingham and Darlington. Yet those new mayors Andy Street and Ben Houchen—as well as Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester, Steve Rotheram in Liverpool, Tim Bowles in the West of England and James Palmer in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough—will represent nearly 10m people between them. They have an opportunity to develop the way that cities and regions are led. They can also, a new report by my think tank suggests, bring fresh impetus to the debate on integration. New champions of integration are much needed. Britain is a more anxious and fragmented society than any of us would want. The EU referendum vote split the country by place, by generation and by social class, casting new light on more long-standing divisions. Britain’s multi-ethnic, multi-faith society is in many places an integration success story but it faces challenges and tensions too, including concerns about segregation, extremism and prejudice. Voters think it is important to get integration right. It is in all our interests that people from different backgrounds should be able to live well together. Progress has been restricted by a lack of leadership from the top of politics but the new mayors are ideally placed to take the lead—showing national government that it can be done and done well, with the support of local residents of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. Integration happens, after all, at local level in the places where we live, work, study and meet. Integration challenges and priorities will differ significantly between the West Midlands and the Tees Valley, between Greater Manchester and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough. But there is no city-region where the mayor could not make a significant difference to how people live together through a bespoke integration strategy for their own area. Appointing a deputy mayor for integration, tasked with championing integration and leading an Office for Integration and Citizenship to help catalyse action, would show that the new mayor takes this seriously. Such offices and appointments have been successful in cities from New York and Chicago to Barcelona and Hamburg and, most recently, in London too. The deputy mayor’s job should include the hard work of mainstreaming integration across the combined authority and different policy areas; but also encouraging, championing and catalysing a broader civic ownership of integration. Involving police, faith communities and civic groups, schools, colleges, universities and local businesses will be crucial to getting the integration agenda right. They should also involve the public in this conversation from the start, helping the new mayor to develop an integration strategy that feels relevant to people right across their region. To ensure that integration becomes an “All of Us” issue, and not one that reinforces a sense of “Them and Us” that can be so damaging to integration efforts, the new mayors will need to strike some important balances. If Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham focuses all of his energy on the most segregated communities in Oldham and Rochdale, his integration strategy may lack meaning for residents in Wigan, the least ethnically-diverse borough in the whole North West. Andy Street will want to celebrate the places in the West Midlands where integration is working well, but must also address the stark educational and income inequalities in parts of central Birmingham, where 70 per cent of working age women of Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnicity are economically inactive. Integration programmes will differ in each city-region, but with all six new mayors controlling the adult skills budget, improving English language provision is likely to be a focus. As Louise Casey says in her recent integration review, “Promoting English language is the single most important thing that we can do.” Skills training programmes can also help to address economic inequalities; housing and planning powers can be used to improve the regulation of rental accommodation for migrant workers in places where this causes tensions; and greater efforts will be needed in all six city-regions to encourage more contact and mixing between people from different backgrounds, whether that is at an early age in schools or later on through volunteering projects. If integration is not about everybody, it is not integration. It is important to challenge the idea that this policy area matters in the most diverse towns and cities but will take care of itself in other areas. It matters to all of us. So it is time for action on integration. If the new mayors can show leadership in making change happen in their own cities and regions, they will also have a stronger voice as champions who can help us to shift towards the positive, active integration agenda that we need at a national level too.