Elected mayors to be 'imposed' on 12 largest cities
By Richard Garlick Thursday, 20 May 2010
The wording of today's coalition government pledge on elected mayors suggests that they will be imposed on the 12 largest English cities, according to experts.
The document fleshing out the coalition's plans says: "We will create directly elected mayors in the twelve largest English cities, subject to confirmatory referendums and full scrutiny by elected councillors".
Experts at think-tank the Local Government Information Unit have interpreted "confirmatory" as meaning that the referendums will take place after the mayors have been in place for some time, rather than as a precursor to the creation of such figures.
"If communities want an elected mayor then they can already choose to have one, so it doesn't seem very localist to impose them on these 12 cities," said LGIU chief executive Andy Sawford.
In 2007 the Conservative party's Cities Taskforce, led by Lord Heseltine, called for the first generation of city mayors to be created by conferring mayoral powers on existing council leaders.
However, its green paper on local government, published last year, said that the cities would hold referenda on a single day to decide whether they wanted mayors with similar executive powers to those of London's Boris Johnson.
The cities identified by the Tories' policy green paper are: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.
The Department of Communities and Local Government said that it was as yet unable to provide details of how the referendum process would work, when it would take place, or the powers that would be devolved to the mayors.
The Coalition: our programme for government is available at http://programmeforgovernment.hmg.gov.uk/