I WRITE in a personal capacity, but am sure others take the view that the introduction of a city mayor will further centralise decison-making in local government and promote, as happened elsewhere, ‘celebrity’ candidates and ‘fringe’ politics.
A city mayor’s powers are presently undefined. We are told they will prove themselves by their success in getting increased powers from Westminster, but this is just a fig-leaf for central divide-and-rule.
City mayors will accelerate the erosion of local democracy, which was initiated by the present local government ‘cabinet’ arrangements.
What the country needs is an attack on economic and social inequality through regional devolution, incorporating city regions. The grip of Westminster has to be broken. Independent revenue-raising powers are required at regional and local levels. We need a new constitutional settlement, not a new city super-ego!
John Halstead, Sheffield Co-operative Party Branch Sec.
Until the Localism Act of 2011 the normal procedure for a local referendum was for the council to request one. Of the 37 referendums held since 2001, there are now 12 elected mayors. The turnout was never above 42% and on nine occasions less than 20%, a worrying statistic given that there had been pressure for change – unlike now where the vote has been forced on us by central government.
Currently four councils want a referendum to remove the office of elected mayor, including Doncaster where an elected mayor has not been a success.
Any elected mayor will be in office for four years with no means of removing them and the Government is yet to announce what the full powers and remit of the role will be.
Kevin Meagher urges us to vote for an elected mayor. Before casting your vote, I would encourage readers to compare the current system of ceremonial mayor and leader of the council with what is proposed. Is a change really necessary?