Government’s date for elected mayor referendum

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VOTERS in Sheffield will be asked to decide whether the city should have an elected mayor in May.

A local referendum is to be held in Sheffield, along with similar events in Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield, at the same time as the local elections, the Government has confirmed.

If there is a ‘yes’ vote, the first mayors are likely to be elected either next November – on the same day as elections for the first Police and Crime Commissioners – or the following May.

The news has not been greeted with enthusiasm among Sheffield’s politicians. Both the main Labour and Lib Dem groups on the council oppose the idea and the Green Party has also voiced its opposition.

Eamonn Ward, Sheffield Green Party Election Agent, said: “Directly elected mayors are a bad idea because one person makes the decisions instead of councillors in day to day contact with the citizens they represent.”

Local Government Minister Greg Clark said: “We intend to have the referenda in all cities in May next year.”

Powers to hold the referenda are included in the Localism Act, which became law last Tuesday.

If people vote in favour, the elected mayor would have the same powers as a council’s executive, although Ministers have launched a consultation to decide whether extra powers should be offered to give the post more clout.

Ministers have yet to decide the exact question to appear on the referenda.

Sheffield South East Labour MP Clive Betts said he was opposed to the idea because it could undermine democracy.