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Cities say 'no' to Cameron's plans for elected mayors

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Prime Minister David Cameron’s hopes for a ‘Boris in every city’ were dashed last week after nine out of 11 cities rejected having a directly elected mayor

Only Bristol voted for the new role, which would effectively replace the local council cabinet with an elected figurehead, similar to London Mayor Boris Johnson. The Conservative was narrowly re-elected ahead of Labour candidate Ken Livingstone on Saturday. Doncaster opted to retain its elected mayor.

Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield all vetoed the idea to have a mayor with new powers like those of the executive committee in a leader and cabinet model local authority.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 Today’s programme, current Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: ‘The government has approached this in a completely haphazard, half-hearted way.

‘If [it] really did think this was the best way forward then surely [it] would have imposed it on places rather than leave it to chance.’

Meanwhile Liverpool, which sidestepped a city-wide referendum by choosing to go for an elected mayor back in February (AJ 17.02.12), voted in Labour’s Joe Anderson (see reaction here).

Despite Boris Johnson’s re-election. politially it was a good night for Labour which gained 823 councillors nationally, as the Tories lost 405 and the Lib Dems 336.

In reaction to Bristol’s decision, Richard Parnaby the professor of architecture at the University of the West of England, said: ‘Elected mayors are a good idea — depending on how their powers are defined in relation to councils and this seems still to be unclear. I’ve heard that George Ferguson is planning to stand. This could be good for both city and architecture.’

Tom Russell of Tom Russell Architects said: ‘The elected mayor will be good news for Bristol. It could allow a much more pro-active approach to regeneration. George Ferguson seems to be one of the early front runners and he could bring some valuable experience of community-led regeneration to the city.

He added: ‘The idea of a mayor from outside the existing quagmire of local party politics is an attractive proposition. Whatever else it achieves, it will certainly raise the profile of local politics and will inevitably increase public engagement in the governance of the city.’

Results City Mayor Referendums:

  • Birmingham - For: 42%, Against: 58%
  • Bradford - For: 44.87%, Against: 55.13%
  • Bristol - For: 53.35%, Against: 46.65%
  • Coventry - For 36.42%, Against 63.58%
  • Doncaster - For: 61.98%, Against: 38.02%
  • Leeds - For: 36.65%, Against: 63.35%
  • Manchester - For: 46.76%, Against: 53.24%
  • Newcastle-Upon-Tyne - For: 38.06%, Against: 61.94%
  • Nottingham - For: 42.51%, Against: 57.49%
  • Sheffield - For: 34.97%, Against: 65.03%
  • Wakefield - For: 37.84%, Against: 62.16%
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