Mayoral Referenda – The View From Other Cities

Unlike their Birmingham counterparts, the Nottingham Labour Party are openly opposing elected Mayors.

Nottingham Labour

A leaflet delivered widely throughout the city makes numerous references to ‘fat cat salaries’, the prospect of corruption with only one person to influence, and even includes statements from the Nottingham Liberal Democrats, the current Lord Mayor of Nottingham and two local MPs. According to the leaflet, the estimated the cost of the referendum, mayor’s salary, four deputies and two mayoral elections over a four year cycle is £1m and the leaflet concludes with a signed statement from the three local ward councillors which begins: “We’re writing to you as we’re concerned we won’t be able to make decisions on your behalf,” adding, “How can one person know what’s best for every community in Nottingham?” Quite!

The Financial Times carried a report earlier this week stating that of the ten cities holding referendums only three seem likely to vote yes. Suggesting that the referendums could be a damp squib, with only Birmingham, and possibly Leeds and Bristol, supporting the proposals. Labour is actively opposing the idea in eight of the ten cities (sadly not here though) and while nationally the Conservatives are in favour, most local parties do not seem to share this enthusiasm (certainly true in Birmingham).

Meanwhile, in Sheffield, just 14 people have noted they like the pro-mayor Facebook page, 12 in Wakefield and 23 in Newcastle. Even Ken Livingstone said this week that he was still not convinced by the Mayoral system: “It concentrates too much power in one person’s hands” he said, adding that the coalition should instead focus on returning powers to the existing structure of local government. 

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council told the FT: “The people of Manchester have said that they are not bothered. My job as council leader is to listen to the people of Manchester.”