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Mayors May not be necessary for further devolution

Mayors May not be necessary for further devolution

🕔22.Aug 2016

Theresa May is prepared to lift the requirement on city regions to have directly-elected mayors in order to be granted devolution deals from the Government, The Times reports today. 

George Osborne was one of the leading advocates of metropolitan mayors to give more democratic accountability as groups of local authorities took over more powers from Whitehall.

Elections for the mayoralties of the West Midlands as well as Greater Manchester and Liverpool are due to go ahead next May.

But The Times reports that future devolution deals may not be contingent on the local authorities agreeing to the new mayoralties. A source told the newspaper:

There is a debate now going on in No 10 about whether to drop the need for them or not.

The case for dropping it is because it has caused huge angst in some parts of the country.

In Greater Manchester there is neat geography but in other parts the problem is you are cutting councils in half like Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Hampshire and that is a big challenge to agree to a mayor.

Another source said that the prospect of helping the Labour party could be a factor in the policy.

One issue is that although the Labour party is in meltdown [mayors] do allow the acceptable face of the party a safe haven and a platform for the next few years.

The report makes no direct mention of Greater Birmingham or the West Midlands, but says:

While the Manchester and Liverpool mayoral elections are likely to go ahead, Mrs May is expected to let the next phase of devolution proceed without directly elected mayors.

Some regions close to a deal may even be even be able to opt out of a mayor before the 2017 elections. It is understood that Leeds and Newcastle  – both of which have been negotiating for two years  – may no longer have to sign up for a mayor.

Consultation on the powers of the new West Midlands Mayor closed at midnight last night.

You can read our special report on the West Midlands Combined Authority here.

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