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Mayors: Regional government by the back door?

Mayors: Regional government by the back door?

🕔12.Apr 2011

His mauling by Deidre Alden in the letters pages of  The Birmingham Post has not dimmed the enthusiasm of the government’s ‘elected mayor czar’ Andrew Adonis, who is touring the country to drum up support for this most loathed of ideas (amongst elected councillors, at least).

In a recent blog post, the former Labour transport minister – and now director of the Institute for Government – cheerfully surveys the ranks of opposition lined up against elected mayors in Liverpool:

A decade ago the Liverpool Democracy Commission, including David Alton and Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, recommended an elected mayor to “help transform the city’s image and external profile” and its “sustained failure of leadership”. The city’s local politicians – and there are a lot of them, with 90 members of the city council – ignored the report.

Both Labour’s Joe Anderson, Leader of the Council, and Warren Bradley, Lib Dem leader, will campaign against a Mayor in next May’s referendum. Of the political parties on the council, only the Greens support the proposal.

But what’s of more interest is his hint that elected mayors for the core cities may just be a stepping stone towards regional government:

If a Mayor for Merseyside were on offer, with strategic powers and control of policing, there would be more support. Jack Stopforth, chief executive of the chamber of commerce, views the abolition of Merseyside county council in the 1980s as a big mistake.

The question is whether a Mayor of Liverpool would promote the region as well as the city, and whether this could be a step on the way to the creation of a city-region authority as in Greater London.

We’re not sure regionalism-by-the-back door is exactly what Eric Pickles and David Cameron had in mind when they drafted the Localism Bill.

For the full post, click here.

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