The Chamberlain Files | Homepage
The dangers of an elected mayor for Birmingham – guest post by Martin Mullaney

The dangers of an elected mayor for Birmingham – guest post by Martin Mullaney

🕔02.Apr 2012

Should Birmingham have a directly elected Mayor? My view is a strong “NO”.  I do not have an issue with the principle of an elected Mayor; indeed I would support the Lord Mayor position being directly elected. What I do have a problem with, is THIS proposed elected Mayor for Birmingham.

The main issues, to my mind are:

  • Unaccountable – a Mayor could get elected with big promises, only to turn round and rip up their manifesto and impose any policies they liked. They could remove cycle lanes, impose fortnightly rubbish collections or enforce a swingeing congestion charge without anyone being able to stop them.
  • Undemocratic – an elected Mayor could fill the Cabinet with just their family members and we couldn’t stop it. All the elected Mayor requires is a minimum of two elected Councillors in their Cabinet; the rest can be whoever they want.
  • Unrepresentative – an elected Mayor could fall seriously ill, or become unable to do the job due to other commitments, or even move to live hundreds of miles away and there would be no way of removing them from power. We’d be stuck for four years with a non-working Mayor.
  • Incapable – an elected Mayor could be someone well known, who could stand on the back of their popularity, without anyone questioning whether they could actually do the job. This happened in Hartlepool where the local people elected the mascot of the local football team – a man in a monkey suit.

All the above could happen and there is nothing we could do stop them, other than waiting four years till the next election. Four years in which the city could be completely wrecked.

All the Mayor needs is a rump of Councillors – one-third of all elected Councillors – to support their annual budget and that’s it. At the moment, the Council Leader needs 51% of the Council Chamber to stay in power.

I believe this concentrates too much power in the hands of one person. The government have even promised ‘extra powers’ for directly elected Mayors without actually stating what these powers might be. For example, they might have the power to introduce local taxation. We are being asked to create an immensely powerful role without actually knowing what that role will be and how it could affect us.

Under the present system of a Council Leader and Cabinet selected by the Council Chamber we have checks in place to stop abuse or corruption of their positions – the Council Leader and Cabinet member can be sacked by their party at any time. Also, residents get an annual vote, 3 years out of 4  (one year is fallow), so they can show their disquiet through the ballot box. If we had an Independent elected Mayor, how would residents show disquiet with their policies?

I urge all residents of Birmingham not to vote for the proposed directly elected Mayor. The proposed model could lead to corruption and nepotism swallowing up Birmingham politics.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Chamberlain Files Weekly

Don't miss a thing! Sign up for our free weekly summary of the Chamberlain Files from RJF Public Affairs.
* = required field

powered by MailChimp!

Our latest tweets

Published by

Published by


Our community