A directly-elected mayor: a presidential form of local government, accountable only in direct elections every four years with no right of removal; this summary is given in an article by BATC, accessed via the Brummie.
The Sainsbury founded Institute for Government views directly-elected mayors and police and crime commissioners more benignly, as part of the coalition government’s ‘decentralisation efforts’
The BATC analysis:
- It means the government can deal with a single leader and one not tied to local political parties as a council leader is – an arrangement that suits the private sector too.
- Directly-elected mayors offer the possibility of a Tory mayor, or at least an independent, being elected in Labour-dominated urban areas.
- And they are ideally suited to the media’s fondness for reducing politics to personalities.
The Chamberlain Files gives useful lists:
Under the draft devolution agreement the mayor will chair the West Midlands Combined Authority and will exercise powers and functions devolved from central government, listed here. It notes that “While WMCA will be up and running as a legal entity next month, its constitution will have to be amended when the metro mayor is elected in May 2017” and “Broadly speaking, it has already been agreed that anything of any importance will require a two-thirds majority vote of support from the council leaders”.
BATC calls for accountability: “London has an elected Assembly – why not the West Midlands?”
“There is a precedent: the scrutiny arrangements in London. There, ongoing public accountability of the directly elected mayor and the Greater London Authority is ensured by a directly elected London Assembly. The London Assembly has 25 elected members. They are not just existing councillors drafted onto a Scrutiny Committee, they are elected by citizens who vote for them specifically because they are going to fight for their interests. And they aren’t just reactive to policy, they act as champions for Londoners proactively investigating concerns through not just one but 15 issue-based committees and raising their findings and their policy demands with the Mayor and with the government itself”.
It adds that Centre for Cities is holding a policy discussion about the top priorities for the new West Midlands mayor on Thursday 21 July at 5.30pm in the Library of Birmingham. On the panel are:
- Gisela Stuart MP Member of Parliament for Birmingham Edgbaston
- Paul Faulkner Chief Executive, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Chamber of Commerce
- Marc Reeves Editor, Birmingham Mail
BATC ends: “This is an opportunity to publicly challenge the completely undemocratic power structure of the WM Combined Authority, with no WM elected Assembly to hold the Mayor and Council leaders to account”.
You will need to book now to be sure of a place. Go to http://www.centreforcities.org/event/first-100-days-top-west-midlands-mayors-tray/and register on Eventbrite.