Elected mayors in the United Kingdom

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Directly-elected mayors (elected by the general electorate as opposed to by borough councils) were introduced into England in the 1990s and 2000s.


[edit] London

The Greater London Authority Act 1999 first introduced the principle of a directly elected London Mayor under universal suffrage into England. The first election was in 2000, and former leader of the abolished Greater London Council, Ken Livingstone, won as an independent. However, the position is a strategic regional one, and quite different to that of local authority Mayors.

[edit] Mayors of local authorities

Most Mayors in the UK are ceremonial figures whose only real power is to chair sessions of their Councils. In 2000 the Labour government led by Tony Blair passed the Local Government Act 2000 which introduced the option of directly elected mayors for local authorities in England and Wales.

The Act ended the previous committee-based system, where functions were exercised by committees of the council, and produced three distinct methods of local authority administration (and the opportunity for the Government to define more by secondary legislation). All three separated the decision-making Executive function from backbench councillors and created opportunities for overview and scrutiny processes.

The title Lord Mayor of London refers only to the City of London within the greater city, while within Stoke-on-Trent the title Lord Mayor refers to the chair of Council and is a separate post to that of Elected Mayor. It may be, however, that if other cities whose mayor has the right to bear the title Lord Mayor adopted an Elected Mayoral model of governance, they would grant the tite of Lord Mayor to their Elected Mayor.

Several districts in England now have directly-elected mayors with real powers and an advisory cabinet to assist them. The changes were encouraged by the central government but usually required local request and ratification by referendum.

This system had been considered by the previous government, and former Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine had been a proponent of it. [1]

Twelve districts now have directly-elected mayors. Some of the mayoral elections were initially won by independents, notably in Hartlepool where the election was won by a man in a monkey suit on a campaign of free bananas for schools, Stuart Drummond; and in Middlesbrough, where it was won by former police officer Ray Mallon who left the local Police Force to stand for election. Having receded somewhat as an issue after 2002 it has now moved up the political agenda, following positive reports of mayors' performance under the new system and recent Labour gains in several mayoralties. In February 2006, the Labour-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research published a report calling for elected mayors in Birmingham and Manchester, which was positively received by the government though not in the two city councils concerned.

In October 2005, Torbay elected their first elected mayor, [2], who is the only Conservative directly-elected mayor in the country at the moment.

There has been some public backlash about perceived excessive power of directly elected mayors. Campaigns are now under way in four of the twelve local authorities with directly elected mayors (Doncaster, Hartlepool, Lewisham and Stoke-on-Trent) to hold referendums to abolish the posts. [3]

In October 2006, the DCLG white paper Strong and prosperous communities proposed that in future the requirement for a referendum to approve the creation of an elected mayor for a council area be dropped in favour of a simple resolution of the council following community consultation. It also proposed the direct election of council cabinets where requested and that the mayor and council manager system in Stoke-on-Trent be reformed into a conventional mayor and cabinet system, it having being the only English council to adopt that system [4].

[edit] Powers of local authority mayors

A local authority elected mayor has similar powers to the Executive Committee in a Leader and Cabinet model local authority. These can be described as 'exclusive' powers and as 'codecision' powers and are defined in the |Local Government (Functions and Responsibilities) (England) Regulations 2000.

Codecision powers are those which the Mayor shares with the Council and consist of the power to make the local authority's Annual Budget and its Policy Framework Documents. These are: Annual Library Plan; Best Value Performance Plan; Children's Services Plan; Community Care Plan; Community Strategy; Crime and Disorder Reduction Strategy; Early Years Development Plan; Education Development Plan; Local Development Framework; and the Youth Justice Plan.

In order to amend or reject a Mayor's proposals for any of the Budget and Policy Framework Documents, their Council must resolve to do so by a two-thirds majority. This is again from secondary legislation, in this case the |Local Government (Standing Orders) (England) Regulations 2001.

Exclusive powers are less easy to define, because they consist of all the powers which are granted to a local authority by Act of Parliament except those defined as codecision powers or as 'not to be the responsibility of an authority's Executive'. This latter is a highly limited list (including quasi-judicial decisions on planning and licensing, and certain ceremonial, employment and legal decisions).

An Elected Mayor (in a Mayor and Cabinet system) also has the power to appoint up to 9 Councillors as members of a cabinet and to delegate powers to them as individuals, to the Mayor and Cabinet committee, or to subcommittees of the Mayor and Cabinet committee. In practice, the Mayor remains personally accountable, so most Mayors have chosen to delegate to a very limited extent - if at all.

Protecting the British tradition of independent civil service has led to the interesting situation where the apparent introduction of separation of powers has led only from the transfer of powers from one elected branch (the Council) to another (the Mayor).

Local authorities in Britain remain administered by a permanent staff of Chief Officers led by a Chief Executive, who are politically neutral bureaucrats whose powers remain unaffected by the introduction of an Elected Mayor (though obviously the policies they are required to implement may change). Senior Officers continue to be appointed by a politically representative committee of Councillors (and more junior Officers by the Senior Officers) and the Mayor may not attempt to influence the decision as to who is appointed (except within the committee as a member of the committee).

In order to maintain the professional and political independence of the staff, the Mayor (or any other member of the Council) may not personally direct any member of staff. Changing the direction of an authority may only be made through a formal decision making process and then only on the basis of official Reports put together by Officers.

Accordingly, an Elected Mayor cannot really be accurately characterised as an Executive Mayor as exists in parts of the US and certain other countries, but more as a semi-Executive.

[edit] List of directly-elected mayors

Currently there are thirteen directly elected Mayors in England (including the Mayor of London).

District Type Mayor Party
Bedford non-metropolitan district Frank Branston independent
Doncaster metropolitan borough Martin Winter Labour
London Region of England Ken Livingstone Labour, first elected as independent
Hackney London borough Jules Pipe Labour
Hartlepool unitary authority Stuart Drummond independent
Lewisham London borough Steve Bullock Labour
Mansfield non-metropolitan district Tony Egginton independent
Middlesbrough unitary authority Ray Mallon independent
Newham London borough Robin Wales Labour
North Tyneside metropolitan borough John Harrison Labour
Stoke-on-Trent unitary authority Mark Meredith Labour
Torbay unitary authority Nicholas Bye Conservative
Watford non-metropolitan district Dorothy Thornhill Liberal Democrats

Ex-mayors are:

[edit] Mayoral referendums

To date there have been 34 referendums on whether to establish an elected Mayor in English local authorities. 12 have been passed and 22 rejected by the voters.

To cause a referendum, the normal procedure is for the Council to request it, which has happened in 22 cases. In 12, the voters themselves have requested a referendum by petition and in one (Southwark) central Government forced the holding of a referendum.

The majority of these were held between June 2001 and May 2002 - a further seven have been held since.

"Yes" majority shown in green, "No" majority shown in red.

Source: |Electoral Commission; Ceredigion County Council

Local authority Date Yes Votes Yes Vote % No Votes No Vote % Turnout %
Berwick-upon-Tweed 7 June 2001 3,617 26 10,212 74 64
Cheltenham 28 June 2001 8,083 33 16,602 67 32
Gloucester 28 June 2001 7,731 32 16,317 68 31
Watford 12 July 2001 7,636 52 7,140 48 25
Doncaster 20 September 2001 35,453 65 19,398 35 25
Kirklees 4 October 2001 10,169 27 27,977 73 13
Sunderland 11 October 2001 9,375 43 12,209 57 10
Brighton & Hove 18 October 2001 22,724 38 37,214 62 32
Hartlepool 18 October 2001 10,667 51 10,294 49 34
Lewisham 18 October 2001 16,822 51 15,914 49 18
Middlesbrough 18 October 2001 29,067 84 5,422 16 34
North Tyneside 18 October 2001 30,262 58 22,296 42 36
Sedgefield 18 October 2001 10,628 47 11,869 53 33
Redditch 8 November 2001 7,250 44 9,198 56 28
Durham 20 November 2001 8,327 41 11,974 59 29
Harrow 6 December 2001 17,502 43 23,554 57 26
Plymouth 24 January 2002 29,559 41 42,811 59 40
Harlow 24 January 2002 5,296 25 15,490 75 25
Newham 31 January 2002 27,263 68 12,687 32 26
Southwark 31 January 2002 6,054 31 13,217 69 11
West Devon 31 January 2002 3,555 23 12,190 77 42
Shepway 31 January 2002 11,357 44 14,438 56 36
Bedford 21 February 2002 11,316 67 5,537 33 16
Hackney 2 May 2002 24,697 59 10,547 41 32
Mansfield 2 May 2002 8,973 55 7,350 45 21
Newcastle-under-Lyme 2 May 2002 12,912 44 16,468 56 31.5
Oxford 2 May 2002 14,692 44 18,686 56 34
Stoke on Trent 2 May 2002 28,601 58 20,578 42 27
Corby 1 October 2002 5,351 46 6239 54 31
Ealing 12 December 2002 9,454 45 11,655 55 10
Ceredigion 20 May 2004 5,308 27 14,013 73 36
Isle of Wight 5 May 2005 28,786 43.7 37,097 56.3 60.4
Fenland 14 July 2005 5,509 24.2 17,296 75.8 33.6
Torbay 14 July 2005 18,074 55.2 14,682 44.8 32.1
Crewe and Nantwich 4 May 2006 11,808 38.2 18,768 60.8 35.3

[edit] Wales and Scotland

Although Wales is included in the legislation, only one Welsh authority, Ceredigion, has gone down this route and the proposal was rejected in a referendum.

The Act does not apply in Scotland and the Scottish Parliament has chosen to reform local government instead by introducing the Single Transferrable Vote electoral system.

[edit] External links

Elected mayors in the United Kingdom

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