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England's major cities to decide own mayoral powers

Elected city mayors will have their own bespoke powers tailored to local needs, Minister for Cities Greg Clark announced today. Rather than…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Elected city mayors will have their own bespoke powers tailored to local needs, Minister for Cities Greg Clark announced today.

Rather than seeking to impose a ‘one size fits all’ approach, the Government will take advantage of the new power in the Localism Act to devolve power to mayors through negotiating a bespoke city deal with each city.

The Government’s approach for bespoke, locally tailored powers for city mayors was confirmed as the right way forward, following the “What can a mayor do for your city?” consultation.

The Coalition Agreement set out the Government’s commitment to create directly elected mayors in England’s 12 largest cities outside of London, if backed by local electors in a referendum and following full scrutiny by elected councillors.

Referendums will take place in May 3 in 11 cities - Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield. Leicester has recently elected a mayor.

Where a mayor is elected, cities will be expected to come forward with proposals for the powers and services they want decentralised and handed to their city mayor. Evidence from London and beyond shows the difference elected mayors can make. They can provide strong and visible leadership, and take the decisions needed to attract jobs and investment for the future.

Cities Minister Greg Clark said:

Each one of our great cities is unique, with different needs, characteristics and ambitions. The Localism Act allows the Government to devolve the powers to any city that the city requests and that is the approach that we will take to new mayors.

A bespoke approach to each city is consistent with the approach set out in ‘Unlocking Growth in Cities’ which the Government published before Christmas, and the consultation has endorsed this approach.

Communities Minister Baroness Hanham said:

Our cities should have the best leadership possible to help them flourish and as we’ve seen in London and other cities, an elected mayor can make a real difference in attracting jobs and investment and tackling difficult decisions head on.

Ensuring elected mayors will have a set of powers that are tailored to local need will put our cities in a stronger position to step up and take on local challenges quickly, and help them thrive in the future.

Ensuring cities can have their say on the powers their mayor should have is in line with the Government’s recent announcement on tailoring ‘city deals’ with England’s eight core cities. These deals will consist of new powers for cities so they are in the strongest possible position to support private sector growth.

But in return for these new ‘city deal’ powers and freedoms Government is asking for reassurances in a number of areas including leadership and accountability. Cities will need to show strong, visible, accountable leaders who provide vision and direction. Evidence suggests that the democratic mandate provided by directly elected mayors is one way to provide strong and proactive leadership.

Notes to editors

1. The Government was responding to the consultation “What can a mayor do for your city?” which ended on 3 January 2012.

2. The Government received 58 responses to the consultation. Responses were received from city councils, parish councils, chambers of commerce, public bodies and members of the public.

3. A 2004 survey showed that 57 per cent of the public could name their elected mayor from a prompt list, compared to just a quarter who could name their council leader - Randle, A (2004) Mayors in mid-term: lessons from the eighteen months of directly-elected mayors.

4. The Coalition Agreement set out a commitment to creating directly elected mayors in the 12 largest English cities outside London subject to confirmatory referenda. The Localism Act gives areas the right to have an elected Mayor. Mayoral referendums will be held on the local Election Day (for the majority of cities) in May 2012.

5. If a city votes in favour of having a mayor at its referendum, that city will then rapidly hold an election for its first mayor. Mayors would be elected for four year terms.

6. The proposals relate solely to the 12 cities, and Mayors elected in other places would not be affected by them.

  1. The Written Ministerial Statement is available here:


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Published 16 January 2012