Liverpool, Leicester and Bristol were the only UK cities to adopt the elected mayoral model and now, a year on, the University of Liverpool’s Policy Provocations debate series asks: Do global cities need a Mayor?
Ten urban centres put the proposal to the electorate in the form of a referendum, in May last year. Only Bristol emerged with the policy in place, while Liverpool and Leicester chose instead to go straight into a poll to elect a city figurehead.
Growing support for proposition
Director of the University of Liverpool’s Heseltine Institute for Public Policy and Practice, Professor Alan Harding said: “”In research we are carrying out, we have found that even though Mayor Joe Anderson took office in extremely difficult circumstances, there is significant and growing support for the proposition that creating a directly elected Mayor was the right thing to do.
“There’s a feeling out there, backed up by our work, that going for the mayoral model, in the long term, will have a bigger pay off for Liverpool than the previous arrangement.”
Professor Harding will be making his case as one of a panel of four, at the live debate on 20 June.
Professor Harding said: “There isn’t a massive difference between being council leader and being Mayor. The Mayor is very influential setting the budget for the city, but is still engaged with a group of close colleagues and still sits in a Cabinet, as it were. In that sense it’s maybe a slightly beefed up traditional model, but one that is taken more seriously outside the city.”
Professor Harding believes the decision to adopt the model helped Liverpool negotiate with central government over ever-decreasing budgets, and keeps the city prominent in the thoughts of Downing Street powerbrokers because “they want to know what is happening”.
But perhaps the most revealing location for this political experiment will be Bristol, where independent candidate, George Ferguson swept established political parties away to become the city’s first elected Mayor.
Professor Harding added: “Bristol is really interesting because the Mayor ousted all the major political parties. The idea of having an independent candidate elected Mayor in a major city would have been unthinkable 10 or 20 years ago.”
Policy Provocations: Do global cities need a Mayor? takes place at Liverpool Town Hall on Thursday June 20, from 6pm. Tickets are free, please visit: http://www.liv.ac.uk/events/policy-provocations/difference-a-mayor-makes.php
For live twitter updates on the night, follow @livuniheseltine and have your say using the hashtag #policyprov