We were delighted to welcome Dr Benjamin Barber, the late author of If Mayors Ruled the World in 2016 to reflect on how the imminent introduction of new, powerful, directly elected mayors into the UK’s highly centralised polity could be used to transform not only our cities, but also solve pressing national and international policy issues.
Today, UK cities are highly fragmented with almost all political or economic powers held at the national level. Outside of London, major conurbations are divided between multiple, small local authorities, with leadership selected indirectly by local councillors rather than by voters. In 2017, elections will see mayors take office for the first time to govern metropolitan areas of 2-3 million people. They will have new powers over transport, planning, skills and training, economic development, some local taxes and local law enforcement. Dr Barber will look at how cities can grasp this opportunity, and realise the potential these new civic leaders have to change the lives of their citizens.