Metro Mayors 2021

Metro mayoral elections

On 6 May, around 20 million people in England will be voting to choose a metro mayor in Greater London, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and West of England. The first metro mayor of West Yorkshire will also be elected.

What do the public think about devolution and the metro mayors?

Ahead of next month’s elections, Centre for Cities recently commissioned polling by Savanta ComRes to gather information on people’s views about devolution, the office of the mayor and their policy priorities.

 This polling found:

  • There is overwhelming public support for moving power out of Whitehall, with more than eight in ten people in favour of some form of greater devolution in English cities.
  • On average, 74 per cent of voters are aware that their city had a metro-mayor. However, 20 per cent were unaware their city is led by or about to elect a metro mayor.
  • Approximately one in five respondents say health care provision should be the most important priority for politicians in their city once the pandemic is over.

What is the role of metro mayors?

Growing city regions’ economies

The directly-elected metro mayors will be responsible for developing strategies for growing their city-regions’ economies and will have significant powers and funding for issues such as housing, local transport, skills, strategic planning, adult education and business support. Their exact responsibilities depend on the details of the deal agreed with central government.

Visible and accountable leadership

Metro mayors were created to provide visible and accountable leadership for city-regions. They were introduced as part of the Government’s devolution agenda, which has a clear economic rationale of addressing the longstanding underperformance of the UK’s major cities.

Centre for Cities has published a report on how government should reorganise and simplify local government in England, to create accountable, capable institutions led by directly-elected leaders with the full set of economic powers available to local government at present.

Powerful conduits of local views and knowledge

Metro mayors represent powerful conduits of local views and knowledge in areas like transport, planning and skills. Throughout the pandemic, metro mayors have been prominent in negotiations with central government on local lockdowns and the Covid-19 response. The pandemic has shown their ability to help to co-ordinate activities at scale, supporting the procurement and delivery of PPE, as in Greater Manchester for example.


Why do cities matter?

Metro Mayoral Priorities

Our briefings set out three policy priorities for the elected metro mayor on the biggest challenges facing their city-region. Beyond the immediate challenge of recovering from Covid-19, these recommendations address short-term and long-term strategic issues to help the new metro mayor affect change in their first term.

Metro Mayoral Hustings

As the election campaigns gain momentum, Centre for Cities is hosting a series of hustings for metro mayor candidates to set out their plans to respond to the pandemic and support their region in its recovery, with particular reference to infrastructure, innovation and business.

Blog Series: Mayoral Elections 2021

Guest experts share their views in the lead up to this year's mayoral elections.

Our work on devolution

Despite some progress, UK cities still have significantly fewer powers and funding than counterparts in other developed countries. We have long argued for greater devolution of the right resources and responsibilities so that cities can do more to reach their potential.

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