Metro Mayors

What is the role of metro mayors?

Growing city regions’ economies

The directly-elected metro mayors are responsible for developing strategies for growing their city-regions’ economies and 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.

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

Centre for Cities commissioned polling in 2021 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.
  • Provision of affordable housing (51%), supporting businesses (47%) and providing access to skills and training (39%) were the most common areas that people want to see devolved to local politicians.

2021 metro mayoral elections

On 6 May 2021, around 10 million people in England voted to choose a metro mayor in Greater London, Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, West of England and  West Yorkshire. We hosted a City Minutes podcast exploring what the election results meant for cities in England and for urban politics in general.


What local issues should the metro mayors prioritise?

Each city-region faces a different combination of challenges in the post-pandemic landscape. We’ve summarised both the immediate and longer-term priorities that each elected mayor should focus on in order to support the economic recovery of their area.

2021 post-election analysis

Winning the election is only the beginning. Now that the metro mayors have been elected, they must turn their attention to the biggest challenges facing their city-region's economies.

2021 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.

Blog Series: Mayoral Elections 2021

Guest experts shared their views in the lead up to the 2021 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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