Data compiled by Centre for Cities illustrates the size of the task in hand for mayors
Elected mayors will have some of the tools to drive real change in the cities that elect them, but they will need a wider remit to meet the challenges ahead according to a study by Centre for Cities.
Mayoral Manoeuvres, the data study produced by the leading think tank for urban economies, offers a glimpse into how big the job for mayors will be. They will represent at least two thirds more people than the average constituency MP and if all cities vote to have a mayor on 3 May then an additional 10% of people in England will be led by a mayor. When London is included this rises to over a quarter of the country’s population.
In addition, elected mayors will handle significant budgets – in the case of Birmingham, the £2.2 billion for services that the mayor would control is large enough to rival the budget of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
But is this remit wide enough to make a difference? In cities that elect them, mayors will inherit the responsibilities that council leaders had before them. Unlike London’s mayor, elected mayors will need to manage a range of public services. Centre for Cities argues that the economy should be at the heart of the mayor’s agenda. Mayors need to ensure that their focus on public services does not distract from taking and influencing decisions that can support economic growth – such as transport and planning.
To give mayors the best potential to deliver a strategic plan for growth, where there is appetite for it, in 2016 cities should have the choice to elect a ‘metro mayor.’ These mayors would govern across local authorities, covering a larger geographic footprint to reflect the city’s natural economy.
Alexandra Jones, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities said,
“Centre for Cities’ data provides a snapshot of the size of the job mayors will face in the cities that elect them. Like council leaders, they will have a big job to do and it still remains to be seen what powers will be devolved to mayors. At the very least we think they should make decisions over transport and planning that are of strategic importance for growth. This is where effective decision making can really shape the economic fortunes of cities.”
“In the short term, mayors will need to focus on building excellent relationships with neighbouring authorities to ensure that decisions on major planning, skills and transport policies are not restricted by political boundaries. By the time of the next electoral cycle in 2016 we hope that national government will allow those cities with the appetite for it to introduce metro mayors.”
For further information or to request an interview please contact Rachel Tooby on 020 7803 4316 / 07748 183 026 / email@example.com
The Centre for Cities is an independent, non-partisan research and policy institute. Committed to helping Britain’s cities improve their economic performance, the Centre produces practical research and policy advice for city leaders, Whitehall and employers.