15What checks and balances will the directly-elected metro mayors be subject to?
An important part of the devolution deals negotiated between combined authorities and national government was deciding how the new metro mayors will be scrutinised and held to account.
In the current devolution deals, the metro mayor will chair the combined authority cabinet, which will be made up of the leaders from each local authority. Rather than the stronger executive powers and assembly scrutiny model that is used in London, most of the deals have agreed that the new metro mayors will have to consult the combined authority cabinet on their strategies. These can be rejected if two thirds of the cabinet members do not agree with them. The cabinet will also review the metro mayors’ spending plans, and will be able to amend these with a two-thirds majority.
In addition, the 2016 Devolution Bill requires all combined authorities to set up at least one overview and scrutiny committee. Each local authority within the combined authority will appoint one member. The committee will have the power to suspend decisions put forward by the metro mayor and combined authority cabinet.
The level of scrutiny of metro mayors will be higher than that faced by the Mayor of London and other global counterparts such as the Mayors of New York and Paris. So while metro mayors will not be able to take decisions affecting the whole area alone, they will have a significant democratic mandate and larger public profile compared to many of their cabinet colleagues.
Central Government will invite each combined authority to set out the details of how the checks and balances will work in their city region. This will need to work within the framework of the Bill and be agreed by the Secretary of State, thus allowing for different arrangements in different places.