by Sarah Childs, Professor of Politics and Gender at University of Bristol. This blog was originally posted on PolicyBristol. Reposting with kind permission.
The last time I’d been here it had been for ‘What the Frock’. I half expected Bristol’s very own platinum-blonde award winning comedian Jayde Adams to start serenading from behind a velvet curtain. However, on this sultry spring evening at the Square Club in Clifton, Bristol, my job was to chair the Institute for Arts and Ideas’ Bristol West Hustings.
Seven parliamentary candidates were present. Sitting to my left: the incumbent Stephen Williams (Lib Dem); Thangham Debbonaire (Labour), Darren Hall (Greens) and Paul Turner (UKIP). Sitting to my right: Claire Hiscott (Conservative); Dawn Parry (Independent) and Stewart Weston (Left Unity).
Elected in 2011 and 2012 respectively, George Ferguson (Bristol) and Sir Peter Soulsby (Leicester) have been working hard to show what mayors can do for our cities. At a recent event hosted at the Institute for Government, Tom Gash heard them raise two questions that any government after May 2015 will have to answer. Should we have more mayors? And should they have more powers?
Elected mayors were first established in England following the election of the Mayor of London in 2000. Later that year the Local Government Act paved the way for votes to set up mayors in a number of other local authorities. Eleven more mayors had been introduced by 2002.
Greater Manchester will become the next urban area in the UK to directly elect a mayor, following Bristol who first elected a mayor in 2012. One of the frustrations in the debate around directly elected mayors, however, is the lack of empirical evidence around which to evaluate their impact. Here, David Sweeting presents some early analysis of data from both before and after the introduction of the mayoral system in Bristol.
Recently George Osborne announced the creation of a ‘metro-mayor’ for Greater Manchester. In doing so he has joined a long line of heavyweight politicians who have endorsed the idea of directly elected mayors as at least part of the solution to issues in urban governance in English cities. From as far back as Michael Heseltine in the early 1990s, via Tony Blair, and through David Cameron the idea of a single figure to govern our Continue reading What impact do mayors have on the cities that elect them?→
by David Sweeting, Associate Editor of Policy & Politics
In a development that I couldn’t have scripted better had I been able to draft the legislation and push it through the Houses of Parliament myself, Bristol adopted a directly elected mayor in 2012. I have a long-held interest in directly elected mayors in the UK, and urban political leadership more generally. Since I arrived in Bristol in 1998 to work on an ESRC project on urban political leadership, the topic of leadership in Bristol has been a recurring one. Bristol’s abrasive politics has meant that many council leaders’ terms in office were short-lived, despite their abilities as leaders. Continue reading David Sweeting asks: What difference do directly elected mayors make?→
It is well over a year since the first directly elected mayor of Bristol took office. While Bristol is not the only place in the country to have such a mayor, it was the only one of ten cities that said yes to a mayor in referendums held in May 2012. Despite various inducements from central government in the form of looking favourably at city deals, and also the prospect of a mayors’ cabinet with the PM himself, Bristolians were the only citizens in the country at that time to go for the option of replacing a traditional council leader with what many see as an American style figure at the head of city government. So, as the idea of Directly Elected Mayors moves back up the agenda, it seems appropriate to ask, what difference does having an elected mayor make? Continue reading What difference does having a Directly Elected Mayor make?→