Public back elected mayors as devo talks resume

The majority of people questioned in a survey back the idea of an elected mayor in their area, as fresh devolution talks get underway in Leeds.

A poll carried out by Populus for the RSA found 54% of people would support an elected mayor in their own area, while 26% were against the idea.

The survey also found that almost two thirds of people (61%) think housing should be decided at a local level.

Just over half (52%) of people said they want to see decisions on schools made at a local level, while 50% wanted to see transport decisions made at a local level.

Currently, two thirds of people in England live in areas without an elected mayor.

In the past, some attempts to introduce elected mayors and devolution deals in certain parts of the country have failed because of disagreements between local and central government.

In February 2019, the government rejected plans for a single devolution deal for the whole of Yorkshire, after claiming the proposals do not meet the necessary criteria.

But yesterday (29 January), ministers held a meeting with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to discuss a potential devolution deal for the Leeds city region.

‘Our discussions with West Yorkshire represent a significant step forward in securing a workable devolution deal that will allow local people to reap the rewards of having a powerful, locally-elected mayor,’ said Northern Powerhouse minister, Jake Berry.

The RSA has now called on the government to proceed with more devolution deals across the country and warned that some towns and smaller cities could get left behind if there are no further agreements.

‘Mayors have quickly become champions for English cities, but the consequence of a lopsided devolution is that our towns, rural areas and smaller cities risk falling further behind our cities, and city devolution itself has stalled,’ said the RSA’s director power and place, Ed Cox.

‘At the same time, the public clearly want to see a more local approach than today in most policy areas, but there’s little evidence that councils are much better than national government at engaging the public.

‘This means we need to see much more democratic innovation from councils of the kind being used in towns and cities all over the world, in exchange for new powers from central government – including the possibility of a mayor,’ added Mr Cox.

Photo Credit – TheDigitalArtist (Pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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