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The Vote: elected mayor or not?

Does Manchester need an elected mayor? The deadline to make your thoughts views approaches.

Published on September 14th 2009.


The Vote: elected mayor or not?
Yes: - 56%
No: - 44%

The Council has been running consultation on two possible leadership structures which the Government has stipulated it must choose between. Tuesday 22 September marks the end of the consultation and the date by which comments must be received.

But there’s a problem. The proposal here is for an elected mayor for the City of Manchester. It should be for Greater Manchester as it is for Greater London. Only with the bigger over-view could major initiatives over transport, health and employment be realised across the region.

Neither leadership option would give the council additional powers or affect Manchester City Council’s boundaries. The Leader or Mayor would continue to only represent the city of Manchester, not Greater Manchester – unlike the situation in London where an elected mayor represents the whole of Greater London. Each of the city’s 32 wards will continue to elect three councillors and regardless of whether the leader or elected mayor models are chosen, there will still be a separate ceremonial Lord Mayor.

Option A: The ‘new style’ Leader and Cabinet Executive
The Leader would be elected by the Council and would be one of the 96 elected councillors with a fixed term of four years - but may be removed by the Council earlier. The Leader would appoint a Deputy and Cabinet and allocate responsibility for Executive functions. The Cabinet would recommend the budget and major policies to the Council, but the full council can change these by simple majority. This option would involve no additional cost

Option B: The Elected Mayor and Cabinet Executive
The Mayor would be elected by Manchester voters in a separate election and would be in addition to the 96 elected councillors. He or she would hold office for four years and could not be removed by the Council. The elected Mayor would appoint a Deputy and Cabinet and allocate responsibility for all Executive functions. The Cabinet would recommend the budget and major policies to the Council, but the full council could only change these by a two-thirds majority. This option would cost more because it would involve an additional election and a greater special responsibility allowance for the Mayor.

Here at Confidential we’ve always liked the idea of a dynamic elected mayor.

Having a clear figurehead as in London or in the US cities provides a focus for debate and gives us a named individual to blame or praise. It provides us with a face to a policy rather than an anonymous committee of unknown councillors. Also the election of a mayor would be much more driven by the success of that leader rather than on party lines where people vote through habit.

That is if they vote.

At present Manchester has pathetic local election turnouts. One of the arguments for an elected mayor would be to galvanise interest in the post and increase the number of people at the polling booths. After all, an elected mayor is much more exposed if he or she underperforms than say, Sir Richard Leese, the current council leader of Manchester City Council for the reasons outlined above. Who’d have thought that that ‘man of the people’ Ken Livingstone would have lost to the eccentric Boris Johnson in the last London Mayor elections?

So we’re supporting Option B?

Well, yes. But there’s a problem. The proposal here is for an elected mayor for the City of Manchester. It should be for Greater Manchester as it is for Greater London. Only with the bigger over-view could major initiatives over transport, health and employment be realised across the region.

The City of Manchester is 440,000 people in a strip down the middle of a wider population of 2.5m in Greater Manchester. For various reasons Manchester’s wealthy citizens live outside the formal boundary in parts of Trafford, Stockport, Oldham, Bury, Bolton and so forth. These people regularly use the city centre shops and the entertainments and sports based in Manchester, yet have no influence or responsibilities in the home city.

Only an elected mayor for Greater Manchester would get the disinterested wealthy on the region’s fringes interested in what makes the city tick. Why? Because decisions taken in Manchester would affect them.

At the same time an elected mayor for Greater Manchester would be a cohesive force helping to glue the interests of individual local authorities together, making them look at the big picture, rather than narrow policies which may compromise the prosperity of neighbouring councils.

Still despite those doubts, even if the post is only for the City of Manchester we support the option for an elected mayor and feel it’s worth the extra expense.

It would make politics more interesting, more controversial and get people involved. Grudgingly then we’ll go for Option B and the elected mayor.

Just shame it isn’t for the whole of Greater Manchester.

Vote on the Homepage if you do or don’t want an elected mayor.

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25 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

DemagogueSeptember 14th 2009.

Yep let's have an elected mayor in Manchester, it would make the processes of policy making much more coherent and legible - even democratic.

SteSeptember 14th 2009.

Agree with the piece. An elected Mayor is definitely the way forward - a face to hold to account for how our money is spent. Our council have been reasonably successful but remain a faceless bureaucracy - they are able to hide behind collective committees when we identify obvious and gratuitous wastes of tax payers money. Mancunians should look beyond the knee-jerk suspicion against creating new politicians or layers of politics and see it as proper progress in managing our own affairs and creating a Manchester that we want rather than having it imposed on us.

Ste also says . . .September 14th 2009.

Also agree with the wider point, for too long, the wealthier outer suburbs of Greater Manchester have not had to contribute to the success of the City itself despite benefiting from the business, social, and, sporting opps that exist here because it is Manchester - all due to, I believe, Thatcher not wanting powerful socialist regions! . . . now breathe

BlameSeptember 14th 2009.

I'd hardly call Salford a "wealthier outer suburb"

east lancsSeptember 14th 2009.

Ste, that assertion is massively flawed and also somewhat insulting mate! Are you seriously implying that folk from Didsbury (for example) haven't contributed to the city and merely consume services?

Gordo For Mayor!September 14th 2009.

Just a thought ;o)

AbeSeptember 14th 2009.

East Lancs he isn't. Because Didsbury is part of the city of Manchester. Read things properly eh?

ADSeptember 14th 2009.

The article is right that a Greater Manchester Mayor is what is needed. My problem is that if we get a stand alone Manchester Mayor who achieves little simply because he/she is only Manchester Mayor then that failure could become an argument against having a Greater Manchester Mayor in the future. We should vote no and demand a better option to which we can vote yes.

Salford ScruffSeptember 14th 2009.

No matter if Manchester had a Mayor or not, money is wated, things never go the way the public want and there are always crack pot ideas to squander more of our hard earned cash. It's all a waste of time, lets try and put our efforts into something more constuctive and really change things.. who cares if Terry Christian was Mayor? who honestly cares.

east lancsSeptember 14th 2009.

Upon reflection, I have to say "fair enough" actually. Apols for being so abrasive *blush*

Ali McGowanSeptember 14th 2009.

Let's have an elected mayor... let's ensure we pick the right person for the job [hopefully some sensible chap or chapess will put their name forward] and THEN when it works, we can shout and shout and shout until we get GREATER MANCHESTER back!!!! A proper region, with a proper identity, with a proper Mayor of Greater Mancheter. We're 1/4 the size of Greater London, but we don't get anywhere near a quarter of the investment in, say, transport - cos we are lots of itty-bitty authorities. We need cohesiveness, and a joined-up GM and GM mayor would, I think, help achieve this!! I should go do some work now... Bye!

ChrisSeptember 14th 2009.

Totally agree it needs to be for Gt Manchester, and with the launch of the City Region next year it's the ideal time to do it. If we're going to have one, they need the same powers as London's to make regionwide decisions in transport, environment, planning etc. that impact on all of us. Thanks to Thatcher's break up of GMC, Manchester finds itself drastically underrepresented at national level, and thanks to it being one of the poorer boroughs of GM, coupled with the relatively small population in the city centre, unable to exercise the tax-levying powers of a city with the actual population its denied.Mayor for Manchester, declare independence from London, invade Jersey. Sorted.

Kev AllenSeptember 14th 2009.

Of course we should have an elected mayor even for Manchester if we can't get one for Greater Manchester

C GortonSeptember 14th 2009.

Why's their a globe with bees on it on the coat of arms?

OmniscienceSeptember 14th 2009.

Because it represented the fact that Manchester had business all over the world. The worker bee is Manchester's animal symbol.

BeaSeptember 14th 2009.

I would definitely vote for a person, not sure why I bother with the characterless party system. I vote for the PM not the party at election time

Bee happySeptember 14th 2009.

C Gorton, omniscience is right. It's a fab symbol for our city. Not too sure what you're trying to get at morpheous - manchester was the vanguard of the anti-slavery movement.

SteSeptember 14th 2009.

East lancs . . . sorry for the delay! I think the points been made now anyhow. I only meant that Manchester is financed by the people of Longsight, Mosside, Withington, (and Didsbury) amongst others yet the people of Altrincham, Sale, and Heaton Moor etc. get to enjoy the fruits without contributing. Their money would be a great help to hard up Mancunians supporting not only their neighbourhoods, but also an international city! (I note that not all outer suburbs are wealthy but there are plenty of them) AD . . . I take the more positive approach Ali mentions - lets get a Manchester mayor, make it work to a degree, and then scream for a proper Gtr Manc region - viva la republica! Finally, Salford . . . yes there is massive waste but this accountability can only help reduce it by making someone justify it - win win!

Tracy GaskellSeptember 14th 2009.

We definitely need an elected mayor for all the reasons stated, particularly because it would make the politics interesting.

SteSeptember 14th 2009.

Just to emphasize, I too am in favour of a Gtr Manchester mayor for reasons of more effective transport and planing decisions, and stronger representation of the Greater Manc region on the national and international stage - and not just to fleece a few quid out of the good people of Trafford as my last comment seemed to suggest. Just to be clear!

N BrownSeptember 14th 2009.

Oh yes please

Ali McGowanSeptember 14th 2009.

The bee was chosen because it's a productive little bugger - and so were the people of our great city when Manchester was Cottonopolis. That's not to say people aren't productive now, of course!! :)

ChickSeptember 14th 2009.

Look around the city centre, there are lamposts and bollards all carrying the symbol of the bee - it represents, as Ali says, the Northern work ethic but also the ability of the bees to live in harmony and create a symbiotic relationship.

Bee happySeptember 14th 2009.

It's a smashing coat of arms though, isn't it!

The guy watching the people that watch you.September 14th 2009.

The Bee is Masonic. It's used as the emblem of systematized industry, and was first used by the Egyptians as the symbol for an obedient people. They're always watching.

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