Directly-elected mayors: Final day of public consultation

It is the final day for residents in 12 English cities to take part in public consultations about whether to introduce a directly-elected mayor.

Birmingham and Manchester, England's second and third largest cities, are among those with the choice to have an elected mayor based on population size.

People are being asked to suggest what powers mayors should have and how they could be scrutinised by local councils.

Referendums will be held in May to decide if people want an elected mayor.

London has had an elected mayor since 2000 and Leicester, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool are among other places in England to have adopted a similar system since.

'Opposite effect'

Referendums will be held in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield in May to decide if residents there will also choose this system.

Among the responsibilities that could be devolved to the mayors are powers over rail and bus services, skills and apprenticeships and money to invest in high speed broadband and other economic infrastructure.

The deputy leader of the Labour-controlled Coventry City Council said an elected mayor was unnecessary for the city and would not necessarily help to promote democracy.

"In fact the role has the opposite effect by giving more power to just one democratically elected representative," George Duggins, Labour councillor for Longford, added.

Higher visibility

He said Coventry had successfully bid to host Olympic football matches at the Ricoh Arena and the Rugby World Cup in 2015, both without the help of an elected mayor.

The council said it had found little evidence that a change in local governance was a priority for its residents and was not among the most popular issues raised by residents with the council.

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said a directly elected leader could achieve a high level of visibility and accountability, with twice as many residents able to identify their mayor than the council leader.

The government also said three out of four places with elected mayors had recorded a slight increase in voter turn out, according the 2005 local election results.

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