Wales politics

Elected mayor campaign planned to 'energise' Cardiff

Mayor 4 Cardiff logo

A campaign for Cardiff to have Wales' first directly elected mayor will be launched in January.

It will be organised by Daran Hill, a key figure in the successful 1997 and 2011 devolution referendum campaigns.

He told BBC Wales the campaign will have cross-party support and a budget of between £20,000 and £30,000.

To get a Yes/No referendum on Cardiff having a directly elected mayor, 24,647 signatures - 10% of the electorate - must be collected over six months.

The earliest potential date for that referendum would be autumn 2016.

If the Yes side were to win, a Cardiff mayoral election could then be held in the summer of 2017.

There are currently 17 directly elected mayors in England, with more on the way, but there are none in Wales.

Image caption Daran Hill believes an elected mayor can give Cardiff better leadership

Ceredigion is the only Welsh local authority to have had a referendum on the matter.

Voters there rejected the idea in 2004 by a margin of nearly three to one.

The leaders of all 22 local authorities in Wales are elected by their fellow councillors, rather than directly by voters.

Mr Hill said having an elected mayor was a "new, fresh idea" that he believed would "energise the people of Cardiff".

"The vision and the idea is to give the people of Cardiff a say at long last as to whether they'll have an elected mayor to represent the whole of the city," he said.

"To take us forward to a new political level that'll make us fit, I suppose, for the 21st Century."

Mr Hill said the "pressure" for having a mayor was coming from other cities.

"We see Bristol has had an elected mayor for a long time, there's a big push across the north of England," he added.

"I think for a city with size, Cardiff needs that extra momentum."

Image copyright George Ferguson
Image caption Bristol's elected mayor George Ferguson has raised the city's profile, campaigners say

But Cardiff North Labour AM Julie Morgan is sceptical about the idea.

"It's a difficult, complicated, expensive way of going about getting a mayor, and there are no proven benefits," she said.

"It's also completely the wrong time because we're talking about local government reorganisation, where local authorities are coming together, we're talking about a City Region.

"I'm a great believer in collective responsibility from whatever party may be in power, and I think with an elected mayor you do get the power concentrated in one person."

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