Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Welsh Mayors

I have been discussing with Darren Millar, the Shadow Minister for Local Government, the possibility of encouraging Mayoral elections in our large towns and cities in Wales. Notably Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham may wish to consider such a form of governance for their areas.

We are considering the possibility of lowering the threshold required in a referendum for example as a means of opening up the possibility. Where Mayors have been introduced elsewhere they have often been very effective and popular, and I am keen that we should investigate this possibility in Wales. It could open the way for a non-party political mayor with strong local support.

The only referendum that has occurred in Wales, of course, has been in my own area of Ceredigion which is a largely rural area and doesn’t really lend itself to the Mayoral system. The proposal in Ceredigion was roundly defeated; all four major parties in Wales being against the idea.

It may well be very different in our urban areas.

1 comment:

  1. Nick, I support the idea of directly elected Mayors, and in fact, over time, I wouldn't limit them simply to urban areas. However, it is important that real power and responsibility is devolved down to the Mayors so that they are equipped to make a difference and are truly accountable. We don't want to compromise, we want the Welsh Borises and Bloombergs!

    Local government has had many powers taken away, by reversing this trend we will attract a high calibre of Mayoral candidate and strong accountable city leadership.

    However, it is important on the broader issue of devolution of power, that there is a scrutinised structure to administer it and to be responsible to the electorate. The logical tier for that is at a city / county borough level. Below that accountability can be impaired by lack of scrutiny.

    In England the Conservative proposals are to provide the 12 largest cities with a vote on directly elected Mayors, I'd suggest a similar approach in Wales for most likely locations. As such, the threshold is not an issue at all.