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Second chances? The Elected Mayor agenda in the UK Anna Randle NLGN.

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Presentation on theme: "Second chances? The Elected Mayor agenda in the UK Anna Randle NLGN."— Presentation transcript:

1 Second chances? The Elected Mayor agenda in the UK Anna Randle NLGN

2 The problem of UK local government Long term centralisation Undermining of local government Poor performance? Declining voter turnout and engagement

3 DEMs: Labours answer Elected mayors offered: –Higher public profile, accountability –New relationships with public –Quicker decision making Directly elected (unlike Leaders) In post for 4 years Appoint cabinet Set policy tone and direction Propose their own budgets

4 However… (the First Mistake) Limited model compared to abroad: –Need 2/3 of council support to pass budget –Cant necessarily appoint officers –No extra powers for local government - same framework

5 Resistance to DEMS (the Second Mistake) 82% of councillors opposed; 3% in favour Fears about: –Anti strong leadership –Manifestation of power in 1 person –Corruption –Privatisation –Personality politics

6 Labours structural reform (and Third Mistake) Local Government Act options for council structure: 2 included a DEM

7 Public consultation (the Fourth Mistake) Opinion polls demonstrated high levels of public support But councils interpreted the public consultation…

8 The result? Only 28 Mayoral referenda held 11 yes votes leading to mayoral elections

9 Who were the First 11? 4 Labour 1 Conservative 1 Liberal Democrat 5 Independents Plus Ken Livingstone, Independent first time Political control changed in 7 councils Volatile elections and association of mayors with anti-political party

10 Why? Contextual factors Long term dominance of one political party Difficult politics; often a split ruling group Poor quality services Budget problems Economic decline / high levels of deprivation Negative relationship between council and press Public disillusionment with local government

11 Meaning… Strong leadership appealed to public Mayors and the mayoral model: the most challenging test possible?

12 Second Phase Can assess mayors on 4 axes: 1.Political culture and internal governance 2.Service delivery and improvement 3.Public opinion 4.External governance / Community Leadership

13 1. Political culture / internal governance Has generally improved, for reasons including: –Inclusive approach of some mayors –Time and adjustment –Pragmatism –Emergence of internal benefits - faster decision-making and greater stability

14 2. Service delivery Largely focussed on the visible, tangible –Streetscene –Abandoned cars, graffiti, litter, parks etc –Crime External assessment of improvement –e.g. CPA – Newham, Hackney, North Tyneside, Doncaster; Lewisham; Stoke

15 3. Public opinion polls (2003) Headline message 1: More people know who their mayor is –Average name recog. in mayoral areas: 57% –Average name recog. in leader/cabinet areas: 25% –Higher outside London – eg North East 73% people recognise mayor

16 Headline message 2: Mayors create information and interest for local engagement and judgement –Positive cycle of engagement? –More likely to vote?

17 4. External governance / Community Leadership Legitimacy to articulate long term vision Complex issues which require joining-up: –Levering support of other agencies (LSP, Mayoral conferences) –improvements to services not directly in remit of council –Mayor of area, not council –Mayors holding council to account on behalf of electorate

18 The return of DEMs?

19 1. Evidence of improvement So far so good Main fears not realised Strong evidence of improvement: services and governance Higher accountability London success

20 2. Changing policy agenda New role of local government? Community Leadership Partnership and joining up Greater local autonomy –Local Area Agreements

21 3. Unanswered questions The regional question –Prescotts Road to Damascus Economic regeneration and competitiveness –Cities

22 Future mayoral policy Avoid the mistakes! –Treat them differently (sort out small things) –Incentivise cities – and candidates –Tackle remaining resistance –Make mayors more powerful

23 Ask the Big Questions Regeneration Planning Licensing Infrastructure Local finance: spending & taxing (LAAs?) Partnership Local legislation Freedoms and flexibilities Wider governance: city regions?

24 Challenge to Government Create a blueprint Consult with councils and mayors Attach to wider thinking and initiatives Be brave Give leadership from the centre Use this opportunity for a second chance

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