City mayors could extend influence

24 Feb 00
The introduction of directly elected city-region mayors whose responsibilities would cover a much wider territory than previously proposed is being considered by the government.

25 February 2000

The all-powerful mayors would be aimed at cities such as Manchester and Liverpool, where there are several metropolitan councils grouped next to each other which cover millions of residents.

Their powers would cut across existing local government boundaries. For example, in Manchester a mayor could be responsible for the city and surrounding areas such as Trafford and Salford, which have their own metropolitan councils. 'There is a lot of interest from the cities,' said a government source.

Despite the continuing row in London, ministers are convinced that mayors are a popular concept with many people, if not with councillors who see their influence being diminished. Ministers believe they have enough support to get round local opposition.

A survey commissioned by the pro-reform New Local Government Network, due to be published next week, will show that the concept of mayors remains popular, in spite of the continuing Frank Dobson/Ken Livingstone sideshow in the capital. 'What we really need is one or two of the big cities to embrace the concept,' said the government source.

The government is talking up the chances of Birmingham adopting the mayoral route, despite steadfast opposition among some councillors.


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