Birmingham council vetoes mayoral poll

4 Oct 01
Birmingham City Council faces government intervention after members voted overwhelmingly against holding a referendum on a directly elected mayor.

05 October 2001

At a meeting on October 2, councillors voted 88 to 8 against a referendum, although more than 50% of residents said they wanted a poll on a mayor last month.

The move follows a warning from Local Government Secretary Stephen Byers this week that he is prepared to use his reserve powers to force a referendum on reticent authorities.

'It is clear that we are not compelling people to have mayors but it should be an option,' he told the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. 'If we feel there is popular support for mayors, we won't allow democracy to be let down. I hope councils will get the message. If not, we will compel them to hold a referendum.'

The leader of Birmingham, Albert Bore, has already accused Labour members of stalling on the issue and is understood to be lobbying Byers for intervention.

A spokeswoman for the council said it had voted to keep the current system of leader with Cabinet but would present its decision to the government to determine whether 'it reflects the views of the people of Birmingham'.

In Brighton, London Mayor Ken Livingstone used a fringe meeting to argue that the Greater London Authority should be given greater constitutional and financial powers. He said a 'stroke of Gordon Brown's pen' would bring local government into line with the rest of Europe and allow it to raise bonds to fund capital schemes.


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