An elected mayor should be given control or influence over all public sector spending and assets in the city, including health, policing, transport and economic development, one of the candidate hopefuls for Birmingham has argued.
Sion Simon, the former Erdington MP, who wants to be Birmingham’s first directly elected mayor, hopes to seize powers and funding from a range of quangos and take on the local work of several Government departments in the city if he is elected.
The Department for Communities and Local Government consultation What Can A Mayor Do For Your City? [download pdf here]ended this week and, in a 20-page submission which Mr Simon describes as ‘a prospectus for the transformation of Government in England’s larger cities’, he calls for a wide range of powers and influence to be handed to the elected mayor.
Among them is chairing two regional bodies whose remit stretches beyond the Birmingham boundary, the Local Enterprise Partnership and the regional transport authority Centro.
A public referendum on whether Birmingham should have an elected mayor will take place in May this year.
Mr Simon, who is hoping to be the Labour Party candidate if an election for mayor is called in the city, also demands a right of veto over the new West Midlands Police Commissioner on issues within Birmingham.
He argues: “Birmingham and the West Midlands either grow together or decline separately.
“The economic renewal of Birmingham has to involve Birmingham rising to its role as a regional leader and growth pole for the West Midlands, while the West Midlands will not achieve its potential unless Birmingham does so.”
Further proposals would see the elected mayor take on greater responsibility for the city wide work of the Department for Work and Pensions, Network Rail, Highways Agency, Jobcentre Plus and various training and skills agencies.
Mr Simon says the mayor should have direct power over schools, including the ability to remove a head teacher and management, close a failing school and even set a Birmingham curriculum.