PEOPLE in Birmingham are getting the chance to vote on the idea of an elected mayor. Here's a list of need-to-know facts on elected mayors.
Mayoral referendums are to be held on May 3, 2012, in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.
In addition, Doncaster will vote on whether to retain or abolish its existing elected mayor.
HOW ARE THESE CITIES RUN AT THE MOMENT?
At present, the councils run under a leader and cabinet system. Councillors are elected by public vote. They then elect a leader and a cabinet of councillors who have specific responsibilities such as finance, education, development, health, housing and leisure.
The public has no say on who becomes leader or who is in the cabinet.
The leader and cabinet are responsible for policies, plans and strategies, putting them forward to be voted on by councillors at council meetings.
If plans and policies are approved, the council’s officers (employed staff) put them into place, as would also be the case under an elected mayor and any deputies he or she appoints.
SO WHAT POWERS DOES AN ELECTED MAYOR HAVE?
An elected mayor would be directly elected by the people of the city and would replace the current leader and cabinet system.
The elected mayor would choose a deputy and appoint a cabinet.
The mayor would take over a council’s existing powers and could get some unspecified new powers under a ‘city deal’ with government.
Each mayor would negotiate their own package of powers. Councils in cities where voters say ‘no’ to a major could also get these powers.
They include new funding streams for rail and bus services, skills and apprenticeships and money to invest in high-speed broadband and other economic infrastructure.
The elected mayor also shares some powers with the council. He or she proposes the council’s budget and its policies on such areas as education, youth justice, crime and disorder reduction, children’s services and local development.
These proposals can be amended or rejected by a two-thirds majority vote of councillors. Currently, a leader and cabinet require a simple majority (50 per cent plus one) to push their policy recommendations through. Existing mechanisms to remove an unpopular council leader each year would be lost for any elected mayor’s four-year term.