Mayoral Elections, Put Simply

By Campaign Agent Conor Oakes

In May 2017, 7 regions across England will elect metro mayors for the first time. The elections will see new powers devolved to each of the 7 regions which reflect the government’s broader push for devolution and attempt to reinvigorate local politics. It is anticipated that this new system will allow for greater accountability at a local level while enabling the needs and ambitions of metropolitan areas to be met.

What powers will the metro mayors have?

The mayors’ powers will be devolved from Government and they will work with their respective local authority to make decisions on local services such as transport, infrastructure, housing and employment. The directly-elected metro mayors will also have the power to decide their region’s economic strategy.

It is expected that the powers of metro mayors will increase over time, similar to the case of London. Currently, the main focus of powers appears to be on housing, transport, bus franchising and skills. Despite this, leaders of local authorities will still be responsible for the majority of public services such as fire services, schools and waste management.

How will this differ from the current system?

At present, there are city mayors in some of the regions where the elections are taking place and it remains to be seen whether these positions will be dissolved following the elections in May.

The metro mayors differ from council leaders as they have more strategic power and they also have a direct electoral mandate. Council leaders and city mayors tend to make decisions on behalf of their local authority. In contrast, metro mayors will be responsible for making decisions across whole city regions. As such, the remit of the metro mayors will extend across entire metropolitan areas and comprise of several councils. For example, the metro mayor for Greater Manchester will be responsible 10 for local authorities.

The regions will function as combined authorities which will be led by the newly elected metro mayors. The central component of this new system appears to be co-operation and as such various local authority leaders and metro mayors will work together to deliver their region’s social and economic strategy.
Where are the elections taking place and who is standing?

As noted, the metro mayor elections are taking place across 7 regions in England and each region has been allocated different devolved powers and budgets based on the deals that were made with Government. In terms of the elections themselves, votes will be cast using the supplementary system which will enable voters to select two candidates in order of preference.

It should be acknowledged that the listings below are subject to change.

Greater Manchester

  • Cllr Sean Anstee (Conservative)
  • Andy Burnham (Labour)
  • Cllr Jane Brophy (Liberal Democrats)
  • Shneur Odze (UKIP)
  • Stephen Morris (English Democrats)

Devolved Powers

The Greater Manchester deal includes a transport budget, opportunities for further devolving rail stations across the region and a new £300 million Housing Investment Fund. Additionally, there are agreements in place for the elected mayor to take on the role of police and crime commissioner.

Liverpool City Region

  • Tony Caldeira (Conservative)
  • Steve Rotheram MP (Labour)
  • Cllr Carl Cashman (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cllr Tom Crone (Green)

Devolved powers

Liverpool City will receive funding worth £30 million a year from central government in an attempt to unlock economic potential in the region. The deal also includes responsibility for franchised bus services and a consolidated transport budget.

Tees Valley

  • John Tait (The North East Party)
  • Cllr Ben Houchen (Conservative)
  • Cllr Sue Jeffrey (Labour)
  • Chris Foote Wood (Liberal Democrat)

Devolved powers

The devolution deal for Tees Valley includes responsibility for a consolidated transport budget and control of a new £15 million per year funding allocation which will run over 30 years. Moreover, there will be a focus on local development and regeneration through the newly created Mayoral Development Corporations.

West Midlands

  • Andy Street (Conservative)
  • Sion Simon MEP (Labour)
  • Beverly Nielson (Liberal Democrat)
  • Cllr James Burn (Green)
  • Pete Durnell (UKIP)
  • Muhammad Nadeem (Independent)

Devolved Powers

Similar to other regions, the West Midlands area has been allocated a consolidated transport budget and responsibility for franchised bus services. The West Midlands Investment Fund has also been established as part of these devolved powers and the fund will combine resources for economic growth, skills, employability and regeneration. The 19+ adult skills budget for 2018/19 has also been fully devolved.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

  • Cllr Paul Bullen (UKIP)
  • Julie Howell (Green)
  • Cllr James Palmer (Conservative)
  • Cllr Kevin Prince (Labour)

Devolved Powers

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough region has been allocated a new £20million annual fund for the next 30 years to stimulate economic growth and develop infrastructure. Additionally, the region has been given a £170 million affordable housing grant and strategic planning permissions over local housing.

West of England

  • Cllr Lesley Mansell (Labour)
  • Julie Howell (Green)
  • Cllr Tim Bowles (Conservative)
  • Stephen Williams (Liberal Democrat)

Devolved Powers

The West of England deal includes a consolidated transport budget, responsibility for franchised bus services and smart ticketing. In addition, the region has been allocated housing powers that include strategic planning and compulsory purchase powers.

Sheffield City region

There are currently no details of candidates for the Sheffield City region as the election has been postponed. The Sheffield vote has been delayed until May 2018 as there are currently public consultations taking place with regards to what authorities will be involved in the region.

Devolved Powers

The Sheffield City region has been allocated a consolidated transfer budget and powers over local roads networks, bus franchising and smart ticketing. They also have powers over planning for health and social care integration.

Further reading and information:

Image rights: Steve O’Brien @ Flickr

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