Cities reject Cameron's dream of mayors for all

PM's plans for 'a Boris in every city' thwarted by resounding referendum defeat

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Indy Politics

The vision of directly elected mayors running all Britain's major cities was in tatters last night after voters across the country overwhelmingly rejected the proposals. Voters in Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Coventry and Bradford all rejected the idea, which was championed by David Cameron. Bristol was the only city of 10 holding referenda yesterday to embrace the concept after the campaign won the backing of the local media.

Mr Cameron had attempted to use the example of the London Mayor Boris Johnson, saying he wanted a "Boris in every city". However, critics argued that the proposals were unnecessary and would add another expensive layer of bureaucracy. The Prime Minister had pinned his hopes on a "Yes" vote in Birmingham, alongside Liverpool's decision to adopt the mayoral system without a referendum to give momentum that other cities would eventually follow. But 57.8 per cent of voters in the city rejected the proposal on a turnout of just 27 per cent, throwing the career plans of several leading Labour figures into doubt.

Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, had said he intended to stand down to fight to become mayor, while the former Labour MP Siô* Simon had given up his seat to campaign for the job.

In Liverpool Labour's former council leader Joe Anderson romped home with 60 per cent of first preference votes to become one of the most powerful politicians in the country. But the Labour leadership will be secretly relieved that they now will not have to fund a series of expensive mayoral elections in November or fight by-elections in seats where Labour figures chose to stand down to fight mayoral races. Mr Byrne said people were "feeling tired and skint" and that there was an anti-politics mood, while the role itself was not clearly defined.

Manchester voted against by a margin of 53.2 per cent to 46.7 per cent, and Nottingham by 57.5 per cent to 42.5 per cent. Both cities had a low turnout of 24 per cent. The outcome in Coventry was more resounding, with just 36.4 per cent backing the change and 63.5 per cent opposed. In Bradford the vote was 44.8 per cent for and 55.1 per cent against.

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