City mayor polls brought forward


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Indy Politics

Elections for up to 11 new city mayors are being fast-tracked to November, the Government confirmed today.

Communities Minister Greg Clark unveiled details of the new timetable, which it is hoped could help boost economic revival, during a speech today.

Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol are widely expected to vote in favour of directly-elected city mayors when referendums are held on May 3.

Residents in Bradford, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield are also being polled.

At an event in Birmingham, Mr Clark said the resulting mayoral elections will be held on a "Super Thursday" of November 15 - the same date as polls for around 40 police commissioners.

"Elected mayors provide cities with the strong, visible leadership that can help them prosper nationally and internationally," he insisted.

"This is an opportunity for each city to transform itself for the better.

"The world's great cities have mayors who lead for their city on the national and international stage, attracting investment and jobs. We believe that mayors can help English cities achieve their full potential too.

"This May, the people of our cities will have the chance to have their say. Now is the time to start weighing up what a mayor could do for your city."

More than a dozen MPs could be vying for either the mayoral or the new police posts.

Prime Minister David Cameron and regeneration adviser Lord Heseltine are believed to have supported bringing the elections forward.

Andy Sawford, chief executive at the local democracy think-tank LGiU, said: "The Government's tactics in bringing forward elections to November seem designed to generate some momentum and interest around the country, as well as forcing the hand of those councillors and civic leaders who have so far been hostile to the mayoral model.

"All the evidence is that politicians who oppose the mayoral model in referendums struggle to get elected to the post, whereas advocates for the mayoral role do better.

"The real game-changer would be if the Government spelt out serious new powers that they will grant to city mayors on areas ranging from the economy to transport, the environment, policing and health."