Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry?

Amanda Ramsay reports on campaign for an elected mayor in Coventry ahead of the referendum this Thursday.

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Living in Bristol, a city with a mayoral referendum this Thursday, it’s clear the May 3rd votes have split party political opinion, as it has across all ten English cities being offered the chance to change the way their cities are governed.

Keith-Houchen-Coventry-City-FA-Cup-Final-1987Coventry is no exception.

Leading the arguments for an elected mayor is Bob Ainsworth MP and the business community. Speaking to Left Foot Forward, Ainsworth points out it was Labour’s Local Government Act of 2000 that originally brought elected mayors onto the agenda in the UK.

A strong advocate for directly elected mayors, former Secretary of State and MP for Coventry North East since 1992, Ainsworth has confirmed he will seek Coventry Labour Party’s nomination if Coventry votes “yes”.

Ainsworth says:

“The current model of local government doesn’t work in a modern society, being overtly focused on party politics in the city council; the fragmented nature of politics brings issues over controlling the bureaucracy.

“Elected mayors could transform city leadership, with a clear mandate, focused on delivering for people and acting as a conduit for partnerships with the various organisations involved in city government.”

With regional television news being dominated by the referendum in Birmingham, campaigners for a directly elected mayor in Coventry organised a public rally last Thursday but Ian O’Donnell, chair of the Warwickshire and Coventry region of the Federation of Small Businesses, reports a “lack of engagement in the city”.

There is a distinct worry amongst campaigners that if Birmingham votes “yes” and Coventry “no” that Coventry will become something of the poor relation. This is backed-up by academic research.

 


See also:

Elected mayors: To vote or not to vote? 26 Apr 2012

Elected mayors offer ‘greater visibility, accountability and coordinative leadership’ 16 Apr 2012

Elected mayors: let the referendum campaigns begin 26 Jan 2012


 

The Warwick Commission was started by Warwick University last year to investigate the track records and experiences of elected mayors around the world. Research director Professor Keith Grint points to an “intriguing aspect” that if Birmingham has an elected mayor but Coventry does not:

“Birmingham might begin changing significantly and move radically away from and faster than Coventry.

“If that is the case then Coventry will need to start thinking about doing something equivalent.”

O’Donnell agrees:

“Whilst Coventry city council has improved over the last few years, Coventry is often the little voice overshadowed by its big brother.

“With Birmingham likely to go for an elected mayor this will only get worse, if we don’t also have a voice with an equivalent mandate.”

Echoing Ainsworth’s views, O’Donnell tells Left Foot Forward:

“I believe a Mayor could create the impetus required to make Coventry’s voice heard in the Midlands and to drive change in the city centre.”

However, the leader of Coventry city council, Councillor John Mutton, does not share this view:

“We did not need an elected mayor to attract the Olympics to Coventry, to build the Ricoh or to rebuild our great city after the war.”

Speaking to Left Foot Forward, Mutton, who was Lord Mayor of Coventry in the 1970s, said:

“I am totally against Coventry having an elected mayor. This has always been a progressive city, without having an elected mayor.

“We were the first city to introduce comprehensive education, without an elected Mayor, we are an Olympic City, hosting 12 football matches, again without an elected mayor.

“We have recruited major companies to Coventry, such as Severn-Trent. We are the world headquarters of major companies like Jaguar-Land Rover and I have recently had discussions with major developers looking to invest hundreds of millions of pounds into this city, all without having an elected mayor.”

Will Coventry vote for a change on Thursday? Says Mutton:

“Based on what people are telling us during our campaigning, I believe that Coventry people respect the present system and the majority seem to be saying if it isn’t bust, don’t fix it.”

A spokesman for the ‘Yes’ campaign, Darren Jones, thinks change is needed to reinvigorate the local economy:

“Coventry is a city with immense potential, it has been for years, but the trouble is that potential isn’t being released. It needs some ‘oomph’, a step change.

“Councils by their nature are risk averse, slow and tend to come up with compromise solutions. It’s time to move away from that.”

Lack of understanding amongst the electorate as to what an elected mayor actually means is cited as a concern by some, including Jones:

“The majority seem undecided and say they do not understand elected mayors; trouble is they don’t understand the current system either. On the whole there is apathy.”

 


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30 Responses to “Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry?”

  1. Covyes

    Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/wxaoPBE3 by @AmandaRamsay

  2. David Arrowsmith

    RT @leftfootfwd Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/h2NcPxYv by @AmandaRamsay No Ghost Town is here.

  3. Amanda Ramsay

    My latest piece for Left Foot Forward: Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/mFa86UrH #mayor #coventry

  4. Political Planet

    Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry?: Amanda Ramsay reports on campaign for an elected m… //t.co/6mQRiJSb

  5. Pulp Ark

    Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to… //t.co/Evl1MW4H #CleanPolitics #coventry #electedMayors #muslim #tcot #sioa

  6. Covyes

    My latest piece for Left Foot Forward: Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/mFa86UrH #mayor #coventry

  7. Nathan Jelf-Mannion

    My latest piece for Left Foot Forward: Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/mFa86UrH #mayor #coventry

  8. Mike Connell

    My latest piece for Left Foot Forward: Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/mFa86UrH #mayor #coventry

  9. Yes to Mayors

    My latest piece for Left Foot Forward: Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/mFa86UrH #mayor #coventry

  10. EMMA WARD

    Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/wxaoPBE3 by @AmandaRamsay

  11. Andrew Boff

    Power in fewer and fewer hands

  12. Dora

    "Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry?" //t.co/OkxiWQoW Probs not. Lazerquest Intershop & Poster Place might.

  13. Alistair Harford

    "Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry?" //t.co/OkxiWQoW Probs not. Lazerquest Intershop & Poster Place might.

  14. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/b1VQNUBu

  15. Anonymous

    More politicians on the take.

    Just what the UK needs – not.

  16. Anonymous

    Yep. And more and more money being spent on the non-productive.

    e.g. Take Boris (and Ken for that matter). 28,000 pounds for a bicycle. Both think that is a great idea. That’s because they aren’t paying for them.

  17. Friedrich Hayek

    My latest piece for Left Foot Forward: Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/mFa86UrH #mayor #coventry

  18. Brumanuensis

    I am – despite my name! – a proud supporter of CCFC. Coventry is a great city, but it will always be overshadowed by Birmingham for reasons of size (1 million vs 310,000). Coventry suffers from the lack of a proper industrial policy and its troubles have more to do with the long-term decline in manufacturing, rather than a lack of mayors. What the city needs is more powers and more investment. Closer regional cooperation with the rest of the West Midlands would help.

    Demolishing and replacing the inner-city ring road would also help. Who the hell designed that thing?

    PUSB!

  19. Brumanuensis

    Also, why have you commissioned a Bristolian to write this article?

  20. Anonymous

    Bribing one man is cheaper than bribing multiple members of the local council, right.

  21. cameronsfollys

    #LocalElections Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/MYcvnNJq

  22. Covyes

    #LocalElections Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/MYcvnNJq

  23. Vicki Wood

    #LocalElections Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/MYcvnNJq

  24. Tracy O'Neill

    #LocalElections Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/MYcvnNJq

  25. Barry Franklin

    #LocalElections Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? //t.co/MYcvnNJq

  26. Ian O'Donnell

    //t.co/Hdlz6oRg Arguments for & against elected mayor in Cov. Voted yet? Still an hour left, be heard! #covdecides

  27. Ian O'Donnell

    Thanks for article //t.co/Hdlz6oRg @amandaramsay good summary, unfortunately predictions of poor turn out bearing true @FSBWarksCov

  28. Covyes

    //t.co/Hdlz6oRg Arguments for & against elected mayor in Cov. Voted yet? Still an hour left, be heard! #covdecides

  29. Yes to Mayors

    //t.co/Hdlz6oRg Arguments for & against elected mayor in Cov. Voted yet? Still an hour left, be heard! #covdecides

  30. Vote 2012: The six-month battle for the Bristol Mayorality begins | Left Foot Forward

    […] Will an elected Mayor bring the glory days back to Coventry? 1 May […]

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