Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors?

With an elected Mayor, will Sheffield bring more influence to bear when dealing with government and investors?

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Voters in Sheffield will be asked to decide on the future of their city governance in a referendum today, Thursday May 3rd. The choice is between keeping the current system where they elect councillors who in turn choose a leader and cabinet members, or to move to a directly-elected mayor to run their city.

Crucible-Theatre-SheffieldKevin Meagher, chair of the cross-party Mayor4Sheffield campaign, makes a compelling case for change, telling Left Foot Forward:

“We’d have a real champion for Sheffield bringing more influence to bear when dealing with government and investors.

“It should be clear, after the disaster of Sheffield Forgemasters, that we’re not being listened to down in Whitehall. Sheffield is a deeply divided city and we have too many ingrained social and economic problems not to have our case heard by decision-makers.

“We need a mayor – elected by the whole city – to shout for us and make sure that case is heard.”

 


See also:

We need to make Mayoral politics more worthy of the name 2 May 2012

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

Elected mayors: let the referendum campaigns begin 26 Jan 2012


 

Opponents of the proposed change in Sheffield include Unison, who complain of the referendum being “imposed” on the city with “no public demand”.

With referendums across ten of England’s largest cities on Thursday, Meagher takes a bigger picture approach, worrying about Sheffield being left behind if it opts to cling onto existing structures.

Cities like Sheffield face huge issues, he points out, including a 17-year life expectancy difference between the poorest and wealthiest. With savage public spending cuts to manage and regional public sector pay negotiations looming – let alone scrutinising NHS reforms – Meagher speaks of the Council Leader’s megaphone not being big enough.

He told Left Foot Forward:

“Friday will see the creation of a premier league of cities with powerful elected mayors, using the clout that a direct mandate gives them to fight for their cities’ interests, dealing with ministers in Westminster as equals.

“Cities like Sheffield benefited enormously from 13 years of Labour’s economic growth, revised funding formulas that helped deprived northern boroughs and massive new investments in public services. But those days are over.

“We are in the second year of austerity, with five more to come. There is less money to go around so we need to be able to fight our corner harder than ever.”

There is a strong case for the high visibility of elected mayors leading to accountability, enhancing direct engagement with the electorate and providing a mechanism to address the north-south divide.

Personality is just one aspect of political engagement, but without big names campaigning for a “yes” vote some report the campaign having not really come alive in Sheffield, as yet.

One campaigner told Left Foot Forward:

“Potential candidates are sitting on the fence and waiting to see what happens. I guess this will be closer than, say, the Birmingham campaign, as no big names like Liam Byrne have come out and said they want to be mayor.”

One very big name in Sheffield is David Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, former home secretary and leader of Sheffield city council during the Thatcher years.

He told Left Foot Forward:

“I think there is now a tendency to move towards executive style government, from the power of the First Minister of Scotland through to the police and crime commissioners to directly elected mayors.

“The Liberal Democrat obsession with changing the nature of parliament, with the Executive outside the legislature, would take a further step forward if ministers were to attend a revised House of Lords but would not be members of it!

“Whilst a coordinating mayor for the city region has real logic, maintaining the commitment to very local elected representatives (which is what elected councillors exemplify) emphasises subsidiarity but, more importantly, participative and locally devolved politics.”

For the last 20 years, Sheffield South East’s MP has been Clive Betts, who spells out his antagonism rather more starkly, telling Left Foot Forward:

“An elected council leader can be held to account by the 84 other Sheffield City councillors, but during their four-year term there is no democratic control over a directly elected mayor. It would really mean an elected dictatorship.”

Mayors will have at least the same powers of a council leader. Extra powers have been promised by the prime minister, maybe over transport, in a similar way London’s mayor has secured extra powers over Transport for London, policing and planning.

This week in Parliament Betts accused cities minister Greg Clark MP of misleading the public over the allure of new powers, pointing out the PM had already assured him back in March that extra powers could be obtained, mayor or no mayor.

There is palpable irritation expressed against switching to a model of elected mayors, which is matched with a real zeal for change in “yes” campaigners. This is true in Sheffield and mirrored in Bristol and Birmingham, tipped to be the most likely cities to vote “yes” this Thursday. Though with paltry polling it is impossible to really know.

 


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24 Responses to “Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors?”

  1. Amanda Ramsay

    More on mayors: RT @leftfootfwd
    Will an elected #Mayor give #Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/Ljpg9tBW

  2. Amanda Ramsay

    @PDaviesGMB Thank you Peter, but piece had already been submitted and just went live on @LeftFootFwd http://t.co/ZziPniQ7

  3. Amanda Ramsay

    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/cyrsA2jE by @AmandaRamsay

  4. The Steel City

    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and …: Voters in Sheffield will be aske… http://t.co/CahRe5AJ

  5. Pulp Ark

    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal… http://t.co/Ckx6wmoV #CleanPolitics #electedMayors #mayors #muslim #tcot #sioa

  6. Sheffield's Latest

    Left Foot ForwardWill an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and …Left Foot Forward… http://t.co/DHtE1eiM

  7. Amanda Ramsay

    @Yes_to_Mayors more: @leftfootfwd
    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/Ljpg9tBW

  8. Political Planet

    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors?: With an elected Mayor, wi… http://t.co/81MlQ0V0

  9. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/yCONHzXn

  10. Kevin Meagher

    RT @leftfootfwd: Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/sIGVFLfE

  11. Matt Dixon

    RT @leftfootfwd: Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/sIGVFLfE

  12. Yes to Mayors

    @Yes_to_Mayors more: @leftfootfwd
    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/Ljpg9tBW

  13. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and… http://t.co/vfS0oY8b

  14. Charlotte Britton

    RT @leftfootfwd: Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/6FhL0LzH by @AmandaRamsay

  15. cameronsfollys

    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/IoTbn9x0 [Let's hope NOT!]

  16. Innerwisdom

    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/IoTbn9x0 [Let's hope NOT!]

  17. Anonymous

    The problem with localism is that you could well end up with Derreck Hattons running the shop. They go mad on spending. Why should the poor of other areas then bail them out when it goes tits up.

    We are already at the point where 20% of council tax isn’t going on services. It’s going on pensions. Local government pensions are ‘fully funded’, so the 20% is because they aren’t. It’s just another hidden debt.

  18. Shifting Grounds

    Sheffield, the referendum and the future of city governance http://t.co/fuMUiFJw @leftfootfwd

  19. David Butler

    RT @leftfootfwd: Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/sIGVFLfE

  20. Anonymous

    As oppose to the hidden debts your 1% are causing by not paying their share, right.

  21. Shamik Das

    Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/cyrsA2jE by @AmandaRamsay

  22. AltGovUK

    Frm earlier: Will an elected Mayor give Sheffield the steel to deal with government and investors? http://t.co/cyrsA2jE by @AmandaRamsay

  23. Anonymous

    I pay my share. Unlike some I’m not looking at escaping to Germany to avoid paying the bills I’ve run up.

  24. Anonymous

    I see, trying to have a job is “escaping” now is it? Typical Tory fanaticism.

    And no, the 1% don’t.

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