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Big Shot or Long Shot

Big Shot or Long Shot

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Published by: Institute for Government on Jun 13, 2011
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06/14/2011

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Big shot or long shot?
How elected mayors can help driveeconomic growth in England’s cities
 June 2011
 
iBig shot or long shot? June 2011
Foreword
Cities are the heartbeat of the UK economy. Despite occupying just nine percent ofthe UK’s land they’re where over half of us live and they contribute 60 percent of theUK’s economic output. So, as the UK emerges shakily from recession, making themost of cities’ economic potential is vital to the prosperity of the country as a whole– which is why the current debate about city mayors is so important.Directly elected city mayors have the potential to make a difference not just to localdemocracy but to the economy too. Time and again, history shows that it is citieswith strong and effective civic leadership that are well placed to make the most oflocal economic assets and compete better in a global economy. And mayors createan opportunity to have exactly this type of strong and effective leadership.Historically, most cities have been reluctant to move to a mayoral model. Only 12out of 410 local authorities decided to opt for mayors following the Local GovernmentAct in 2000. Yet the most powerful and high prole mayoral model in the UK hasbeen a huge success: the Mayor of London has transformed the capital’s governanceand achieved a range of successes including the London Plan, Congestion Charge,Crossrail and “Boris bikes”. And there is growing interest now in assessing howmayoral models of governance might make a difference to cities around the country.This is why the Coalition Government is giving citizens of the 11 biggest cities outsideLondon the chance to vote on whether to have directly elected mayors in 2012.Leicester – the twelfth city nominated – has already opted for the model and Sir PeterSoulsby was elected this May. This report argues that mayors create an opportunitynot only for these cities to transform their local governance structures, but also tomake a real difference to their economic growth.Central government nds it hard to tailor policies to local needs, yet Whitehall is stillthe origin of most policies and resources in English cities. City councils have longsuffered from limited powers and funding. And the UK is an international anomaly innot having a mayoral model to encourage strong city leadership. This has an impacton local democratic engagement; most people could probably name the mayor ofNew York, Chicago or Paris more easily than the council leader in their home town.Having directly elected mayors could make a difference to cities’ economicperformance because they offer enhanced visibility, with opportunities to exerciseleadership and make strategic choices and drive action through local authorities andtheir partners. Even within the UK, surveys have shown that public recognition of thesmall number of mayors we have is far higher than council leaders.
“Time and again,history showsthat it is citieswith strong andeective civicleadership that are well placedto make the most o local economicassets andcompete better ina global economy”
 
iiBig shot or long shot? June 2011
In politics, a higher public prole grants mayors enhanced democratic power andinuence and increases accountability.A strong and effective mayor can also help cities navigate the complicated webof relationships with the new Local Enterprise Partnerships, Integrated TransportAuthorities and others. These relationships are important and potentially problematicwithout a central gure to marshal their strategy in pursuit of local growth objectives.If city mayors are to be a success, they need sufcient powers to support economicgrowth in their cities and make the changes to governance entirely worth theinvestment. And, where the local economy and local politics align, there is a strongcase for there also to be city-conurbation mayors, who span the footprint of theconurbation surrounding the major cities and have additional powers accordingly, asin Greater London.London, it should be noted, has had successful mayors not only for Greater London,but also for the large boroughs of Hackney, Lewisham and Newham. Tower Hamletshas just joined them.This report sets out how the mayoral model has the potential to overcome someof the barriers to growth that cities face. Mayors need to be focused on growth,bringing together a wide range of local partners to make the most of local economicassets and tailor policies to support local economic growth. And it highlights whatthis model should look like if it is to make most difference to local economies.The Centre for Cities and the Institute for Government will continue to work togetherto strengthen the evidence base, establish what can support a successful mayoralsystem at a local or metro scale and support cities to make the most of thisopportunity in enabling their local economies to grow.
Alexandra Jones Lord Adonis
Chief Executive DirectorCentre for Cities Institute for Government June 2011
“I city mayorsare to be asuccess, theyneed sucient  powers to support economic growthin their cities andmake the changesto governanceentirely worth theinvestment”

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