If we’re going to have an Elected Mayor (and I say IF, I am not personally a fan but it will be up to the people to decide), but if we do, shouldn’t we go the whole hog and do what London have done?
Many of the people who say we should have an Elected Mayor running Birmingham, argue that Birmingham needs a figure like Boris, the Mayor Of London – a big hitter, who can bring resources, jobs etc. to the city. But the comparison is wrong – because under the present plans we will NOT have a person like Boris.
The Mayor of London is NOT the leader of one Council. He is the Mayor for an area which is represented by a number of different Councils – Lambeth, Camden, Westminster, etc. etc. Boris does not have the responsibility for running their basic services such as education and social services, he has a more strategic role for the whole of London, concentrating especially on transport and the police.
That is NOT what Birmingham would have under current plans. Birmingham would have a Mayor running just our Council area and who would have to be responsible for ALL our different services such as education, housing, children’s services, adult social care, leisure, refuse collection, regeneration, etc. plus the new Public Health functions which will transfer to the city in 2013. That’s an absolutely mega workload for one person, even with a Cabinet to help them, when – unlike a Leader – they may not even have the majority of the Council on their side. So quite how they’d be able to go trotting round the world banging the drum for Birmingham as well (as fans of the idea of an elected mayor would have us believe will happen) is open to question.
Shouldn’t we therefore, if we are going to have a Mayor, be considering doing what London has done and elect a Mayor to cover the whole Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership area?
That WOULD be a mayor more like London has got. Currently all we’re being offered is a glorified Council Leader – NOT a person to represent the wider area. I wonder what those people who have already declared their interest in being Mayor of Birmingham think of that? Do they really honestly want to be a Mayor with the same role as London’s Mayor, or are they simply trying to be Leader of Birmingham Council without actually going to the bother of becoming a Councillor first? (Except Sir Albert of course, who is a Councillor as well.)