Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Why I am supporting an elected Mayor for Manchester

Tomorrow Mancunians will go to the polls to elect one third of the City Council; but they will also have the opportunity for the first time to vote in a referendum on whether they want a Mayor to lead the city that they can elect and influence or the option of sticking with the status quo where the Leader of the Council is selected by a handful of Councillors.

Manchester's Liberal Democrat councillors are supporting a vote for an elected mayor in the referendum because a mayor would be good for democracy, accountability, investment and jobs. Manchester runs the risk of being side lined without an elected mayor. Salford and Liverpool have already backed an elected mayor and next Thursday will go to the polls to elect a new Mayor; and many other key UK cities will be holding referenda like Manchester. Salford and Liverpool will elect politicians with the largest mandate in Greater Manchester and the North West respectively and will have someone championing their cities on a national and international stage. This could seriously erode Manchester's standing unless we too have someone championing Manchester on the same stages. The Prime Minister has said he will create a 'mayors cabinet' to bring our Cities right to the heart of Government; Manchester can not afford to be left out in the cold; particularly in the current economic climate.

In Manchester the current Leader is elected by a handful of Labour Party members; disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of ordinary Mancunians. I don't think this is democratic. An elected mayor would have a mandate directly from the people of Manchester and whatsmore we as citizens can hold them to account. Too often Town Hall Bosses can hide behind Labour's super majority on Manchester City Council and their 'Town Hall anonymity' when they make bad and unpopular decisions. An elected Mayor can not shy away from their record!

I think it is a shame that this is not a vote on whether Greater Manchester should have an elected mayor because that is what we really need. Someone that has the same powers, responsibilities and influence as the Mayor of London but for our city region. It's also a shame that there has not been more debate and awareness about this referendum because it offers so many fantastic opportunities for Manchester.

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