Commons call for right to determine how city is governed

Devolution 21 Oct 2015Bristol South MP Karin Smyth has urged the government to support moves to give Bristol residents more democratic rights to choose the city’s system of local government.

Speaking in a Commons debate on the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill today, 21 October, the Labour MP said:

“Bristol has been a trailblazer for devolution as the only city in 2012 to choose to have an elected mayor when the question was put in a referendum.

“I’m a very keen supporter of devolution, transferring power closest to the people it affects.

“There is an issue that is unique to Bristol which means people in Bristol do not share the same democratic rights as the rest of the country.

Watch the speech here:

“This is a Bill that started in the House of Lords where Baroness Janke moved an amendment, Clause 21 as it is now contained in the Bill, which if it is passed gives Bristolians the right after 10 years to reverse the decision that we made in 2010 to have an elected mayor as the way to govern our city if they so wish.

“If the model is not fit in ten years we would like the opportunity to change it.

“By that time, citizens will have had ample opportunity to assess the value, or otherwise, of the current model, how it works in Bristol and crucially with the changing situation how it would works across the wider Bristol area, with our neighbouring authorities.

“This isn’t about personalities, about whether we like or dislike the current mayor, or would prefer a different person in that office, but about the system that works best for us in the city region.

Cross-party support

“It’s not about party politics either, because all the major political parties agree on the city council and supported a Motion to that effect.

“I’m very grateful to Baroness Janke, a Liberal Democrat peer who did a lot of work in shaping and gaining support for the Clause when the Bill was in the House of Lords.

“It is about democracy. It is about whether we should have a voice about the model.

“In an era when we are supposed to be seeing an increase in devolution and empowerment it feels wrong that we, as Bristolians, should have to go through a long and tortuous legislation-making process to know that we have the right to determine the way our city is governed.

“I hope the government is able to support that provision and give the people of Bristol a greater say in how this works in the future.”