Opportunity to change elected mayor model comes closer

Devolution 17 Nov 2015The possibility of Bristolians being offered a chance to change the way their city is governed, being able to reverse their decision to use the elected mayor model, is set to move a step closer in the House of Commons, it has been confirmed.

A clause in the Cities and Devolution Bill, debated in the Commons on 17 November, would enable Bristol’s electors to choose to abandon the elected mayor model it currently has in place.

During the debate Bristol South MP Karin Smyth, a keen supporter of the clause, said its inclusion in the Bill is “a fundamental principle of democracy, allowing the people of Bristol to continue to control the way in which they elect their representatives.”

Local Government Minister James Wharton confirmed the government will also support the move.

Karin Smyth added: “Bristol was 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.

“Bristolians deserve the right to reverse their 2012 decision, should they so wish, and a key clause in the Cities and Devolution Bill gives them that opportunity. It means that if Bristol citizens determine the elected mayor model is no longer fit for purpose, they will have an opportunity to change it.

“This isn’t about personalities, about whether we support or oppose any particular person as mayor, but about the system that works best for us as a city. And it’s not about party politics, because all the major political parties on the city council agree and supported a Motion to that effect.”

Background: The Cities and Devolution Bill reached its Committee Stage in the House of Commons on 17 November. The Bill had started in the House of Lords where Baroness Janke moved an amendment, Clause 21 as it is now, giving Bristolians the right after 10 years to reverse the decision that was made in 2012 to have an elected mayor as the way to govern the city if they so wish.