Does England Need More Mayors?

On the occasion of recent elections in England that saw the defeat eight of the nine referendums seeking approval for directly elected mayors, Peter Hetherington laments the state of local governance in the country.
May 8, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Hetherington argues that cities across England would benefit from having directly elected mayors with powers over transportation, strategic planning, housing, policing and the economy, similar to those enjoyed by Boris Johnson, current (and recently re-elected) mayor of London.

So why did recent referendums seeking to accomplish this fail so miserably? According to Hetherington, "The problem, acknowledged by Liberal Democrat peer Lord [John] Shipley, former Newcastle city council leader and cities adviser to the government, is that voters were unconvinced by the case for an elected mayor – because no one had explained what problem needed solving."

Hetherington looks across the Channel, to France, for an example of the benefits of strong local governance. "In France today – with strong mayors or city regions, often both – the national economy is proving more balanced than in Britain, with wealth and power spread more evenly across the country, rather than concentrated in one capital."

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Published on Tuesday, May 8, 2012 in The Guardian
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