Business leaders slam plan for elected mayors

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A HIGH-profile campaign to stop directly elected mayors in Yorkshire could be launched after some of the region’s most prominent business leaders attacked the controversial Government policy.

Leading entrepreneurs, including Wembley Stadium trustee Sir Rodney Walker, said the proposal offered little more than an extra layer of expensive bureaucracy.

Demonstrators on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall

Demonstrators on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall

They voiced concern that the referendum on mayors on May 3 is a distraction when economic recovery should be the priority.

Sir Rodney, chairman of Goals Soccer Centres PLC, is from Wakefield where a mayor is being proposed and said he believed the policy was too risky.

He added: “I have a great deal of sympathy with the Government, with what they are trying to do to sort out the economy. I just do not see how spending £1m on an elected mayor helps anything.”

Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and Wakefield are among 10 English cities which will hold polls. The Yes campaign started in Yorkshire this week, with a debate in Leeds and a Sheffield event on Tuesday.

But yesterday No campaigners staged a demonstration on the steps of Sheffield Town Hall, led by the city’s trade unions.

Chris Jenkinson, Unison’s regional head of local government, said: “This is being forced on Sheffield by a Tory-led government and the city doesn’t want it.

“The referendum will cost £250,000 alone and a mayor will cost an extra £400,000 a year.”

The likelihood of a mayor in Bradford has already been boosted by the shock by-election victory of Respect’s George Galloway.

Mr Galloway hopes to get his 18,000 supporters to vote Yes in the referendum, claiming they would have a “huge say” in who that mayor was.