ELECTED mayors should have influence beyond the boundaries of their city if Yorkshire voters back their introduction next year, the Government has said.
Voters in Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield and Bradford will decide on May 3 whether they want an elected mayor to run their city.
Ministers have ordered the referenda as they believe that an elected mayor would provide stronger leadership than under the current arrangements.
The Government points to the success of the London Mayor for supporting the idea, but he has powers over the whole of greater London whereas the Yorkshire mayors would only have govern within their city limits.
The idea of “city region” mayors has been rejected by the Government at this stage, but Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark insisted that they would still be able to exercise influence further afield and be a strong voice for Yorkshire.
“City authorities have more powers than Boris Johnson because he has London boroughs beneath him.
“Yet he and the mayoralty in London has been able to exercise and project an international presence that I think has been great for London,” Mr Clark told the Yorkshire Post.
“The leadership role that a mayor can bring isn’t just within the confines of the city. I think the ability to work with neighbours, to set out and to be a strong voice for the wider interests of the region, is a big advantage.”
Mr Clark has been leading negotiations with England’s eight largest cities over what extra powers they would like from the Government, with transport one of the key issues for leaders in Yorkshire.
“We’re giving more powers to cities. If people locally have more powers rather than having to look up to central Government and be allowed to do things, the confidence that comes from that can be very important in driving growth,” he said.
The elected mayoral referenda will take place in 11 of England’s largest cities next May despite strong opposition to the idea from many local politicians. If voters say “yes” to the idea, Mr Clark wants elections to take place quickly.