My instincts tell me that centralising power in an individual is a mistake.  Broadly speaking power needs to be distributed rather concentrated.  It needs to be left where many people can find it and use it rather than given to a heroic leadership figure.

But, there is a fair chance that a Mayor for Leeds will come marching over that hill.  So it seem sensible to think about what kind of mayor and what kind of policies, plans and strategies we might like him/her/it to pursue.

2 thoughts on “Conflicted!

  1. I fully endorse people having a nervous disposition about centralised power and a Mayoral system for Leeds, or in fact anywhere. I’m sure the people of Middlesbrough and Doncaster, not to mention London would make valuable contributions, so let’s broaden the awareness!
    What I do know, from a deep working knowledge of the cities above and more vitally cities in Europe who have a longer tradition, is that when it works well, an elected Mayor brings some huge strategic benefits to location.
    A Mayor can help champion and define a place, decision making can be smoother, more responsive and flexible. Of course, it can also work in the opposite direction which is why it is vital debate, comment and the people’s views are given a chance at the start.
    The citizens of Leeds have an opportunity to stake a claim to the process and send a clear message to those who may wish to stand, ‘This is what we expect’.

  2. I have approached with an open mind the debate on whether or not to have a City Mayor in Leeds. Probably like most people, I see it being a good thing if the elected mayor shares my values and supports the issues I think are important – but not otherwise! But ahead of the referendum I find it difficult to come to a rational view as there is too much posturing and too little information about the pros and cons.
    From what I have read, the mayor, once elected, will decide on the make-up of his/her cabinet (interestingly, the Vote Leeds Vote Mayor website make the assumption an elected mayor will be male!). It seems to me they will have considerable powers not just on developing a strategic vision, but also on day to day operations from social services to grass-cutting and bin collection.
    For people like me who are worried about the amount of power that could be invested in one person – who may be capable of running an effective populist campaign but may not know how to run a bath let alone a public service – the danger is of being accused of supporting the current system. We seemed to have jumped from a position of concern about the way our cities are run and a lack of open accountable leadership to a solution, without first properly defining what the problem is, and looking at various ways the problem might be addressed. An elected mayor might be the best solution, but I’m yet to be convinced. The mayor of London has I think been a success. But the London mayor only has strategic powers – the 32 London boroughs with their elected councillors are responsible for services. Why not a mayor for other regions or city regions outside London – with appropriate strategic powers?
    So I’m probably going to vote No – a final factor was seeing the biased wording of the referendum imposed by central government, clearly and unsubtly designed to try and get a Yes vote.

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