Executive mayors in English local governance

This book is the result of national research conducted amongst England's directly elected mayors and the councillors that serve alongside them. It assesses the impact on local politics of this new office and fills a gap in our understanding of how the Local Government Act 2000 has influenced local governance. The book also draws from a range of research that has focused on elected mayors—in England and overseas—to set out how the powers, roles and responsibilities of mayors and mayoral councils would need to change if English local politics is to reconnect fundamentally with citizens. It not only explores how English elected mayors are currently operating, but how the office could develop and, as such, contributes to the debate about the governance of the English localities.

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Lessons from overseas

English experience. Caulfield and Larsen have summarised the move towards a directly elected political executive as having the following objectives: to enhance the national prominence of local government; to strengthen local democracy and encourage greater citizen involvement in politics and elections; to provide a focus for community leadership; to strengthen the organisational leadership of local authorities; and to reduce the impact of party politics.2 In the Italian 144 Leading the localities context, the activities of political parties, the scandals associated

in Leading the localities

2 Negotiating locality The imaginings of life in the Lot, understood as the quintessential rural idyll, that prompted the migrants’ choice of destination centred around the vision of a discrete rural community characterized by mechanical solidarity and social ­cohesion (Rapport 1993). My respondents believed that their entry into this idyllic social landscape – an imagined community consisting of the French inhabitants of the villages in which they would reside – would provide them with the antidote to their malaise with life in contemporary Britain (see also

in The British in rural France
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The 2005 mayoral elections

15,776 4,505 1,368 1,955 16,211 27,253 M. Wolfe (incumbent) Supporting Green Shoots 15,882 218 Leading the localities While, on the surface, the 2005 results indicate a resurgence on the part of the main political parties in taking mayoral offices, those elections can still present parties with an important challenge to their dominance of the local political scene. Moreover, the electorate can still replace a long-standing dominant political party with a mayoral candidate from another party, or with an independent, or a candidate from some small local political

in Leading the localities
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A new style of English local politics?

, cultural and legislative framework within which the mayor is located, and in terms of how the mayor uses those systemic resources and other personal and political resources. Moreover, how any elected mayor accrues additional resources and power, by the force of his or her own efforts, political skill, good luck and reputation, provides a Hobbesian foundation to understanding how individual mayors can develop as political leaders to wield 121 122 Leading the localities political power either granted to them by the system or absorbed from other sources.2 This chapter

in Leading the localities
A mayoral dichotomy

4 Running the council or leading the community? A mayoral dichotomy Introduction As we saw in the last chapter, three factors affect the development of the roles and responsibilities of the English directly elected mayor: first, the separation of powers at the local level; second, mayoral political focus; and third, the mayoral dichotomy between political leadership of a locality and the running of a service-based bureaucracy. The mayoral dichotomy arises because governance and organisational concerns represent two distinct demands on mayoral attention. They are

in Leading the localities
The rights of mayors

English local democracy; whether the separation of powers, set in an English local context, is viable or achievable in current circumstances and what impact it could have on the nature of local self-government; and the place in local government of a written constitution and how such a notion fits with current local government practice. The chapter also considers how the arrival of directly elected mayors impacts on Whig-like concerns for political representatives (and the 99 100 Leading the localities representative institutions of which they are members) to be free

in Leading the localities
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A new form of local politics or a very English compromise?

2 Mayors: a new form of local politics or a very English compromise? Introduction The use of the term ‘mayor’ to denote the political leader of a council is not a new departure for English local government. Recently, however, and before the Local Government Act 2000, the mayor, in those councils which had one, was the symbolic first citizen of the locality. The traditional mayor presides at meetings of the full council, rising above the fray of party politics, and acts in an ambassadorial role for the council and its communities. The political head of the

in Leading the localities

. The political association serves to remove from the conduct and processes of local politics the worst excesses of party political behaviour.5 50 Leading the localities That the office of directly elected mayor has produced the potential for the dominance of local politics by parties to be undermined is not itself an indication that a new form of local politics will necessarily emerge from the mayoral experiment. Yet direct election to executive political authority also produces the conditions for a much clearer, more visible and more accountable local political

in Leading the localities
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the context of English local democracy. 1 2 Leading the localities In this chapter the recent and broad arguments that have resulted in the arrival of the directly elected mayor are briefly reviewed; the Blair government’s modernisation agenda is placed within the context of arguments about the configuration of local political decision-making. The chapter also explores the different approaches taken to the government of London compared with local government in the rest of England. The chapter then briefly places directly elected mayors in an international perspective

in Leading the localities