Cross-party veterans line up to oppose elected mayor for BirminghamPosted: October 27, 2011
LIB-DEM MP John Hemming, Labour counterpart Roger Godsiff (pictured) and veteran Tory councillor James Hutchings have finally launched their campaign to oppose the introduction of an elected mayor for the city.
Robustly named ‘Vote no to a power freak’, the campaign has launched a website of the same name, which promises to press the case in a series of articles.
The first article argues that Birmingham’s one million citizens need to be served by a number of elected representatives rather than a single mayor. It states:
The City of Birmingham has around a million people living in it (including children). An important part of politics is to listen to people between elections. Councillors and Members of Parliament have advice bureaux at which people can come and raises issues that concern them and get answers.
Advice Bureaux are busy: Very often these advice bureaux are very busy. There are 10 members of parliament in Birmingham. This means that if a directly elected mayor held an advice bureau it would not be practicable to see everyone who wished to see the directly elected mayor. The end result is that only powerful and influential people would be able to meet the directly elected mayor. Ordinary Brummies would be squeezed out.
Read the rest of the article here.
The pro-campaign, ‘Yes to Birmingham Mayor’, has welcomed the entry of Hemming et al, promising a vigorous debate over the coming months.
Conservative councillor Phil Parkin has responded with a blog post on the Yes campaign’s website. He says:
Apart from the small number of elected members who make up the cabinet (where real power is invested), and the annual votes on, for example, the Budget and the Council Plan, the vast majority of councillors have no formal, executive power over the strategic direction of the city. Scrutiny plays a hugely important role, however, in providing the necessary checks and balances, and in coming up with new ways of working, and I would expect it to continue to do so.
Pro-campaigner Alex Burrows’s response to the nay-sayers is here.