As part of our coverage of Election 2012, we are asking for opinions on the referendum regarding a directly elected mayor for Birmingham.
Ian Cruise, Labour Party councillor for Longbridge ward, tells us why he is in favour of an elected Mayor for Birmingham:
A city with the history and diversity of Birmingham deserves more dynamic governance. When I was elected onto Birmingham City Council in 2010 I was surprised to see a system of governance that was quite frankly stuck in the dark ages, with very little accountability to the citizens of the City. A system of governance where very few people know who leads their City.
Currently the Leader of the Council is chosen by the Councillors of the controlling political party. In the current Tory/Lib Dem administration, the leader was picked by 23 Tory Councillors. There are a million people living in Birmingham yet only 23 Councillors – some of who do not live in the City – choose Birmingham’s leader. At the last Council Elections, the controlling Tory/Lib Dem Coalition lost seats and suffered a huge reduction in their vote share, yet still control the Council with a leader elected by 23 Councillors. This is not democracy. An Elected Mayor will have the mandate of Birmingham people.
I have been an advocate of the Yes to Mayor campaign since the original referendum in 2001. In the last decade Birmingham has fallen by the wayside while big European Cities like who have Elected Mayors have grown. Only with an Elected Mayor can Birmingham put itself where it should be. Back amongst the leading Cities in Europe and the world.
What would an Elected Mayor mean to Northfield [constituency]?
Following the demise of MG Rover, the redevelopment of the former car plant has crawled along at a snail’s pace. This is due to the lack of ‘clout’ the Council currently has. Despite their best efforts, the Council have struggled to unlock Central Government funding or to assist the developer in selling Longbridge to potential investors. Many people in my Longbridge Ward have asked; “Ian, when is there going to manufacturing jobs back in Longbridge”. “Hopefully soon” is my normal response. I firmly believe if Birmingham currently had an Elected Mayor, they would have been banging the drum for Birmingham to unlock Government funding and also to work with the developer to bring private investment into Longbridge, creating the new manufacturing jobs the area needs.
Would an Elected Mayor have too much power and reduce the influence of local Councillor’s and residents?
The simple answer to the question is NO! All of the potential Labour Party candidates have stressed they will embrace the devolution of most Council services to the most local level, enhancing the roles and responsibilities of Ward Councillors. Also, the Elected Mayor’s Cabinet will consist of City Councillors, keeping the link with local people intact.
Finally, as the Mayor will be elected by Birmingham people, it will enhance the public influence on the policies put forward by an Elected Mayor. Brummies will vote in a Mayor. If after 5 years Brummies are unhappy, they can vote for a new Mayor
Vote Yes to a Mayor on May 3rd
Ian Cruise is a Labour Party councillor in Longbridge and supports the Yes campaign.
The ‘No’ campaign – “Vote No to a Power Freak”