Votes in yesterday’s mayoral referendum have been announced and residents of the city have decided against having an elected mayor at this time.
57.8% of people said they would like to keep the present structure of a council governed by a Council Leader and Cabinet while just 42.2% opted for the elected mayor option. In a local election that saw an exceptionally low turn out of around 29% across the city, just over 200,000 people voted in the referendum.
Similar referendums took place in nine other cities and all, with the exception of Bristol, voted against having an elected mayor. [NB: Leeds result still awaited at time of writing.]
Change still needed
Siôn Simon, the former Labour MP for Erdington, who stood down to concentrate solely on working on the campaign for an elected mayor said: “A Labour council will make a massive difference to people’s lives here. But an elected Mayor would have made more. That is a conviction for which I gave up my seat in Parliament and to which I have dedicated the two most intense years of my life.
“What I want to do for Birmingham didn’t change last night. The journey didn’t end. Though we will have to change the route. People are still suffering and under-achieving in this city when they shouldn’t. The system still needs to change.”
No clear government deal
Labour MP for Hodge Hill Liam Byrne also supported the campaign for an elected mayor. He said: “I’m sad local residents didn’t vote for a mayor – but I totally understand it.
“Right now, when people are having such a hard time, they needed a lot of convincing that an elected mayor would be a good thing when the government refused to set out what extra powers were on the table.
“People have a right to expect a clear deal on the table. And I’m afraid the government didn’t offer it.
“Now the job is to take our city in a new direction – starting by getting our city back to work.”
Yes campaign rolls on
And the campaign to work towards achieving an elected mayor system in Birmingham is set to continue.
Campaign Director of the newly retitled ‘Yes to Birmingham’ campaign Julia Higginbottom said: “We have no intention of stopping! You cannot let the people of Birmingham be ignored.
“We need more Brummies to demand radical change and improvements – in education, skills, job creation, transport – the inequality, deprivation and exclusion have massive impacts on many Brummies’ lives. This has to be recognised and addressed as a matter of critical urgency.”
The campaign aims to keep informing and educating the people of Birmingham so that they may better understand local governance and make more informed decisions and demands.
Julia said: “Our campaign continues as before – to raise awareness, to get people interested and engaged in city politics so that they can make an informed decision – but crucially they can hold their politicians to account. People need to understand that we can make change happen, we can control our destiny – and we should demand the right to do that.
“This is not about particular types of institutions. This is about Birmingham and the people of Birmingham.” she added.
[Awaiting reaction from ‘No’ campaign supporters. This article will be updated when we receive some]