Have your say: The Leeds Mayor Debate on 30th April

Monday 30th April 6pm – 8pm The Rose Bowl, Leeds Metropolitan University
On May 3rd the people of Leeds are being asked to consider whether they wish to have a vote for an Elected Mayor.
The question that is to be asked in the referendum has been set by central government reads as follows:
How would you like Leeds City Council to be run?

  • By a leader who is an elected councillor chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors. This is how the council is run now.

  • By a mayor who is elected by voters. This would be a change from how the council is run now.
If the vote is a ‘yes’. Leeds may have an Elected Mayor by November this year.
This is not a ceremonial role, but one of strategic power, how much power is yet to be revealed.
What is your view? Would Leeds benefit from having an Elected Mayor with considerable decision making powers, or would this be counter-productive? Maybe you haven’t yet given it any thought? Maybe you don’t normally vote in local elections, so would this stir you to?
Because we are not entirely sure what having an Elected Mayor in Leeds will actually mean for Leeds but have many questions, we decided that we’d like to find out more by hosting an event where we can all start to understand what the implications for Leeds, and the wider region, might be.
The event will be chaired by Andrew Edwards, Presenter BBC Radio Leeds.
  • Margaret Wood, Regional Chair, Instititute of Directors Yorkshire & Director of
  • Tom Palmer, Political Correspondent, Yorkshire Post
  • Jessica Haigh, Librarian and purveyor of The Travelling Suitcase Library
  • Stuart Drummond – First Elected Mayor of Hartlepool (Independent) Stood first in 2002 as
  • Peter Connolly – Yorkshire Design Group & Property Developer Leeds
The most critical point of this debate is that we, the citizens of Leeds should have an understanding of the enormity of the choice we are being given on May 3rd.
Please join us and sign up so we don’t exceed capacity.
We’ll be publishing blog posts between now and then exploring the issue, but in the meantime take a look at some of the comments generated already on LinkedIn and the following coverage
The Chamber of Commerce (Held an event with members and state they have a neutral position)
Alison Neale on Beyond Guardian Leeds (Pros and Cons)
Leeds Citizen (Questioning costs)
BBC News (Cameron says elected Mayors will sit in English Cabinet of Mayors)
Big Thanks to Leeds Metropolitan University for hosting the event


  1. I’m sad CV is running the tired old pro mayor arugment that council leaders in the current sytem have no connection to the voters.

    Under the present system the council leader is elected annually by councillors who have secured a mandate for that vote from VOTERS in Leeds.

    The Mayor would also be elected by the self same voters who elect councillors to elect a leader of the council.

    The big difference is a Mayor is elcted for four years and we could be stuck with an idiot, media whore or nazi for that peroid unlike the leader who is elected by his/her peers annually.

    Also be aware the Mayor appints his/her cabinet just like the present system.

    It’s brill that CV is hosting this event so peopel donlt blindly vote for this pointless change and I’m sure this thread will light up soon with pro and antis.

  2. Thanks Paul

    By virtue of running this event does that mean we are pro mayor?

    In terms of trying to create as neutral text and a panel which gives citizens equal voice to explore not spout polemic, isn’t this a chance for us to keep an open mind and really explore something most of us are not aware of the implications of a yes vote?

    Where do we say that the council leaders have no connection to the the voters?

    1. Emma

      Your text is perfectly neutral, setting the scene for an open debate. But you’ll never get away from the fact that some people’s prejudice must just clouds there reading of things.

      Looking forward to the debate.


  3. Emma

    I wasn’t suggesting that in any way CV or this event were taking sides.

    In fact the panel is carefully crafted to make sure all points of view are represented. It will be really helpful to hear from an actual Mayor who might nor might share Ken’s scepticism around the office of Mayor. he may even explain why he has just sacked vitrually all his self appointed cabinet.

    I just felt one of the questions was framed in a way that might suggest that council leaders are not elected by the voters but mayors are. The fact is both are elected by the same set of voters but for different terms. It might seem a small point but it is critical in the debate.

    Like some all debates some people will come along blissfuly ignorent of the issues, sone with an open mind and some – pro and anti – will come along with their minds made up. That’s what make for a lively debate. It’s good to have an open mind and it’s good to have a strong point of view too as that makes for a strong democracy.

    I make no apologies for having a strong anti view on this as I’ve been following this debate for some. Sadly the Manchester derby calls me away that night otherwise I’d be along to express my point of view.

    Paul, and your point is?

  4. How would I like my council to be run. By a Council.

    That is, power should be SHARED by an assembly elected to represent the diversity of views in the area and NOT by one person

    That is how councils USED to be run until just a few years ago. Council leaders did NOT make all the decisions as the referendum question suggests here, decision making was ultimately in the SHARED hands of all councillors. That is how it should be now.

  5. i’ve honestly no idea either way but currently tempted to vote yes purely to annoy leedshack1. ‘i wasn’t suggesting that cv were taking sides’ well similarly im not suggesting that your second post contradicts the first ! if idea of open debate on a mayor so gets peoples backs up it must but some kind of threat to their vested interest – thats moving me towards the yes camp.

  6. I’m really interested in what the conditions are in other Cities such as Bristol and Birmingham to be igniting such open public debate.
    Here’s an article in the Economist about Bristol’s Mayor. One of the biggest reasons for putting on this event was because a few weeks ago so little discussion was happening, aside from a few of the bloggers above.


    Whatever your view the lack of debate was not helping us to make an informed decision. So many people I have spoken to were unaware this was not about ceremonial duties.

    1. “Arguably, the dispute is between those who prize solidarity and consensus as bulwarks of a good society, and those who place their trust in staying competitive in a fast-changing world. Those who favour mayors are in the latter camp: a city only needs a champion if it plans to compete.” So says the Economist.

      Generally speaking I’d put myself in the former, but Leeds has a vision to be the ‘Best City’, which would seem to suggest the latter would help in that ambition.

  7. Steve Th, what brilliant thinking and I’m not annoyed but bored that you are incapable of putting forward a sensible argument for your vote. Debate is not about protecting vested interest it is about getting to the heart of the argument…you might want to try it some time. That’s why the CV debate is important as we could sleepwalk towards elected dictators.

    Emma, fancy posting Gillian’s piece in the Telegraph which puts another side of the debate.

  8. I think that one of the problems with the debate about mayors is that it has perhaps been hijacked by the narrative of “positive” can-do risk taking as against self-interested backbench lobby fodder.

    I think that of the most interesting things to emerge in the last couple of years in government is the rising credibility of cross-party commons select committees (in the Murdoch case for instance).

    Most of us are against stitch ups in smoke filled rooms but couldn’t we tweak the back bench councillor’s role in similar fashion so that it asks questions for the public and reports back?

  9. If we must have a mayor, and I would rather we didn’t, then they must be someone who does not believe in the trickle down fairy, who is committed to tackling inequalities and understand that you cant build a sustainable society on the largesse of the rich.

    All power to Emma for oxygenating the debate, and big up the various institutions, organisations and power bases who have been so helpful and constructive in helping her to make it a success. Oh hang on…

    1. I have to be honest I’ve been helped by Leeds Met, The IOD, BBC, Yorkshire Post, Leeds Online, Yorkshire News and to some degree the council. It would be brilliant if other networks would get the message out to their members so that as wide and diverse and audience could attend. I appreciate a 6pm school night is not ideal, but this was arranged at pretty short notice!

  10. There’s no point in having a meeting about this since no one can know what it will mean. This is because the role and powers of an elected mayor are not known.
    Central government will only decide what powers to give to an elected mayor after a referendum gains a “yes” vote.
    Some elected mayors have significant powers eg London while others have none, eg Leicester.
    Doncaster and Stoke are now trying to abolish the post but Central Government have made it clear that in future that will not be allowed without parliamentary legislation
    The only sensible vote is “No to an Elected Mayo

  11. I think it’s a great idea for such a debate to take place so that people can make an educated choice.

    It is a shame though that it’s been left until what feels like the last minute. As a postal voter, I had to make my decision based upon what little information was already available.

  12. I’m open to see what arguments are put forward for an elected mayor on Monday night, although I’d echo some of the concerns made here (and elsewhere on CV) about the problems of an elected individual potentially undermining the elected council, and therefore the will of the people – regardless of how few of us are actually inspired to vote for them

    But then I suspect that’s the problem they’re trying to resolve, the decline in political engagement, and this is yet another technical solution to try and re-engage the electorate (previous ideas including putting voting booths in supermarkets, lowering the voting age, compulsory voting and regional assemblies).

    But there’s no technical solution, only a political one. Parties and individuals should inspire people to vote or be politically active through their ideas and policies. This isn’t to say and mayoral race couldn’t do that, but ( democratic issues aside) lacking them it’s likely to turn into the kind of unappealing personality (or non-personality) contest we see in London that would more likely increase cynicism.

  13. Unfortunately I can’t make it to the discussion tonight, but I’m glad it’s happening – but the need for it is an indightment of the electorial problems in Leeds.

    I’ve not had canvassers knock on my door, not even a leaflet – I get the impression that this vote was rather ignored for the benefit of the exisiting political system.

    Leeds needs ‘someone to throw tomatoes at’, a Boris, a figurehead to stand for Leeds because at the moment the council are invisible. Much like Leeds identity.
    You need to hear about Leeds on the news for good things, not just crime.

    I’m not sure Leeds can afford a Mayor, but it needs to do something.

  14. Great debate last night (thanks Emma) – still unsure as to what it all means, but am thinking that a change might be good.

    For a low-down on the powers of a mayor, see the question and answer from the House of Lords – not very enlightening!

    • Mayors – Lord Storey (Lib Dem) – To ask Her Majesty’s Government what responsibilities and powers directly elected city mayors will have; and what checks will be placed on those powers; To ask Her Majesty’s Government what extra finance will be made available for directly elected city mayors; To ask Her Majesty’s Government to what extent directly elected city mayors will have powers over policing and transport matters within their cities.

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government, Baroness Hanham: Directly elected mayors will assume the powers vested in the Leader and Cabinet of current city councils. The Government have said that they want to transfer additional powers to cities with directly elected mayors, at their request. These include new powers and funding over transport, skills, housing, economic development and other areas which the elected mayor considers important for the future prosperity of their city. Mayors will be scrutinised by elected councillors, and will be subject to the code of conduct of the council, as well as to other statutory requirements such as the Local Government Transparency Code.

    Elected mayors will have an important role to play through the police and crime panel for the area, providing support and challenge to the police and crime commissioner on such matters as the police and crime plan and the police precept.

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