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Imposing mayors as part of devolution may be ‘retrogressive’ – Lord Kerslake

Imposing metro-mayors as part of devolution deals could be “retrogressive” in areas where they are clearly not going to work, according to Lord Kerslake. 

The chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Reform, Decentralisation and Devolution said that the inquiry’s evidence has revealed “quite differing views” about the need for mayors. 

“A point well made by Prof Vernon Bogdanor [a constitutional expert] was that government perhaps should be clearer about when it sees the need for mayors and when it doesn’t,” said Lord Kerslake. 

“I think it is hard to see how one size is going to fit all here. It might almost be retrogressive if you impose the mayoral model on a place where it clearly isn’t going to work.” 

But in a recent amendment to the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill, communities secretary Greg Clark MP made it clear that devolved areas may be forced to elect a mayor even if one or more constituent councils disagree with the proposal. 

The chancellor, in his Spending Review, also announced that city-wide mayors, to be elected in 2017 as part of devolution deals, will have the power to levy a ‘business rates premium’ for local infrastructure projects

But Lord Kerslake said that multiple witnesses who have spoken to the inquiry, including former prime minister Gordon Brown and LGA chair Lord Porter, have talked about the need for a “guiding set of principles for devolution”. 

The full interview with Lord Kerslake will appear in the Dec/Jan edition of PSE.

(Image: c. Cabinet Office)


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