Bristol City Hall

Bristol City Council to return to committee system of governance

Voters in Bristol have voted to scrap the directly elected mayoral position, which will see the council return to a committee system of governance from 2024 for at least a decade.

In total, 59% of electors in the city backed the option of ‘In favour of one or more committees made up of elected councillors’, compared to 41% who voted for ‘In favour of one or more committees made up of elected councillors’.

The turnout in the referendum on the governance arrangements of Bristol City Council, which was approved by councillors in December 2021, was 28.59%.

The position of Mayor of Bristol, which entails a £65,738 annual salary, was created after voters backed an elected mayor over a cabinet system by 53% to 47% in a referendum held in 2012, being the only one of ten English cities to back a mayoral system.

In total, there have been two Mayors in its history, George Ferguson, who held the role between 2012 and 2016, and current incumbent, Marvin Rees, who was first elected in 2016 and retained his position at last year’s election.

Since the role was created, devolution has intensified in the region, with Bristol being part of the West of England Combined Authority, along with Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The combined authority, which has powers over homes, transport, skills, jobs and support for businesses has a directly elected mayor, currently Dan Norris, meaning that Bristol effectively has two mayors.

Commenting, Mr Rees, who was in favour of keeping the mayoral system, said:

“Despite real concerns, I hope the committee system can deliver for our city, continuing our administration’s momentum building a better Bristol in the face of enormous challenges, not least the national cost of living crisis, global migration crisis and the climate and ecological emergencies.

“We’ll keep working hard over the next two years to keep delivering for Bristol.

“2024 will see different council governance, but will also see a further transformed city, our arena and the Bristol Beacon open, over £400m of clean energy investment rolling out, completing the largest council housing building project in a generation, bringing more jobs like Channel 4 to Bristol and building even more new affordable homes for Bristolians.”

The referendum sees Bristol City Council becoming the fourth authority to scrap its directly elected Mayor, after Stoke-on-Trent (2009), Hartlepool (2013) and Torbay (2019), with Liverpool City Council currently consulting residents over how it is governed.

Outside of Bristol, there are 16 local authorities across England which have directly elected Mayors, including Croydon, whose electorate backed a mayoral system in a referendum held in October.

PSE365 will be hosting a Public Sector Procurement virtual event on 19 May, sign up here.


PSE April/ May 2024

Alarming decline in UK costal water quality

Dive into our latest edition for April/May 2024!


More articles...

View all
Online Conference


2024 Online Conferences

In partnership with our community of public sector leaders responsible for procurement and strategy across local authorities and the wider public sector, we’ve devised a collaborative calendar of conferences and events for leaders of industry to listen, learn and collaborate through engaging and immersive conversation.

All our conferences are CPD accredited, which means you can gain points to advance your career by attending our online conferences. Also, the contents are available on demand so you can re-watch at your convenience.

Public Sector Executive Podcast

Listen to industry leaders on everything within the public sector

From government policies and public administration to education, healthcare, and infrastructure, we explore the challenges and innovations shaping our communities.


Join us as we speak with industry leaders, policymakers, and frontline professionals, providing you with valuable insights and perspectives to stay informed and engaged with the issues that matter most.