What Can Elected Mayors Do For British Cities? A Canadian Perspective

20 03 2012

Since 2000, a small number of British cities have introduced mayors directly elected by the people.  Most British cities, however, still have council leaders who are responsible to the city council.   These council leaders have a position analogous to that of a Prime Minister in a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy.

A number of British cities are about to hold referenda on whether to introduce this controversial “American-style” institution: ten of England’s largest cities, including Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Manchester, will hold such votes in May. Read more here.


Canada, of course, has long had directly elected mayors. It is therefore rather interesting that Gordon Campbell, who was formerly Mayor of Vancouver and then Premier of British Columbia and who is now Canada’s High Commission in London, will be speaking at a forum in Birmingham on the benefits of having elected mayors.

I can certainly see why the British proponents of elected mayors invited Gordon Campbell to their event. Campbell is accomplished, cerebral, and articulate.  It is, perhaps, unfortunate the current mayor of Canada’s largest city is unable to speak as well. Exposure to Toronto’s mayor might have provided voters in Birmingham’s referendum with additional food for thought.
Thursday 29th March 2012, please arrive promptly, 15.30 – 17.00
Followed by a drinks reception from 17.00 – 18.00
Millennium Point, Curzon Street, Birmingham, B4 7XG

– Rt Hon. Greg Clark MP, Minister for Cities and Decentralisation
– Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of the London Borough of Lewisham
Gordon Campbell, former Mayor of Vancouver
– Tom Gash, Editor of the publication & Programme Director, IfG

Greg Clark will make the opening speech putting forward the case for directly elected mayors and the broader decentralisation agenda. The Minister will then be joined by Steve Bullock, Gordon Campbell and Tom Gash to answer questions from the audience. 

To request a place, please reply to events@instituteforgovernment.org.uk by the 13th March.



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