Do we need an elected Mayor?

Bristol residents may get to decide whether to continue having an elected mayor. Campaigner Graham Donald argues that having a mayor hasn't benefited Bristol.

“In the 2012 referendum, I voted against having a mayor,“ says Graham.

“Only 24 per cent of the electorate took part and 53% voted in favour – just one in eight of all Bristolians entitled to vote. But I gave the new system a try and voted in both mayoral elections.

“My view isn’t based solely on experience of the two mayors we’ve had but on the system that’s been created.

“We have 71 elected representatives – 70 councillors and one mayor. But the mayor holds all the power over both policy and money. Instead of using the skills, experience and brainpower of 70 elected people, we rely mainly on just one.

“One person, however gifted, can’t decide everything, and we end up with superficial decision-making and unelected officers wielding too much power. Two botched consultations over libraries by mayors Ferguson and Rees are the result.

“It’s become a numbers game. Rather than considering what library services we need and creative ways of achieving this, both mayors tried to scale back provision to spend an arbitrary amount of money. The same game is now being played with parks.

“I would like us to return to collective council leadership,“ says Graham, “with all councillors having a say in important decisions affecting Bristol residents.

“So how do we go back to a city council where all councillors count? An amendment to government legislation, sponsored by Lib Dem peer and former Bristol council leader Barbara Janke, means that as early as 2022 we could have a referendum to decide whether or not to retain an elected mayor.

“Bristol Lib Dems say we should go ahead with this referendum – do you agree?”

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