Tories and Lib Dems should join with Labour and vote down plans to impose mayors on English cities – Flint

Caroline FlintLabour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, Caroline Flint MP, is calling on Tory and  Lib Dem backbenchers to join with Labour in voting against the government’s plans to force ‘shadow mayors’ on the largest English cities without a referendum, ahead of a likely Commons vote on the issue this week.

Labour has tabled amendments to the government’s Localism Bill, to be debated in the Commons next Tuesday and Wednesday, which would block the government’s plan to impose shadow mayors before local voters have had a chance to decide in a referendum whether they want them or not.

Under the government’s proposals, the Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles would appoint the shadow mayors later this year, ahead of confirmatory local referendums in 2012. Even if local voters backed plans for an elected mayor, the shadow mayor could be in place for almost two years before actually facing the electorate in May 2013.

Caroline Flint MP, Labour's Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said:

“The Tory led government is imposing shadow mayors on cities regardless of whether they want one or not. That’s both unfair and undemocratic and Labour will be calling for a Commons vote next week to oppose their plans.

“Elected mayors can offer effective leadership, which is why Labour in government gave people the power and opportunity to elect them. But it must be up to local people to decide, not the Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, sitting in his office in Whitehall. 

"Labour is also against Pickles' plan to combine the role of mayor and chief executive. It cannot be right that a mayor could take over duties that include for example the electoral process for his or her own re-election.

“I hope coalition MPs who have made public their concerns about the way the government is imposing mayors will join with Labour in voting them down.”