Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Why Britain has no need for 'metro mayors' and should not accept them

Recently, it has been reported in relevant local media that the effects of devolution deals are coming soon to the West Midlands and Merseyside, resulting in the creation of 'metro mayors' (mayors of large swathes of metropolitan areas):

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/its-official-greater-birmingham-elect-10453892

http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/business-secretary-defends-devolution-deal-10456534#rlabs=1%20rt$sitewide%20p$9 (related article also mentioning devolution for 'Greater Manchester')

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpool-greens-slam-devolution-second-10457438

Britain does not need any of these 'metro mayors' anywhere, and they would not be a good idea for local devolution and democracy. Here is why:

1. Lack of real accountability. In Britain, mayors as a whole have too much power, and not enough accountability to the public or to elected councillors, and this problem increases with the size of the authority. Also, these devolution agreements have not actually involved we, the general public, at any point despite their wide-ranging impact on us-only authority leaders and government ministers were consulted.

2. Cost of metro mayors. Metro mayors and combined authorities are unnecessary and a waste of money vitally needed to protect important local services, especially given the inefficiency of having so few having considerable power over such large, populous areas.

3. Oversized areas are not good for local devolution. Decentralisation and devolution are important given that Britain should really be a federal nation anyway, but devolution needs to be more local and be given to rural areas and towns as well as metropolitan areas. Also, the metropolitan areas in the West Midlands, Merseyside, Greater Manchester etc. are large enough to have their own distinct identities and manage themselves, and therefore they do not need combined metro mayors or combined authorities; such deals could also undermine local democracy in practice.

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