Directly-elected mayors - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 16 July 2013 | Standard notes SN05000

Authors: Mark Sandford

Topic: Local government

Directly-elected mayors were first introduced in the UK by the Local Government Act 2000. At that time, they could only be created following a referendum in favour in the relevant local authority. The majority of referendums on creating elected mayors have been unsuccessful, with a total of 50 having taken place to date. 16 local authorities have elected mayors: this will reduce to 15 in May 2013, when Hartlepool will abolish the position. These figures do not include the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority, which were created by separate legislation.

In 2008-9, whilst in opposition, the Conservatives pledged to hold mayoral referendums in England’s twelve largest cities outside London. Both Leicester and Liverpool subsequently acquired mayors following resolutions by their respective city councils. A third city, Bristol, voted ‘yes’ in the referendum held in May 2012 and elected its first mayor in November. The remaining nine cities rejected the mayoral system in the May referendums.

Mayors do not have powers over and above those available to non-mayoral local authorities. The Government has powers to delegate functions to local authorities under the Localism Act 2011.

This note provides further information on these matters and lists the current mayors. A separate note on the Greater London Authority (SN/PC/5817) provides information on the Mayor of London whose powers and responsibilities derive from the Greater London Authority Acts.

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