After Eric Pickles backed down on imposing elected Mayors in 12 cities, plans are now gearing up for referenda to be held on the 5th May 2011 in: Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, Wakefield.
In Leicester there might be an earlier referendum. Leicester Mercurys’ political reporter David Maclean, who by the way runs a great blog about local politics, reports that the Labour Party in the City is going to trigger a referendum. Some city politicians have already declared that they will be candidates, promiment amongst them is former council Leader and current Leicester South MP Sir Peter Soulsby. Conservative Councillor and former parliamentary candidate Ross Grant might be a contender, as too could former Liberal Democrat MP Parmjit Singh Gill. There is no guarantee of course that the voters will back the plans in Leicester or in the other 11 cities: of the 37 referendums that have been held to date voters have only opted for an elected Mayor in 13 towns and cities.
Over in Liverpool however there is an active campaign for an elected Mayor. Potential candidates talked about in the City include council Leader Joe Anderson and his Lib Dem predecessor Warren Bradley, while the Brookside creator Phil Redmond is a big figure in the City. He is a prominent backer of David Cameron’s Big Society plans.
Meanwhile in Birmingham speculation centres on the cities current political Leaders, the Conservative Council Leader Mike Whitby and his opposite number Sir Albert Bore. The former Labour MP Sion Simon stood down from parliament earlier this year declaring that he was going to run for Mayor. Lord Digby Jones is just one of the business Leaders that might come forward. As far back as 2006 Digby declared his ambition to be elected Mayor and he will back the Yes campaign in the referendum. Football business woman turned Alan Sugar sidekick, Karen Brady, is also rumoured to be interested.
If there is interest I’ll follow up with a post on the possible runners and riders in the other referendum cities, please post a comment, speculation welcome too.