As Jonathan pointed out in TotalPolitics today, the Localism Bill is currently going through the House of Lords. Proposals for elected Mayors to be created in the 11 largest cities outside London (excluding Leicester, which has an elected Mayor) are highly controversial. In particular, there has been opposition from the Lords to proposals for current council Leaders to be appointed as ‘Shadow Mayors’ prior to referendums and proposals for the Mayors to take on the role of the Chief Executive – a favourite idea of Eric Pickles. Yesterday, in a very significant climbdown, the government’s spokesperson, Baroness Hanham, announced that these proposals will be dropped. She said:
At Second Reading I indicated that we would listen to noble Lords’ concerns about shadow mayors and mayors as chief executives. We are keen to build on the common ground and consensus that the Bill has enjoyed. I should therefore like to say at this stage that when we reach the debate on mayoral provisions, the Government will be pleased to support amendments that have the effect of deleting from the Bill mayoral management arrangements; that is, mayors as chief executives and the concept of shadow mayors.