Former Conservative Environment Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine has proposed the introduction of ‘US Style’ Mayors in a bid to lead the way in creating a ‘cities renaissance’.
Lord Heseltine was unveiling policy proposals designed to transform Britain’s cities and shape the next Conservative Government’s agenda for urban renewal in his capacity as Chairman of the Tory Party’s Cities Taskforce.
Today’s proposals would see Mayors elected similar to those in the United States in a bid to ensure clear leadership and direct accountability. They would be held to account by councillors and the electorate. The mayors’ powers would be extended to include passenger transport and highways, fire services, the delivery of welfare and direct oversight of the police.
Lord Heseltine said the proposals would “build on the hard experience of the 1980s and 90s and meet many of the criticisms made of present Government policy by their own advisors. I hope they will commend themselves to a future Conservative Government. I believe they could herald a broad renaissance of English city governance.”
However the plans were attacked by the One London Party, Leader Damian Hockney said US-style City Mayors would not be genuine devolution, but a power grab from local authorities.
“If you look at the recent proposals to strengthen the powers of the London Mayor, they have seen a one-way planned transfer of power – from the locally elected London boroughs to the centralising force of the Mayor.”