WBS Professor reports on the current Warwick Commission on Elected Mayors and City Leadership
WBS Professor of Public Leadership and Management Keith Grint has featured widely in the UK news media recently, reporting on the work of the third Warwick Commission, on the issue of Elected Mayors and City Leadership. He is Research Director for this Commission, working with its Chair, Professor Wyn Grant, in the Department of Politics & International Studies.
With local elections taking place this Thursday, 3rd May, on the UK mainland, voters in 10 core English cities, including Coventry and Birmingham, face the decision about the form of leadership for their council.
In its research, which included interviewing 42 mayors, staff and senior council figures in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US, the Commission considers the optimal scale and structure for the offices of elected mayor if one or more city votes to adopt the system. It also draws on a range of existing evidence and provides a thorough analysis of how the history of local government has brought the question of elected mayors to the forefront now.
In its recently-published report, the Commission warns that the Government's drive to encourage cities to adopt elected mayors cannot provide a 'one-size-fits-all solution'.
Professor Grint comments, "Directly elected mayors offer the possibility of greater visibility, accountability and co-ordinative leadership as well as re-enchanting the body politic, and much of this derives from their relative independence from party discipline through their direct mandate and through their four year term."
However, he makes the point that, "In some cities an elected mayor may not be necessary because they have already constructed a significant identity and are vigorously and strategically led....."
He concludes in the recommendations chapter: "Ultimately directly-elected mayors may be a way of answering the most important question at the heart of governance: what is the purpose of politics? If politics is about how we mediate our individual and collective conflicts then we had better pay some attention to reinvigorating the body-politic: politics is too important to be left to politicians."
The Warwick Commission on Elected Mayors and City Leadership is strictly party and candidate neutral and will open its work and deliberations to any stakeholder with an interest in the subject of elected mayors, city leadership and governance.
The full Warwick press release, which includes a link to the Summary Report and details of how to obtain the full report, can be viewed here.
Warwick Commissions are charged with carrying out independent analysis of a particular issue with the goal of making practical and realistic recommendations about how to move it forward. The University aims to draw on its scholars, their expertise and their networks of professional contacts to address issues of global importance. The aim of the Commissions is to make thought-provoking contributions to the debate, thereby assisting policymakers to find solutions to sometimes seemingly intractable problems.