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Foreword from the Vice Chancellor

I am delighted to welcome this report, a summary of the work to date of the Third Warwick Commission.

On 3rd May 2012, registered voters in several cities in England will decide whether to adopt a new system of local leadership. As this report explains, in some ways this is just the latest stage in the evolution of local government in England. However, with cities increasingly important in terms of the economic, social and cultural development of the nation as a whole, the decisions of ten electorates could have far reaching consequences. As a research university of world standing with a network of global connections, we set out to bring international experience to bear on an important national and local policy area.

In the best traditions of intellectual discovery, 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.

Many commentators have cited the lack of empirical evidence on the subject of elected mayors and, in particular, whether such a model provides for more effective strategic leadership of cities. We have drawn on national and international experience and data to inform a debate which is often extremely parochial, although one which is not necessarily divided on party lines.

We wanted to share our work to date in advance of the forthcoming mayoral referenda to enable electorates as well as policymakers to have access to the research and our initial findings. We plan to continue this work, including publishing the evidence from a series of interviews in due course.

Warwick Commissions present us with an opportunity to harness scholarly expertise from across the University and to draw upon the expertise of other distinguished figures in the field. I am delighted that we were able to bring together Professor Wyn Grant from the Department of Politics and International Studies and Professor Keith Grint from Warwick Business School to lead the Commission and its research programme.

Meanwhile, I am extremely grateful to all the external Commissioners who agreed to work with us. Their insight has been invaluable and I hope that, together, we can continue to make a constructive contribution in this arena.

I commend this report to you.

Professor Nigel Thrift