I was delighted to accept the invitation from the Vice Chancellor to chair this Commission. Elected Mayors and City Leadership are central to the localism agenda on which the Coalition Government has placed such emphasis.
This report represents a timely summary of the Commission’s work, including the international research programme led by my colleague Professor Keith Grint and supported by Clare Holt.
We will be publishing further material in due course and hope to continue our work through the summer and beyond if any cities choose the elected mayoral model. In particular, we are keen to support the transition process, looking at areas from remuneration to management structure. As highlighted in this report, we also want to take forward the work we have started in terms of cost benefit and measurement.
The Statement from our Commissioners begins to set out some of their thinking based on the research presented to them, their own experiences of the subject and our deliberations. By its nature, it goes further than the evidence base can definitively take us. However, the Statement is well informed and seeks to offer practical observations and recommendations.
At moments such as these when looking to make decisions about the future, learning from history can be incredibly helpful. As Prof Grint lays out, understanding how we reached this point in terms of local government helps to explain the context of the choice in front of ten cities.
The Warwick Commission has undertaken more international comparative research, at least in relatively similar political systems in the 'Anglosphere', than has been the case to date. We are grateful to a number of mayors, Council Leaders and their staffs in providing time for interviews with us. I am also grateful to academic colleagues involved in the work, including the Warwick-Boston partnership which has assisted with our research in North America.
To anyone looking for a simple yes/no answer on the issues of elected mayors from the Commission or my fellow academics will be disappointed. The evidence and the arguments are, of course, too complex. Our evidence suggests that elected mayors offer a real opportunity for change in a place where change is needed. However, major questions remain over powers and footprints of the proposed mayors.
We hope this report assists voters in determining their choice and supports central government, councils and candidates to take forward the model with optimal effectiveness in those places which change their system of city leadership.