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Local Councillors

Volume 516: debated on Thursday 21 October 2010

6. If he will take steps to reduce the number of councillors in local authorities headed by an elected mayor. (18465)

I appreciate that my hon. Friend has a distinct personal interest in the welfare of elected mayors. Decisions on the number of councillors in any local authority are handled by the independent Local Government Boundary Commission, in which process I have no role.

As the Secretary of State indicated, I should declare that my father is the elected mayor of Doncaster—quite how, nobody knows. Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be bizarre if his introduction of elected mayors around the country led to an increase in costs and an increased layer of bureaucracy in local government? Therefore, when introducing elected mayors, should he not take the opportunity to reduce the number of councillors in those areas at the same time?

It is within the purview of a local authority to ask the Local Government Boundary Commission at any time to review its boundaries and the number of members. Mansfield district council has done that, and is moving from multi-member wards to single- member wards. When the commission publishes its recommendations, they will be laid in the House under the usual 40-day rule.

How does the Secretary of State square the imposition of elected mayors in the 12 largest cities in this country with his commitment to localism? How does that work if people will not be asked whether they would like a mayor or whether they wish to continue with local councillors?

The hon. Lady is mistaking this Government’s position with that of the previous one, who would often impose things on local people. She seems to be suggesting that we would somehow impose mayors on those 12 cities, but of course we will not—that is completely out of the question. The proposals will be subject to referendums. Once we know the views of the people in those 12 cities, we will move on to the election of a mayor if people vote for that.