Heseltine predicts more North towns will demand directly-elected mayors if Newcastle shake-up a success

MORE North towns and cities will demand to be led by a directly-elected mayor if the shake-up is a success in Newcastle, Lord Heseltine has predicted.

The Conservative peer - who has campaigned for mayors for 20 years - said the city would enjoy better, more dynamic leadership if it voted 'yes' in a referendum next May.

Newcastle will join England's 10 other largest cities in staging simultaneous votes that - David Cameron hopes - will transform their leadership.

Speaking at the London launch of a campaign for 'yes' votes, Lord Heseltine said: "This will be a stepping stone.

"If the mayoralties are a success in these 11 cities, then I have no doubt that the dominoes will begin to fall in other authorities.

"And that can only be a valuable thing, a way of rekindling entrepreneurial enterprise."

Only a directly-elected mayor could answer the question "who is in charge", the peer argued, insisting council leaders were invisible by comparison.

Lord Heseltine also warned that England's urban centres will suffer a painful financial squeeze if they reject the switch to being led by a mayor, who could gain national recognition.

He pointed to the examples of London mayor Boris Johnson and Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, who were both exploiting their powerful positions to gain greater financial clout.

He said: "If you are an English provincial city, you will find yourself in the extraordinarily uncomfortable place of being sandwiched between the two of them - which is not where you would choose to be."

However, mayors are already in place in Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, where Ray Mallon has protested at deep cuts to funding of the town's services.

Ministers have hinted at offering existing powers to the existing mayors, including Mr Mallon and Hartlepool's Stuart Drummond. but the plans were shelved.

Furthermore, the people of Darlington voted overwhelmingly against a switch to mayor in a referendum in September 2007, by 58 per cent to 42 per cent.

At the London event, London's mayor argued that his direct backing from voters gave him extra muscle in relations with the government, the private sector and leaders from abroad.

Mr Johnson also said it made him more accountable, adding: "People know they can make their point to me and I will have to take it up."

However, a Newcastle mayor will have far fewer powers than London's, after a call for a 'metro mayor' - with responsibility for the whole of Tyne and Wear - was rejected.

Comments (3)

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6:41pm Thu 1 Dec 11

Nicholas_Till says...

'Lord Heseltine also warned that England's urban centres will suffer a painful financial squeeze if they reject the switch to being led by a mayor, who could gain national recognition...'

Why should the fortunes of any British city depend on one figurehead who has a trademark face or lifestyle, or who is popular at Cameron's Camelot because he buys his round? There must be fairer, more sensible ways of doing things.

I see no reason to trust Heseltine at all. But it would be interesting to know what those from Middlesbrough or Hartlepool think of how their own towns' mayoral arrangements - whether they have succeeded or otherwise.
'Lord Heseltine also warned that England's urban centres will suffer a painful financial squeeze if they reject the switch to being led by a mayor, who could gain national recognition...' Why should the fortunes of any British city depend on one figurehead who has a trademark face or lifestyle, or who is popular at Cameron's Camelot because he buys his round? There must be fairer, more sensible ways of doing things. I see no reason to trust Heseltine at all. But it would be interesting to know what those from Middlesbrough or Hartlepool think of how their own towns' mayoral arrangements - whether they have succeeded or otherwise. Nicholas_Till
  • Score: 0

6:41pm Thu 1 Dec 11

Nicholas_Till says...

'Lord Heseltine also warned that England's urban centres will suffer a painful financial squeeze if they reject the switch to being led by a mayor, who could gain national recognition...'

Why should the fortunes of any British city depend on one figurehead who has a trademark face or lifestyle, or who is popular at Cameron's Camelot because he buys his round? There must be fairer, more sensible ways of doing things.

I see no reason to trust Heseltine at all. But it would be interesting to know what those from Middlesbrough or Hartlepool think of how their own towns' mayoral arrangements - whether they have succeeded or otherwise.
'Lord Heseltine also warned that England's urban centres will suffer a painful financial squeeze if they reject the switch to being led by a mayor, who could gain national recognition...' Why should the fortunes of any British city depend on one figurehead who has a trademark face or lifestyle, or who is popular at Cameron's Camelot because he buys his round? There must be fairer, more sensible ways of doing things. I see no reason to trust Heseltine at all. But it would be interesting to know what those from Middlesbrough or Hartlepool think of how their own towns' mayoral arrangements - whether they have succeeded or otherwise. Nicholas_Till
  • Score: 0

4:30pm Fri 2 Dec 11

gramps427 says...

The elected Mayors in this region have been returned not once but twice since they took the lead. Its mainly because they are independent of any political party that people are trusting them. Darlington's referendum was a close shave with a small turnout; its time voting was made mandatory for all elections and referendums; there could always be a space on the form for a "non of the above" vote. Then the average person, who never votes, will have to accept responsibility for the politicians who run this country/town.
The elected Mayors in this region have been returned not once but twice since they took the lead. Its mainly because they are independent of any political party that people are trusting them. Darlington's referendum was a close shave with a small turnout; its time voting was made mandatory for all elections and referendums; there could always be a space on the form for a "non of the above" vote. Then the average person, who never votes, will have to accept responsibility for the politicians who run this country/town. gramps427
  • Score: 0

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