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Mayor 'must not be imposed' on Birmingham

Councillor rejects notion that city should be forced to have a mayor without a referendum first

Cllr James Hutchings
Cllr James Hutchings

There must be no mayor imposed on the people of Birmingham, a senior councillor has insisted.

James Hutchings, who campaigned against a mayor in the referendum of 2012 - when city residents rejected the idea - warned against ignoring the results of the poll.

But despite being an opponent of city mayors, the councillor said there could be a case for introducing a mayor to oversee any future combined authority for Birmingham and its neighbours.

Coun Hutchings, a Conservative member for Edgbaston ward, was speaking after Birmingham MP Gisela Stuart (Lab Edgbaston) urged the Government to consider creating mayors without a referendum, when she questioned Prime Minister David Cameron in the House of Commons.

And Conservative peer Lord Heseltine said in an interview with the Birmingham Post that he believed it had been a mistake to hold a referendum.

Coun Hutchings said: "The public voted against it and it would be pretty outrageous to impose one.

"The concept of an elected mayor for a wider authority, which has a different purpose, would have to be looked at very carefully.

"There is a great deal that needs to be clarified. The idea of a combined authority is interesting but at the moment it is little more than a soundbite. We could not just impose an elected mayor on an area where there is no organisation.

"You need to have some sort of structure in place before you have democratic arrangements, otherwise people don't know what they are voting for. A combined authority would need to be developed first."


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