Marvin Rees, the mayor of Bristol, appears to be the city’s last mayor for a while as he was the sole supporter in the 2012 mayoral referendums to vote to scrap the position – but what does a mayor actually do?
(Image: Paul Gillis/Bristol Live)
The 2022 local elections were dramatic. Bristol has voted to remove its mayor as an elected position, meaning Labour’s Marvin Rees will be the last person to fill the spot.
The city had a choice of retaining the current mayoral position or replacing it with a committee system in which groups of council members are responsible for decision-making.
The Bristol Mayor’s Office was created in 2012 but now, just 10 years later, the city is once again beginning the process of moving away from that model.
After the result was announced, Mr Reeves said: “I have said that I think the committee system is a very bad system.
“I hope I’m wrong because certainly the city is facing all of these challenges and the city needs leadership that can guide them in the face of challenges and opportunities.
“Work hard, get clarity on what the scrap system is, how it’s going to work, absolutely focus on performance.
“This is not just about complacent times in the campaign, now you have to take responsibility.”
So it seems the mayoral system isn’t right for Bristol for now, but what is a mayor and what does he actually do?
What is a mayor and what can he do?
It is important to note that there are two types of mayors in England and Wales, elected and unelected.
Whether or not a mayor is elected has a major impact on what his job is and what he can do.
Unelected mayors fulfill a largely ceremonial role. These are known as traditional mayors and often carry titles such as Lord Mayor.
They have no formal powers and are usually elected by people from the local community for diplomatic and civil affairs. They are considered the first person of the district and are ceremonially the top dog unless kings are present.
Elected mayors are far more powerful and responsible for the day-to-day running of municipal governments.
The powerful mayor rose to prominence during Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s tenure as Mayor of London, a post that is still of immense importance and influence under the leadership of Sadiq Khan.
The exact responsibilities of a mayor vary from agency to agency, but they are generally responsible for leading and directing the area they serve.
They can set priorities, appoint people with influential functions, and generally hold executive powers, but can delegate powers to other parts of local government.
The possibility for them to exist across the country was created by the Localism Act of 2011, which was followed by a spate of urban referendums that gave large settlements the opportunity to have a mayor.
It was strongly pushed by then-Chancellor George Osbourne, who felt that more power in the hands of cities would help boost the economies in those areas.
In this round of referendums, nine cities, including Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds, all offered a chance for a mayor. Only Bristol said yes, with voters skeptical about the need for an additional local politician.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/local-elections-what-mayor-do-26891531 Local Elections: What Does a Mayor Do? When Bristol decides to abolish the post office