The government has told District Councils they have until the end of this year to opt for a “leader and cabinet” mayoral system. Using Labour legislation, it is pressing for greater centralisation, removal of accountability and removal of scrutiny.
Though paying lip service to the more traditional committee system with councillors directly responsible to the electorate, the real drive, as with Labour, is centralisation. It’s best summed up in the local government minister Grant Shapps’ letter: “…any consultation now about future governance arrangements [is] to be the minimal cost option. It will be for each council to decide, but in our view no more than a small newspaper advert/article or press release on your website may be proportionate and right in these circumstances.”
So, move to a mayoral system, cut out the electorate, hide behind a “small” newspaper advert. But grab as much control as possible now as they intend changing the system again next year with their Localism Bill, which will entrench these people even further.