This briefing paper explains the status of directly-elected mayors in English and Welsh local government, and the routes to establishing them, including the use of local referendums. It also includes an up-to-date list of elected mayors and statistics on previous referendums.Jump to full report >>
The power to create directly-elected mayors was introduced into England and Wales by the Local Government Act 2000. A directly elected mayor and a cabinet is one of three different ‘political management arrangements’ available to local authorities: the others are a leader and cabinet, and the traditional ‘committee system’, where decisions are made by policy committees and approved by full council. Directly-elected mayors may be introduced in England and Wales, but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Initially, an elected mayor could only be created following a referendum in favour in the relevant local authority. Since 2007, English local authorities have also been able to create an elected mayor by resolving to do so.
The majority of referendums on creating elected mayors have resulted in ‘no’ votes. Currently, 16 local authorities have elected mayors. This figure does not include the Mayor of London or the 'metro-mayors' in Greater Manchester and other areas, which are covered by separate legislation and have different powers from local authority mayors.
Mayors do not have powers over and above those available to non-mayoral local authorities.