Group formed to campaign for Newcastle elected mayor

A GROUP has been formed to secure an elected mayor for Newcastle.

A GROUP has been formed to secure an elected mayor for Newcastle.

The group has been formed after the Government announced a referendum in Newcastle and 11 other cities in England on whether they want a London-style elected mayor.

The moves have been opposed by both Labour and Liberal Democrats in the city, but now a new group is urging people to vote yes when the referendum takes place next May.

Brian Moore, a former chairman of the Conservative Party in Newcastle, who once appeared on the Channel 4 gameshow Come Dine With Me, is chairing the group. Last night he said: “Parliament has passed the Localism Act which could reshape our politics in a very important way. This will require 11 of the 12 biggest cities in England to hold a referendum to consider a switch to elected executive mayors including Newcastle – the result could be a Boris-type figure to run our city with identical or greater powers.

“Newcastle has long had the right to switch to an elected mayor, but has not done so – not least because councillors feared the impact of the whole city having a say about who runs it and they rightly concluded that powerful elected mayors would drain power from them.

“London would not have had the Olympics, or Crossrail – the multi-billion rail tunnel through the heart of the city – or its congestion charge system, without an elected mayor. Unless we have an elected mayor we increasingly find ourselves squeezed between Boris in the capital and Alex Salmond in Scotland – two powerful figures pushing their particular agendas would, drown out Newcastle and the North East which lacks a similarly powerful voice.

“The elected mayor with hard power over local services and the soft power to do deals, bang heads together and formulate a vision for the future could drive real change and economic growth in Newcastle. And through an elected mayor could drive real improvements in education here.

“There has been much talk of the economy being rebalanced away from an unhealthy dependence on London. Let us hope that political power could soon be rebalanced in the same way – if voters in Newcastle decide they want a mayor, when the referenda are held in may.”

There are currently elected mayors in North Tyneside, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, but all other areas in the North East are still run by council leaders with cabinets made up of elected ward councillors.

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