Poll: Should Edinburgh have a directly-elected mayor?
THE Capital should consider having a directly-elected mayor to promote the city to the world, according to economist Andrew Wilson.
He told the Edinburgh Dialogues seminar that the city needed to “shout over and over again” about its attributes as a place for people to live, work and bring up a family.
He said: “Scotland spent last year on international promotion of itself £6 million – New Zealand spend ten times that.
“We spend twice as much propping up Prestwick Airport as we do promoting Scotland to the world.
“And in shouting about it, I am of the view that a world city like Edinburgh – more than any other local authority in Scotland – possibly would benefit from one single figurehead to promote it to the world, so a directly elected mayor is worth a debate, worth considering, worth a go.”
It is an idea which has been aired before. And south of the border, there are several cities and city regions which have their own elected mayors.
Former Labour Cabinet Minister Andy Burnham, now mayor of Greater Manchester, which brings together ten local authorities, has been a prominent spokesman for the area since he was elected in May 2017.
He appeared frequently on television and in the media in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing just weeks after his election, condemning the attack as “an evil act” and leading a vigil to honour those killed and injured.
However five years before Mr Burnham was elected, a referendum in the city of Manchester rejected a proposal for an elected mayor.
The post of elected mayor for the wider region was created as part of the conditions for funding for the area under the then Chancellor George Osborne’s “Northern Powerhouse” initiative.
Supporters of the idea argue elected mayors are more visible, more likely to have a coherent vision for their area, better at forging relationships with their local community, more able to make decisions quickly and generally less partisan.
Critics say the system centralises too much power in one person.
There are now 23 directly-elected mayors in England and their powers vary significantly. Two councils – Stoke-on-Trent and Hartlepool – did have elected mayors but then voted to scrap them.