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  6. Think-tank report calls for more mayoral planning powers

Think-tank report calls for more mayoral planning powers

Local authority mayors should be given more planning and other powers to make the difficult decisions which can support growth.

That is the conclusion of a report published by the Institute for Government and the Centre for Cities, which urges the government to devolve more powers to mayors through the Localism Bill.

In their report the two think-tanks also argued that cities should have the freedom to bid for metro mayors with additional powers.

The report, ‘Big Shot or Long Shot? How elected mayors can help drive economic growth in England's cities' proposes that mayors should:

  • have strategic oversight of the council’s core strategy to ensure that it looks beyond administrative boundaries
  • take decisions about strategic planning applications which support economic growth, such as major infrastructure projects or major housing sites
  • chair the Integrated Transport Authority
  • co-chair the Local Enterprise Partnership

The report said: “This would help give mayors a strong presence amongst the local business community. It would enable the mayor to communicate to central government the needs of the area”.

The report also calls on government to give cities the option to decide which mayoral model is right for their local economy. The report argued that some cities would benefit from a so-called ‘metro mayor’, who would govern a wider geographic area to cover the level of the natural economic boundary.

The report said: “These metro mayors would be most effective with additional powers that take from the most successful aspects of the London Mayoral model - strategic powers over transport, planning and skills.”

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "Mayors have the potential to improve how cities are governed but to realise their full promise they need additional powers and influence to those currently proposed.

"Research by Centre for Cities shows that skills, transport and planning remain the most significant and urgent barriers to growth; mayors will need to be able to tackle these through formal and informal powers.”

Andrew Adonis, director of the Institute for Government said: "The London experience has shown that mayors can deliver change for-the-good but only where they can make city-wide strategic decisions that transcend local in-fighting and nimbyism”.

View the full 'Big Shot or Long Shot' report.

Roger Milne

16 June 2011