The campaign to oppose a directly elected mayor for Birmingham has been launched by the three major political parties in the City represented by John Hemming MP for the Liberal Democrats, Cllr James Hutchings for the Conservatives and Roger Godsiff MP for Labour who are co-chairs of the campaign. In our area the campaign is strongly supported by Tyburn Ward councillor Ann Holtom.
The campaign aims to persuade Brummies to vote "no" in next year's referendum. Under the slogan "vote no to a power freak" people are being made aware of the dangers of concentrating Birmingham's political power into the hands of one person.
The campaign website: www.votenotoapowerfreak.org.uk has also been launched.
Every few weeks the campaign will announce a new reason why people should vote "no" so there can be a rolling debate about the realities of having a directly elected mayor or "power freak".
The first reason is:
One person cannot listen to a million
The City of Birmingham has around a million people living in it (including children). An important part of politics is to listen to people between elections. Councillors and Members of Parliament have advice bureaux at which people can come and raises issues that concern them and get answers.
Advice Bureaux are busy
Very often these advice bureaux are very busy. There are 10 members of parliament in Birmingham. This means that if a directly elected mayor held an advice bureau it would not be practicable to see everyone who wished to see the directly elected mayor. The end result is that only powerful and influential people would be able to meet the directly elected mayor. Ordinary Brummies would be squeezed out.
Councillors would have no power to hire or fire the Mayor
People would still be able to see their councillors, but because the councillors could not remove the Mayor they would have no power of "hire and fire". Hence the Mayor would not have to be responsive to what the councillors say on behalf of their residents.
Ordinary people would be squeezed out
At the moment councillors can attend local meetings and talk to people and then the city leader has to listen to the council as the council can hire or fire the city leader. With a directly elected major it would only be possible to sack the mayor every four years. That means for 42 of the 48 months the city leader could simply ignore everyone else apart from those with big wallets or other influence.
What Happens between elections matters
There are many issues that crop up between elections. It is important that there is two way communication between people and the political system. Having a directly elected mayor means that the mayor would be on the telly lecturing people, but the people would not be able to answer back.
If you would like to get involved in this campaign, you can contact one of the three co-chairs: