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Peers back powers to remove elected mayors

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The government was defeated on two more amendments to the Cities & Local Government Devolution Bill in the Lords last night.

Peers backed Liberal Democrat-led amendments to introduce a power for local authorities to hold referendums to remove elected mayors and to allow 16-year-olds to vote in local government elections.

However, these amendments could be overturned when the bill goes to the Commons where the government has a majority.

Baroness Janke introduced the amendment to allow referendums to be held to “undo” the introduction of an elected mayor in an area.

She cited Bristol, which voted in favour of adopting an elected mayor in 2012, as being the only place in the country which is unable to change its governance through a public referendum. It would have to be done through an act of Parliament, the house heard.

Lord Heseltine, a special adviser to the government, said the amendment would “create a degree of instability and uncertainty”.

However, Labour’s deputy local government spokesman Lord Beecham backed the amendment because he said without it the devolution bill would impose a “life sentence” on the form of governance of combined authorities.

A vote saw 182 peers vote in favour of the amendment and 141 against.

Meanwhile, following a heated discussion on lowering the legal voting age to 16 for local government elections peers voted 221 in favour and 154 against.

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