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There is much to recommend the mayoral model of governance

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There’s many a good reason to join the government in its support of elected mayors.

As a form of governance, elected mayors are common across the globe, according to scholars of international repute.

Mayors also provide a visible political focal point for residents.

When things go wrong, the name of the mayor comes easily to mind when looking for an individual to fit the frame.

Mayors also offer an obvious advantage for ministers and central government officials who feel nervy about handing down extra powers to local authorities.

Having a named person to call when problems arise will make life easier for those less accustomed to getting things done in local government.

These and other reasons to champion the mayoral model should not, however, distract local government from the important and necessary debate that must be had about how such a system would work.

Every week the Treasury is promising extra powers on the back of elected mayors – and this week has not been exceptional.

As the chancellor announced at the Conservative conference, it will be mayors that gain powers to co-ordinate the raising of business rates.

This on top of the extra powers promised already: regarding health, social care and big transport projects, among others.

The mayor as a personal symbol of power and democratic control might be popular and right in principle.

But making the model work in practice at a time of an unprecedented power shift towards local government needs much more thought – and quickly.

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