Labour currently only allows mayors to stand for two terms, but with the impending retirement of a generation of borough mayors, the party is conducting a review of its internal guidance to allow them to stand for third time.
Sir Steve Bullock, two-term mayor of Lewisham LBC, said the review was needed to bring the party up to date with new legislation. “They are reviewing party rules and guidance to local parties as we speak,” he confirmed. “That’s because it was written 10 years ago and we have now had the 2007 [local government and public involvement in health] act which requires all authorities to have a think about their leadership arrangements.”
As well as Sir Steve, Hackney LBC mayor Jules Pipe, Newham LBC mayor Sir Robin Wales and Doncaster MBC mayor Martin Winter are all half-way through second terms.
In Doncaster, the issue of term-limits was rumoured to have played a part in Cllr Winter’s threat to leave the party.
But the change of policy could set Labour on a collision course with the Local Government Association. In a speech last week, LGA chairman Sir Simon Milton (Con) appeared to give his tacit blessing to a fresh generation of mayors, but on the condition two-term limits be imposed.
“I believe that if a mayoral model is to have any legitimacy it has to be accompanied by real powers over a local area, covering accountability for health and policing,” he said. “There would also have to be devolution of transport, housing, skills, economic
development and their associated capital and revenue budgets... and a two-term limit would have to be written into any legislation.”
Sir Steve rejected the need for term-limits.
“I would argue there should be a power of recall,” he said. “That would allow a locality to say ‘this mayor is so awful we want to get rid now’ rather than wait for an election.”