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Support the adoption of elected mayors for combined authorities in cities

Last updated: 09:12pm 8 November 2019

For combined authorities that are based around our great cities, we will continue to support the adoption of elected mayors, but we will not support them for the rural counties.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.32

Our verdict

Combined authorities are legal bodies made up of two or more councils working together across council boundaries. In most cases a combined authority is headed by a mayor who is elected by residents of the area, and the authority takes on certain powers which are devolved from government.  This is a promise to “continue to support” the adoption of elected mayors for authorities based around big cities, so we’re looking at whether there are more elected mayors, and for any support from central government.

There have been two mayors added since the 2017 election – one in Sheffield City Region in May 2018, and one in North of Tyne in May 2019. There are now eight directly elected mayors, each heading a devolved local authority.

As required under the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act 2016, the government provided an annual report on devolution in March 2019, describing progress over the previous year. It outlines several pieces of secondary legislation implemented to transfer functions previously exercised by government ministers to mayors, evidence of ongoing support for the adoption of elected mayors.

More recent evidence of support came in a speech by Prime Minister Johnson in September 2019, in which he said his government would “maximise the power of the north with more mayors”.

The government has upheld its promise to “continue to support” the adoption of elected mayors. Each year since 2017, another directly-elected mayor has been added, and there is evidence of ongoing support and planning for devolution deals. This policy is ‘done’.

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