03 April 2012

Opinion split over directly elected mayor for Manchester

Public opinion is split over whether Manchester should opt for a directly elected mayor, according to a survey by the city’s newspaper.

The poll by the Manchester Evening News, completed by just under 1,000 Mancunians, found nearly 43% in favour of the new system, while just under half said they would rather continue with a council leader and cabinet. The remainder either didn’t know or were not intending to vote.

However, the survey found slightly stronger support for the idea of a mayor for the whole of Greater Manchester, with 56% of respondents preferring this option to individual mayors for individual towns and cities.

While the majority of people thought a mayor, if introduced, should have the power to spend local business rates and control transport prices, there was widespread opposition to the idea they should be able to set policing or health priorities, or create a local income tax.

Most people in Manchester considered themselves to have a good grasp of the issues ahead of the referendum in May, the paper reported.

Liverpool has opted for an early vote on a directly elected mayor,  while Salford residents voted to change its democratic structures after a petition of 9,062 signatures was presented to the council.

Under the Local Government Act 2000, a referendum for mayor is triggered if more than 5% of the electorate sign up to a petition.

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