Headlines: May 2nd, 2002

Today’s local elections will not only provide an opinion poll for how key parties are doing – they will provide the key test for the concept of locally elected mayors.Seven towns and cities will be voting in an elected mayor, having already voted in a referendum to create the role. A further five councils areas will be holding a referendum alongside polling day on whether to have an elected mayor system.

Politicians will be waiting to see if the post is voted for along political lines or because of the individual characters of the candidates.

Labour and supporters of the concept of elected mayors will be hoping that the referendums create sufficient momentum behind the concept to make a significant difference to the political landscape.

Of those 23 areas which have held referendums for elected mayors, only eight have seen a ‘yes’ vote. More ‘yes’ votes are badly needed out of the five referendums this week if the concept is really to take off.

The New Local Government Network is one of those organisations which have been lobbying for elected mayors, saying it will make a positive impact on local democracy. NGLN is looking for the idea to create more interest among voters against a backdrop of low turnout in local elections.

The NLGN has a ‘Your Mayor, Your Choice’ section with further information about the mayoral polls at www.nlgn.org.uk