Reform Scotland

Local Heroes: Why Scotland Needs Directly-Elected Mayors

DIRECTLY-ELECTED MAYORS CAN BE SCOTLAND’S LOCAL HEROES

Reform Scotland, the independent, non-partisan think tank, today calls on the incoming Scottish Government to endorse the creation of an elected mayoralty in every Scottish local authority.

In its new report, ‘Local Heroes: Why Scotland Needs Directly-Elected Mayors’ (Download below), produced in partnership with the Scottish Policy Foundation, the think tank concludes that local democratic accountability has been eroded since devolution, and recommends a mayor directly elected by all voters across the authority area, working alongside proportionately-elected ward councillors.

Reform Scotland’s report finds that mayoralties would create a more transparent and vibrant environment, drive local economies, and enhance local awareness of the work of councils.

Former First Minister Lord McConnell will today (Wednesday) participate in a Zoom discussion, along with former Cabinet Minister Lord Adonis, on how to revitalise and empower local government.

The paper highlights a variety of options based on mayoralties around the world, including a similar model in Auckland, New Zealand, where the directly elected mayor is ‘first among equals’ working with a unitary council.

“This is a timely and well-prepared report from Reform Scotland. Scotland needs stronger voices across the country and more power devolved to local communities. Directly elected mayors and more financial freedom might be the answers we need. It is time they were debated properly

Lord Jack McConnell

“Scotland is far too centralised and needs to see a shift in power from Holyrood to local authorities. Although councils run many of the services that are most important to our everyday lives, few of us know who is in charge and who we should be holding accountable. Scotland is unusual internationally in the weakness of its local authorities.

"Council leaders can sometimes be viewed as  politicians of less importance, and have a lower salary, than backbench MSPs, despite their responsibilities being significantly greater.

“This needs to change. Local people need a local hero who they know, trust to be independent, and who they can elect. Directly-elected mayors are the answer.”

Alison Payne, Research Director, Reform Scotland

“Our Foundation is pleased to have been able to support Reform Scotland to deliver this work which makes a valuable contribution to this policy area. This is part of a series of research papers that we are funding in different policy areas and, while we do not take a view on the proposals themselves, we are pleased to have been able to support Reform Scotland with this work which will help to stimulate policy debate.”

Alison Moore, Director of the Scottish Policy Foundation