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A directly elected mayor and a cabinet is one of three different ‘political management arrangements’ available to local authorities. The others are a leader and cabinet, and the traditional ‘committee system’, where decisions are made by policy committees and approved by full council.

Local authorities may establish directly-elected mayors in England and Wales, but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Mayoral authorities do not have additional powers compared to non-mayoral authorities.

Initially, an elected mayor could only be created following a referendum in favour in the relevant local authority. Since 2007, English local authorities have also been able to create an elected mayor by resolving to do so in full council.

The majority of referendums on creating elected mayors have resulted in ‘no’ votes. As of 2021, 15 local authorities, all in England, have elected mayors.

This figure does not include the Mayor of London or the nine ‘metro-mayors’, in Greater Manchester and other areas, which are covered by separate legislation and have different powers from local authority mayors.

The Library has also published briefing papers on the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority, and on ‘metro-mayors’ in Devolution to Local Government in England.


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