Labour group backs elected mayor for Leicester

The Labour group on Leicester City Council wants to bring an elected mayor to the city before a proposed government referendum on the issue.

The coalition government is already preparing legislation for referenda on elected mayors in 12 cities in England.

The Labour group has voted to move more quickly and proposes to hold elections for the post next May.

A public consultation must be held and the change must be approved by both cabinet and full council.

Several Labour politicians, including Leicester South MP Sir Peter Soulsby and former city council leader Ross Willmott, have indicated they are willing to run for the post.

City council leader Veejay Patel supports the idea, but the council's Conservative leader Ross Grant opposes the move.

"I think it's a disgrace actually. If we're going to change the model of government for Leicester, then the people of Leicester should decide whether we have a mayor or not," Mr Grant said.

The government is proposing a series of referenda on the issue in 12 of England's biggest cities outside London.

Under the proposals, referenda would be held in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.

The details of the proposed powers of city mayors and the referendum timetable will be published in the government's Localism Bill later in November.

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