Q&A: Leicester's first directly elected mayor

On Thursday 5 May 2011, Leicester residents voted to elect a mayor who will lead the city for four years.

Eleven candidates stood to become the city's first directly elected mayor.

The new mayor will have the power to initiate policies across council services and will select up to nine councillors as a supporting cabinet.

Here are some key points about the election process and the powers the winning candidate will have.

How much power will the elected mayor have?

The new elected mayor will be required to make executive decisions to ensure all council services are delivered effectively and efficiently - from roads and education, to finance and regeneration.

He will have the power to select his own cabinet but also the power to overrule their advice.

This differs from the status of the current council leader who is required to develop a consensus with his cabinet over any decisions.

Politics lecturer Alistair Jones, from De Montfort University, said in theory the mayor's power could be extended to push through a policy against the wishes of the full council.

"The mayoral candidates will put forward their policy proposals in the hope of getting elected and gaining a mandate from the people to implement them," he said.

"However, if there is a dispute between the council and the mayor over a particular policy not outlined in their manifesto the mayor can overrule the council, but the consequences of this could be catastrophic.

"For example, the council the could all resign in mass at protest of what the mayor is doing."

Who can the elected mayor appoint in their cabinet?

The City Mayor can appoint a deputy and an assistant to serve with them, and will also choose a cabinet of between two and nine councillors.

The cabinet can be made up from members of their own political party or others, who may each be given responsibility for a specific policy area.

Will the role of elected councillors change?

Councillors will still act as the elected representatives of their ward.

Ward residents will be able to take their comments and concerns to their councillor, who can then take these forward to be dealt with by the full council.

Additionally, councillors will have an important role in scrutinising the actions of the elected mayor, Mr Jones said.

"[The mayor] will have to be aware all of their actions are being watched by all of the councillors", he said.

How does the role differ from the existing Lord Mayor?

The Lord Mayor represents the city at ceremonial and social events, meets important visitors, and chairs council meetings.

They are appointed by the ruling political party in the council, and have a non-political role which does not allow them to make decisions related to council business.

What will the salary of the elected mayor be?

An independent advisory pay panel, chaired by Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce's Martin Traynor, has recommended the elected mayor is awarded a starting salary of £65,738 a year.

This is equivalent to a backbench MP's basic annual salary.

The subject of the elected mayor's pay is yet to be discussed by the full council, having been dropped from a meeting agenda on 24 March.

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