Local mayors 'need more powers'

Local mayors should be given more powers to make the "tough decisions" that will stimulate economic growth, a new report has urged.

The Government should devolve duties to local authority mayors in areas such as transport and planning, the Institute for Government and Centre for Cities said.

The two groups argued that some cities would benefit from "metro mayors", who would have powers over a geographic area.

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: "Mayors have the potential to improve how cities are governed but to realise their full promise they need additional powers and influence to those currently proposed.

"Centre for Cities research shows that skills, transport and planning remain the most significant and urgent barriers to growth; mayors will need to be able to tackle these through formal and informal powers.

"Citizens in every city and city region should be able to make their own decisions about the right governance for their place and their economy. So we are also urging the government to amend legislation to give cities the option to have either a local authority or metro mayor."

Andrew Adonis, director of the Institute for Government, added: "Central government has a real opportunity in the localism bill to demonstrate its commitment to strong city leadership and to encourage growth by divesting the powers to drive it.

"Evidence from the UK and abroad shows that elected mayors can have a transformative effect on city economies. But if they are going to succeed, government first has to give them the powers to make a difference. The London experience has shown that mayors can deliver change for-the-good but only where they can make city-wide strategic decisions that transcend local in-fighting and nimbyism."