Campbell, Douglas (2010)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
The creation of eleven directly elected mayors in England between 2002 and 2005, as part of the Labour Government's wider local government reform, altered local governance in those localities. The 1998 White Paper Modern Local Government identified three key weaknesses in the previous local government system: a lack of leadership, legitimacy and accountability. The main question the thesis sought to answer was: what was the political difference made by the introduction of executive mayors in England.? The key issue in this study was to assess if executive mayors have improved the efficiency, the transparency or the accountability of local government. The investigation of the executive mayoral option employed an analytical framework to measure change on three dimensions of efficiency, transparency and accountability. To aid the investigation seven hypotheses were constructed from the government’s White Papers to explore various aspects of executive mayors and assist in providing generalisable conclusions about the introduction of directly elected mayors. Leadership and representation theories were used to operationalise the concepts of leadership, legitimacy and accountability. Models were developed which mapped the locus of power in the council's political space. Given the population of executive mayors was eleven local authorities for the period of the field research, a qualitative approach was adopted relying primarily on interviews augmented with documentary sources and observations. Election results were also analysed using conventional quantitative methods. With regard to elections, the study demonstrates that voters differentiate the office of executive mayor from other political posts. Other findings in this study indicate that one of the main political differences made by the introduction of executive mayors is the creation of a new balance between politicians and officials with the former being more dominant when determining policy matters while the senior officials taking the lead in administration and management. In addition, executive mayors have developed a better capability to challenge professional officers. The strength of executive mayors as leaders within their local authorities over the policy making process demonstrates a change from the operation of the previous system in England. The key person driving policy is now is the directly, clearly identifiable and more accountable executive mayor. This research has shown that directly elected mayors have made positive political differences which can be measured against the core goals of effective, transparent and accountable local government. Executive mayors demonstrate a continuity of governance in local government and have made a difference in the way local councils are run.
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