Cameron to host 'cabinet of mayors'

Elected city mayors will have direct regular access to the highest levels of government, David Cameron said today.

A “mayors cabinet” is being set up that will meet at least twice a year to bring together leaders with the prime minister and other senior politicians.

It will give cities the opportunity to lobby the government as well as swap ideas and initiatives.

Mr Cameron announced the move at a reception in No 10 ahead of upcoming referendums in English cities over introducing the role.

The PM said city mayors could “really drive” political and economic renewal in England.

“I’m really enthusiastic about this because I profoundly believe we should be moving our country to having more directly-elected mayors in our big cities,” he added.

“I know it is a big cultural change for Britain, it is a big move for us, and it is absolutely going to be up to the people of those cities to make that decision, but I very much hope we will get some yes votes across our country.”

He added: “I want to establish a cabinet of mayors. I would chair its first meeting.

“I want, when we have a good number of mayors around the country, to bring them together so we can swap ideas, experience and initiatives, and we can really make sure that central government is not just helping to deliver these referendums but is also going to start delivering extra power, extra resources, to those cities, and to those mayors, so they can get even more things done.”

Mr Cameron said mayors improved accountability and were better able to take “bold and difficult” decisions.

Voters in England’s major cities - Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield - will decide if they want an elected mayor in referendums on 3 May.

Liverpool is pushing ahead with an election for mayor on the same day and the post is already up and running in Leicester.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said the role was “vital” in championing the interests of everyone in the city.

Referring to his own clash with the government last year over cuts to police funding, the Conservative said: “When there are threats to police budgets, as there may be from time to time, you need a mayor who can go into bat with government to get the money to put another 1,000 police out on the street.”

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