Learning from two different governance systems

By John O'Brien | 21 January 2020

This year will mark the sixth time in the last 20 years that Londoners have had the opportunity to choose a directly-elected mayor. When I started, while directly-elected mayors did lead individual councils across the country, London was unique in having a city or city region-wide mayor operating over a multi-authority footprint. That is no longer the case and 2020 will, in some of the metro mayor areas, see the second set of elections to those offices.

London’s governance system, devised in the late 1990s, is different to what has recently emerged in those other parts of urban England. Collectively, the boroughs, via London Councils, join with the mayor in a series of collaborative structures focused on key public service challenges facing the City – health, crime, housing, economy etc – but not in a more formal way via the sort of combined authority structures that emerged elsewhere. The Mayor in London is separately held to account by a directly-elected assembly of 25 members.

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