Waking From A Nightmayor

Bristol has voted to abolish the office of elected mayor, only a decade after it was established. This follows a similar decision in Torbay in 2019. The Wessex Regionalists have opposed elected mayors since their creation in 2000. We see them as part of the piecemeal approach to regional devolution in England. They have their origin in a turf war between then-prime minister Tony Blair, who favoured city regions, and his deputy John Prescott, who preferred regional assemblies for the standard government regions (which have their own set of problems).

The picture was further complicated in 2017 when the position of Mayor of the West of England was created. Here we had a mayor of a combined authority which included Bristol. It was a return to the bad old days of the “County” of Avon. And people say that a regional tier of government would be confusing!

We, on the other hand, have always maintained that the only region for Wessex is Wessex. Yes, as much power as possible should be devolved to Wessex’s historic shires, boroughs, hundreds and parishes. But there would be a clear hierarchy, without the patchwork quilt of clashing authorities that exists at present. There are no elected mayors in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland: they have real devolution. Perhaps politicians, now that their project has failed, can be persuaded that this is the package Wessex deserves too.