Heseltine backs 'yes' campaign for a Bristol mayor
CITIES such as Bristol will suffer a painful financial squeeze if they reject the chance to elect a mayor, according to Tory Parliamentary veteran Lord Heseltine.
The former Deputy Prime Minister pointed to the examples of London mayor Boris Johnson and Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, who were both exploiting their powerful positions to gain greater financial clout.
He said: "If you are an English provincial city, you will find yourself in the extraordinarily uncomfortable place of being sandwiched between the two of them – which is not where you would choose to be."
Lord Heseltine also said he believed other towns and cities across Britain would follow suit if the initial shakeup is a success.
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Speaking at the London launch of a campaign for 'yes' votes in the 11 cities including Bristol, Lord Heseltine said: "This will be a stepping stone.
"If the mayoralties are a success in these 11 cities, then I have no doubt that the dominoes will begin to fall in other authorities.
"And that can only be a valuable thing, a way of rekindling entrepreneurial enterprise."
Only a directly-elected mayor could answer the question "who is in charge", the peer argued, insisting council leaders were invisible by comparison.
The Evening Post reported yesterday that the date for Bristolians to vote on whether or not they want an elected mayor has been set for May 3 next year. Unlike other cities that will be voting on the same subject that day, Bristol is not having local elections in May.
If the city votes in favour of having a mayor, the vote to decide who the person would be would probably be in the following November.