solutions increasingly available? Similarly, mayoral involvement
in housing provision leads straight to the complexity of problems
associated with some deprived housing estates. There is a powerful
case for widespread devolution of responsibilities in these fields. That
does not preclude the present devolution to metropolitan boroughs,
but it is difficult not to believe that at least reserve powers should be
available at a mayoral level to secure rationalisation of resources,
adequate specialist funding and a refusal to tolerate low standards.
A similar range of conflicting issues surrounds the establishment of
Mayoral Development Corporations. The use of such corporations
over the past 40 years has been responsible for large scale
development in difficult and deprived areas. They have been
partnerships initially forced on local government and then, from
the 1990s, agreed voluntarily. They affect, however, travel-to-work
areas much larger than existing local authority boundaries and can
involve policy issues, particularly housing, which can be of significant
local controversy. In the initial stages, they were invariably way
beyond the resource of any one authority, whilst the benefits are
felt in employment over an area well outside their boundary. There
is a powerful case to enable mayors to initiate these instruments of
regeneration in partnership with central government.
Mayoral authorities are designed to encourage close coordination
of policy and stimulate investment within a long-term perspective.
The mayoral authority, once established, works to a four-year cycle,
but within the authority area there is a revolving door of annual
elections at a borough level which inevitably become interwoven with
party battles. There is also a five-year general election cycle. There is
a strong argument for an independent enquiry into the timing and
coincidence of these electoral timetables, with a view to achieving
greater coincidence and thus less short-term disruption.
A final issue relates to how these mayors deal with the centre. In
1994, Government Offices for the English Regions were set up.
In May 2010, they had a total of 1700 staff and in 2006-07 alone
they delivered some £7.7bn on behalf of central government
departments. By 2011 they were gone. My view is that the abolition