Welsh Tories pushing for referendum on introducing elected mayors in certain Welsh towns and cities
CALLS have been made for Newport to given the chance to have its own elected mayor.
Welsh Tories want the Welsh Government to allow for a referendum to be held on elected mayors in Wales' largest communities.
Advocates say an elected mayor would be a prominent figure head who would encourage voters to engage with government in the city.
However officials at the Welsh Government say there are already powers in law for voters to call for a referendum if they want one.
Directly-elected mayors replace the role of the leader and his or her cabinet in a council. There are currently 15 mayors serving in England – with the nearest to Wales being in Bristol which chose to have a mayor last year.
However nine cities rejected the idea at the same time. Hartlepool later decided to drop the system.
Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Tory Shadow Minister for Local Government, said elected mayors in Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Bangor and Wrexham would be prominent figure-heads and would be directly accountable to residents.
"Voters in Wales should be able to have their say through a referendum on the creation of elected mayors, which could make a real difference and encourage voter engagement in local democracy," she said.
"The Welsh Labour Government should consider allowing referendums so the people in these communities can have their say and decide if they would like their own mayor."
William Graham, a Newport-based Tory AM for South Wales East, said: "I think its a good idea. Anything that would take Newport forward. It would help reinvigorate the city centre."
But Lliswerry Labour councillor Allan Morris was not so sure: "I just don't see how that would be more democratic than what we have now.
"I am accountable to the people of Lliswerry and if those people don't think we are doing a good job they get rid of us.
"It's too much responsibility for one person."
A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The option for a directly elected mayor is a matter for the electorate and the local authority.
"The Local Government Act 2000 introduced the option for directly elected mayors in England and Wales. If the local authority decides it wants an elected mayor or if a petition signed by at least 10 per cent of the electorate is presented to the council the local authority should then hold a referendum on this option."
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