Bristol mayor scrapped: Live updates as mayoral system ditched in Referendum

Bristol has voted to scrap the mayoral system. Polling stations closed across Bristol yesterday (May 5) in a referendum to decide the system of local government which will run the city for the next ten years at least.

While much of the rest of the country hold local council elections – where people get to vote for councilors and representatives to elect them to positions of power in their council chambers – there was a different kind of vote happening in Bristol.

The city elected its city councilors and mayors last May – so this time it wa a referendum on the system of local government itself.

Readmore:Bristol Mayor Referendum 2022: everything you need to know

People who did make it to the polling stations were faced with one simple question: should the City of Bristol retain its current system – where a Mayor of Bristol runs the city council – or change to a different way, called the ‘committee system’, where the 70 councilors are organized into committees at City Hall and they run the council instead.

The referendum vote was called last year after a combination of Green Party, Lib Dem and Conservative councilors voted to have it. In May 2021’s elections, even though Labor Mayor Marvin Rees was re-elected for a second term in office, Labor lost their majority of councilors in the council chamber, with the Green Party now having just as many councillors as Labour, for the first time ever.

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It’s not the first time such a referendum has been held. Back in 2012, Bristol was the only city in the country to vote in favor of having a directly-elected mayor run its local authority, and later that year George Ferguson was elected as mayor – followed by Marvin Rees in 2016.

The legislation that created that role included a break clause – that if councillors voted for it, after ten years, the question of which system people want could be put back to the voters in a second referendum.

If the vote is for a change to a committee system, it won’t take effect immediately, and won’t instantly remove Marvin Rees from office. The change wouldn’t happen until May 2024 – in two years’ time – when Mr Rees said he intends to stand down anyway.

And the vote will not impact on Bristol’s other directly-elected mayor, either. Since the 2012 creation of the City Mayor for Bristol, the Government created another major position – the regional Metro Mayor, who covers Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Since last May that has been Labour’s Dan Norris, whose position won’t change whatever is decided today.

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