The Bristol Post reports from a lecture about city leadership by Professor Robin Hambleton at UWE. A key point highlighted by the article is that students have little idea who currently leads Bristol City Council, whereas everyone knows Boris is the Mayor of London.
Greater visibility is one of the key benefits claimed for Mayoral governance.
The comparison between leadership in Bristol and London is thought-provoking, but the role of Mayor of London, with its national profile and colourful incumbent, risks giving us a misleading sense of the size of this profile effect.
It would be equally interesting to explore students’ views on the identity of the Mayor of Liverpool or the Mayor of Salford.* They have been in post in provincial urban authorities for the same length of time as the current leader of Bristol City Council.
Clearly, the students live in Bristol so they have reason to be familiar with leadership locally. But Mayors are seen as playing a strategic role in representing their cities in national debates. It would be interesting to see if the Mayors of Liverpool and Salford had yet managed to raise their profile to the point where it registers on the national stage.
*The answer is Joe Anderson and Ian Stewart respectively, in case you didn’t know.