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Andrew Stevens
City Mayors' UK local government adviser

Andrew Stevens is a Fellow of the City Mayors Foundation.  In particular he works as a researcher on urban policy and adviser on city government.  His books include The Politico’s Guide to Local Government (several editions, in translation) and a chapter in City Branding – Theory and Cases (2010).  He is also Senior Research Fellow at University College London's City Leadership Initiative, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Member of the Regional Studies and Urban Economics Associations.

Articles by Andrew Stevens
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English local government
and directly elected mayors

Government: All but 16 of the 326 councils in England are led by a Council Leader elected by their fellow councillors. Since 2002 a small number, as well as Greater London, have been led by mayors elected directly by local voters. Most of the elected mayors in England have responsibility for all local services, with two district council mayors responsible for only environment, planning and housing. All 17 elected mayors are elected on four year terms by the instant run-off Supplementary Vote. There are no elected mayors in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. View complete update following May 2016 elections

English local government
and directly elected mayors

9 May 2016: All but 16 of the 326 councils in England are led by a Council Leader elected by their fellow councillors. Since 2002 a small number, as well as Greater London, have been led by mayors elected directly by local voters. Most of the elected mayors in England have responsibility for all local services, with two district council mayors responsible for only environment, planning and housing. All 17 elected mayors are elected on four year terms by the instant run-off Supplementary Vote. There are no elected mayors in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. View complete update following May 2016 elections

Local government in Ireland
British with a distinct Irish accent
12 August 2014: Local government in the Republic of Ireland predates its national political structures, with the constitutional arrangements laid down under British rule in the late nineteenth century remaining in place. Ireland’s local government arrangements consisted until recently of 29 county and county borough councils with a set of smaller town and in some cases borough councils at the sub-tier. A big bang reorganisation in 2014 saw this number streamlined and flattened into 31 all-purpose local authorities through a series of mergers, in response to Ireland’s recent economic and political crisis. MORE

The City of London offers on one square mile
history, feudal governance and global finance

12 August 2014: The landmarks of the area covered by the historic City of London Corporation are known to many – St Paul’s Cathedral, the Old Bailey, the ‘Gherkin’ and soon the ‘Walkie-Talkie’ and the ‘Cheesegrater’, to name but few – but less is known about the Corporation itself. The City of London is often confused with Greater London (the area covered by the Greater London Authority), but the two concepts are indeed very distinct and separate. More

History and many post-war reforms
shape local government in the UK

10 April 2012: There is no single pattern of local government in the United Kingdom. Instead arrangements vary in the four ‘home nations’ of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, Wales and urban England, with the exception of London, single-tier unitary authorities provide all local services, whereas non-metropolitan England is served by a two-tier system split between district and county councils. More

England’s elected mayors
have performed rather well

21 January 2010: The debate surrounding the introduction of elected mayors in UK local government is one which has polarised both local government itself and the academic and policy communities the most among all others. Fewer topics elicit such vexatious argument and yet evidence-based debate is thin on the ground. More

With a little help
from our friends

19 February 2009: The challenges affecting the balance between central and local governments are common to all societies. Local councils the world over are concerned about finance, performance management and structural reform. However, recent evidence shows that Britain is one of the most centralised in the developed world when compared to its peers. More

Mayors from Africa, Asia
The Americas and Europe

29 January 2009: While urban settlements have been around for millennia, increasingly cities are beginning to acquire their own narratives and political importance, not only as places to live but also as drivers of national social values and economies with their own global networks. Though the agglomerative effects of cities as part of globalisation is widely understood and universal, city leadership models remain as diverse as ever, but with common trends on each continent: Africa, Asia, The Americas and Europe.

UK should make elected mayors focus of local government reform

English council leaders strengthened by new local government legislation

UK government studies
the case for city regions

15 December 2005: A London-based think tank with the ear of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has published proposals for a city region-based system of local councils in England, which have attracted the support of government and opposition alike. More

Demands for governance reforms
in London hit by partisan backlash

22 February 2005: The Commission on London Governance, a joint body established by the London Assembly and the Association of London Government, was formed in 2004 with the remit to examine the workings of all aspects of government in the capital and recommend an outline for reform. More

Question over EU voting rights adds to dispute between Spain and Britain over Gibraltar status

London prepares
for 2016 mayoral and
council elections

21 October 2015: The fifth elections to the Greater London Authority (both the Mayor of London and the 25 Members of the London Assembly) will be held on May 5 2016. To stand for Mayor of London candidates must be a UK, Irish, Commonwealth or EU citizen aged 18 or over, resident or working in London for at least 12 months and otherwise not disqualified from standing for election. MORE

England’s large cities
stay loyal to Labour

10 May 2015: Alongside a national election which saw UK Prime Minister David Cameron returned for a second term of office and the resignation of the three main opposition party leaders, voters in England have seen a number of key local election races in cities and towns.  Despite retaining control of the big English cities, the Labour Party struggled to make headway in non-metropolitan areas.  Elsewhere, London mayor Boris Johnson returned as a Member of Parliament (MP), sparking a year-long race to succeed him when his term ends in 2016. MORE

Labour determined to consolidate
its power in England’s major cities

27 April 2015: On 7 May 2015 elections in the UK will determine not only who forms the next national government but also the control of town and city halls up and down the land. The Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron is offering a bonanza of new powers for cities, which adopt ‘metro mayors’, while the opposition Labour Party is promising to devolve £30bn of spending from central government to all local authorities. Municipal elections for the metro areas around the big cities of Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, and Newcastle will be held alongside polls for directly elected mayors in six local authorities. MORE

World mayors, their
parties and politics

28 July 2014: The narrative of the global pattern of urbanization is that we are said to live in the ‘urban century’ and the ‘age of the mayor’. Current affairs weeklies nod with approval at mayor-centred urban analysis by Richard Florida, Benjamin Barber and Bruce Katz – city rankings now enjoy the kind of media glow once reserved for corporate giants. But who gets to govern the world’s biggest cities? City Mayors examines the shifts in urban political allegiances and party machines over the past five years. MORE

Labour Party reinforces dominance
in England’s largest towns and cities

24 May 2014: Following Thursday’s local elections in England, any political observer from outside Britain may be excused of believing that a nationalist populist party had taken over many of the country’s city halls. But nothing could be further from the truth. Despite post-election coverage insinuating that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) had caused an electoral earthquake, the party actually holds very few seats (see table) and will not control any local authorities. It was in fact the centre-left Labour Party, which swept the board in London and most big towns and cities. MORE

London 2012 elections:
Issues and candidates


Liberal Democrats made to suffer
for unpopular government policies


Meltdown for Labour in English local elections

British expenses scandal dominates political debate

Sir Steve Bullock
Mayor of Lewisham, London

13 April 2014: As with the other of the first wave of elected mayoralties in England, backwater boroughs like Lewisham in London were not the kind of large cities the Blair government had in mind when it introduced the reforms in 2000. However, Lewisham’s first elected mayor Sir Steve Bullock has played a leading role in the Southeast London council’s civic life for a quarter of a century and enjoys the one of the highest national profiles of England’s relatively small number of elected mayors. He will be seeking a fourth term in local elections scheduled for 22 May 2014. MORE

Japanese Mayors
18 April 2015: Japan, the world’s third-largest economy by GDP and 10th largest population, is a unitary state, governed at national level by a Prime Minister and Cabinet largely chosen from the bicameral National Diet.  The two-tier local government system in Japan is composed of 47 prefectural governments (roughly akin to a county), each headed by a directly-elected Governor (elected on a four-year term) and 1,719 municipalities, each headed by a directly-elected Mayor More.

British Mayors

14 May 2015: All but 15 of the 326 councils in England are led by a Council Leader elected by their fellow councillors. Since 2002 a small number, as well as Greater London, have been led by mayors elected directly by local voters. Most of the elected mayors in England have responsibility for all local services, with two district council mayors responsible for only environment, planning and housing. All 16 elected mayors are elected on four year terms by the instant run-off supplementary vote. There are no elected mayors in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. More

The mayor who brought the
Olympics to Rio de Janeiro
4 January 2013: As with his predecessor Cesar Maia, Eduardo Paes' journey to the Rio de Janeiro mayoralty was one of constant political shapeshifting. Yet in 2009 the mayor's prominence, just eight months into office, shot up on a global scale thanks to the city's successful bid for 2016 Olympic Games. Rio's daily battle against gang violence, thanks to the juxtaposition of extreme poverty in the favelas and the beachfront high life, was most recently documented in the hit Elite Squad films. Paes, however, wants the city to be known for successful staging back to back the world's two greatest sporting events and for becoming a leading smart city. Mayor Paes was shortlisted for the 2012 World Mayor Prize. More

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London
3 September 2012: London’s resolutely ‘young fogey’ mayor has confounded all expectations on his aptitude to govern since his May 2008 election victory. Having gone from a controversy-seeking journalist to national politician in less than a decade, Boris Johnson was always a surprise choice as Conservative candidate for the Labour-leaning British capital’s top job. His record in office has divided commentators however, some applauding his personal brand and humour underlying a solid vision, others accusing him of breath-taking complacency and attention-seeking. Johnson was re-elected for a second term in May 2012 ahead of London’s successful staging of the Summer Olympics, leading many to ponder a return to national politics and higher office for the seasoned performer mayor. More

Mauricio Macri
Mayor of Buenos Aires
23 August 2012: The mayor of the Argentinean federal capital Buenos Aires represents both a sea change in the nation’s recent turbulent political history and a populist touch to the problems which have blighted the city in spite of continuous economic growth and stability. The conservative businessman first ran for mayor in 2003 following his stint as president of one of the country’s best-known football teams, eventually securing election to Congress in 2005 and as mayor in July 2007. He won re-election in July 2011. More

Michael Bloomberg
Mayor of New York

1 August 2012: Michael Rubens Bloomberg became New York City's 108th mayor on 1 January 2002, re-elected in 2005 and, more controversially, 2009. America’s 12th richest person and proprietor of the financial data firm bearing his name, Bloomberg’s brand of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism places him in the tradition of the Democrat-leaning city’s iconoclast Republican mayors. The mayor is also leader of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition and C40 climate change group. More

Sao Paulo’s mayor Gilberto Kassab
confronts the advertising industry

1 August 2012: Having become mayor following Jose Serra's resignation upon elevation to Sao Paulo state governorship in 2006, Gilberto Kassab represents one of Brazil's few parties of the right.  In 2008 he became mayor in his own right, following his election victory over former Workers' Party mayor and tourism minister Marta Suplicy. More

Ray Mallon, Mayor of Middlesbrough
7 February 2011: Alongside the so-called 'monkey mayor' in neighbouring Hartlepool, Middlesbrough's mayor 'Robocop' Ray Mallon has acted as something of a poster child for Labour's policy of elected mayors in England and his colourful pre-political history is as well known as his confrontational yet effective style of governing. More

RIBA President calls for stronger
recognition of New Urbanism

8 August 2004: A call from an outspoken leading British architect for urbanism to be recognised as a vocation in itself has shone a spotlight on the movement for New Urbanism. More


London Underground carries
three million people every day

14 January 2013: Heritage and modernisation are the watchwords for London’s underground rail network, the ‘tube’, as it reaches its 150th anniversary. The world’s first underground railway, between Paddington and Farringdon Street was opened by the Metropolitan Railway in December 1863. Today, London Underground carries three million passengers a day across 275 stations on its 253 mile network. More

Berlin U-Bahn: rebuilding after
100 years of turbulent history

28 February 2009: Berlin’s Untergrundbahn (or U-Bahn) is a vibrant part of the German capital’s cityscape and something of a paradise for modernists. Begun in 1896, its history closely follows that of Germany itself, with two world wars and the post-war division of the city affecting its development. Today the network carries 1.4m passengers each day across nine lines serving 170 stations in the city. More

London’s transport network suffers from
under-investment and muddled strategy

5 August, 2007: A key element of the long awaited modernisation of London’s underground rail network, the so-called Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) deal has been behind many headlines, not least when Metronet, one of the consortiums set up to undertake the work, collapsed in July 2007. More

Tokyo promotes cool image
in run-up to 2020 Olympics

16 January 2014: The name alone of Japan’s metropolis underlines its historic and political significance: Tokyo, or ‘eastern capital’. Having relocated the seat of government from the ‘western capital’ Kyoto to the ancient port of Edo in the 19th century at the behest of a modernized, open and newly unified nation, it was the capital’s post-war reconstruction which was to usher in the hyper-modernity which we all associate with Tokyo. Within Japan however, such modernity is often seen as a byword for inauthenticity or assimilation of the west. The Tokyo city brand is one of the world’s most embedded yet least studied. More

The London brand:
2000 years young

20 October 2012: London may have long survived on Dr Johnson’s well-worn dictum that “there is all in London that life can afford” but it was iconography, which established it as the world city during the 20th century. As a nexus for world trade at the peak of the British Empire, the city remains pre-eminent as global hub in the 21st century, the ‘capital of capitals’, despite the occasional wobble and dented prominence following its de-industrialization and struggle to find its place in the world.  In 2012 it benefited from considerable exposure via the London Olympics and Paralympics and continues to market itself on the back of staging the games as the world’s next big tech centre. More

Reunification with mainland China
has not hurt the Hong Kong brand

26 November 2011: The reunification of the former British colony and the Chinese mainland in 1997 was seen by some as the death knell for the investment hub as a global city. Yet careful branding and a robust economic offer underpinned by legal and political stability have seen Hong Kong prosper in its declared aim to be ‘Asia’s world city’, rivalled only by Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. The city also serves as an exemplar in smart city growth and urban living, with high standards of design and an educated workforce. More

The Singapore brand offers
a thoroughly modern city

8 June 2011: Singapore as both an island entity and governed project, has long embedded branding practice into both of these elements. From the ‘Lion City’ free port of founder Sir Stamford Raffles in the 19th century, which became as Sir Winston Churchill later dubbed it the “Gibraltar of the East”, through to the modern-day independent city state Lee Kuan Yew guided under his tutelage from third world shantytown once populated by the “dregs” of Asia in 1965 to first world global hub today. More

City branding must reflect on
the past and point to the future

10 January 2011: City branding and identity of place have assumed centre-stage in policy debates around both economic development and urban leadership in recent years, as urban areas are forced to increasingly compete against each other for investment, talent and visitors. More

London City Hall

23 February 2005: It could be considered unusual to preface an article about one building with a commentary on another but the history of city government in the English capital is an unusual one.  But to begin to examine the current headquarters of the Greater London Authority’s City Hall, we should first consider the original home of London government, County Hall. More

2012 London Olympics to regenerate
one of the poorest areas of the capital

4 April 2008: The 2012 Summer Olympics will take place in London, mostly in Stratford, an area of East London. The sailing events will be held in Weymouth and Portland, on the English south coast. More

The Code of Ethics has been instituted for city leaders who wish to perform their duties beyond all reproach

Code of Ethics

The City Mayors Foundation was established in 2003 to promote, encourage and facilitate good local government. To strengthen local government further, City Mayors has now instituted a Code of Ethics for city leaders who wish to perform their duties beyond all reproach.

Mayors featured by City Mayors and those shortlisted for the World Mayor Prize have been asked to confirm that they and their administrations adhere to the letter and spirit of the Code. Ultimately, City Mayors aims to establish the professional title of Chartered Mayor in recognition of city leaders who bring high integrity and competence to public service as well as adhere to the code of ethics. More