Government Minister Greg Clark urges Birmingham to vote "yes" to a directly-elected mayor, to fight for the city at home and abroad
Greg Clark, the Minister for the Cities, urged Birmingham residents to vote "yes" to an elected mayor, after signing the order telling Birmingham to hold a referendum on May 3.
In an article, originally published in abbreviated form by the Birmingham Mail, he said "the choice is yours" - but argued that a Birmingham Mayor would give the city a strong and accountable leader "who fights their corner - batting for Birmingham on a national and international level."
Mr Clarke is a Minister in the Department for Communities and Local Government. He writes:
Yesterday I was delighted to sign an order which will give residents here in Birmingham the chance to put a directly-elected mayor at the helm.
Putting pen to ballot paper, voters here, and those in the nine other cities, hold the power to bring in a new politics on May 3rd.
Why is this such a great opportunity?
First, these mayors will be able to change things for the better.
They are not ceremonial appointments. They are proactive, democratic figures, with a clear mandate from the electorate: to lead the council, attract investment, represent the city and fight for Birmingham's interests.
Just look at London - the capital has transformed since it has elected its own mayor. And that's the sort of leadership you could have right here.
Second, a directly-elected mayor will make politics answer to you, not the other way round.
Too often, people feel their communities are controlled by people a long way from them.
But internationally, in the great cities which are led by directly-elected mayors, things are different.
If people want something to happen - they know who to go to.
If something goes wrong - they know who is accountable.
If someone needs to speak for the city - they can rely on the mayor they have elected.
To coin a phrase, the buck stops with the mayor; plus if you don't like them, you can vote them out.
It's all part of this Government's belief that the right decisions are more likely to be made in the town hall rather than Whitehall
Third, a directly-elected mayor will energise politics in your city.
The cities with mayors have real debates about their future, they have high profile campaigns, all with the aim of having better services, a better environment and a stronger economy.
After all, everyone who lives here knows Birmingham's needs and aspirations are different to those of other cities.
That is why this role attracts someone who knows their patch, who fights their corner - batting for Birmingham on a national and international level.
I believe the benefits of this system are clear.
But the choice is now yours - you will have the opportunity on 3 May to vote on way your city is governed.
Whatever you decide - please use that vote and have your say.