Councillors cast doubt over rural elected mayor plans

Local councilors and MPs have opposed plans for new elected mayors for three rural parts of England, claiming the move would be expensive and an unwanted extra tier of government.

The plans were announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget in March. However, Liam Fox, MP for Somerset, urged councils to reject the idea and opt out of new authorities in Lincolnshire, the west of England and East Anglia.

Similarly, Sir Henry Bellingham, MP for North West Norfolk, said in an interview with the BBC: “I don't want a regional leader coming along and saying look 'Henry you've been a bad boy, I gather you don't want this incinerator, you don't want these houses, well actually the region do want it and I'd like you to have it’.

"That is going to put MPs in a very difficult position and change their constitutional position."

A DCLG spokesman said: "The government is making huge progress towards rebalancing the economy and empowering local areas through the devolution of powers and resources away from Whitehall to local people.

"Ministers have been repeatedly clear that devolution is a genuinely bottom-up process - all proposals are agreed by local leaders, and the government will not impose an arrangement on any area."

Local authorities will vote on whether they wish to accept detailed proposals by the end of June.