Mayor or no Mayor – you decide

A letter is going out to every household in Liverpool asking for their view on how the city is governed and whether the office of elected Mayor should be scrapped. Tony McDonough reports

Joanne Anderson
Current Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson could be the last. Picture by Liverpool City Council


People across Liverpool are being asked from this week how they want the city to be run and whether or not they want to scrap the office of elected Mayor and return to a council leader model.

During April, a letter will be sent to every household in the city, with a secure link to an online portal, to answer the question: How would you like Liverpool City Council to be run?

The options are the three forms of governance that are allowed by law:

  • By a Mayor who is directly elected by voters every four years (current system).
  • By a leader who is an elected councillor, chosen by a vote of the other elected councillors.
  • By one or more committees made up of elected councillors.

In 2012, councillors voted in favour of replacing the council leader role with that of an elected Mayor. It bypassed the typical practice of a local referendum and was said move would create “the most powerful politician in England outside the capital”.

Labour’s Joe Anderson was elected as Liverpool’s first Mayor in May 2012, winning almost 60% of the vote. Later explaining why there wasn’t a referendum, Mr Anderson said the £130m in extra grants promised by the Government was an incentive that was too good to refuse.

Mr Anderson secured re-election in 2016 and was all set to run for a third term when, in December 2020, he was arrested by Merseyside Police on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation as part of the wider Operation Aloft investigation. He was released shortly afterwards, no charges have been brought and he maintains his innocence.

READ MORE: Report reveals scale of city council problems

He stood aside as Mayor shortly afterwards and, in May 2021, Labour councillor Joanne Anderson (no relation) was elected as the new Mayor. Ms Anderson had previously said she would like to scrap the role and return to the old council leader model.

But plans for a referendum were scrapped as, at an estimated cost of £450,000, they were deemed to expensive for the cash-strapped authority. Instead, a cheaper public consultation, costing £120,000, was proposed.

City solicitor, Dan Fenwick, said: “The council wants to give as many people as possible the chance to have their say over the future governance of Liverpool City Council. I encourage everyone to take part.

“Full details of how to participate can be found at and we will be sending out a letter to all households which will be dropping on their doormat in April. We are also happy for people to email or write in with their views on a change.

Documentation on the website includes a summary of how the consultation is being conducted and information about the models of governance and how they are different. There will be instructions available in multiple languages, to make it as accessible as possible.

Joe Anderson
Former Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson was first elected in 2012
Liverpool Town Hall
You can have your say on how Liverpool City Council is governed


Paper copies of the voting form will be available on request for those without internet access. A digital information campaign in support of the consultation will also take place to raise awareness and encourage participation.

The webpage with details of the consultation – which will be ongoing until Monday, June 20 – can be found at People can also email or write to: Electoral Services, Liverpool City Council, Cunard Building, Water Street, Liverpool, L3 1AH.

The outcome will be reported to full council and the elected members will then make the final decision on whether to change governance arrangements, taking into account people’s views. If full council agrees to make a change in governance, it will take effect from the elections in May 2023 and will be binding on the Council for five years.

It will still be possible to hold a referendum in this period if a petition of 5% of electors is presented to the council asking for a referendum of Liverpool electors to vote on whether to change governance model.

Mr Fenwick added: “A consultation is the only way that local people can express a preference for all three available governance models, and we have made the process as clear and simple as we can.”

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