It seems that Birmingham is to get a referendum on whether to have an elected mayor. A number of people have expressed interest in the role, including Yardley MP John Hemming.
I like the idea of a directly elected mayor. A major weakness of the current structure (leader of the council being the leader of the ruling party) is that whilst I might like a party or the local candidate and vote on that basis I might not like the leader of the party. The impact of my vote is dictated by an unelected party machine. A directly elected mayor gives me the opportunity to vote for the person I want to lead the council, including an independent if that's what I want.
Whilst many of those who expressed and interest in the role are existing party politicians, John Hemming stated that he would only run as a nominee of his party and not as an independent, a directly elected mayor gives us the opportunity to vote for an independent. We can vote for the person who we believe will deliver what we want, not someone beholden to a party machine and vested corporate interests.