Community News

Bristol votes to scrap mayoral system

Main image of City Hall courtesy of Bristol City Council

Bristol residents have voted to scrap the post of mayor in favour of a committee system – with a council leader at the head of City Hall.

Some 94,552 people voted in yesterday’s referendum (Thursday 5 May) – with 56,113 (around 59 per cent) for the committee system and 38,439 (about 41 per cent) wanting to keep the elected mayoral role.

The position was brought in ten years ago, with George Ferguson (Independent) the first elected Bristol Mayor. The current Labour mayor Marvin Rees had already announced he would be stepping down in 2024 after his second term in office.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees who will be stepping down in 2024. Image Bristol City Council.

The committee system will see councillors from all parties forming groups to decide on issues such as education, transport, adult social care and children’s services – with the council leader appointed internally by councillors, not by the public. 

Opponents of the Mayoral system say it puts too much power in the hands of one person and the committee system allows more people to be engaged in democracy but supporters of having a Mayor say it gives the people the chance to directly elect their leader instead of it being decided on by councillors.

Work will now begin on the transition phase for the new system – which means from May 2024, the political set-up in Bristol will change for at least the next decade.

The result of the referendum is likely to be ratified at an Extraordinary Meeting of Full Council on Tuesday 24 May.