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Council chief would run for city's mayor post.

THE leader of Newcastle City Council has thrown his name into the ring to become the area's elected mayor - if voters back the creation of the job.

Labour's Nick Forbes could go head to head with his Liberal Democrat predecessor David Faulkner to win the job, subject to a referendum asking residents whether they want an elected mayor in May.

The senior politicians told The Journal they would put their names forward to become their party's candidate for the Boris Johnson-style mayoralty, although both said the switch from the current council system was a "distraction".

Tory ministers say there is good evidence that powerful and directly accountable mayors do a better job of boosting their local economy.

And if voters give the go-ahead to the change, the new mayor could be in post by November.

Mayors are set to have to come forward with their own requests for powers they want - after being elected.

Supporters say mayors should be given wide-ranging powers, including over transport and developing the economy. But opponents insist that councils would do a better job.

Coun Forbes said: "If the city votes in favour of an elected mayor, I would put myself forward as a candidate for the Labour party selection."

David Faulkner, leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition in Newcastle, said the prospect of the Labour council leader standing was "absolutely expected".

He said: "If electors do vote in favour I would be prepared to let my name go forward.

"But if there was another strong candidate for the party, I'd be inclined to give them a free run."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 21, 2012
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