The prime minister has ramped up the campaign for an elected mayor in Bristol, saying the city needs to take a “once-in-a-generation” chance to avoid “stagnating”.
David Cameron was in the city yesterday to urge voters to back his plans for an elected mayor, saying Bristol had to “join the race or fall behind”.
His rallying cry came as the Conservatives redoubled their efforts to spark interest in the campaign.
Chancellor George Osborne is due to visit the Bristol area later in the week, while Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie aims to increase her appearances in the local media to promote the Yes vote.
Local Conservative and likely Mayor candidate Peter Abraham is also believed to have asked for greater support from his fellow Tory councillors in the Council Chamber.
Mr Cameron said at the much-publicised event at the Marriott Hotel yesterday: “Britain stands on the brink of exciting democratic change. Let’s be clear what this moment means. It’s not some trivial re-structure or fiddling about.
“It’s about more investment across our country. More jobs for our workers. More life in our political system. It’s a once-in-a-generation chance to change the way our country is run.
“I passionately want those cities – from Bristol to Birmingham, Nottingham to Newcastle, Sheffield to Wakefield – to give a resounding, emphatic yes next week.”
‘No’ campaigners dismissed the PM’s visit as “desperate”, pointing out that even London’s twice-elected mayor ken Livingstone had said he is still “not convinced” by the mayoral system, saying “it concentrates a lot of power in one person’s hands”.
Hartcliffe councillor Mark Brain said yesterday: “The fact that David Cameron was forced to come to Bristol today to shore up the ailing and divided ‘Yes’ campaign demonstrates that an elected mayor for Bristol is not the inevitability that some people would have us believe. The people of Bristol have the power to put a stop to this expensive madness by voting ‘No’ on May 3.”
The referendum takes place a week on Thursday. The result will be declared at Bristol City Football Club on Friday, May 4 – with Bristol24-7 at the event to bring you the news first.
Should Bristol vote yes, an elected will take place in November for the city’s first directly elected mayor.
For more information, call Bristol City Council on 0117 922 3400 or visit http://www.bristol.gov.uk/page/elections