During the governance referendum on 7th October 2021 in Croydon, four out of five voters (47, 165) chose to have a directly elected mayor, rather than the current system of a leader elected by councilors.

The result means Croydoners will go to the polls in May 2022, to elect a mayor. Until then, the current system of governance will remain in place. Hackney, Lewisham, Newham, and Tower Hamlets are the other London Boroughs to already have an elected mayor.

The Borough was forced to issue a Section 114 notice – declaring itself bankrupt – in November 2020. This meant that the council could not spend on certain public services, such as parks, even though they were legally required to. Some residents expressed anger, as investment was found to be tied with risky property investments.

In the current model, the electorate votes for a councillor, who is then in office for up to four years. Those councillors then vote for a leader, who must appoint a deputy leader, and a cabinet compromised of two to nine councillors. Together, they form the executive, who reserve powers within the law, including approval of the budget and regulatory powers.

The mayoral model removes the need for councillors to vote for a leader, and instead is directly elected by the public. The mayor then must appoint a deputy mayor, and a cabinet, again, of between two to nine councillors. An important difference is that the council will be unable to remove the mayor during their term, as this will only be possible by resignation.

The referendum was triggered following a campaign launched in February 2020. 15,000 signatures (five per cent of the electorate) were needed for the question to be put to the polls. Since then, the campaign had increased support, and succeeded. However, due to the low voter turnout (21%) it is difficult to estimate the true support for this movement.