Directly Elected mayors have the potential to galvanise local democracy, revive interest in politics, encourage more diversity in the council and make leadership more visible & more accountable. The traditional Leader & Executive model permits the council to select its own leader regardless of what sort of proportional share of the vote they hold – the electorate gets very little direct say in the matter.
An Elected Mayor on the other hand is elected by overall majority [every 4 years] offering legitimacy & genuine accountability at a local government level.
They should also be seen as the “Leader of Bracknell” rather than just the leader of the council which illuminates the way for coalitions & partnerships that work in the benefit of the area rather than party politics grasping at power through all levels of government. Further more they can devolve decision making powers from Westminster and allow the political landscape to become more diverse.
London is a great example of a successful mayoralty, the mayor has campaigned and lobbied with the interests of the electorate in mind and achieved [for example] better investment in transport (both public and highways) which is also something that needs vast improvement in Bracknell especially with the rapid influx of new residents many of whom commute.
Whether you think this is a good thing or not depends on the faith you place in your council at the moment. For some anything that challenges their power and revives local politics will be deemed a good thing.
Central government says it will negotiate the transfer of powers to mayors, and some candidates have set out what they would lobby for before they are elected.
There are concerns when it comes to the cost but (if the petition is successful) aligning a referendum with the next scheduled local election could negate the vast majority of those costs.
Currently the council leader costs the tax payer over £80k per year and the Chief executive costs a further £160k per year.