UK-wide, national and regional referendums
The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) establishes a fixed legal framework for the conduct of any referendum held across the UK, or a referendum held in Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland. It also applies to regional referendums within England.
The Local Government Act 2000 set out a major change in the way local authorities in England and Wales are run. Most local authorities, except some of the smaller district councils, operate 'executive arrangements'. There are three types of executive arrangement set out in the Act, two of which involve a directly elected mayor: mayor and cabinet, and mayor and council manager. The other involves a leader (who is elected by councillors) and cabinet.
Local authorities consult on which arrangements local people want. In 2001, North Yorkshire County Council adopted the elected Leader and Cabinet (Executive) model, following public consultation. Local residents can require a mayoral referendum by organising a petition signed by 5% of local government electors shown in the electoral register (10% or more in Wales). For North Yorkshire, in the year to 15 February 2007, the number is 26,650.
Further information on a mayoral referendum is available on the Electoral Commission web site.
Referendums are now used by some local councils to test public opinion on local issues. These referendums are not regulated by law.