Role of the Mayor

The role of Mayor replaced the previous Council Leader and leads the city council and its full range of services – from social care to waste collections. The Mayor also performs a broader role representing the interests of Bristol’s citizens on a national and international level.

In May 2017 Tim Bowles was elected as the first West of England Combined Authority Mayor (commonly referred to as a ‘Metro Mayor’) and will work alongside Marvin Rees and the council leaders for South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset.

Read Types of Mayor for more information.

Frequently asked questions

How often will elections take place for an elected Mayor?

Elections take place every four years. The next election will be in May 2020 which will also cover all of Bristol’s wards 34 and four MP Constituencies using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system.

How much will the elected Mayor be paid?

The Mayor is paid £65,738 per year, the same as an MP.

Will there still be a Lord Mayor when the elected Mayor is in place?

Yes. The Chair of the Council, who cannot be the elected Mayor, will continue to be known as the Lord Mayor.

The Lord Mayor is one of the 70 elected councillors chosen annually by full council and dates back to 1899 and before that as ‘Mayor’ to the year 1216.  The Lord Mayor is usually someone who has been a councillor for a number of years, and is a new appointment every year. The office of Lord Mayor is a (largely) ceremonial post, and by tradition, the councillor who holds that office takes no part in the political life of the council for their year of office.

Will there still be local councillors?

The 34 wards will have one, two or three councillors (70 in total) representing them. Local elections for councillors will continue to take place as before, and this is independent of the mayoral election process.

Why do we have an elected Mayor?

The role of the Mayor of Bristol was created following a local referendum held on 3 May 2012 and the passage of the Localism Act 2011. The Mayor system uses a supplementary voting system.

Decision making

The elected Mayor will decide on which kind of decisions are taken by either:

themselves individually
or delegated to the Cabinet (known as the Executive)
or delegated to individual Cabinet members
or delegated to officers

All key decisions must be made in public unless the matter is confidential.

Cabinet and deputies

The Cabinet decides the council’s key policies. It is made up of:


The law requires that some important decisions will continue to be taken independently of an elected Mayor.

The council will still appoint and maintain a range of committees including committees for:

Overview and Scrutiny

Will the elected Mayor have extra legal powers that the council doesn’t currently have to help them make Bristol a better city?

No. The elected Mayor does not have any formal legal powers compared to the previous Council Leader, but they may seek to negotiate some with central government as part of their role.