Friday, January 24, 2014

Vote likely on an elected Mayor for Copeland

Earlier this week a group of local residents who are not connected with any political party handed in a petition with a large number of signatures, calling for a referendum on a directely elected mayor for Copeland which would effectively replace the position of the present leader of Copeland Council.

It is therefore very likely that there will be such a referendum later this year, possibly at the same time as the European elections in May.

I welcome this opportunity for a real choice about the future of Copeland. There is objective evidence - particularly from Audit surveys commissioned by the last government, which was of the same political persuasion as the current majority on Copeland Council - that Copeland is one of the worst run councils in the country. A proper debate about alternative ways to try to make that council more effective and better representative of its' residents is long overdue.

Congratulations to the people who put together this petition.


Sean Duffy said...

Hi Chris, its great to hear that yourself, and others are getting on board with this. I do have a question though, should the referendum be a success.

Do you not think it odd that with Mr Kane saying that a Referendum for the TC will cost £120,000 and that the Press has been told that the Elected Mayor election was to be held on the 16th of October presumably at another £120,000 instead of the more logical 2015?

Fortunately we met the timeline given to us by the borough council but now it seems that accepting their fate they, on the day of the petition being submitted, informed the local media, (and I now quote the reporter's email reply to me) -

”The date that the new elected mayor would take office (Oct 20) was provided to me by CBC. They would take the post four days after the election, which would be on Oct 16th.”

This was posted as the first FACT in the Whitehaven News article published the day after the petition was handed in.

The intention of the petitioners was, in order to minimise the election costs and disruption, to hold the actual Elected Mayor Election on the same day as the 2015 General Election as this would mean:-

> 1)      the costs of the election would be minimised.

> 2)      that the present Council would serve the full term that it was elected to do with the right of the Council's majority party having the right to change the Leadership if they so wish.

> 3)      that the Elected Mayor would serve the normal 4yr term stipulated from then on.

> 4)      that the period of time would be sufficient  for the possible candidates to come forward and provide the public with their CV’s and get nominated by the public by noon on the 19th day before the 7th of May 2015 as required.

You must remember that although the likelihood of a referendum is very high the actual referendum itself has not taken place yet and until it does and it records a YES vote it is ridiculous to suggest that candidates should come forward for a non-existent job.

On whose authority was the statement to the press made and how come the whole Council or Executive did not apparently have a say?

Chris Whiteside said...

Sean, I 100% agree with you that the first Thursday in May 2015, which will be the date of both the next general election and the next Copeland Council election, would be the obvious date for the election of a Mayor for Copeland if the referendum produces a YES vote.

This would mean the extra cost of the election would be relatively small and there would also be many advantages in a change over to the new system at the same time as the election of a new council.

The existing council leadership must not be allowed to frame the debate about whether to have a directly elected mayor in the manner which makes such a change as unattractive as possible, but if they are allowed to do so that is what will happen - and the press release which you rightly criticise will be only the beginning.