Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Town to vote on mayoral system
VOTERS in Middlesbrough will tomorrow decide on the future of the elected mayoral system.
The referendum was called after members of the town’s council agreed to ask residents whether they want to retain the elected mayor role or replace it with the elected leader and cabinet system favoured by most other local authorities.
Last month, Mayor Ray Mallon – who intends to stand down in 2015 – challenged any would-be candidates to come forward and enter the debate.
So far, only local businessman Andy Preston has announced his intention to stand if the elected mayoral system is retained.
The main political parties on the council have been advocating a return to the elected leader and cabinet system.
Mr Mallon said: “In simple terms, it will be a matter for the public with regard to which system they prefer, with the central plank of any argument being focused towards the public being able to elect a mayor as the political leader, in contrast to councillors electing the political leader.
“I do not believe it would be right for me to try to persuade the public either way, but I would urge everyone in Middlesbrough to weigh up both sides of the argument and vote in the referendum.”
Mr Preston, who operates a number of business activities from his Middlesbrough offices and spends much of his time running the Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, said: “I am passionate about Middlesbrough and its people, and I believe the person who leads the town should be elected by and directly accountable to local people.”
The Labour group wants the return of the elected leader and cabinet system.
Councillor David Budd, Labour’s deputy mayor of Middlesbrough, said: “We have been saying for some time that it’s not about the individual, it’s about the system. We have always said it is not about what someone has done for the town or what someone can do for the town in the future.
“We would prefer to go back to the old system so no one person will have too much power in the town.”
Conservative Hazel Pearson intends to support the mayoral system, but said she was not speaking for her party.
She said: “I think it’s very important that we take politics out of the mayoral system. I think it’s time we had a truly independent mayor with no allegiance to any political party.
That is why I intend to vote to retain the mayoral system.”
Ian Jones, chairman of Middlesbrough Liberal Democrats, also supports the return to the old system. He said: “The system is profoundly undemocratic.
Elected mayors have far too much power and the whole system of local government is weakened because the role of locally-elected councillors has been diminished.”
Depending on the outcome, the chosen system will take effect from May 2015.
Votes can be cast in person between 7am and 10pm, and the count will take place at Middlesbrough Town Hall when polls close. The result is expected to be declared by the counting officer that night.
Comments are closed on this article.