Eastleigh residents are being asked if they want to directly elect their own Mayor, although they are being denied the chance to hold a referendum in order to decide.
Recent legislation requires all councils to make changes to the way they choose their leader.
They have to adopt one of two options – the first is to largely similar to the current Leader and Cabinet model where the Leader is a councillor who is selected (or deselected) by his colleagues.
The second option is a Mayor and cabinet model, as currently enjoyed by Londoners ,where the mayor is not a sitting councillor and is directly elected by the public.
An elected Mayor does have to be a member of a political party, which raises the possibility that the public could vote in a maverick like Boris Johnson or Ken Livingstone or a representative of a party other than the party with largest majority.
Once elected the council would not be able to remove the Mayor who would also be free to select his own cabinet.
Whichever option is chosen by the council the first election would be held next May.
Although the council decided not to hold a democratic referendum on these important and far reaching changes to local government, Eastleigh’s residents can still have one provided they are able to present a petition which has been signed by a minimum of 5% of the borough electorate.
However the council does not appear to have published the minimum number of signatures which would be needed to support a valid petition to force a referendum on whether or not the borough should have an elected mayor – although this is a requirement of the Local Government Act 2000.
As things stand anyone who would like to make their preference known to the council, or submit points for their consideration must do so by October 15th when the consultation period ends.
These should be sent in writing to:
A R Ward
Head of Legal & Democratic Services
The council will then make their decision at a meeting on December 16.
More details here: http://www.eastleigh.gov.uk/executive
So much for the ‘Big Society’ and devolved government. Would you like the opportunity to elect your own Mayor? Or do you think this is a decision best left to the ‘experts’? Do you think we should have a referendum?