Local democracy and elected Mayors

22 Feb 2010 by Karl Hallam

The BBC in South Yorkshire has done a survey of 500 people about the mayoral system in troubled Doncaster Council. They have found that 73% of people do not know who the Mayor is and that the majority would not vote for mayoral system in a referendum.

Follow this link to a slideshow of the results and some pictures of the two Mayors who have served, Martin Winter (Labour) and controversial Peter Davies (English Democrats).

The article is about politicians, but there is an interesting story in the recent history of Doncaster's senior council officers. A handful of chief executives have been and gone in the last 7 years and now the current Mayor is advertising for a new one at a salary half of the previous rate (proabably approx £75K). This is him acting on an election pledge and it is a move that has attracted praise from Conservative Home who say that he is 'inspirational' and that 'the more I read about Peter Davies the more I like him'.

It would of course be good if the BBC did the same question in places without a Mayor and we would see if people know who the Leader is, for exmple in Sheffield, where many are still shocked when they are told Labour are not in power. Doncaster's (night) Mayor does not help those making the case for the mayoral model, but there are obvioulsy problems around who we see accountable for public services. This joint ippr/PwC report (The challenge of giving power away in a centralised political culture) is worth a look on this topic. These are key questions when we are entering an election where devolution to local authorities might be an issue that gets some coverage.

The full BBC article on the research is shown below can be found here:

Nearly two-thirds of people in Doncaster do not want an elected mayor, a BBC survey has shown.

Of 500 people surveyed, 63% (313) said they would prefer the town to be run by a cabinet of councillors. Only 22% (109) wanted a mayor to be in charge.

And 87% (437) could not even name the current mayor, Peter Davies.

The findings are published as Mr Davies faces a vote of no confidence amid criticism of the way he has run the council since being elected last June.

Mr Davies, of the English Democrats, hit back at his opponents, describing them as "political dinosaurs" in an interview with the BBC's Politics Show.

He accused them of "orchestrating" Monday's vote of no confidence to coincide with the start of an Audit Commission inspection because of "serious concerns about the council's performance in the last two years".

In response to the survey by BBC Radio Sheffield, Mr Davies promised the people of Doncaster a referendum on the mayoral system in 2011.

"My evidence is that the people of Doncaster like the mayoral system," he said.

"Michael Portillo came along the other week and we wandered round the market and he interviewed about 30 people and found them all in favour of the mayoral system.

"Incidentally, they were all in favour of me too, which was quite entertaining from my point of view.

"They were all saying that the mayoral system was better than the old days which provided the town with Donnygate and other things we would prefer not to remember."

However, John Kingdom, a politics expert from the University of Sheffield, said the system of electing a mayor could put people off local politics.

"It reduces the role of the ordinary councillor," he said.

"It means ordinary people lose the incentive to stand and serve their community.

"The result is fewer people stand and the ones who do stand are probably what you would describe as lower calibre."

 

your comments

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Nona
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Reply #1 on : Tue October 16, 2012, 12:57:34
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