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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Calls to delay vote on elected mayor

COPELAND Council has requested that a potential vote to appoint its first directly elected mayor is delayed to save the authority money.

By Andrew Clarke

If a referendum in May returns a ‘yes’ vote, Copeland residents are scheduled to go to the polls on October 16 to vote for the borough’s first ever elected mayor – with the full £120,000 cost to be met by the council.

The council has however written to the department of local government secretary Eric Pickles to ask to delay the vote until May 2015 to tie in with the general election and local borough and parish elections, thereby cutting admin costs.

Paul Walker, Copeland’s chief executive, said: “These dates – of having the referendum on May 22 and the vote, if needed, on October 16 – are prescribed to us; we don’t have the power to change them. We have written to see if there is likely to be any change in legislation between now and then that could allow us to delay the vote until next May. We await a response.”

Because the referendum is held on the same date as the European elections, the £120,000 cost is split 50/50 between Copeland and the European Parliament.

A Q&A session for councillors on the elected mayor issue was held this week.

On the financial implications on the council of the referendum and potential vote, Coun Dave Banks asked: “How will this money be found in our already over-stretched budget?”

Mr Walker said: “It is a cost we have not planned for, but we would have to find it; whether that be an increased level of savings or use of our reserves. That would be a matter for the council.”

If elected, the mayor would hold the policy-forming and decision-making powers currently held by council leader Elaine Woodburn and her Executive team – all of whom would revert to being regular ward councillors.

Those who wish to vote in the referendum must be registered to vote. Those not on the electoral register have until May 6 to apply. Call 0845 054 8600, email elections@copeland. gov.uk, or visit the main reception desk at the Copeland Centre.

See The Whitehaven News next week for an in-depth feature on the referendum – and what having an elected mayor would mean for Copeland.

  • A recording of the Q&A meeting for Copeland councillors was made by members of the campaign group who successfully petitioned for the elected mayor referendum.

    On learning that the meeting had been recorded, Copeland councillors Elaine Woodburn and David Moore (leaders of the Labour and Conservative groups respectively) have issued a joint statement.

    "We were concerned to hear that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting regarding the directly elected mayor was secretly recorded by the group who are actively leading the campaign.

    "We have no objections to this happening but common courtesy should apply and everyone in the meeting should have been informed that is was being recorded.

    "We also abhor the social media attempt to discredit the council officers who attended the same meeting and questioning their professionalism is unacceptable and we ask that this group refrain from their personnel attacks and keep their views on the facts and run their campaign in the manner a campaign of such importance should be run."
Have your say

Insulting behaviour from the council, insulting behaviour from the campaigners. Sad situation all round. What hope?

Posted by katie on 26 February 2014 at 15:21

About four months ago when my associates and myself, having become thoroughly disillusioned with the inept and incompetent manner in which the current CBC were ruining Copeland, launched a campaign to oust the form of autocratic regime that, in their own amateurish way, are bringing Copeland to its knees.
The people of Copeland have seen through these people.
The Dictaphone was in full display during the meeting, never hidden.
We had been led to believe the meeting would be interactive, however the chairman said this was not the case. I personally asked John Kane if this practice was common throughout this country and he was unable to give me an answer. Prior to the meeting my three associates and myself were left waiting in Copeland Centre foyer for twenty minutes prior to being escorted to the meeting room. While we waited, councillors entered the building and continued straight to the meeting room. It turned out that councillors were permitted to ask questions but members of the public were not. Less kind, people have speculated that the free entry of councillors to our exclusion was for them to be briefed as to what questions to ask.
The meeting itself was reminiscent of footage of communist show trials of the '30's.
Coun Woodburn has accused my associates of inappropriate activity on social media sites. May I remind her that the person who used the assumed name of Amy Jones in order to insult my associates and our endeavour has never been found, although it has been proved the messages did come from Copeland Centre. This person has never been found because the investigations, two of them, were conducted by CBC internally. CBC would have benefited if they had involved the police in these investigations because, having taken advice, the actions of Amy Jones breach criminal law. This has not been put to bed.
Coun John Kane, ironically chairman of the Scrutiny committee, has called myself and my associates on social media sites, names that are more reminiscent of a school playground. Evidence of this is available. Relevant authorities will be contacted that people, plural, have been behaving in ways that are not commensurate with holding public office.
My associates and I are non political. We are neither Conservative nor Labour. We view the present CBC of red or blue persuasion, as inept. Why? The Labour majority council are inept, unqualified either academically or professionally, have no business acumen and is populated by people who could not make the grade in managerial positions. The Conservative opposition? Ineffective, ineffectual, putting their time in, not up to the job.
Labour and Conservatives looking after their own interests, hand in hand, "don't upset the apple cart". Well entrenched in their own comfort zones.
Time for change.
Thanks to the people of Copeland, this change will happen.

Posted by Bern Birbeck on 24 February 2014 at 23:57

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