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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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‘Elected mayor is a waste’ says union

THE GMB union has written to its members to urge that they vote against an elected mayor for Copeland.

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It’s your vote that counts: Next Thursday is time to vote on Europe and an elected mayor

By Andrew Clarke

The union, which has a strong membership at Sellafield, says it has a policy nationally of opposing elected mayors and says its introduction in Copeland would be a “waste and abuse of public money”.

And Copeland MP Jamie Reed has also thrown his weight behind the ‘no’ campaign in a letter to postal voters.

Mr Reed said: “The reality is that a directly elected mayor would make Copeland Borough Council’s financial position even worse.”

The Time For Change group, which successfully petition for next week’s referendum, has criticised GMB’s letter, expressing “disgust that a group from outside the area is attempting to influence decision-making with the electorate in the borough.”

GMB’s senior officer Chris Jukes wrote: “In our view an elected mayor in Copeland, which will cover the whole of that council’s area, not just Whitehaven, will be a sheer waste indeed an abuse of public money.

“Paying tens of thousands of pounds to a mayor for some services but not all is being driven by a small number of individuals who believe in democracy as long as they are in charge. In short they are fighting over scraps.

“Taxpayers’ money, particularly at this time of austerity, should not be wasted on a gold chain around someone’s neck just because some disaffected and undemocratic people want to be a local big fish in a small pond.”

Time For Change responded: “We urge those who have received this email to go with their gut instinct when voting. After all, this is democracy and the public have a right to choose which way they vote.”

The group adds that it has been approached by GMB members who opted to cancel their membership on receipt of the email.

In his letter, Mr Reed wrote: “There isn’t a single problem facing our community to which an elected mayor is the solution. Our hospital services? No. Our schools? No. Our local road infrastructure? No. Care for the elderly? No. Child protection? No. Job creation? No. Local government finances? No.

“The biggest problem facing Copeland Borough Council is financial, and a mayor would make the position even worse. A big salary, support staff and the costs of holding the referendum in the first place – none of these do anything to replenish the council’s meagre accounts. Nor would it get rid of a single elected councillor.

“A mayor won’t be able to repair the damage caused by Central Government cuts to Copeland.

“Given the worsening financial reality facing Copeland, I don’t believe that a mayor is a luxury that we can afford, but more importantly it won’t provide a single solution to the problems facing our community. This is your decision.”

  • All your elected mayor questions answeered here
Have your say

The GMB email is an interesting one. The email has its origins from a Copeland Councillor who is a GMB member. It was his only way to speak out against the Elected Mayor referendum without breaking Purdah. He called in a favour through Chris Jukes, who subsequently sent out the email to GMB members.

The email does not reflect the views of the local GMB as a whole, nor does it reflect the views of Paul Kenny who is the GMB General Secretary (the man in charge). When Ken Livingstone was standing as a candidate for Elected Mayor for London, Paul Kenny publicly supported him!

The email was sent without authorsisation. The GMB head office in Newcastle did not know about the email. They do now. They are not happy. This was initiated by one to save his political skin, but has caused turmoil for the GMB and the local party.

It has been great to hear local councillors speak out about the email. Cllr John Kane said he didn’t think it was the right thing to do. Cllr Philip Greatorex is to write to the GMB, with an official complaint.

Posted by Sean Duffy on 17 May 2014 at 08:00

What happened to Democracy, good luck to the "democratically" elected Mayor of Whitehaven, FIrst job set a commons committee to audit Copeland Borough Council etc. Sad when a locally elected Labour MP resorts to austerity fears to promote politics.

Posted by Democracy on 17 May 2014 at 02:13

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