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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Elected mayor vote likely in May

COPELAND residents look set to vote in May on the introduction of an elected mayor for the borough.

The historic shake-up moved a step closer this week when the group campaigning for an elected mayor to replace the council’s current leadership formally handed its petition to Copeland.

The group says it has received 3,850 signatures – 1,000 more than is needed to force a referendum. If this figure is verified by Copeland, a yes/no vote involving the whole electorate will take place on May 22 and, in the event of a ‘yes’ majority vote, a election would take place on October 16.

An overall ‘no’ vote in the referendum would see the current set-up remain. The results of the verification will be announced within a month.

Carla Arrighi, of the campaign group, said: “It gives me great pleasure to hand this petition to Copeland Council from the people of Copeland.

“I would like to thank everyone who signed the petition.”

An elected mayor would hold the policy-forming and decision-making powers currently held by council leader Elaine Woodburn and her five-member all Labour Executive team; all of whom would revert to being regular ward councillors if replaced by an elected mayor.

A minimum of two current councillors would be appointed by the elected mayor to his or her Executive committee – one of whom acts as deputy – and the elected mayor position would be subject to elections every fours years; the next being May 2019.

The petition attracted 1,300 signatures from the Egremont area, around 100 each from Millom and Distington, and the remainder from Whitehaven.

Brian Dixon, a Copeland councillor for Distington and member of the campaign group, said: “If this goes ahead, democracy will be handed back to the electorate – and that’s all we ask for.

“I am proud to stand with this group, and today is an important step forward.”

The referendum would be held on the same date of the MEP elections, and the £120,000 cost would be halved between Copeland and the European Parliament. The £120,000 for an elected mayor vote would be met by Copeland alone.

The are currently 16 elected mayors in the country, including two district councils – Watford and Mansfield.

The elected mayor campaign is running separately to the ongoing consultation over a possible town or parish councils for Whitehaven.

Elected mayor: the facts

  • The elected mayor would take office on October 20, 2014, and would be in post until the next election, in May 2019, unless he or she resigns or dies
  • An elected mayor cannot be removed from office or required to resign as a result of any vote or resolution of the council
  • The current council leader Elaine Woodburn and five Executive members would revert to being ordinary councillors
  • Anyone can stand, including current Copeland councillors, to become elected mayor. They would need to stand down as a ward councillor if elected.
  • The elected mayor would be treated as a councillor in terms of expenses, so any allowances paid to him/her would be determined by the council after taking advice from the independent remuneration panel
  • The elected mayor has no power to reduce the number of councillors, which would remain as 51 (plus the elected mayor)
  • The elected mayor must appoint a minimum of two current councillors to form an Executive (one of whom would by designated deputy mayor)
  • If an elected mayor is appointed, the current civic mayor (it would be Eileen Eastwood by the time of the vote) would revert to council chairman, and would continue to chair the full council meeting and, in all likelihood, continue to carry out civic duties
Have your say

Elaine Woodburn, our Council Leader loves my infamous travelogue letters, as she describes them, kindly published by the Whitehaven News on occasion. Whilst originally 100% for the Cabinet style of governance for Copeland I hate to say this, I was wrong and kind words from our beloved Leadeer will not change my mind. The proof of my misplaced belief that Cabinet would be good for us has been in the many costly failures with this style of looking after Copeland has produced. I believe that in the light of this experience we need something different - and an Elected and independant Mayor system might well be the answer - it could not be any worse and at least we all would have the opportunity to vote every four years and change things should the Mayor not live up to expectations. That is only part of the problem - Whitehaven needs a specific group - such as an independant Whitehaven Town Council also to look after Whitehaven affairs - essentially without politics - just like the rest of Copelands town and villages. Change is needed and I firmly believe that both systems could be the answer - which is why I'm happy to support similar minded individuals who wish to create change for the better of Copeland - and not politicians who seem to be ineffective, inefficient and very costly to us all with their lack of common sense.
Time for a change?? Yes - so sorry Elaine, you lost my vote.

Posted by Rob.Romano on 29 January 2014 at 17:13

I can assure 'The Monitor' that non of the group wish to stand as a candidate. This has been about democracy - the public should be given the chance to choose who their leader is rather than one being imposed upon them.

'Concerned Reader' - why would you think that more Council Tax would be required? Copeland Borough Council have £37m in their reserve fund. They are more than capable of paying for this, without affecting Council Tax - if they do this, it is only in an attempt to influence public opinion.

Posted by Sean Duffy on 25 January 2014 at 12:36

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