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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Mayoral vote set for May

THE vote to select Copeland’s first elected mayor looks set to take place in May 2015.

By Andrew Clarke

Current legislation means that the historic vote was due to be held on October 16. However, Copeland MP Jamie Reed has been informed that moves are afoot the change the law to allow for a seven-month delay.

Copeland Council – with Mr Reed and campaigners Time For Change – asked the government to delay the vote to tie in with other elections, thereby cutting costs.

On learning that the Department for Communities and Local Government is working towards changing the date, Mr Reed said: “Common sense has prevailed. It is to the benefit of everybody in Copeland that this election is held in May.

“The disastrous election of police and crime commissioners in 2012 demonstrates the apathy towards elections late in the year.

“This is a new chapter for local government in Copeland and it is essential that it is engaging; part of this is ensuring as many people as possible turn out to choose their new mayor.”

If the date change is rubber-stamped, it means there will be four elections held simultaneously next May; the General Election, the elected mayor, Copeland Council and the new Whitehaven Town Council.

If the government ruled the mayoral election must take place in October, the full cost – estimated at £120,000 – would be met by Copeland.

Voters decided in a landslide that an elected mayor will be appointed to take the borough’s key decision-making power, ousting council leader Elaine Woodburn and her five-member Executive.

As yet, no candidates have put themselves forward publicly as the political parties start the selection process.

Time For Change has called for Coun Woodburn and the Executive to give up their additional allowances until the vote takes place.

The group’s Carla Arrighi said: “They have still got their heads buried in the sand. The people of Copeland have removed their mandate to govern, by a landslide, and it’s time they listened.

“In an ideal world, the referendum would be followed quickly by an election, but we recognise the need to save money. That’s why we initiated the vote delay.

“However, that doesn’t get us away from the fact that the role being performed now is not the role of leader and Executive, it’s the role of a caretaker, and it should be paid as such. If they are so concerned with saving the taxpayer money then they will recognise this as the right thing to do.”

Have your say

I wish Carla Arrighi would make up her mind as to whether she wants the mayoral election to be in October or May. First she wanted it moved to May and, according to reports, Time for Change wrote to Eric Pickles asking for this (as to be fair did the council and our MP). Then when Mr Pickles granted the request that they'd made she said she was extremely disappointed that he hadn't ignored what they'd asked for. Now it seems from her comments above she's changed her mind again and is saying it's right that it's been moved to May to save money!

Posted by Chris on 29 June 2014 at 18:29

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