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Friday, 31 October 2014

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No names yet for potential mayors

COPELAND’S main political parties say they will not decide in advance who they would nominate to be the borough’s elected mayor.

By Andrew Clarke

Copeland’s Labour and Conservative groups say they will field a candidate if voters decide that the borough should be led by an elected mayor, but they will wait until after the May 22 referendum before naming names.

The local Liberal Democrats say they will not decide on whether to field a candidate until after May 22. And the Time For Change group, which successfully petitioned for the referendum, has refused to be drawn on whether it will nominate a representative, adding: “It is only right and proper that he or she will nominate themselves at the appropriate time for the position of elected mayor.

“The public will be kept updated at regular intervals.”

As things stand, if people vote yes, an election to select Copeland’s first elected mayor will take place on October 16. The mayor would be in post until May 2019 (with elections every four years thereafter) and take the decision-making power currently held by council leader Elaine Woodburn and her five-member Executive, all of whom would revert to being ward councillors if replaced. If it is a ‘no’ vote then the current setup will remain and there cannot be another referendum for 10 years.

Sue Hayman, for Copeland’s Labour group, said: “If the outcome of the referendum is to move to an election for a mayor, then we will agree a candidate selection process and we members will choose a candidate from the people who put themselves forward.

“This process is time-consuming and expensive and so we would not consider beginning it until we know if there is actually an election taking place.”

Stephen Haraldsen, for Copeland’s Conservative group, said: “We are the only party in recent years to field a full slate of candidates in borough elections. We believe all voters should have the chance to vote for the Conservative party, as free choice is the foundation of democracy.

“We will be fielding a candidate for elected mayor, should that go ahead. We will not be selecting a candidate prior to the referendum. We believe this referendum should be about how the council is run, not who runs it.”

Roger Putnam, for Copeland & Workington Liberal Democrats, said: “We consider that it would be inappropriate for any political party to begin any formal process of candidate selection until the local community have decided in principle whether they wish to move to a mayoral system.”

Two public meetings have been organised by Time For Change to discuss the significance of the referendum. The meetings are in Millom Rugby League Club on April 24 from 6pm with a formal presentation at 7.30pm, and Captain Shaw’s School, in Bootle, on May 12 from 4.30pm with a presentation at 6pm.

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.

Have your say

The Mayor must be independent.

Posted by David Blackhall. on 24 April 2014 at 07:59

I understand where you're coming from re: independent candidates, but when people see that there are party affiliated options on the ballot papers then invariably revert to type. I'd like to say i had faith in the people to choose an independent option, but when people still elect the same councillors time after time despite their well-publicised failings i honestly can't see it happening.
It'll be whoever our next best thing to useless MP decides to publicly back, and you can guarantee that'll be the Labour candidate even if it's a giraffe with a red rosette.

Posted by Rick on 24 April 2014 at 01:48

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