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Offline swindonlinkman

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Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« on: June 04, 2008, 12:04:38 PM »
This article appeared in the June edition of Swindon Link magazine and also at www.swindonlink.com. What are your views on the questions posed?
 
 



Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
Why can’t the people be asked - at least - if they want an elected mayor?


Swindonians are not able to choose the person who runs the town because Swindon Council’s affairs are in the hands of a collection of councillors from one party which controls the seats around the cabinet table, jockeying for position and pulling the strings of power.

In April the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) published a report looking at the success of elected mayors since they were introduced eight years ago, suggesting that Central Government force local councils to put the idea before the electorate.

Yet we’ve been here before. The June 2001 Link was the only local media that highlighted the idea. But the then Labour controlled council’s consultation on having elected mayors, as required by government, was half hearted and distinctly biased. The exercise was shrouded in secrecy and was designed to preserve the status quo.

However the experience in the 13 towns which have opted for an elected mayor has been positive, even though the media latched onto ‘Robocop’ in Middlesborough and Hangus the local football club mascot who got himself elected in Hartlepool. The IPPR says that providing a name and a face to the actions of a council has provided more accountability to local leadership. There is also evidence that elected mayors have overseen important improvements in council performance.

In 2001 Martha Parry of the New Mechanics’ Trust told The Link that, having grown up in Cleveland, USA, she supported the idea of an elected mayor. She would still like a referendum on the matter. “At present you vote in each ward for a councillor and the party with the most form the cabinet. People become more engaged in civic affairs if there is a named person elected to take responsibility for council matters, somebody who has to stand or fall on their record of serving the whole community.

“You have to wonder why Swindon has remained a two star council for the last three years, one of 17 local authorities stuck at that level.”

North Swindon MP Michael Wills said he’s keen for Swindon Council to again look at having an elected mayor and considers a referendum. “The IPPR report spells out that elected mayors could help give a stronger personality to politics in the town and offer more authority and accountability to the council.”

Under legislation 5 per cent of the population (approx 9,0000 names) is needed to force a referendum on the question.

• The IPPR press release can be found at: http://www.ippr.org/articles/?id=3143


*admins note: attachment moved to permanent folder and inserted at head of post. Dougal
« Last Edit: June 06, 2008, 03:42:25 PM by Dougal »



Offline Alligator

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2008, 12:37:19 PM »
I'm generally in favour of the idea of an elected mayor, but so far I've struggled to see any attempt to address the question of what would the people of Swindon be asked to vote on?

Voting for the concept of an elected mayor is one thing, but for the vote to really count, we'd need to know what remit they have, what power they hold over the council chamber and what budget they control.  I don't see how 'a name and a face to the actions of a council' is enough for people to get excited about.

Without knowing details of the role and its authority to act, I don't see how anyone can expect the public to vote.

If we're talking about a firgurehead then the role is pretty pointless, it's no more than a bloke (or woman) in a dress and big necklace who opens school fayres.  Personally I wouldn't waste my time voting for one of them.

If the role had control over, and tax raising powers for, a number of services such as policing, regeneration and development, planning, roads etc, then it would make for an interesting political scene.

I also don't take much from the apparent support from Michael Wills either. Based on past experience of him and his mate in Swindon South, he'd really only be supportive is it meant another position to be occupied by some mindless drone churned out by the spin machine in the Labour party's central orifice.  Someone willing to act as their representative in Swindon and to do what Gordon tells them.   

Offline Tobes

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2008, 01:23:28 PM »
I think my view would entirely depend upon the author (apparently unnamed?) of the piece. I don't know enough about the Swindonlink mag or its objectives and alegiences to make a suitably cynically informed decision as to what I think. Suffice to say that if a seven year old story crops back up and features a quote from Michael Wills, I'm tempted to wrinkle my nose and wonder if the pong whiffs of PR.

In the meantime however, I'm inclined to say that an elected mayor sounds like a completely unessessary expense. A figurehead is just that. Give me an unelected mayor appointed by his/her peers over an extra bureaucratic layer any day. Do we really want or need a salaried 'Hangus The Monkey'? The real power in this town in terms of planning and investment lies in the hands of short termist developers. Pretending that Swindon is a city and needs to ape London (if you'll excuse the pun) is just another pretention and risks making us look daft. At least the residents of Hartlepool expressed what they thought of the joke on their ballot cards! (as have, apparently, the residents of London - twice)
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Offline swindonlad

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2008, 07:23:10 PM »
i want to speak against this, as, i could see it go either the way of london & you get well known personalities fighting it out - ok, well known amongst the small % of swindon into politics - or you could go the way of hartlepool, do we really want a 'joke' candidate to win? (IIRC his 1 election promise was a banana for all school children & he failed to deliver that)

where it has come in & worked is where the local council has totally broken down, stoke-on-trent.  if you think swindon has issues, this is nothing on stoke! http://www.stoke.gov.uk/ccm/content/csec/ds/stoke-on-trent-governance-commission---final-report.en but, we are not in the same league as stoke

as for what he does - according to stoke's website
Quote
The Elected Mayor gives overall direction to the council and is a principal spokesperson on the council's behalf. Working together with the Chief Executive the Elected Mayor proposes the Policy Framework.
  he also chair's the 'Executive and Members Board' (their version of a cabinet)

Offline Buster

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2008, 08:54:17 PM »
I don't know that an elected mayor would necessarily be seen as a way of overcoming shortcomings of a council's performance as this will change over time.  As I see it, it's more about changing the current political system, which is in need of an overhaul.

In the absence of any detailed proposal of what an elected mayor would look like and what they could do, we'd  all be discussing a very hypothetical idea and I think it's reasonable that people will have differing views depending on the parameters of the role. However, with careful thought, it may be a solution to the shortcomings of the current system.

The current system of voting for councillors and where the largest group forms an administration and a cabinet to oversee policy for the whole town does have its problems.  The upside of this is that it helps form a solid identity for the party in power as well as the basis for a robust opposition, but it is a structure that lends itself to party politics and not necessarily equal representation for all wards.  This is mirrored within the political system at the national level also.

However I think this structure would really start to fall a part if there was no overall majority or numerous parties of equal size represented in the one council chamber.  In this scenario the tribal mentality of many politicians means that they would quickly resort to blaming others for their collective inaction and failings, whilst all trying to take the credit for any populist decisions.

Bluntly putting the current system into a Swindon perspective, we have 59 councillors who all have a seat on various committees, meanwhile the 41 of them from the largest party have real influence over decisions and a smaller number of that 41 make up the cabinet and actually make the decisions.  The other 18 councillors are left with very little to do but shout, point the finger, stamp their feet and say 'I told you so' then things go wrong.

If you look at Central and Eastcott, both wards are wholly represented by Labour and the Lib Dems respectively and therefore cabinet level decisions and policies directly affecting these wards, such as wheelie bins and the town centre redevelopment, are made by councillors of other wards. Councillors who we can assume are only concerned with the opinions of their own ward members who ultimately decide if they keep their job.  It's worth asking if the people of Phil Young's ward would want a steel phalus on their doorstep? if they didn't, what would Phil reaction to this proposal be?

My point would therefore be that I don't believe all wards have effective and equal representation within the current system.  Imho, a political system based on the mathematics of the chamber and which serves party politics is part of the problem of disenchantment with politicians and the political process.

Introducing a politician with suitable influence and who is answerable to ALL residents in equal measure may just help to redress the imbalance.

Offline komadori

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2008, 11:50:23 PM »

Introducing a politician with suitable influence and who is answerable to ALL residents in equal measure may just help to redress the imbalance.


Yes, but... the problem with the current system is that, if you are in a ward represented by a party not in power, your representatives effectively have little or no influence. BThe problem with having an elected mayor is that all councillors effectively have no influence over those issues which mayour has authority to decide. Within our current system, the leader of the council, currently Mr Bluh already seems to have a lot of influence. I'm not sure that adding to that would necessarily make for better governance. An elected mayor is a significant concentration of power into one person: fine if you agree with that particuler individual's views; a disaster if you do not.
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Offline Buster

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2008, 09:39:39 AM »

Introducing a politician with suitable influence and who is answerable to ALL residents in equal measure may just help to redress the imbalance.


Yes, but... the problem with the current system is that, if you are in a ward represented by a party not in power, your representatives effectively have little or no influence.

This was exactly the point I was making in my post.


BThe problem with having an elected mayor is that all councillors effectively have no influence over those issues which mayour has authority to decide. Within our current system, the leader of the council, currently Mr Bluh already seems to have a lot of influence. I'm not sure that adding to that would necessarily make for better governance. An elected mayor is a significant concentration of power into one person: fine if you agree with that particuler individual's views; a disaster if you do not.

But if you take the view that Mr Bluh has significant influence under a system where he is elected by the party representatives of only a part of the town, then that concentration of influence is even less justified than it would be had all people been able to have a say in his selection for the post.  Why should the people of wards whose councollors aren't in power have a council leader with a high concentration of influence imposed on them with no recourse?  If Bluh does a bad job, what can the people of Central and Eastcott, or any other ward in the same political wilderness, do to get him removed?  If you live elsewhere, where your councillor is in the party of power, at least you can let them know that their political future rests on them changing the leader.

The introduction of an elected mayor would inevitably mean that the powers of the mayor and the councillors would need to be reviewed, but the balance of power to make decisions and push them through and a body to scrutinise and oppose them would all need to be worked out.  As I said in my last post, this is where it gets hypothetical as there isn't even a firm proposal on an elected mayor.

I think it's safe to say that party policitical self interest will result in the current crop of tories politicians in Swindon opposing an elected mayor as their tribal mentality will mean that they're happy with the status quo and, if we were talking about an imminent election, then I dare say Labor would be opposed too, after all very few people seem willing to vote Labour at the moment so they'd rather have no mayor than one from an opposing party.

It's alsoa  safe et that they'll all continue to pay lip service to the views and needs of those disenfranchised voters of Swindon at election time, though if I recall correctly the tories broke way from this tradition and didn't even bother to go that far in Central during the recent elections.

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2008, 09:55:50 AM »
When they change the way the government is set up to reflect this - i.e. a directly elected prime minister then I'll vote for it in Swindon.

All the points made on this subject equally apply to national politics just look at the money that has been poured into the north of england (and scotland) to try and buy votes.

The last thing this town needs is another sue bates, kevin small or mike bawden in charge.

if it ain't broke don't fix it.


Offline Alan Hayward

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2008, 11:06:00 AM »
The last thing this town needs is another sue bates, kevin small or mike bawden in charge.

Hear hear! Well said that man.

On this topic in general I am unsure of exactly what the model is in the case of Boris. Do they the power of veto over an assembly or are they more like the US president where they have certain areas of total responsibility? Can someone enlighten me?
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Offline Buster

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2008, 11:19:35 AM »
When they change the way the government is set up to reflect this - i.e. a directly elected prime minister then I'll vote for it in Swindon.

All the points made on this subject equally apply to national politics just look at the money that has been poured into the north of england (and scotland) to try and buy votes.

I did acknowledge that the system is reflected at national level too, but I don't see that as a reason not to at least consider changing things locally.

if it ain't broke don't fix it.

That's the key point to the discussion.  To some people it is very much a broken system, to others it is not. 

None of this is helped by the fact that the concept of an elected mayor has been thrown out without much detail as to what it would mean for the overall structure of local politics.


Offline swindonlinkman

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Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2008, 05:10:55 PM »
Another Sue Bates, Kevin Small or Mike Bawden? Swindon only get's what it votes for, or doesn't have the chance to vote for. As has been pointed out, the party that gets the most seats controls the cabinet and the council chamber. Is this control of our affairs is a good or bad thing? It might not be broke, but it's the most convenient set up for those in power at any given time. Yes, the system functions, but is it satisfactory and can it be made better. And should not the population be given a choice of the system they want to operate under? At present a minority of the population (is it about 20 per cent?) go out and vote to keep the system in place. And because the opportunity to learn about the alternatives has been suppressed by those who don't want to consider changing it, the majority don't know about them.

For me the key point of having an elected mayor is that, whilst the person will come from a political party, he/she will have to take the wider interests of all parts of the town into consideration to ensure that he/she will be elected next time. That means information and policies will have to be more clearly explained and the population will have to be engaged in a different way to make engagement in local civil society relevant to a larger number of people. This would mean people take more notice of civic affairs, they take part in debate and a larger number feel more involved and responsible for their community.

There's nothing wrong in personalities; H'angus of Hartlepool was actually re-elected for a second term because people thought he was being effective. If candidates put themselves up for election, they'll have to campaign and become personalities, they'll have to set out what they stand for and they'll have to explain how they will deliver for the whole town.

Calling for change at a national level is one thing and could be thought of as a remedy for doing nothing. Taking up the opportunity on offer by existing legislation, to explain what having an elected mayor is all about and to collect 9,000 names to hold a referendum, would be meaningful practical action outside the control of political parties.

For those who want to know more, I've attached the IPPR pdf which discusses the experience of elected Mayor's elsewhere.

[attachment deleted by admin - Older than 365 days]

construct

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2008, 07:56:36 PM »
Swindonlinkman,

I hate to say this but to me you are sounding very new labour.

They started buggering around with a democratic system which worked perfectly well for christ knows how long and f**ked it up completely.

most people,me included, frankly don't give a crap about 90% of what the council does. I want my bins emptied my road swept every now and then and thats about it. If i want to engage in politics i do it here or i phone someone. I vote for whihever party i think will be better than the incumbant and have been proved right since i started voting. The last thing I want is a single individual responsible for everything in the town elected for a four year period. A politician can fuck up a hell of a lot in four years. at the momnent i can vote nearly every year and at least tell the buggers what i want through my vote. Kevin Small or stand pajak for four years - no way. Even i would go out and tell people to not vote for it.

Is it just me or are the government trying to fuck all the tory councils over by this or am i too cynical ? Can anyone say the new house of lords is really an improvement over the old one? If so i would suggest you are lying or have bought in to the labour spin.

as i said if it ain't broke don't fix it. nuff said.

Offline ZPW

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2008, 01:56:40 PM »
Swindonlinkman,

I hate to say this but to me you are sounding very new labour.



Construct,

I hate to say this but to me you are sounding very new tory
I wonder if you feel the sting of an insult? you certainly seem to be handing them out.
How does one sounds New Labour? and what the f*ck (to borrow your foul parlance) has that got to do with the price of strimmers?




They started buggering around with a democratic system which worked perfectly well for christ knows how long and f**ked it up completely.

most people,me included, frankly don't give a crap about 90% of what the council does.

Bizarre this as a fair few more than 10% vote.

Construct, I think you need to take a happy pill. You're vitroil runneth over. You are unusually not being constructive.






construct

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2008, 03:15:14 PM »
Quote
you are sounding very new tory

I'll take that as a complement cos i'm normally accused of being a thatcherite   :2funny:

My take on new labour is that they seem to hate anything that is traditional. if it is old it must be changed. we have seen the introduction of around 3000 new laws when many of the opld laws serverd their purpose adequately. the new labour government is turning our town halls into minor branches of the stazi by creating new powers such as intercepting telephone calls and snooping on parents who dare to try and get their children into good schools with the regulation of investigatory powers act which i think is the worst law ever to be created. They have taken what was a good education system (ok it had some faults) and have dumbed it down to the point where probably even i could get an A in english and maths which is something i didn't when i was a kid. It is so sad tthat the education system in india that is turning out thousands of university students more than england is still using the education system that we had in the 1950s and it works better than what we have got now.

no system is perfect but just because something has been done one way for ages does not mean it is a bad system. for me the new labour prime ministers have treated this country and it's people with total contempt. Blair and Broon act like dictators they screw the country for their own needs and couldn't give a stuff for anyone else.

Quote
most people,me included, frankly don't give a crap about 90% of what the council does.


Bizarre this as a fair few more than 10% vote

Just because I vote doesn't mean I want to be involved or in fact care that much. For me i vote for a party first then the person. if i don't like the person i might vote for them because they represent the party but thats it. the councillors should do what we pay them for not to have some single individual who then has the power to screw us over like the goverment. surely if people were that interested they would have become councillors we could have had the save coate water councillor, the i hate canals representative, the i don't want swindon to change councillor, the i think swindon was a better place in the early 80's under the effing labour party councillor. but you knoiw what, we haven't. I guess thats because most people don't give a toss about what happens. I care about my co8uncil tax and how much it goes up every year and not much else. Politicians of all sorts must be self serving to some degree or another. having one person (and look at the many great leaders swindon has had in the past, not!) in position for four years would be a complete nightemare.

just my opinion. back to the grindstone.

Offline Buster

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2008, 06:00:51 PM »
Setting aside Construct's colourful opinions about new Labour, I'd like to bring the thread back to the subject of electing a mayor. 

As someone who lives in a ward where my councillors are toothless simply because they are in the 'wrong' party and where I know that both they and I have little influence or recourse over any decision that SBC makes and how SBC spends my money.  I say that the system is broken and needs fixing. Nuff said.

Offline swindonlinkman

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Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2008, 06:28:24 PM »
Too many 'nuff saids' around here. If the system is not working, let along busted, it can struggle on against a background of frustration, or we argue for changes which are relevant and useful to a greater number of people.

All political parties are agreed that the level of participation in democracy is woeful and at a local level it is often marked by considerable cynicism as to what 'the council' is up to. But can anybody imagine one person trying to run the town on their own and get away with it? The legislation allows for a range of different models whereby an elected mayor would have to work with elected councillors to ensure local authorities are run better. To quote from the IPPR report posted earlier "The experience of the last six years has proved that mayors work: by providing a name and face they have delivered a more visible and accountable model of leadership."

Referring back to my earlier post, this could only happen with a much greater level of awareness of what people expect from their elected representatives. More more would be involved in the process and this must be good for democracy. Then perhaps they would make much greater demands on central government. At present, grumbling and ranting seems to be the order of the day.

For what its worth, I believe Labour at a local level in Swindon are a busted flush and I expect the Conservatives to hold on to power for quite a few years to come. The question is, are they willing to consolidate that control by involving more people in decision making which is more accessible and accountable?

Offline Buster

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #16 on: June 06, 2008, 07:06:06 PM »
I think any suggestion that one person could run the council is totally unrealistic.  I also don't assume that any elected mayor would necessarily come from one of the political parties.  As I have said already I see them as part of the problem today and I suspect they're likely to feel the most threatened by any change to the system that favours them and their buddies so much.

If it were up to me, I'd like to see a few more positions elected by a swindon-wide poll, including the key cabinet members.  The current system has delivered cabinet members who were appointed by their party leader, a man that himself was elected by only a about 1300 people.  When you then consider that the cabinet members themselves have only been voted in by a similar number of people in a town of 240,000 people, I think this is a clear sign of something being wrong.

To me the political parties, their culture  and their members can be a cause for so many mediocre decisions being made in politics.  The fact that, as a party, they're driven to 'keep the other lot out' it stands to reason that so many good ideas will fall by the wayside simply because either 'the other lot' thought of it first or because, as a group, not all members can agree. 

The parties put themselves and their own interests first, their beliefs second and the people a distant third, they survive through constant horse trading of one idea or policy for another in order to maintain party unity, but the sad fact is, and many party political politicians fail to understand this,  the result is usually silent disharmony, back stabbing and a public that either decides how to vote on the basis of which party is least horrendous or they simply don't bother to vote.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #17 on: June 06, 2008, 07:19:59 PM »
 
 
Quote from: http://www.ippr.org/articles/?id=3143
Elected mayors are better known to their electorates than council leaders, have produced a series of innovative and eyecatching policies (from congestion charging in London to crime reduction in the North East), and have proved highly responsive to the priorities of local people. Elected leaders tend to become beacons for the places they represent, and are more focused upon facilitating partnerships and balancing different interests than pursuing narrow party interests.


It occurs to me that the above description fits Rod Bluh rather well.

It also occurs to me that the current fascination with elected Mayors leans heavily towards the notion that an elected Mayor would be in some way more accountable than, just for example, leader of the council Rod Bluh.  I don't agree with this, (although I'm sure some clever market research has been done to prove the desired result), and I think there's a very real danger that introducing directly elected Mayors introduces just another insulating civic layer between the electorate and the councillors themselves....leading the electorate to focus on the wrong part of the system.

Far better in my own opinion that the Mayor and the Leader of the council become one and the same. Mayors and Mayoresses ought to be the leaders of the council and not just féte opening puppet s parading around the jam and Jerusalem circuit...leave that 'duty' to the deputy Mayor.  It's widely known that councillors who make a nuisance of themselves are shunted sideways into the mayoral queue which is in effect a two year stint of impotence.

By all means push for a referendum on this but at least make it a democratically meaningful one....and imho this means that it must achieve a turnout of at least 50% to be considered valid.  I don't accept Anne Snelgroves 'silent majority' logic, i.e that if people don't vote against something then they must agree with it which has all too often been used to claim non-existant mandates from the electorate on the basis of a minority share of the vote.

Grumbling and ranting?, call it what you will but local governance will start improving rapidly when it is scrutinised properly by local people then even further when councillors realise that they will have to engage with the wider electorate at times other than election times.

The age when a staple diet of local rag press releases and a couple of leaflets through the door promoted any political interest has passed I think and local councillors, whether they like it or not, will be expected to drag themselves into regular two-way electronic contact with the electorate.

We're lucky on Talkswindon in that we have several councillors who already recognise this and who understand the intrinsic value of it...even when it's an uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing process for them.  This hasn't gone unnoticed in the eDemosphere either and is partly why Talkswindon was nominated for a New Statesman award in 2007. (I was relieved we didn't win it btw).

The scholars and the academics of the eDem world are also having an 'elected mayor' discussion. They also grumble and rant, but they use longer words  :)

   

Offline Buster

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2008, 07:48:24 PM »
It also occurs to me that the current fascination with elected Mayors leans heavily towards the notion that an elected Mayor would be in some way more accountable than, just for example, leader of the council Rod Bluh. 

I have to say that this is exactly what I see as being the benefit of an elected mayor. I don't see any accountability in the current model.  What accountability does Rod Bluh have towards me right now?  I don't live in his ward so I don't get to vote for, or against, him at elections.  If he does a bad job or makes bad decisions that affects my road, my house or my life, I have no comeback.

I think there's a very real danger that introducing directly elected Mayors introduces just another insulating civic layer between the electorate and the councillors themselves....leading the electorate to focus on the wrong part of the system.

I think this comes back to the hypothetical natue of this discussions as there's no details in the proposal for an elected mayor, however I would actually seek a structure that would bring about the opposite. I envisage local government where the elected mayor, and possibly a team of 'cabinet' members, would be elected by all residents of Swindon.  The role of ward councillors would be just that, to act for their ward and vote on mayoral and cabinet proposals with the interests of their ward at the forefront of their mind.  This wold hopefully ensure the political balance and scrutiny.

Imho this would take ward councillors closer to their electorate by making them more focussed on ward issues and concerns.  Bringing an end to the 'appointment' process for key decision makers whilst allowing all the people from all areas of the town to have a say in the strategic direction and image that a mayor and the cabinet project.

Offline ZPW

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Re: Should Swindon have its own Boris, Brian or a Ken?
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2008, 08:26:45 PM »
The whole point of having an elected Mayor is that the people will have a person, one person that is accountable.

Currently we have 2 characters

Rod Blooo, leader of the council, who we all know ( of) but frankly who else does?
Fab. bloke an' all that, but not the well known character that folk think.

Gav-the rocker-Jones  God of EssBeeSee, ruler of EssBeeSee'ers, again known to us but to the general good and greedy? No.plus he's not elected, which is why he gets paid a living wage.

An elected Mayor may or may not be one the the existing cllrs.* She would be the figurehead and if not a well known figure already, would be by the end of the campaign. Regardless of party allegiance they would have to work with the elected cllrs. they will all just have to work together.. sounds bloody marvellous.

The Local Govt. Act 2000 allowed council to opt for either mayoral council or the canbinet style broo-ha-ha we haver now.
What the pox has that done for Swindon?
We have a minister for flip-flops, a minister for tennis courts and king of the roads.
what does any of that mean to swindonners? naff all.
a decent cllr is a decent cllr - witness dale heenan's adoption of the god-awful yellow-line,parking bay blether in victoria terrace-land. say what you want about parking - the man who is not king of the roads took this job on ,as he would with a mayor style council. a decent person is a decent person.

So I am in favour.
The Ayes have it.

Karen-Leakey-for-Mayor

KLFM... rolls of the tongue nicely



* Amdega cllrs will of course be ruled out from the off.